KWord 1.1beta3 review

Kent Nguyen has written a very nice and entertaining review of KWord (dot mirror available) as part of a more extensive KOffice examination. With the help of an alter-ego or two, as well as some editorial guidance from Tina of Newsforge, Kent covers everything from KWord frames to component embedding and groupware features, with more than a few illustrative screenshots. Over the next few weeks, look forward to Kent's reviews of KSpread, KIllu, KPresenter, Kivio, and Krayon.


> It's not a troll..

No, just lazy. Sorry, but or goodness sakes its a free program that comes in binaries for just about any distro (deb, many rpms, etc.) Just download the thing and try it out!


By Erik Severinghaus at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

Yes, the import filters (in particular for Word 97 and 2000) have much improved.

Looking for help with the other formats though (Excel, Powerpoint, Word-95...). Contributions welcome !!!

By David Faure at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

Joe, if you were one of those who filed problem reports, you might now be sorted out since, when I checked a few days ago, I had closed all MS Word filter bug reports I have received (well, unless they happened to be Word 95 files). If not, then YMMV...

This is not a dig, and I certainly don't claim to be able to fix everything every time, my point is simply that I can only work with the material I have.

By Shaheed at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Koffice still crashed on me when i tried to open a word document. It seems to have gotten a lot better though. I came across this new Linux desktop site http://GUI-Lords.org Cool place to discuss this stuff as well.


By craig at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

You wouldn't happen to be the same Craig that helps *run* gui-lords, would you? Just wondering.... ;-) (I have no inside knowledge, just put together the fact that Craig, with the aim username of blackfam972 could quite possibly be the same person as blackfarm@mountain.net.)

By David Bishop at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Well i have submitted a few stories but i have no connection with the site. I don't know anyone there or anything like that. But yes i guess.


By craig at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

I think Koffice really is on track to being a more than adequate suite. I like Kword alot - there are still a few crashes and missing features but this is just a matter of time.

Good luck to everyone involved !

By Craig at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

Crashes ? In beta 3 ? I want to hear about them ! :)

By David Faure at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

I had a problem with the PI sign. First I couldn't preview before printing, and then when I save to .ps and then print it out, formula with PI was not on the paper.Also, parts of the table have not been printed. Without the formula everything works just fine. One more thing,I have to write many formulas in my documents so I have to turn off anti-aliasing before using KWord because it's impossible to see any formula on the screen.

By jasenko at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

Make sure to use Qt 2.3.1 if you are using anti-aliasing.A bug in the font metrics was found and fixed, and it was the reason for the wrong placement of the formula text, when anti-aliasing was enabled.

By David Faure at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Well I know I should have reported this to the bug page , just haven't quite worked that out yet and assumed that someone had already done so. The main problems I have encountered have been

1 Tables , crashing the prrogram on insertion. I do remember tables working albeit primitively in Kword 1 - i think..

2 Abiword import/export didn't function (not exactly a crash)

These are the only things I have encountered so far.

Running SuSE 7.2, KDE 2.1.2 64MB RAM

Good luck with the rest of kword


By Craig at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Well I know I should have reported this to the bug page , just haven't quite worked that out yet and assumed that someone had already done so. The main problems I have encountered have been

1 Tables , crashing the prrogram on insertion. I do remember tables working albeit primitively in Kword 1 - i think..

2 Abiword import/export didn't function (not exactly a crash)

These are the only things I have encountered so far.

Running SuSE 7.2, KDE 2.1.2 64MB RAM

Good luck with the rest of kword


By Craig at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Well I know I should have reported this to the bug page , just haven't quite worked that out yet and assumed that someone had already done so. The main problems I have encountered have been

1 Tables , crashing the prrogram on insertion. I do remember tables working albeit primitively in Kword 1 - i think..

2 Abiword import/export didn't function (not exactly a crash)

These are the only things I have encountered so far.

Running SuSE 7.2, KDE 2.1.2 64MB RAM

Good luck with the rest of kword


By Craig at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Hello craig this is also craig. You sould send your crash repots to David Faure


By craig at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Look guys, don't got bothering David with vague bug reports via email, use bugs.kde.org. It would be very helpful to the developers if your could send backtraces also. To enable this you need to have the GNU compiler collection installed (specifcally GDB, the debugger) and compile qt with -debug + configure kde --enable-debug. If you can't or won't do this either explain in plain clear english how to reproduce the bug or attach a document that causes the crash.

