abiword Today I finally taught the spell checker in AbiWord that "Zawodny" is, in fact, a correctly spelled word. And as I did so, for reasons not entirely clear to me, I found myself thinking that this must mean that I've decided to stick with AbiWord.

You see, I've been using it in place of Microsoft Word for the last four weeks or so (ever since the Microsoft Bloatware Alert, in fact) and have been pleasantly surprised by how closely it matches what I really want from a word processor while also staying out of my way most of the time.

Unlike Word, I've not had to dig through lots of preferences to turn off various "smart" features that invariably Get It Wrong and cause me to do more work than I should have to.

In case you're wondering, I used to just type these posts into my browser and fix the typos after people reported them. But I realized that was dumb and starting using Word to compose them. That was, of course, also dumb in other ways. Blog posts are the only thing I really use a word processor for anymore. Strange, huh?

Anyway... I guess it's official. I've switched.

Taking that extra 5 seconds of effort hopefully marks the beginning of a long-term relationship with a less annoying word processor.

If Ira Glass (or Aaron Swartz maybe) ever starts a radio show called "This Geeky Life" (in the spirit of "This American Life"), I'll have to remember to submit this tale.

Posted by jzawodn at May 14, 2007 07:57 PM

Reader Comments
# li said:

nice to meet u!

on May 14, 2007 10:16 PM
# Kingsly said:

Isn't a word processor overkill for typing a blog entry ?

Firefox comes with a built in spell checker.Never bothered to teach it new words.. until now.. I just had to right click on Zawodny with a red underline and choose "add to dictionary" and the red line disappeared!

It also suggests alternate spellings (again a right click away)

on May 15, 2007 12:58 AM
# Alex said:

Why don't you use a browser spellchecker?

on May 15, 2007 01:54 AM
# Ian said:

You do realise that Firefox has a built in spelling checker for form fields?

on May 15, 2007 03:10 AM
# Matt said:

How do you handle situations where you have to share something with others who use word and alignment of content in the document matters?

This is what has held me up from switching from word.

on May 15, 2007 05:30 AM
# Duncan said:

Yes, Firefox has the built in spell checker, which I like quite a bit. It works "on the fly" and very well IMHO.

Also, I have a new system at home (Mac Mini) and so far I have not installed Office (or any other word processor) so far. I have been using Google Docs for all of my personal word/excel needs and I've been happy so far.

on May 15, 2007 06:18 AM
# Bas said:

Another vote for the Firefox spell checker. What a great feature. I used to fix typos as I found them as well.

on May 15, 2007 08:26 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Yeah, but years of unstable browsers have trained me to write anything more than 50 words or so in another app and paste it in. That's a habit that takes a long time to unlearn...

on May 15, 2007 09:44 AM
# Eric said:

Google Docs solves both the spellcheck problem and the "what if the browser crashes?" problem thanks to its auto save. It also lets you post to your blog directly also solves the problem of "What if my hard drive crashes?" to boot (though in fairness, it introduces the "What if my internet connection dies?" problem).

on May 15, 2007 12:31 PM
# Ricardo Dias Marques said:

Hi Jeremy,

I must confess that you left me curious. Are you using a word processor - AbiWord in this case - to edit your blog entries:
a) "directly" in plain text
- OR -
b) "visually" and then saving it to HTML format
- OR -
c) "directly" in HTML code

If you picked option "a" or "c", and since you're an Emacs user, why not use Emacs (and its spell checker)?

If you picked option "b", have you tried OpenOffice.org Writer? Or did you try Writer but preferred AbiWord for some reason (e.g: maybe it takes longer to load)?

on May 15, 2007 03:47 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


The answer is (a).

Most of the time I'm working on a Windows box and have never completely made the effort to get Emacs running like it ought to be on the machine.

Back when I used a Linux laptop daily, it would have been Emacs all the way.

on May 15, 2007 04:22 PM
# Ricardo Dias Marques said:

Hi Jeremy,

First of all, thanks a lot for your answer! :)

I know that you are the author of the "Emacs Beginner's HOWTO" - http://jeremy.zawodny.com/emacs/emacs.html - so you probably know 1000 times more about Emacs than I do.
Besides, although I do have XEmacs - http://www.xemacs.org/ - installed in Windows, I use mostly a freeware editor called PSPad - http://www.pspad.com/en/ - when I'm in Windows and I use Vim when I'm in a SSH session to a Linux box.

By the way, congratulations and thanks for your great "Emacs Beginner's HOWTO"! :)

I do not know exactly what were/are your expectations for Emacs in your Windows environment. Have you tried installing recently the native windows version of XEmacs (with InnoSetup installer) - http://www.xemacs.org/Download/win32/ - and see if the resulting installation is closer to your needs/expectations?

on May 15, 2007 06:13 PM
# Daniel Fisher said:

In order to avoid the problem you cite in comment 36301, you may want to look into the
"It's All Text" Mozilla/Firefox extension.


This extension puts a button in the lower right corner of each textarea and if clicked will send the text from the textarea to $FAVORITEEDITOR.

Even if you don't use this extension for blogging, it's incredibly useful in other contexts (e.g. editing Wikis)

BTW- This comment was easier to write due to the "It's All Text" extension :)

on May 17, 2007 11:05 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Cool. Thanks for the recommendation, Daniel.

on May 17, 2007 04:50 PM
# Jay Neely said:

Jeremy, I've had similar experiences with browsers losing my text, and I recently discovered a Greasemonkey script called "Textarea Backup". If you used this(with Firefox, yay spellcheck!), I can't think of any reason why editing in a word processor would still be preferable to using your blog software's own entry frontend.

on May 18, 2007 08:11 AM
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