Softmaker office review -
German software company
|Founded||; 32years ago()|
|Website||SoftMaker's home page in English|
SoftMaker Software GmbH is a German software company based in Nuremberg that produces office software. SoftMaker was founded in by Martin Kotulla. In , it also added digital fonts to its offerings. Best known in Germany and the EU, SoftMaker is slowly pursuing the North American market.
Students, teachers, schools, and universities can purchase SoftMaker Office for a lower price, part of SoftMaker's academic sales program. Additionally, a free version named FreeOffice is available.
SoftMaker Office is SoftMaker's flagship product, an office suite marketed to home, small business and educational users. It consists of the word processorTextMaker (compatible with Microsoft Word), the spreadsheetPlanMaker (compatible with Microsoft Excel) the presentation software application SoftMaker Presentations (compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint) and the scripting language BasicMaker (compatible with Visual Basic for Applications).
SoftMaker Office is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux, MacOS and Android. Its predecessor was available for Windows CE, and Pocket PCs (Windows Mobile handheld devices). The version was also available for FreeBSD and Handheld PCs. SoftMaker began support for MacOS in their family of office suites.
Currently, SoftMaker Office supports all popular Microsoft Office file formats. SoftMaker claims to be working on ODF compliant formats, but currently supports OpenDocument only in its word processor.
|SoftMaker Product||Equivalent MS Product||Platforms||File Formats|
|TextMaker||Word||Win64, MacOS, Linux, Android||.docx, .doc, .rtf, .odt, .tmd, .pwd, .txt, .sxw (import only), .pdf (export)|
|PlanMaker||Excel||Win64, MacOS, Linux, Android||.xlsx, .xls, .csv, .pmd, .rtf, .dbf, .txt, .slk, .dif, .pdf (export)|
|Presentations||PowerPoint||Win64, MacOS, Linux, Android||.pptx, .pps, .ppt, .ppsx, .prd, .rtf, Export: .png, .jpg, Video and .pdf|
|BasicMaker||VBA (limited)||Win||.bas, .txt|
The SoftMaker Office sales strategy is based on cross-platform usability along with reasonable pricing and free post-sale customer service. However, since SoftMaker Office is not free like competitors LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice, or Calligra Suite, its greatest marketing strength is its high degree of Microsoft Office compatibility. As a major sales point, SoftMaker cites its ability to render graphs and charts within PlanMaker which are often indistinguishable from those created within Microsoft's Excel. Significantly, this level of compatibility extends to non-Windows platforms. Even on Windows platforms, SoftMaker Office competes with native Windows office suites based on its Microsoft Office compatibility.
SoftMaker also claims its Office suite is faster, with smaller memory and hard drive footprints than Microsoft Office or shopzoro.us
The most significant areas of incompatibility, as with all non-Microsoft office suites, are in documents that use VBA scripts. While BasicMaker is a step forward, it still does not offer seamless VBA compatibility.
The application FlexiPDF edits PDF files quite effortless.
SoftMaker offers font packages for the home user (MegaFont NOW) and professional user (infiniType).
To promote its digital font sales, SoftMaker publishes one font each month free for download from its FreeFont web site.
Microsoft doc formats are the bane of office suites on Linux, SoftMaker's Office beta may have a solution
SoftMaker's Office – a cross-platform office suite that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux – has hit public beta.
SoftMaker Office features the classic trio of products: word processor (TextMaker), spreadsheet (PlanMaker), and presentation graphics (Presentations). It has been around for 30 years; this new version replaces SoftMaker Office
The suite comes in two guises, FreeOffice and a commercial version. The commercial version has additional features including customisable ribbons, document tabs, thesaurus, better spell checking, SVG image support, mail merge, charts, and VBA-like macros (full details of the differences are here). A permanent licence costs £ per year for the full version, or £ per year for a (only slightly) cut-down Home version.
SoftMaker makes much ado about its compatibility with Microsoft's XML-based document formats, whereas alternatives to Microsoft Office like LibreOffice and OpenOffice use OpenDocument XML. It is a surrender to Microsoft in the document format wars, but pragmatic since the business world still tends to use the Microsoft formats by default.
That said, when you start up SoftMaker Office it asks you to choose between Microsoft XML and its own formats TMDX, PMDX and PRDX, which are not generally supported by other applications for import or export. Users find these choices confusing, since the native formats "support all the features" but it is unclear what you will miss by using the Microsoft formats, other than recipients of your documents complaining that they cannot open them.