By DavidA at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

I've checked out all 3 betas of Kword 1.1. I am really impressed by the overall quality of the software, and amazed that people are actually writing and giving away such high-quality stuff. However, as a practical matter, Kword in its current incarnation is useless for me since the math typesetting is extremely buggy. Many characters and symbols don't show up at all, and when they show up, they displace the text around them so that the overall effect is ugly. Also many characters display on the screen, but don't print out. I am not sure whether these problems are due to user error or not. Anyway, I'm sure that the issues will be ironed out in future releases.


By Magnus Pym at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

For serious mathematical typesetting nothing can realistically hold a candle to Latex. Fortunately, under linux we have LyX (www.lyx.org): it's basically a very powerful interface to Latex (even though it actually goes beyond that). You retain access to 100% of Latex's power, but ~95% of the time you can do things from the gui. For me it's the perfect technical typesetting system, and it improves every day!

By F. Perez at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

i have problems with gifs embedded in kword documents: they show nicely on the screen, but in the print (preview) they are invisible. someone has the same problem ?

By ik at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

i meant jpeg ... sorry (gif works fine)

By ik at Tue, 2001/07/03 - 5:00am

I have kde 2.2 beta1 (cvs)
koffice cvs 03/07/2001

and can't reproduce the problem here.

By thierry at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

can you try this kwd file ? it triggers the problem for me

By ik at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

it triggers another problem btw, calculated cells in an embedded kspread do not show up until you activated it once.

By ik at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

I try your document and can't reproduce the problem. File->Print preview is correct.

perhaps you have kdelib 2.1.2 ?
kdelibs 2.2 have a new library for printing.
and I think koffice use it.

>it triggers another problem btw, calculated
>cells in an embedded kspread do not show up
>until you activated it once.
Yes, already true.
You can submit a bug report.


By thierry at Thu, 2001/07/05 - 5:00am

--With the KIllustrator naming troubles it might be a good time to review all the Koffice suite names to avoid further problems. I think the naming tradition of just putting a K infront of an application type has out lived its coolness. Clever uses of the K like Kapital are still cool but Kword or Koffice should be reconsidered in my opinion. Maybe konqioffice or something like that. I'm not a developer so if I'm way off base let me know. I just think its a good time to review the naming skeem before the final release.
Craig Black
ICQ 103920729

By craig at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Renaming KOffice (which shouldn't be necessary, along with KWord), should become KDE Office, IMO. So you have KDE, and you can add KDE Office. Thus, a software trademark on KDE should protect both to a limited extent, and we'll be creating a namespace that somebody else won't "stumble" into.

KOffice joins the ranks of MS Office, Corel Office, StarOffice, Open Office and many others.

KWord fits right in with WordPerfect, WordStar, MS Word, etc.

KWrite fits in with XYWrite and others.

And for one, I really like the names. I can't ever remember how to spell kvivo or Aethera, and they are neigh unpronouncable (in a reliable, singular way) to english speaking persons. (BTW - if you really want to get anal with names, make them all Japanese, skipping a few characters, and you'll have easy to pronounce names for most of the rest of the world).


By Evan "JabberWok... at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

KWrite is named Kate now, I believe, so that breaks that trend.

I agree that KWord is kind of a stinky name. Eventually, it would be a lot more consistent if we didn't put K in front of the names of apps in the K-menu, this makes it easier to find apps in sorted listings. However, I also believe that it's a good idea to leave the K in the exec names, if only so that people don't have to rewrite their DCOP scripts if/when we make this change.

KSpread and KPresenter imho have good names, simple and descriptive. They completely ignore the marketing bull and goes straight for a name that's relevant (Outlook? Powerpoint? Excel? Whatever) Krayon is good too, since it actually begins with K as opposed to just slapping it on, and it's relevant too (At least, as relevant as the name Paintbrush).

Any suggestions for renaming KWord? Not that I have any power in the matter myself, mind you. Here's a few ideas:

-KRichText (can't get more descriptive then that :-)
(Indite defined by WordNet as "produce a literary work")

By Carbon at Fri, 2001/07/06 - 5:00am

How about

Kompose (Word Process)
Kalculate (Spreadsheet)
Kanvas (Illustrator)
Krayon (Paint)
Kommunicate (EMail or Instant Messaging)


By Evan "JabberWok... at Sat, 2001/07/07 - 5:00am

Ah, neato names. I really sort of like the functional Kpresenter and kspread names myself, but Kanvas is a very nice name, especially considering that KIllustrator must be renamed for stupid legal reasons.

By Carbon at Sat, 2001/07/07 - 5:00am

There is absolutely no need to rename anything but MAYBE KIllustrator (I'm not sure even about that one).
"Office", "Word", "Write" and such have been around for years.
That's not to say that renaming them "KDE *****" wouldn't be to advantage in other respects.

