Experimenting With Replacing Microsoft Office

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Hook, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    That's why I use DropBox-- I actually work on the document in DropBox when I'm mobile on my tablet and in the DropBox folder on my home computer, so I'm always working on the same instance of whatever file I'm editing. I back up reguarly to about 3 different physical locations. The nice thing is, if the file has been loaded from DropBox into TextMaker HD on my tablet, if I don't have network I can keep working on the file as is truly downloaded. I just need the network to save it back to DropBox. There are apps that will mirror DropBox locally like happens on the permanently connected computer, but I don't need that.

    Google Office is another fine free alternative. I do, however, prefer to have my software local, and for me they just aren't as feature rich as I need and compatibility isn't perfect, though I will admit it has been a very long time since I really gave the Google Apps an extensive test. For many people, however, they are going to be fine.
     
  2. headcronie

    headcronie Greyscale. Nuff Said. Super Moderator

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    I'm surrounded by Google Apps. We've got Google Apps for Education. They're okay for simple tasks. The compatibility disconnect is what gets me most. There are a few features that don't exist or translate well. I'm one of the holdouts and continue to use Office 2010 Pro on my systems, even though most others use GApps. We migrated away from Exchange to GApps email, and the way I had setup rules in Outlook simply could not be replicated within Google. I've resorted to using Thunderbird with these Add-ons to return as much of the missing Outlook / Exchange features, and to remove utterly annoying Google 'features'.

    upload_2016-8-19_11-24-30.png
     
  3. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    Unfortunately, I discovered that Companion Link stopped being compatible with Pimlical as of CESD's conversion to Java 8 which no longer uses mdb files for data-- it's part of what makes it possible to be cross-platform, I believe. Unfortunately, this probably means the end of my use of Companion Link and Deja Office since I don't think I'm headed back to Outlook. Too bad-- There are things I prefer about the Deja Office UI. I've been using CL/DJO for at least 4 years, maybe 5, I've lost track. I recommend it to anyone using either Outlook or Palm Desktop with an Android phone.

    Another big change, but Pimlical works great for me so far.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2016
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  4. r0k

    r0k Dazed

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    I've been using google docs to edit my book manuscript until... it suddenly stopped working. I was using an add-on called "paragraph styles" to generate a table of contents that included page numbers. That add-on suddenly stopped working on the eve of publication of my book. I quickly moved on. I'm now using Pages. I'm willing to go out and purchase MS Office if it becomes necessary tie in to Amazon's KDP toolchain. So far I have managed to avoid it. The bottom line is my workflow will always be determined by the shortest distance to success and for now that distance takes me through Apple's Pages software. For now. I had summarily given up on Pages because the web version crashed and couldn't do TOC. I tried Pages on my Mac after finding a help article saying I could choose which heading styles to include in my TOC. Sure enough I could do just that so I went in and did it.

    Meanwhile, using Pages means I forgot to put my intermediate source file (with TOC) on any of my clouds so the only copy is sitting on a hard drive at the house right now. I've gotta remember to back it up next time I touch it. I edit the file in google docs. I then export as word then import to Pages. I then generate the TOC in Pages. I then export to Amazon in a format that has worked well for me, epub. And epub is one of the formats Amazon says doesn't work as well as docx or html. Well I'm not about to rely solely on docx after all the trouble I had with that format and Pages doesn't do html export and google docs doesn't do TOC properly. I refuse to publish a book that is only navigable by those stupid "location numbers." I want my readers to find stuff by topic. If I ever do a print version, I want to go back and revise my ebook so it contains "real page numbers."

    So for now my workflow is the "text and illustration entry source" document lives in google docs, without a TOC because of google docs limitations. I then export it as docx then import to Pages and use the TOC feature of Pages then save my "source with TOC" as a pages file (this is the file I forgot to back up to the cloud). Lastly I export from Pages as an epub and import it to Amazon as my manuscript. I've viewed it in all the emulators and on a Kindle paperwhite and it looks and functions as expected using the googledocs->pages->epub->KDP approach.
     
  5. RickAgresta

    RickAgresta Peanut, leader of the Peanutty Forces

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    Agree with you, Jeff: getting where you need to go is the most important thing. It's a shame you have to go through all those steps, though :newpalm: And, heck yeah, backupBackupBACKUP!
     
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  6. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    I've always used doc or docx with Kindle and I would expect that Softmaker Office doc and docx to work fine. That's actually a test I ned to make with Kindle's coversion checking tool. I'm prettty confident about the result though.

    I have a pretty easy time of it as I write fiction and so far I haven't bothered with an TOC-- my chapters are simple and numbered. Sounds like you are writing non-fiction, in which these sorts of nuances become very important and there is more room to go wrong. So, after my initial draft, which is always done on a Neo 2, my process is just Softmaker office (on PC or Android) working in my Dropbox folder with backups daily if possible.

    By the way, got links to your book or books? Did I miss your providing a link earlier, or is the book not ready yet?
     
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  7. r0k

    r0k Dazed

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    You are correct, the book is nonfiction. Numbered chapters don't make sense. Link sent by PM.
     
