Sunday, July 4, 2010

Why use Word, when you have better alternative

Many of us was brought up with Microsoft Word on Windows or Mac. But MS Word, besides its price, it in many occasion an overkill to most of us.

If we look carefully of those documents we created using Word, I would say almost 90% of them are simple documents, i.e. letters, short articles, etc. that most features on Word are not used at all.

There are also compatibility problem that forces almost everyone using Word instead of alternatives, i.e. if you have Word, you are almost certain that you will be able to open any documents created using Word.

This is a wrong perception however. Documents created using later versions of Word does not necessarily open in earlier version of Word. To maintain compatibility, most of us will fallback to saving Word documents in Word 97-2001 format, instead of the later xml or docx (Word 2007) formats.

Word is also a bulky monster that will eat up your memory without realising, if you open Word and not closing it for long hours, it will eventually freeze and render your PC/Mac slow like turtle, a common symptom for Microsoft products.

But how are we avoid using Word while maintaining compatibility with other Word users?

Look for alternative.

There are a few alternatives one can choose from, and I will concentrate on Mac instead of on Windows.

First, determine your needs, ask yourself what kind of documents you created most, and do you need to share editable documents you created with others, or receiving editable documents from others.

Ask also whether you often write lengthly documents with fancy features like Table of Contents, footnotes, and applying style sheets to your documents.

If the above is alien to you, likely you need a simple word processor to do your job than Microsoft Word.

On Mac OSX, there are a couple of alternatives, one of them is Bean.

The name BEAN looks funny at first, BEAN is an Open Source word processor so simple that you can start working with immediately with no training. The advantage of Open Source allowing you to add features on top of what is already provided, if you are OSX/Objective-C programmer. It provides a solid foundation for you to customize word processor for your own needs.

If you are not a programmer, the core features of Bean covers daily needs on word processor.

Bean is also fast, efficient, able to open and save Word documents. As other Mac applications, saving to PDF is readily available, unlike Windows where you have to rely on 3rd party PDF printing utilities.

Bean gives you an uncluttered view of editing screen, simple, and easy to use toolbar (yes, only one toolbar instead of zillion toolbar or ribbon that occupies half of your screen in the case of Word).

Once open, just type as you would on Word. It is lightning fast, and smooth. In addition, you can type any character as long as OSX supports, means from Tamil to Arabic to Chinese to Japanese.

Bean needs no tutorial, it is not a monster like Word. Go explore yourself, and you will soon fall in love with.


  1. good introduction, though I don't have any iMAC and the only product I have ever tried is APPLE II (with my flavor MC68000 chip inside).

    Thanks CY

  2. 西西留:Apple II is powered by 6502. Elegant processor with linear memory addressing than Intel's stupid memory paging. 68000 was on original mac, atari STs, Amigas, etc.

    btw, I was grown up using Apple II for my school assignment, and assembly programming with ZX81, i.e. Zilog's Z80.

    Those were the days :)

  3. oh...yes, you are right. My bad memory mess me up. And I mean for 6800 family which has same similarity to 6502.

    If I am not mistake, the box came with spare chip and circuit diagram. We use that for home-make sound blaster if I can still remember. But never catch up any assembly programming at that time since nobody really know how it works. We use BASIC.

    In fact, almost all the hardcore programmers tends to curse Intel for it's stupid addressing method, including my own lecturer in campus.

    Luckily my design firm utilize 6502 core all the time, so I didn't need to "crook" my mind. Until then they change their mind and switch to 8502, it take me half a year to "switch my mode" to small endian.

    Thanks for sharing anyway.^_^

  4. Right. Rockwell produced 6502 with enhanced instructions, and with popularity of Apple II, it became a hit. When 68000 was out and used in the Mac, Intel is no way near with pseudo 16/32 bit 8086 and subsequently 80286 and 80386 etc. It was IBM chosen Intel, together with PCDOS (MS DOS licensed to IBM from Microsoft) made the 2 companies as it is now.

    Motorola 6800/68000 found itself comfortable in the embedded market, but failed to take Intel even with superior product.

    When Intel came to embedded market with StrongArm licensed from ARM UK, Motorola is gone.

    Sometime I wonder why excellent product cannot clinch a fair market share, then I realised in later days that a good of excellent product is only one factor of success formula.

    Good product without good marketing, good support, good service will eventually kill the product line or even the company.

    Ai ya, talking too much already...