By Göran Jartin at Thu, 2001/07/05 - 5:00am

That would be cool as well. I just think the K in front of the application type has out lived its coolness. kdeword would be good.


By craig at Thu, 2001/07/05 - 5:00am

The preview apparently wasn't written by a genuine beginner, but probably a well-seasoner KWord coder. Am I right?

All software hates me, so to really dumb-test a program, I need to run it just a few minutes. Let's see... KWord....

1. Damn, I have Finnish language setting, but I want to tell you descriptions in English. But... Hey, KControl doesn't list English! Ok, this is not a KWord problem.

2. Aww, about 40% of the screen icons are broken. Ok, I have a beta version, so this is probably expected.

3. I want to start writing a typical article, with a title, and below that my name and date. I select style..."Head 1." No, that's not good. "Contents Title", that must be it. Ok, it's centered, but has silly fancy lines. Ok, it'll do.

4. Name...that's easy to add, and there seems to be an automatic date field too! Good, although the number of automatic variables is rather limited. Where are the 200 function fields? I really like those.

5. I begin writing text. Ouh, the ctrl-arrow-keys don't behave as usual in word processors, nor can I select text with them (together with shift). Not nice at all.

6. Actually, selection seems broken. If I start selecting a new region, it leaves the old selection there. No, it's not a multiple selection feature, but looks like a bug.

7. Selecting something and erasing it by typing or with backspace doesn't seem to work.

8. Let's see if there are any application settings... No.

9. Ok, I'll try adding a KSpread sheet in the document. I draw the frame...what's happening? It doesn't come there. Blah, it's broken. Wait! There's something there, it's just invisible. Ok, nice, now I can add my table.

10. I'll try adding a text frame. Ok, it appears, although the frame is drawn badly. I can edit it, cool. But now I want to change the indentation, but hey, the frame doesn't have its own ruler. Oh, the document ruler seems to control it, but it's just rather misleading.

11. I add a table. Hmm. The screen flashes strangely. It doesn't seem to be possible to move between cells with keyboard. Ehh. Can I edit the borders of the table? ...no. Hmm, the table wants to be 100% wide, can I change that? No. Ok, tables unusable.

(At this point, the screen very often gets messed up, some portions printed in two locations on screen, some portions missing altogether.)

12. What the hell just happened? Most of the toolbars went suddenly empty! Ok, when I minimize and maximize them the icons come back. Phew!

13. I tried to add a picture. A jpeg, anything, but the file dialog didn't want to display any image files, just directories. Perhaps the filters were invalid. A translator's mess-up, perhaps?

Ok, maybe that's enough for now. The program didn't crash now, although it did with my previous try. I don't remember what I did then.
Nothing really complex anyhow.

To summarize, it looks like KWord has a lot of potential, and has many nice features, but is definitely not usable yet. Stop adding features, just clean up the problems, please.

By Marko Grönroos at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

An addendum:

It finally crashed when I had posted my review and hit the Quit button.

By Marko Grönroos at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am


Are you using the KOffice 1.1 Beta 3 version?


By Kent Nguyen at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Umm...no. The version seems to be a few months old. Sorry!

Damn, I really should have checked the version first. Oh well.

By Marko Grönroos at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Marko, do us all a favour and download the beta 3 and then retype your post with your finding. It'll be nice to see your account of how koffice has progressed in the last few months. I'm sure you'll be surprised :-)

By DavidA at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

Okay, let's see. I'll first check the version... KWord 1.1 (beta 3). Right. I hope this is correct now...

1. I start writing my standard test article, and want to add a title. No title style. Actually, the number of default styles is even less than before. Ok, I format the title manually. Succeeds.

2. I want to customize the keyboard a little at first, because I want to be able to change the paragraph style quickly from keyboard. I open the keyboard editor...I remove ctrl+alt+s from "Stylist" and give it to "Style" (I guess I can choose the current style with that, right?). No, doesn't work. The keyboard setting appears in the menu, but the menu won't open when I push the keys. This is probably KDE API problem, not KWord? Anyhow, it doesn't work. A pity, this is the key which I always define first in all word processors.

3. I try moving the cursor. Works nicely now.

4. I try selecting text. Works nicely, also when jumping words with ctrl pressed. Good. BUT, when I try to continue the selection over a paragraph break, it messes up. For example, type a line with 30 chars + enter + a second line with 30 chars. Then move to middle of first line, press shift and cursor down. Messes up. Still hold shift and now move back cursor up -> messes even more (also lines below these two).

5. Copying text with ctrl+insert seems to work, but pasting with shift+insert doesn't (although ctrl+v works). I hope this isn't a problem with my global KDE settings. Anyhow, the paragraph to which I paste flashes annoyingly and is sluggish. But, it works which is most important.

