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Formatting made easier in TextMaker 2012

Today I want to let you know some more interesting details about the upcoming TextMaker 2012 word processor. In short, formatting becomes much easier in this new version:

1. The dialog boxes for paragraph styles and character styles now show a preview of each stylesheet, and they tell you exactly what formatting a specific stylesheet contains:

If you look closely at the screenshot above (click on it to enlarge it), you will see that there are now options to create or update a stylesheet from existing formatting, too.

2. An eminently useful sidebar: SoftMaker Presentations has had it since version 2010, now we have added it to TextMaker 2012.

(Click on the individual screenshots to enlarge them)

The sidebar allows you to quickly navigate your documents. You can have it show all headings, all bookmarks, all footnotes, all tables, all pictures, or all objects. A simple click on one places the cursor in the chosen location.

You can switch to a view of all your paragraph styles or character styles and then format your document in any way you like. Point the mouse at a stylesheet, and a small tooltip appears that displays the formatting contained in a style (“Arial, 8pt, red”).

To put it simply, the new sidebar makes navigation and formatting much easier and more efficient.

If you have looked closely at the screenshots above, you might have noticed our new zoom slider in the status bar. Admittedly, we are not the first to offer it, but we found it so useful that we have added the zoom slider to TextMaker 2012, PlanMaker 2012, and SoftMaker Presentations 2012.

3. Table AutoFormat: If you think that formatting text means work, then don’t even start making tables nicer. Maybe you want the title row to stand out, maybe the first column. Or perhaps you prefer alternating row colors? This can quickly become a major effort. Not so anymore in TextMaker 2012 because we added an AutoFormat command for tables. It offers many well-designed styles for tables that can be applied with a single mouse click.

[German:] Neuer deutschsprachiger SoftMaker-Blog

Ab sofort gibt es einen separaten deutschsprachigen Blog von SoftMaker.

In diesem finden Sie alle bisher in den englischsprachigen Blog eingestreuten deutschen Beiträge. Bitte benutzen Sie ab sofort die neue Adresse

What’s new in PlanMaker 2012?

SoftMaker Office 2012 will be released this year. Right now, we are preparing the public beta test which will soon be announced.

To whet your appetite, we will be talking about the new features and improvements in SoftMaker Office 2012 in the coming weeks here at the SoftMaker Blog. Be sure to come back regularly to find out about the latest news.

Let’s start with PlanMaker 2012. It closes the last remaining compatibility gaps with Microsoft Excel:

  • XLSX import now also allows seamless access to XLSX files created in Microsoft Excel 2010.
  • PlanMaker 2012 can now also save in XLSX format, which means that Excel 2007 and 2010 can access your PlanMaker calculations without taking the detour to XLS format.
  • User-defined number formats are now fully Excel-compatible. Even the most complicated user-defined formats will now be imported and exported correctly.
  • Finally, we added the format Format/Cell/Text that lets you format cells as text even if you enter numeric values.
  • PlanMaker 2012 supports charts not only on worksheets but also on separate chart sheets.

But better compatibility was not the only thing we worked on. We also added new features, such as data consolidation, a command to split cell contents to multiple columns, new chart types, and commands for automatically removing empty rows and duplicate values.

And Excel diehards will gladly find that the commands Copy down and Copy from left are now also supported by PlanMaker.

SoftMaker Office for Android and the competition

SoftMaker has never been afraid of competition. Our main competitors in the Windows market are behemoths like Microsoft Office and OpenOffice, and we are continually gaining market share against them. In the same way, we want to make inroads in the Android market against the well-entrenched tools.

Competition is good, and being able to compare is even better. That’s why we created three comparison pages that let our customers compare SoftMaker Office for Android against other Android office tools:

I have a request for you: We wrote these comparison pages in all good conscience. If you still find errors, please report them and I will update the pages quickly.

How SoftMaker Office for Android is progressing

The public beta test for SoftMaker Office for Android will start soon. We spent the last few months not only to simply port our software to Google Android, but also to design a new user interface that is finger-friendly and perfectly tuned to Android.

We have decided to use native Android control elements for the user interface (menus, dialogs, toolbars). As a result, SoftMaker Office is a true Android application with true Android feeling.

SoftMaker Office supports, of course, the usual menus that appear when you press the Menu button. It can be operated however much more quickly through toolbars.

In each SoftMaker application, you can find a toolbar with the most important commands at the bottom of the screen. Some execute a command directly, some open a secondary toolbar. For example, clicking on the “A” icon will activate the Formatting toolbar. It appears immediately above the main toolbar and offers functions covering the formatting of your document.

Care for a picture? Here we go…

You can click away the Formatting toolbar just as fast to reclaim the full display for your document. Other icons in the main toolbar open a menu directly. For example, clicking on the magnifying glass shows a menu for choosing the zoom level at which your document renders.

All applications in SoftMaker Office for Android support this modern user interface. You will be amazed how fast you can work with it.

Investigating how well the competition handles DOCX files

You may like it or not, but there’s no denying: The file formats DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX that have been introduced by Microsoft with MS Office 2007 are on the rise. Microsoft’s sheer market dominance is responsible for that, but also the complacency of many users who don’t spend a thought on which file formats they share their documents in.

