The toad’s finger and eggplant – the evolution of the SoftMaker Office program icons

Today’s blog post deals with the history of SoftMaker Office. But instead of a dry account of which feature was added in which version loaded with tiresome technical jargon, we thought we’d let pictures do the talking.

Every Windows application has a program icon which represents it in Windows Explorer. Here is a look at how the icons in SoftMaker Office evolved over the years.

textmaker6We start with the first Windows application we released, TextMaker 6.0 for Windows. It was published for German customers only in 1994. Internally at SoftMaker, this icon was sometimes jokingly called the “toad’s finger,” and we think you will quickly see why.

textmaker7The wrinkled finger was gone in TextMaker 7.0, and the icon was generally simplified. The letters “TM” were kept as a reminder that this icon belonged to TextMaker.

office97_enTextMaker 97, released in 1997 and also available only in Germany, saw the introduction of a completely new design. Visually understated, the icon relied solely on letters, and with a color reminiscent of an eggplant. This color was kept in every version from 2000 to 2006. When PlanMaker arrived on the scene, a matching green icon was created. The green that symbolizes PlanMaker has been kept over the years, with only its hue changing between versions. Incidentally, TextMaker 2002 and PlanMaker 2004 were the first releases that were offered worldwide.

office2006_enHere is an exclusive peek at something never before shown in public: the prototype icons designed for TextMaker 2006 and PlanMaker 2006 but never released. Instead, SoftMaker Office 2006 and 2008 shipped with the icon set of their predecessors.

office2008Two new components were added to SoftMaker Office 2008: SoftMaker Presentations and BasicMaker. Their icons were designed to match the well-known TextMaker and PlanMaker style.

office2010SoftMaker Office 2010 saw a complete break with the old icons. New colorful icons in striking colors replaced the old sedate hues. The brown “TM” was replaced with a white “T” on a bright red background, and the icons of TextMaker’s sister applications followed suit: P on lush green for PlanMaker, S on glowing orange for SoftMaker Presentations, and B on traffic-light yellow for BasicMaker.

office2015These icons are also included with the current version, SoftMaker Office 2012. But times change, and the icons right along with them. The application icons for the next release of SoftMaker Office have already been finished, and here they are on view for the first time ever.

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  • Moss Bliss says:

    These icons do not show ANYTHING of what the program does. Maybe that’s why SMOffice doesn’t sell much in the US, despite the excellent product and low price. Look at the icons in MSOffice, LibreOffice, etc., and you’ll see that each one shows what the product is. “T” does not mean “Text” in all languages, and “text” does not mean “word processing” in English.

  • Flavius says:

    Congratulations for SoftMaker’s longlife! The new icon set is very beautiful. Keep up the good work with the new Office suite coming along. Best regards from an old client.

  • Hans Maerker says:

    The SoftMaker evolution story is a great information for me. I lived and worked for many year in USA, and never heard about SM until I returned to Europe several years ago, to continue here on a freelance base. That’s been the first time I got introduced to your software. My personal [MS]Office was still 2002/2003 but the corporation in the States had me always provided with the latest version for work.

    Being my own boss here in Europe, I suddenly faced the situation, where I had to open and work with documents that were mostly created with newer versions than 2003, and that’s where your software really saved my neck. Since then I’m hooked. :-)

    I compared – and tried – a few other Open Document versions, but nothing came close to your Office software. Congratulations to such a good and reliable product.

    I rely heavily on it on a daily base, and can’t wait to see what you guys come up with in the now announced 2015. :-)

    Hans Maerker
    Copy Editor

  • maurice says:

    and there I was thinking that P stood for Presentation. I’m with Moss .. Obsessive compulsive cleaning seems to be driving programming at the present .. anything useful has to be hidden away in case it spoils the look of the screen .. bit like an induction cooker hob .. looks great, but a nightmare to cook on :-)

  • Beeza says:

    I have to agree with Moss Bliss. The new icons are very attractive visually, but they tell you nothing about the product. The 2006 icons which were never used would actually be more appropriate. Perhaps the next iteration could be based on them.

  • M. Usman says:

    The SoftMaker Office, is really a good alternative of already available BIG office suites, and have many good features that compete well.
    However, I have a suggestion, about icons’ alphabets.
    T for text editor/word-processor is understandable but P for spreadsheet and S for presentation confuse newbies it may be P for presentations and S for spreadsheets. If that is not possible, please make the icon little more elaborative that give more sense and doesn’t confuse the new adopters. Like by making just a round shape give some comparable shape too like your icon in 2006 version.

  • Rez says:

    Moss Bliss is exactly correct. To be useful both to the user and as branding, icons need to in some way relate directly to the program’s function. Otherwise they’re just a flag for the icon’s label, which the user has to read anyway to identify.

  • Ron McDaniel says:

    I agree with Maurice…icons are becoming too “generic”. While I like the infusion of colors, these latest (actual) icons tell one little about their funtions themselves without having to figure out what their letters actually stand for. Personally, I don’t WANT TO HAVE TO MEMORIZE particular icons to know what their functions are. I would prefer, also, as far as color and style goes with present icons, the basic the 2006 format. At least they don’t require you remember and differentiate between other generic and similar icons. These icons one can actually look at and quickly figure out WHAT function this icon performs without having to memorize it’s exact look and/or wonder what the single letter stands for. In the world of digital, “symbols” are becoming more generic and it’s becoming increasing hard to (easily) tell one from the other. And that creates – no clarity – but confusion. (Which is something we all need less of in the explosion of this digital information age).

  • airdow says:

    Иконки красивые.

    Я немного не в тему –
    - есть программа 1С 7.7, из нее выгружаются отчеты в формате MS exel 95 (речь идет про кириллицу)
    первый раз textmaker открывает их хорошо, но если нажать {сохранить}
    - windows версия сохраняет и открывает потом корректно
    - linux версия после сохранения открывает непонятные символы, приходится первый раз нажимать {сохранить как} и выбирать формат 2003

  • Stacey Andrews says:

    I’m a recent convert to SoftMaker Office and find the products are superior to MS Office! Once support stops for MS Office 2007/2010, I will be using SoftMaker Office as my permanent office software. I like the price and the fact one license can be installed on up to three computers.

    I’m an aspiring novelist and fanfiction writer. I’m currently writing my first novel using TextMaker. What a fantastic program!

    Long may the excellent SoftMaker Office continue! You now have a loyal customer for life! I’m looking forward to the future developments on SoftMaker Office!

  • admin says:

    Thank you for liking our icons … :-)

    As for your support issue, please contact us by e-mail to support (at)

  • Michael Wilson says:

    SoftMaker office is a wonderful change from Microsoft office..I will never go back!


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