OpenDocument XML is also in TextMaker, but buried in preferences after installation. Adding to the confusion, the press release we were sent states: "The applications included in the Office suite natively use the Microsoft file formats DOCX, XLSX and PPTX," disagreeing with the dialogue in the product itself.
SoftMaker told us that "TMDX" is a slightly enhanced version of the "DOCX" format. It can store "some additional features that TextMaker has over Microsoft Word". The company added that it has "plans to add ODS and ODP sometime in the future", these being the OpenDocument formats for spreadsheets and presentations.
Users get this dialogue when starting up SoftMaker for the first time
Another area of historic contention in office suites is whether to use dropdown menus or a Microsoft-style ribbon UI. The ribbon arrived in Office , partly intended to make the numerous features more discoverable, and partly to make Microsoft Office more distinctive. It was contentious at the time, and SoftMaker maintains neutrality by giving users a choice at first startup, or later in preferences. Options include light and dark, ribbon or dropdown menus, and a "Touch mode" for easier tablet use.
SoftMaker has options for both menu diehards and ribbon lovers
What's new in SoftMaker Office ? Not a great deal, it seems. There is integration with an open-source citation management system called Zotero. There is a new database module for mail merge which uses SQLite "in addition to dBase databases" (yes, this does feel like going back in time). There are tweaks to footnotes, endnotes and cross-references, new navigation features, a few new functions in PlanMaker, and a new option in Presentations to create a standalone slide show.
Not much new then, but a quick spin with the suite shows that it has all the essentials; these are feature-rich products. There is even "New OLE Object" in the menu, in the Windows version, complete with Windows 95 dialogue styling, one of a few occasions where the product feels dated.
It is good to support alternatives to products from huge corporations like Microsoft, but why use SoftMaker Office? This is being typed in TextMaker and little things like unnecessary hyphenation and inferior font rendering are obvious. But Microsoft Word does not run on Linux – well, not without Wine or other trickery, so this is another option there. Unfortunately for SoftMaker, the free LibreOffice is a capable performer and developing rapidly. SoftMaker has perhaps a tidier user interface, including the ribbon UI which LibreOffice lacks, but is behind on some features.
Microsoft Office compatibility: Is SoftMaker better?
Is SoftMaker Office really better than LibreOffice for Microsoft Office formats? Your correspondent is a bridge player and there is Word document in circulation (with a million variations) that describes the intricacies of the game's conventions. The formatting is tight as it must fit on two sides of A4. It has card symbols, multiple tables, two columns, and if anything goes slightly wrong with the precise space occupied by the content in each cell, the document soon gets mangled. In other words, it is a challenging compatibility test. It is worth noting too that there is an interaction with the printer driver in word processor documents, so you will not necessarily get exactly the same appearance on different computers even with Word.
We copied the torture-test document to an Ubuntu system and tried opening it in both LibreOffice and TextMaker. We also took a look in Word Online on Ubuntu, using Firefox. Word Online in Reading mode was pretty much perfect. In Edit mode, however, the font used for card symbols did not display correctly. In LibreOffice the page break went awry with the heading for one column appearing at the bottom of the previous page. In addition, some text was chopped off in one of the table cells. TextMaker got the page break right and the card symbols displayed OK, but the character spacing went wrong next to some card symbols so that punctuation appeared on top of the symbol instead of after it. You can see these issues if you squint carefully at our illustration. In the TextMaker version, there is a a slash character overlaying one of the club symbols.
LibreOffice vs TextMaker vs Word Online: a detail from a tricky Word document
Next I tried an Excel spreadsheet. The default Excel font is Calibri, a Microsoft font. LibreOffice showed this as a missing font and substituted a sans-serif font that was quite ugly and oversized, and the Sparklines in the Excel spreadsheet (which show trends in a small in-cell graphic) did not display. Sparklines were missing in PlanMaker too, but the Calibri font displayed OK. PlanMaker was the winner on this one.
These experiments show that getting perfect reproduction of Office document formats on Linux is still not easy, though considering the challenges both LibreOffice and SoftMaker do a decent job. It is not really a level playing field; there are eccentricities in the details of how Microsoft Office documents render. The good news is that most everyday documents import and export pretty well; the bad news is that if you want every little detail right, there is no substitute for using Microsoft's suite, preferably on Windows.