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  8. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    Well, here it is the end of September and my "experiment" is at an end. The experiment was a success in the sense that I have now fully adopted all of my replacements for Microsoft Office and I'm not going back.

    Softmaker Office: On both Windows and on my two Android devices, these three programs have been excellent. In the case of TextMaker, I can say absolutely that I do not miss Word. The learning curve of figuring out how to do with Softmaker what you used to do in MS Office takes some time, but Softmaker does do everything. For instance, PlanMaker does not have page break preview, one of my absolute favorite features of Excel. Instead, you insert page breaks directly into the spreadsheet (and it shows you a heavier gauge line so you can see the result). Took a little getting used to, but works fine. This office, of course, only covers the main 3 programs (word processor, spreadsheet and slide shows). I am a heavy user of word processing and only a light user of the other two. These programs are very feature rich, but I just truly enjoy the retro UI with full menus and customizable button bars.

    I picked up Softmaker Office for $18 and they have these kind of deep cut sales every so often. However, the normal retail price is not unreasonable at $70, though that becomes a big factor to weigh with a number of free alternatives out there (including Softmaker's own much more limited Softmaker Free Office, which can't do docx and pptx formats). It has been a very long time since I tested LibreOffice. It's free and I am sure it does fine for many people. I remember it having problems with seamless MS Office compatibility, but it is possible that has changed. And I just plain don't like Google Docs. I don't mind my docs in the cloud (I keep them in DropBox), but I don't want my software there, dependent on an internet connection. Don't care for the UI much either, as I don't for most Google apps. But that's just me.:vbwink:

    Thunderbird: Thunderbird is what Softmaker supplies as an Outlook replacement. It handles email well, and with a few add-ons can really do just about anything. This was the hardest part of the transition as Outlook was deeply ingrained. It took me quite a while to get what I wanted, but I am happy now with the email functions. It includes PIMs, but they aren't that practical for me as they really don't sync in any useful way except through Google.

    For PIMs I switched to Pimlical by CESD which has a Palm Desktop-Like desktop program and syncs wirelessly with an Android app. My one regret is I had to give up Companion Link and Deja Office. I like aspects of the Deja Office Android app a bit more than the Pimlical Android app. Companion Link used to work with Pimlical, but when CESD switched to JAVA 8, it broke the compatibility because Java 8 dropped the old API libraries. I actually thought of trying Palm Desktop as the desktop app, but I didn't want to trust very old unsupported tech. I also didn't want to be limited to 16 categorizes :vbrolleyes:. Pimlical is very nice and I have made it really work for me. The wifi sync is as easy and efficient as the TX's old wifi sync. And CESD added an autosync that uses Dropbox to automatically keep all your devices updated, although I really haven't felt a need to use it.

    I still heartily recommend Companion Link/DJO for anyone trying to sync Outlook or Palm Desktop with Android. It was very effective and reliable for me over the years. I think there is no better means of syncing Outlook and Palm Desktop with Android.

    NoteCase Pro: This has worked out well. I love this program and am anxiously awaiting the improvements on the new Android version. As I've said before, it's very comparable to the old Splash Notes program on Palm (or Bonsai) and that works very well for the kinds of notes and projects I work with. It takes attachments. It's less format flexible than OneNote, but it does fine for me and I don't have to worry about if I remembered to load up something before I lost my internet signal. It doesn't have One Note's white boarding capabilities, but I can easily do similar things in Presentations and attach the slides.

    The Upshot: I could have easily stayed with Microsoft Office (I own it after all) for quite a while before future changes like integrating LinkedIn occurred. However, I'm glad I made the change now, I'm very happy with my choices of replacements, and I no longer miss MS Office at all. And I achieved it without losing any substantial MS Office compatibility, which was a primary consideration. Neither my phone nor my tablet have any MS Office apps on them any longer. I haven't yet uninstalled MS Office from my computer, but I expect to in the near future. However, I haven't opened any of the apps since early August.

    It is such a relief, after Microsoft and Google, to get software where the developers are focused on providing good tools, not on making me a part of some larger, over-arching cloud enterprise I may or may not want. And, if I ever got fed up with Windows and decided to move to Linux, I can take *all* of it with me (That's not likely... yet). :vbcool: Guess I'm just hopelessly retro. :vbgrin:
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
  9. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    And now the final shoe. After not using any MS Office programs since August, they are now officially uninstalled and no longer on my computer. :newpalm:
     
  10. Hook

    Hook Caught Watching Prawn

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    By the way, there was only one area where Textmaker falls down compared to Microsoft Word and, although I deemed it not worth keeping Word, I will miss this feature. In Word, since version 2013, if you use find to search for a string, it highlights all instances of that string in the document and lists them all in the navigation pane with context. The context is a few words before and after the string. This is a powerful tool for a writer as it allows you to search for words you tend to overuse and easily pick and choose where you want to change the word or where you want to leave it without having to just jump around the document and try and remember everything.

    I have suggested the feature to Softmaker and they have said they sent the request to their development team.

    This was the only feature that I use that Textmaker came up short on.
     

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