SoftMaker Office 2010 comes with mature filters for DOCX (Word) and XLSX files (Excel). Our competitors have started offering their filters earlier than we did, but our own testing revealed always severe quality issues with them. It’s good to see that the trade press is starting to come to similar conclusions: Germany’s leading computer rag c’t published a comparison of and LibreOffice and investigated how well both handle DOCX files.

Here are the sobering results:

In both packages [ and LibreOffice], import worked only deficiently and was at best suitable for very simple text files. Even in those very simple text files, text was consistently laid out differently from Microsoft Word, and pictures were nearly always placed wrong. Even though OpenOffice and LibreOffice imported headings, numbering, and footnotes, they formatted the document in a completely different way from the original. Both packages handle Microsoft’s current Office file formats equally bad, and the import/export filters should be revised from the ground up before documents could be exchanged trouble-free. That there is a better way is demonstrated by SoftMaker whose TextMaker word processor handled the current Microsoft Word file format much more competently.

In our tests, LibreOffice’s export [to DOCX format] was successful only with the simplest of text files. More sophisticated documents could not even be opened in Word 2010. All attempts were answered by Word 2010 with an error message. But [for those documents that could be opened in Word 2010] the formatting was not correct in even a single case even with primitively structured documents. This made file exchange impossible in practice.

Making good progress with SoftMaker Office for Android

As some of you might already know, we are currently working on SoftMaker Office for Android. We plan to offer SoftMaker Office for Android phones, tables, and netbooks, so that users of these systems can finally use our powerful office suite.

TextMaker, PlanMaker, and SoftMaker Presentations for Android offer the same high degree of compatibility with the Microsoft Office file formats as their desktop counterparts under Windows and Linux. This means that, for the first time, a fully compatible office suite will be available for Android – one that supports change tracking, is able to correctly display all AutoShapes and images, that can display comments like Microsoft Word does, and one that faithfully renders all Microsoft Excel charts.

We will announce the public beta test at a later time. In the meantime, here are some screenshots to whet your appetite… :-)

Final report on our World Cup campaign

Our World Cup campaign is officially over now. Thanks to your numerous orders, we have been able to collect € 4215 (around US$ 5300) in donations. This has exceeded our expectations wildly. A heartfelt thank-you to all of you.

I have already reported on how we used the first 2000 Euros. Here is now an overview on the new donations:

Also, I’d like to update a few statistics… How did our customers decide to split the discount?

  • 45% decided to keep the discount to themselves.
  • 25% gave half to our charity projects and kept the other half.
  • 30% were so generous to donate the full discount.

This means that 25% + 30% = 55% decided to support our projects with their donations. A special thank-you to everyone of them!

2000 Euros donated to youth sport projects

Our new Soccer World Cup 2010 campaign got off to a very good start! Thanks to the generosity of our customers, we were able to donate the first 2000 Euros (around USD 2500) to youth sport projects around the world.

Here are the projects we supported today:

Click on each link to find a detailed project description. Please note that not all descriptions are available in English.

Our campaign runs until July 11, the day of the finals of the Soccer World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Please use this opportunity to get some great software from SoftMaker and do good at the same time.

And now for some interesting statistics… How did our customers decide to split the discount?

  • 43% decided to keep the discount to themselves.
  • 21% gave half to our charity projects and kept the other half.
  • 36% were so generous to donate the full discount.

This means that 21% + 36% = 57% helped support our projects with their donations. A heartfelt thank-you to everyone of you!

Find out more about our Soccer World Cup campaign

SoftMaker Office 2010 for Windows Mobile

This blog has run a bit dry in the last few months, primarily to a severe work overload for me. But today I have a big announcement for you: SoftMaker Office 2010 for Windows Mobile has been released today!

If you are a Windows Mobile user, you will probably have heard about SoftMaker Office. So, I’ll spare you the details and keep the advertising to a minimum. Let’s say just that: If you are serious about editing Word, Excel, and/or PowerPoint files on a Pocket PC or other Windows Mobile device and you don’t like having the formatting or content damaged, there is no way around SoftMaker Office. It is the only full-fledged mobile office suite, and it provides seamless roundtripping of Office files.

So, what’s new in SoftMaker Office 2010 for Windows Mobile? A lot! Such as:

  • TextMaker reads and writes DOCX files from Word 2007 and 2010 flawlessly. That’s something that even many competing office suites on the desktop fail to achieve.
  • PlanMaker lets you open and edit XLSX files from Excel 2007 and 2010, keeping all formulas and formatting intact.
  • PlanMaker has beautiful charts. Scroll down in this blog for some examples. The same chart tools that we have for Windows are available on Windows Mobile.
  • An improved spell checker that gives really good suggestions for misspelled words
  • More speed and more capacity in PlanMaker
  • Document tabs

Document tabs on a small Pocket PC screen? Yup. If you’ve tried them, you’ll love them and gladly give up a few pixels on the screen. Besides, they are optional. So, if space is at a premium, turn off the tabs. If space is really at a premium, switch to full-screen mode. If that’s still not enough, consider switching to a PC for editing your files… :-)