What about SoftMaker, though? If you need something as close as possible to Microsoft Office on Linux, it is worth a look, though we suggest checking with some typical documents that you work with before drawing firm conclusions on whether it really beats the competition for compatibility. ®
Unless you live in Germany, where SoftMaker has a long-established and respected presence, you may never have heard of SoftMaker FreeOffice or its commercial big brother SoftMaker Office But SoftMaker's compact, powerful, and sleek application suite feels right at home in the English-speaking world, and the price of FreeOffice – free, as in FreeOffice – makes it especially attractive.
Compared to its main freeware rival, LibreOffice, Softmaker FreeOffice can't compete on advanced features, but I prefer the FreeOffice interface, and FreeOffice is the only free office suite that displays documents as I want them displayed. More about that in a moment, but first I'll cover some basics concerning the suite as a whole.
SoftMaker gives away FreeOffice partly as an advertisement for its commercial suite. FreeOffice consists of the three basic office apps: TextMaker, a word processor; PlanMaker, a spreadsheet app; and SoftMaker Presentations. The £59 commercial suite adds a programming language similar to Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications, and a £76 Professional version adds an Outlook work-alike. All three of the free version’s apps do an impressive job of importing Microsoft Office documents.
Unlike LibreOffice, FreeOffice can open password protected Microsoft Office documents if you know the password, and this feature alone is a good reason for installing FreeOffice on a USB stick so you can open your password protected documents on someone else's computer. (The standard installation includes a Start Menu item that installs a "portable" version on a thumb drive.) Like LibreOffice, FreeOffice opens legacy WordPerfect documents – a major plus for law and government offices that typically have thousands of files in WordPerfect format.
I was pleasantly surprised by FreeOffice's speed. Complicated Microsoft Office documents that opened with painful slowness in LibreOffice opened instantly in FreeOffice – including multipage worksheets and a page Word document. All basic formatting features imported perfectly, but you can't expect perfection with advanced features.
For example, when I used PlanMaker to open an Excel worksheet that uses Excel's fancy conditional formatting to colour-code data, PlanMaker warned me that some conditional formatting would be lost – and indeed it was. Any formatting lost on import into FreeOffice will be lost forever if you save the file after editing, so make sure you know what you're doing when saving an imported Office file. (LibreOffice does a better job with Excel's conditional formatting and other graphic features).
LibreOffice comes in versions for Windows, Linux, and OS X, with tablet versions coming later this year. FreeOffice runs on Windows only, but the commercial SoftMaker Office runs on Windows, Linux, and Android, and an older version runs on Windows Mobile and even the ancient Windows CE mobile platform – the only full-featured office suites for mobile Windows platforms.
FreeOffice's interface looks a lot like Microsoft Office , with the traditional top line menu and toolbars, along with bright and clear icons that make it easy to find what you're looking for. One icon I was glad to see was a PDF icon that saves the current document in PDF format without long detours to the menu, as seen in other major suites. The only major annoyance is the lack of a "live" word count, forcing you to click a button on a Statistics toolbar to see how many words are in your document.
TextMaker impressed me most with its document viewing options. In addition to the usual page view, which shows headers, page numbers, footers, and top and bottom margins, TextMaker has a "continuous" view which displays only the main content of the page, without headers and footers, and with page breaks indicated only by a faint line across the page.
This is the view I prefer to work in, because it shows me how my text will look on the page, but doesn't break up the text at the top and bottom of every page – and TextMaker is one of very few word processors that offer it. (The others are Microsoft Word for Windows – not the version for OS X – and Corel WordPerfect). LibreOffice doesn't have a continuous view, only a web view, which doesn't show the actual margins and font that your document will have when it prints, and that's too little formatting for me to feel comfortable with.
TextMaker offers most of the advanced features you'll find in Microsoft Word, but with some significant exceptions. You can insert footnotes or endnotes, but not both, as you can in Word. If you want to create cross-references, or use mail-merge to create form letters, you'll need to buy the commercial SoftMaker Office, not the free version. The free version has limited graphics capabilities compared to the commercial version – for example, you can't apply shadows, and graphic shapes are limited to printing with dpi resolution. None of these restrictions will affect anyone who creates basic documents, but advanced students and scientists may want to look elsewhere.
Spreadsheets and presentations
PlanMaker opened my sample Excel worksheets smoothly, but this is an app best suited for basic data manipulations. You won't find anything like Excel's zero effort pivot tables that reorganise your views of data with a few clicks, but you do get filtering options for tables, which accomplishes the same thing with a bit more effort. Conditional formatting has to be built by hand, without the gallery of elegant colour-coding and other graphic features that Excel and LibreOffice boast. Charting is adequate but not dazzling.
