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.
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.
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 OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice and investigated how well both handle DOCX files.
Here are the sobering results:
In both packages [OpenOffice.org 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.
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…
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!
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
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…
We completely overhauled the charting engine in PlanMaker 2010. Now you can make your own TV- or magazine-quality charts with minimal effort.
I’ll simply show you some:
PlanMaker 2010 is the most significant rewrite of PlanMaker since 2001. Internally, all data structures have been changed so that PlanMaker will be able to work with much larger data sets than in the past.
The first visible sign is that the row capacity is now set at 65536 instead of 16384 rows.
We will increase this even further (up to 1 million) when our XLSX export filter is done – the regular XLS file format cannot store anything beyond 65536 rows, and our own PMD format is a slight variation on XLS. It therefore has the same limit.
In order to handle these larger row sets, we had to bring down memory requirements and increase the speed of all sheet operations. This means that even now, while we are still at 65536 rows, PlanMaker 2010 should be faster and require less RAM memory than PlanMaker 2008.
Let’s look at some of the new worksheet features:
- External references: This has been a longstanding wish from PlanMaker users. Finally, with PlanMaker 2010 you can link to other workbooks in your calculations. Like in Excel, you choose how and when those calculations are updated.
- Select multiple sheets: With PlanMaker 2010, you can select several sheets in the sheet register and apply formatting operations on all of them simultaneously. For example, if you wish to change the paper format, simply select all worksheets and then call the File/Page setup command.
- Formula auditing: When things go wrong in elaborate worksheets, you need a “debugger”. Formula auditing is such a “worksheet debugger”. It can be used to plot dependencies between cells, to mark invalid input in cells (cells containing values that violate their input validation settings), and trace errors.
- A Repeat command: One nice thing in Excel is the Edit/Repeat command. It simply repeats the last operation on the current set of data. Immensely useful, and PlanMaker 2010 has it now, too. What we did not copy is the mysterious way that Excel uses to swap the Redo and the Repeat command in and out of the Edit menu. We simply have two separate commands without magic hide-and-seek…
- Search on steroids: The Search function has been overhauled, too. You can now search across multiple sheets, and what’s even nicer is that you can choose to have PlanMaker display a “hit list”. All cells or comments or frames matching the search term are shown in a list, and you can jump between them by clicking in the list.
- Paste special with extras: The command Edit/Paste special now allows you not only to paste data in different ways, but (like in Excel) combine the pasted values with the pasted-over values. We offer Add, Substract, Multiply, and Divide. Additionally, you can transpose cells, skip empty cells, and choose which part of the formatting (the number format, the character format, the shading etc.) to paste and which not.
- A wizard for text file import: Now you can do nearly anything when importing text files. PlanMaker supports a large variety of character sets and lets you determine which columns are imported as text and which as numbers, currencies, dates, times, etc. Furthermore, you decide whether to import separator-delimited files (with freely chooseable delimiters) or fixed-width files. A preview always shows what the import will look like with the current settings.
- A wizard for text file export: Same story when saving to text files. Here, PlanMaker’s preview will also display those characters from your worksheet in red that cannot be stored in the chosen character set.
- Wizards for dBASE import and export: You can do similar things when importing and exporting dBASE files.
- Scenarios are great for “what if” calculations. You can set up multiple scenarios with variable values and then “play” with the numbers to reach informed decisions.
In my next post, I’ll talk about the great charting features that PlanMaker 2010 comes with.