I think I don’t need to introduce you with Microsoft Office. You must have used it someday in some place. It is currently the most commonly used Office software for creating your documents, presentations, spreadsheets and more. But Microsoft Office is presently the most costly solution to have. There are of course some free products like Open Office, Libre Office, Kingsoft Office. But if you need a paid but cheap solution you should definitely look at SoftMaker Office. I have posted about the release of SoftMaker Office 2012 few times back and promised you to write a review on it based on my perspective and with the help of reviews made by the contestants. Till date I have received 3 such reviews from Grr, Jomar and Malkhaz and all have been won a license of SoftMaker Office 2012 Standard. I will send them licenses very soon.
SoftMaker Office 2012 is available in two editions:
- SoftMaker Office Standard 2012
- SoftMaker Office Professional 2012
It is three main components TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations. It also has an additional utilities called BasicMaker.
It is the word processor in Softmaker Office like Word in Microsoft Office.
Some main features of TextMaker are the following:
- Practical document templates: pre-designed letterheads, fax forms, etc. for creating new documents in no time
- Extensive paragraph formatting capabilities, including automatic numbering, bullets, borders, shadows, fill patterns
- Paragraph and character styles that allow you to apply frequently needed formats to text with the press of a button
- Desktop publishing (DTP) features like “master pages”, drop caps, small caps, automatic paragraph control, adjustable character spacing and pitch
- Graphics support in numerous file formats, extensive drawing functions, TextArt module for fancy text effects
- Powerful table functions, including arithmetic functions
- File and document manager with search capabilities
- Table of contents and indexes, footnotes, outline view
- Reliable spell checking, hyphenation, and synonym dictionaries
- Integrated address book (database)
It is the spreadsheet application in SoftMaker Office like Excel in Microsoft Office.
Some main features of PlanMaker are the following:
- More than 330 built-in arithmetic functions.
- Integrated charting module that lets you present numbers vividly in charts.
- Makes creating attractive worksheets easy through numerous formatting options. Long, boring columns of numbers can be turned into attractive tables with the AutoFormat command. With cell styles and character styles, you apply frequently needed formatting with a key press.
- The full range of PlanMaker functions is available through a well-designed, ergonomic user interface that includes user-configurable toolbars and keyboard mappings, as well as context menus for commonly used commands (accessible with the right mouse button).
It is the presentation graphics software package in SoftMaker Office like PowerPoint in Microsoft Office.
Some main features of Presentations are the following:
- Combine images, drawings, movies, and sounds in your presentations. Simply insert them from files, or import your images directly from a scanner.
- Animate objects and create slide transitions in numerous styles and variations to captivate your audience.
- Create and organize your slide contents efficiently and with ease. Many practical templates are included to help you find an attractive design for your presentation quickly.
- Use a full range of text formatting features which are at your disposal.
- Structure your thoughts before and while delivering your presentations using the handy built-in outliner capability.
- Manage even the largest slideshows using one of many tools provided, such as the slide sorter.
- Save your presentations in PowerPoint format or export them as images.
- Print handout sheets for your audience.
BasicMaker is an easy to use development environment for the programming language SoftMaker Basic. SoftMaker Basic is modeled after the industry standard Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) from Microsoft. It is a rather easy to learn programming language that is optimized to work together with applications. For example, with some simple Basic instructions, you can change fonts in a TextMaker document, open another document etc. BasicMaker does not produce directly executable program files, as it does not contain a compiler that creates executable files. Instead, you build so-called scripts with BasicMaker. These can be opened and executed from within BasicMaker.
Some main features of BasicMaker are the following:
- The control center of BasicMaker is the script editor, for you to create and edit SoftMaker Basic scripts. For information on how to operate the editor, refer to the chapter Using the script editor.
- Integrated into the editor is an interpreter for the programming language SoftMaker Basic. This interpreter is responsible for the execution of the scripts. SoftMaker Basic scripts cannot be compiled to executable programs, but have to be started from the script editor.