SoftMaker Presentations gives you enough features to get basic presentations built, and does a good job of importing PowerPoint files which aren’t too complex, but look elsewhere if you want to put together a presentation that's visually memorable instead of something that looks as if it was left over from the last millennium.
Don't be misled by my focus on the limits of FreeOffice. This suite is fast, effective, and overall it’s extremely well-designed. For the vast majority of users, FreeOffice does everything you need in an office suite, and does it more quickly and intuitively than LibreOffice. However, LibreOffice is more powerful and up-to-date on an overall level.
If you want the state-of-the-art, you'll choose Microsoft Office, but SoftMaker FreeOffice has plenty to offer anyone who wants solidly functional apps and doesn't want to pay for them.
Prices - SoftMaker FreeOffice:▼
Dedoimedo published a review on the SoftMaker Office Pro office suite.
SoftMaker Office Pro - An okay day-to-day alternative
Review of SoftMaker Office Pro, a cross-platform office suite, covering installation and setup, basic usage in TextMaker, PlanMaker and Presentations, Ribbon-like interface, Microsoft Office compatibility, style management, performance and responsiveness, various bugs and glitches, and moreSoftMaker Office Pro - An okay day-to-day alternative
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I imagine this will be great news for Windows users who recently switched to working from a Linux distro. You no longer have to miss your Microsoft Office workflow thanks to SoftMaker.
SoftMaker Office is a Multi-Platform Office suite application created to be the perfect alternative to Microsoft Office Suite. It is designed to enable you to create impressive documents, calculations, and presentations with ease, coupled with seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office no conversion needed.
SoftMaker is the latest version of this office suite and it was recently released with a ton of changes that make it more similar to Microsofts alternative than it has ever been before. It features a ton of options and delivers outstanding performance for creating and managing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations respective of whether it is running on Linux, macOS, or Windows.
SoftMaker Office was available in only 2 versions, Standard and Professional, but the company has now split Standard into NX Home and NX Universal, with the more expensive version adding features to the former.
SoftMaker NX Home is the started pack choice for every home user and even professionals. It ships bundled with TextMaker, PlanMaker, Presentations, and BasicMaker with a spellcheck feature that works for 20 languages. It costs € per year or €2,99 per month.
SoftMaker Office NX Universal adds features such as creating professional e-books in EPUB format, integration with Zotero for scientific documents, 2, high-quality fonts and web fonts for print, PDF, web and e-book publishing, an advanced font manager, a full version of Corel PaintShop Pro , etc. It costs €39,95 per year or €4,99 per month. This version is available on only Windows.
SoftMaker Office Professional features everything in NX Universal except for the new high-quality fonts and advanced font manager. It costs €89,95 for a one-time purchase and €59,95 for an upgrade.
Applications in SoftMaker Office
If youre not familiar with the SoftMakers suite of apps, it offers four main products for Linux:
TextMaker: New Word processing application.
TextMaker A New Word Processing Program
PlanMaker: New Spreadsheet application.
PlanMaker A New Spreadsheet Program
Presentations: New Presentation software.
Presentation A New Presentation Software
Thunderbird: A extension to manage emails, tasks and appointments.
SoftMaker Thunderbird Extension
SoftMaker Office Licenses
All versions have 2 types of licenses Non-commercial, which can be used on up to five computers at the same time, and Commercial, which is to be used on only one computer but gives the owner the secondary use right to use the app on a portable computer, etc.
All licenses give users access to over group-policy objects and Berlitz Basic dictionaries for English to Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
Features in SoftMaker Office
- Premium App with a free day trial version
- SoftMaker Office NX Home €29,90/year or €2,99/month
- SoftMaker Office NX Universal €39,95 or €49,95/month
- SoftMaker Office Professional € (upgrade) or € (one-time payment)
- Available for 32 and bit architectures
- OpenGL-based 2D and 3D animations and transitions
- Compatible with DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX
- Customizable layout
- Beautiful UI with the much-loved ribbon interface
If you knew SoftMaker Office with version you must have noticed the inclusion of a subscription model. This gives users the flexibility to use SoftMaker Office depending on how long they want to use it for and that has its merits and demerits.
If youre hearing about SoftMaker Office for the first time, then you may want to take its day-trial version for a test drive to see if it can win your heart.
Download SoftMaker Office for Linux
Come back and tell us what you think about SoftMaker Office in comparison to, perhaps, the free alternatives you have used. And if you would rather use a free application, SoftMaker has still got you covered with their latest release of FreeOffice .
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