Like most Open Source projects, AbiWord started as a cathedral, but has become more like a bazaar.
AbiWord is part of a larger project known as AbiSource, which was started by the SourceGear Corporation.
The goal of the project was the development of a cross-platform, Open Source office suite beginning with AbiWord, the project's word processor.
AbiWord is unique among word processors in its drive to become a fully cross-platform word processor.
Our source code is carefully written so that AbiWord will run on virtually any operating system with a minimum of time spent on porting.
This combined with our support for internationalization (the ability to run AbiWord in many languages) gives AbiWord a massive potential user-base.
Currently we run on most UNIX systems, Windows 95 and later, QNX Neutrino 6.2. We also have a MacOS X native port in the way (you can still use the UNIX version on MacOS X if you want).
There used to be a BeOS port, but that version has been gone unmaitained for too long to consider it as still alive; we dreamt that it was any different, so if you want to help, feel free to contact us.
Enjoy your favorite Word Processor on the operating system you like to use - be it Windows, Linux, QNX, FreeBSD or Solaris.
AbiWord has been designed to integrate perfectly with the operating system it runs on. It will take advantage of the functionality provided by the system, such as image loading or printing capabilities.
AbiWord is the latest release of the multi-platform word processor that combines state-of-the-art usability, powerful features, and excellent interoperability. This release contains a number of exciting new features in addition to hundreds of bug fixes.
Improved Collaboration support
AbiWord's collaborative capabilities are greatly improved in this release. For example, it gained the ability to distinguish the text written by different authors using various text highlight colors while collaborating. Figure 1 shows a document being edited by three different authors at the same time. The collaboration support has been tightly integrated with the new online web service called http://abicollab.net/, which lets you store documents online, allows easy document sharing with your friends, and performs format conversions on the fly.
Sharing a document
Automatic document history
Permalinks to documents
Managing group members
Annotation / Comment support
AbiWord gained support for annotations, or "comments". You can annotate any piece of text with a remark that will show up when you hover over it with your mouse. A list of all remarks will be displayed in the footer area on every page if desired. An annotation example is shown in figure 2 below.
Smart Quote support
Proper Smart Quote support has been added in this latest release. While older AbiWord releases claimed to have it on board (there was a preference to enable Smart Quotes), it was never (properly) implemented. Figure 3 shows that AbiWord finally supports this often requested feature.
Also new in is the ability to view multiple pages side by side. This is convenient for users who have large widescreen monitors, or for quickly getting an overview of the document. Figure 4 shows various pages of a document shown side by side.
True Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) support
The GTK port of AbiWord has gained proper SVG support in the 2.8.0 release. While previous AbiWord releases had the ability to import SVG images, their quality was low. This has been fixed, and SVG images will now look better on screen and in print. Figure 5 shows a document containing a high quality SVG image, which will not lose any image quality when printed.
It's worth noting that importing WMF images from Microsoft Word documents will also result in high quality images now, as they too won't be rasterised anymore.
Improved OpenDocument Format (.odt) support
The AbiWord development team considers support for the Open Document Format (ODF) important for a number of reasons, including long term durability and our interoperability with other products on the market. These days many governments, companies and individual users are moving to ODF. Thanks to an ongoing grant from NLnet Foundation, AbiWord is on its way to become one the best ODF implementations on the word processor market. This release incorporates many improvements to the ODF import/export filters, such as documents with page anchored images and frames that are now properly imported, as well as documents with a relative width to columns and tables. Coupled with a large number of other improvements makes that AbiWord's support for ODF is better than ever.
Improved Office Open XML (.docx) support
As with OpenDocument Format support, we consider interoperability with the Office Open XML (.docx) format popularized by Microsoft Word to be very important. The Office Open XML import filter in AbiWord 2.8 has seen great improvements as the result of funding through the Google Summer of Code program. The import filter now supports all common complex document features such as lists, tables, headers, footers and images.
New printing framework
The printing system in the GTK port of AbiWord has been completely rewritten. The most notable change is the support for GTK Print in favor of the deprecated gnome-print. Furthermore the quality of the Postscript and PDF output has been increased significantly, which was made possible by porting our rendering code to use cairo.
Apps similar to AbiWord 2
LibreOffice was developed to be a productivity suite that is compatible with other major office suites, and available on a variety of platforms.
OpenOffice.org is an open-source, multi-platform and multi-lingual office suite that resembles MS Office functionality.