- Additionally, you can execute a script from inside TextMaker or PlanMaker. When they are running, click on the menu entry Tools > Run Script and choose the desired script. BasicMaker will then run the script.
- Beyond that, a Debugger for testing scripts is integrated in the script editor, so that you can process a script step by step and inspect variables. This helps to find errors. You can find more information about this in Debugging scripts.
- Finally, BasicMaker contains a graphical dialog editor. You can use it to create dialog boxes which allow users to interact with your scripts. More information about this can be found in Using the dialog editor.
- The Installer is much smaller (1/4th in size on disk) compared to MS Office 2010 installer.
- If one uses the evaluation version to trail the software he will be given choice during custom installation as to install either Standard or Pro version. Otherwise it installs the pro version by default.
- During installation you will be given choice to associate file types with Softmaker office if it is already registered with other application. You can choose to select all or some specific file types
- Installation went on smooth and fast (4 minutes) and you are not asked for a reboot at the end.
- After installation automatically starts a launcher smash.exe in tray from which you can easily launch Softmaker programs. It runs on startup by default. If you don’t want it on startup you can change that settings too.
SoftMaker Office 2012 for Windows can be used with:
- Microsoft Windows 7
- Microsoft Windows Vista
- Microsoft Windows XP
- Microsoft Windows Server 2008
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003
It also works on application servers such as Citrix XenApp and Microsoft Terminal Server. It works flawlessly in 64 bit windows.
The size of your PC’s main memory is irrelevant for SoftMaker Office. If you have enough memory to run Windows, SoftMaker Office will perform flawlessly.
User Interface and other common features
- Loading time of SoftMaker applications are considerably faster than its competitors.
- Output format is also quite versatile. In addition to all MS Office 2010 output formats, it supports SoftMakers own output format.
- All the applications are set to show tips on startup of the applications. But this can be easily avoided.
- All applications support tabbed interface. This means it can open multiple documents at once as multiple tabs. But it do not alert while closing multiple tabs at once.
- All SoftMaker applications have the look and usability similar as MS Office 2003 but with features comparable and in some places better than MS Office 2010.
- All SoftMaker applications have nicely documented help file and also PDF Manuals.
- The applications have rich toolbar contents.
- In all the applications there are options to Paste Text as it is or as “Paste Special” as unformatted text. All SoftMaker application autosaves by default in every 8 minutes. That’s often annoying. You can increase the time to maximum 100 minutes.
- You can set in SoftMaker applications the number of ‘undo’ steps. Maximum allowed is 999, default is 99.
- All SoftMaker applications can be exported as PDF. You will be able to set properties and even protection to the generated PDF.
- All SoftMaker applications can be password protected. You could provide 2 kinds of protection to the document – read and/or write. Each must be supplied a minimum 4 character (to maximum 15 characters) password.
- If you have multiple windows opened you can Cascade, Tile Vertically, Tile Horizontally the windows.
- SoftMaker Office applications are set to check for updates every week.
- SoftMaker applications let you work on in many languages.
User interface (menus and dialogs)
English (United States), English (United Kingdom), French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Hungarian, Russian, Bulgarian, Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Japanese
Spell-checkingEnglish (United States), English (United Kingdom), French (France), French (Canada), German (pre- and post-reform), Swiss German (pre- and post-reform), Italian, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, Greek, Arabic
Synonym dictionaries (thesauri)
English (United States), English (United Kingdom), French, German (pre- and post-reform), Swiss German (pre- and post-reform), Italian, Spanish, Dutch
English (United States), English (United Kingdom), French (France), French (Canada), German (pre- and post-reform), Swiss German (pre- and post-reform), Italian, Spanish (Spain), Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese (Portugal), Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Turkish, Greek, Czech, Polish, Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian
- TextMaker has a feature called Database
Writing letters is only one side of the coin. It is almost as important to keep your address up to date, so that you can access the address quickly. TextMaker provides an easy to use dBase compatible module for this purpose. It is seamlessly integrated into the word processor and provides all the functions needed to manage addresses and other information. You can enter and edit data, search for specific items, and much more.
