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Monday, 16 August 2010 10:56

Simple Linux word processing with WordGrinder


Sometimes you just need to write text! You don't need rich formatting and you most definitely don't want Microsoft Word HTML markup. The text console open source WordGrinder app makes word processing as straightforward as you can get.

'Wait a minute,' I hear you say. 'A text console app? Isn't that backwards?'

Thanks for asking, but no. There are many good reasons why a text console program without the flashy plethora of fonts and formatting tools is valuable.

For one, it offers a clean and tight interface with absolutely no distractions. When you work in WordGrinder you write text. You don't worry about what else is happening around you on your machine and you don't worry about whether your document is as pretty as can be.

For those who plan to use their text on a web site you don't have to worry about bringing across crazy formatting tags when all you want is plain text.

Now, Linux users well know that there is no shortage of text editors already available, with vi and emacs being perennial favourites (as well as the cause of many a religious war or two!)

WordGrinder doesn't seek to replace either product - just like it won't replace OpenOffice Writer - but it does fill its own niche. It's not a general text editor but is for all intents and purposes a true word processor, just not WYSIWYG.

This means WordGrinder offers spell checking, for one thing, plus word and paragraph counts at a glance. Additionally, it does offer formatting options (eg double spacing) but not enough that you waste time setting them up.

The one feature of WordGrinder I'm not keen on is that, by default, it saves documents in a binary format and not plain text.

This is because it includes more than the text alone in its save files. Options and settings and styles are saved with the document. You can export to plain text as well as HTML export and other formats.

If you write for any reason - professional author, budding author, even copy for websites - you'll find value in WordGrinder. It's clean, tiny and just lets you get the job done.

Being open source, it's free for use and distribution and fits in a tiny 6K lines of code.


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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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