6. I create a table. Changing the width isn't very user-friendly, but seems to work. Moving between cells with keyboard is pain. Tab is usually standard key for moving forward, here it's the down-key. No way to move to the cell below?

7. I really would like to edit table borders.

8. There doesn't seem to be floating tables, where you could attach a description below. ...or a way to make auto-numbered tables or figures. You know, "Figure 6. This is..."

9. I create a floating text frame. Seems to work, although the table I wrote suddenly vanishes when I move the text frame above it.

10. I create an equation box. Umm... I can't move the cursor in without mouse. Not nice. I try to write something simple. How do I get multiplication dot? The symbol widget seems to list many LaTeX symbols, but how do I insert them to the equation? Just selecting one from the widget doesn't add it. Oh, I can type them, that's nice. Ahh, \cdot. Ok, excellent. I think this is VERY difficult to grasp for those who haven't used LaTeX...

11. I'll add a KSpread object... EEK! It got stuck! I think that the KSpread frame interacted somehow with the ordinary table I had done earlier, as they touched a little, and it went into a bizarre formatting loop. My machine slowed down, and I had to kill KWord. Restart KWord...

12. I want to try to replicate the problem so I first add a table. Wait, how do I move the cursor after the table now? Not with keyboard. Ok, I'll try mouse. Umm...no. I'll try fiddling with keyboard... Hey, the table disappeared! It's now invisible, although it flickers at times. Ok, I'll try to draw another table. Umm, now the first table came visible. I'll try to replicate the KSpread problem again...no, can't. Ok, it's very sluggish, and moves the ordinary table strangely, but seems to work. I fiddle with it a bit more... Hey, now it's getting stuck. CRASH!

#5 0x408a280b in QObject::inherits () from /usr/lib/qt-2.3.0/lib/libqt.so.2
#6 0x403e00dd in KMainWindow::toolBarIterator () at eval.c:41
#7 0x403df931 in KMainWindow::finalizeGUI () at eval.c:41
#8 0x404c4474 in KXMLGUIBuilder::finalizeGUI () at eval.c:41
#9 0x40469686 in KXMLGUIFactory::addClient () at eval.c:41
#10 0x40074706 in KoMainWindow::slotActivePartChanged () at eval.c:41
#11 0x400b4080 in KoMainWindow::KXMLGUIClient virtual table () at eval.c:41

13. Ok, I restard KWord and try to add image frame. As earlier, the file open dialog doesn't show any image files. I think the filter settings or their Finnish translations are messed up.

14. I try to add a ToC... Ok, the header comes there. But it's empty. Ah, I'll add a few Head 1 -styled lines. Update ToC...still empty. *scratches head* Umm... hey, I can't move the ToC elsewhere, very easily at least. Oh well.

15. Ok, I'll finally add a few footnotes...mmmm...no footnotes? Ok... Well, I guess you could do them with superscripts manually, but...

Maybe this is enough for now. I didn't go through all features, just the most obvious ones. Note that I *never* have used embedded Excel sheets in MS Word, as the ordinary tables are much nicer to use. Embedding isn't that useful, I think. I would like to see the KSpread tables not just floating, but inline, so that you can easily add a title, etc.

To summarize, the basic functionality was MUCH MUCH better now than in the previous version, and I agree that KWord can now be used for some limited production use for very simple documents. However, many important features are still buggish.

By Marko Grönroos at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

> chars. Then move to middle of first line,
> press shift and cursor down. Messes up. Still > hold shift and now move back cursor up ->
> messes even more (also lines below these two).

Please describe a bit more exactly what you mean by "messing up" and send a bug report.

> the paragraph to which I paste flashes
> annoyingly and is sluggish. But, it works
> which is most important.

Flashing when pasting ?
What CPU do you have ?
I think this is fixed in the meantime :-)

> 8. There doesn't seem to be floating tables,
> where you could attach a description below.
> ...or a way to make auto-numbered tables or
> figures. You know, "Figure 6. This is..."

Yeah. Me too.

Keep on testing koffice and send bug reports :-)


By aleXXX at Thu, 2001/07/05 - 5:00am

In your first comment, you complain about a lot of serious general issues. That is, they would have been serious if they had been true.

Since they weren't, you find some not-so-general issues that might (or might not) be true. Then you concede that the program might be used for "very simple documents". You turn 145 degrees while trying to make it look like it was the world that turned around you :-)

I'll agree though, that some operations are rather sluggish. I'm sure they will work better in the next release. There are, as well, a number of minor otherirritants.