- In TextMaker you can create an index of a document. You will be able to edit index entries and generate an index of the keywords.
- It can generate Table of Contents and Table of Figures.
- You will be able to insert and edit comments.
- You enable the “Track changes” function in TextMaker. If you do so, you can continue, just as before, to make whatever changes you like in a document. However, the changes are not immediately applied, but are highlighted in color and saved in the document as “proposed changes”.
- SoftMaker Office do not add ‘curved red underline’ in each misspelled word but there is a feature called “Check Spelling” that can check your entire document for misspelled word and suggests possible correct spelling. You can also add a word in “”User Dictionary”. You can also delete entries one by one from “User Dictionary”
- You can enable “Automatic Hyphenation” for adding Hyphens to words that appear at the end of a line and needs to be splitted.
- Textmaker has the following “Auto Editing” options.
- It offers powerful object/image management. You can enter new text frame, picture, picture frame, OLE object, OLE object frame, Horizontal line etc. It has different drawing tools.
- SoftMaker Presentations has many features similar to TextMaker.
- You can set slide layout, design, transition, background, animation, color scheme.
- PlanMaker has a freeze command to “freeze” the first rows and/or columns of a worksheet on screen. As a result, the frozen rows or columns do not move when you scroll through the worksheet, but permanently stay in place.
- SoftMaker PlanMaker has many features similar to TextMaker.
- You can either add protection to particular sheet or to a workbook.The AutoFilter and Special filter help you manage huge data sets. Data grouping, like a word processor’s outline view, hides the details and lets you see the big picture.
- “What if” questions can be answered by using the scenario manager, which lets you test the effects that various values will have on the results of your calculations.
- If a mistake is hiding somewhere in your calculations, syntax highlighting and the formula auditing wizard help you quickly find the place where things went wrong.
- There is a “Goal Seek” command in PlanMaker that can help you determine what value a certain portion of a calculation must meet to extract a pre-defined result from the calculation.
- There is a “AutoFormat” command that lets you apply a predefined scheme of formattings to an entire cell range.
- Can export charts as Images.
- You will be able to remove duplicate and empty rows.
- BasicMaker application interface looks clean and easy to use.
I have used SoftMaker Office since January and have found it quite capable. If compared to Microsoft Office the most compelling solution at the moment it has some more exciting features.
- Better Image Management.
- Enhanced toolbar.
- Tabbed opening of multiple documents.
- Number of supported formats
- Faster loading time.
- Smaller size of installation.
- Frequent updates. They have released two service packs since January.
- Lots of customizations.
- Very easy to learn and use.
- Extra-ordinary documentations.
- You will be able to create a portable version of SoftMaker Office in your USB drive.
But it has some drawbacks too.
- Translation errors are present in places.
- Default autosave interval should be increased.
- During autosaving of large documents it remains non-responsive for long.
- CPU usage shoot to 99% while converting a presentation to pdf.
- Compatibility with Microsoft Office is not complete. When presentation (.ppt) made in Powerpoint is opened, I have found some distortions in it. Also when document made in Word (.doc) is opened I saw some special characters are not being displayed properly although those special characters are indeed present in TextMaker symbols.
- “Smash” shows reference to eM Client and DataMaker which are available in Pro version.
So, SoftMaker Office is an attractive cheap alternative to Microsoft office and runs well in old computers too. But it has hunches which should be fixed. If they want to reach a peak they need to make it completely compatible with all Microsoft Office Applications. Much needed features are.
- Add a Support Application through which the user can easily submit bugs, suggestions without going to online support using a browser.
- Add a connection settings for checking updates. Proxy with authentication support is needed to reach large institutes and corporate environments.
- Digitally sign installers, service packs and executable files.
SoftMaker Office 2012 Standard costs $79.95 USD. The software can be evaluated as free for 30 days. Download the trial from the following link.
I am sure you will like the software !!