On the whole, I'm very impressed - I'm sure that you would have been too, if you hadn't started out with a completely faulty perspective :-)

By Göran Jartin at Thu, 2001/07/05 - 5:00am

Yeh, I'm really sorry for using the wrong version at first.

I don't think that the issues I encountered were not-so-general. I was just trying to write a short technical article, with pictures and tables with a title below. Perhaps a few equations, footnotes, and references. Pretty trivial.

But anyhow, I'm rather critical about software, because I have to struggle with it so often. World is full of badly working software, and some good features can't always compensate for some annoying problems. Softwares should also be easy to use, and not require half an hour to learn. The real computer-dumb people trying the softwares won't complain, they just get annoyed and give up using Linux.

Anyhow, I think KWord is very promising program, and may be, together with KSpread and other KOffice programs, very important for the success of the entire Linux/GNU movement.

I'd estimate that KWord is about 60% complete. MS Word is perhaps 95%, and usually more stabile and easier to use than KWord, at the moment. StarOffice is perhaps 90-95% complete, although it has a few nice features which MS Word doesn't have, and vise versa.

I usually use KLyX, which is about 90-95% feature-complete (if you count the LaTeX inlines in), for my purposes (usually writing scientific articles), but it may be hellishly difficult to use if you're not familiar with LaTeX. I like the "Document Style" thinking in KLyX. KWord doesn't yet have many predefined templates such as "Letter" or "Book", which would have appropriate paragraph style sets.

By Marko Grönroos at Fri, 2001/07/06 - 5:00am

Of course, whether the issues are trivial or not depends on what kind of work you do. I'm just a common writer (journalist) who doesn't do much technical stuff other than for fun.

On the whole, I agree wholeheartedly with your point on software in general. There is a lot left to do on KWord in that regard. On the other hand, that's part of my point, really - if you had started out with the right version, your comment would have been very different, since the software has evolved enormously from 1.0 via 1.1b2 to b3.
(I gave up completely on 1.0 (it crashed when I looked at it) but 1.1b3 is rock steady and does more or less anything I need - that's why I'm very confident that KWord very soon will be useful even for the computer-dumb :-) )

Regarding your over-all assment of the completeness of the programs, I think you're about right - I think, though, that when KWord reaches 95%, this might turn out to be quite a bit more than 95% of MS Word.

By Göran Jartin at Fri, 2001/07/06 - 5:00am

Koffice is great but I noticed 1 *major* thing that it needs. I saw that it has PowerPoint and Excel imports but I dont see any MS Word '97 imports in KWord. You definately need that before a final release.

By Boris Stevenson at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

>I dont see any MS Word '97 imports in KWord.

Something's wrong then, because KWord most certainly imports MS Word documents (97 or 2000, don't know about XP). It's one of the most requested features.

By not me at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

I think you need kde 2.2 library.
Here I can import MsWord document
(kde2.2beta1 and koffice 1.1beta3)

By thierry at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

If you're using kdelibs-2.1.x, just select the doc file after typing '*' in the filter combo, or add '*.doc' to the file type for application/msword in the file-type editor (kcontrol).

This should be mentionned on the website....

By David Faure at Fri, 2001/07/06 - 5:00am


I'm having some ideas about how to solve present and future problems regarding trademarks.
1) How to pay Adobe: put a huge box in Linuxtag, near the KDE booth, to collect money. I'm sure every KDE friend will donate at least $1 !
2) KOffice is becoming a serious office suite, if we want to compete with commercial office suites we need to register KDE program names.
We should register at least:
KDE, Konqueror, KOffice and all KOffice programs.
Registration fees are quite expensive, but the KDE League could help (if it doesn't help KDE this time, what is good for?)

By Federico Cozzi at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

How does one actually comment a document? All other actions were well documented, this one wasn't.....

By Raph at Wed, 2001/07/04 - 5:00am

If you look, it wasn't actually comments on a document, but just new frames added with the comments.

By David Watson at Thu, 2001/07/05 - 5:00am

Yeah, I thought that was a pretty sneaky trick..

I think it would be a lot better if we could see some real groupware functionality... ie seperate out the backend and frontend, and allow some kind of interactive editing over the network.
Maybe via that DCOP-SOAP bridge. Hm, CORBA sorta looks like it might have been the best choice after all.

What I would like to see would be the ability to add comments, and also to "lock" an area of the document, then edit it, and this would all show up on everyones displays.

I think this would need a pretty big overhaul for KParts, and DCOP would have to be marshalled over something other than X. Every program that could be embedded would also need the same split.

Anyway, its a nice dream...

By Robert at Thu, 2001/07/05 - 5:00am

The backend and the frontend are already separated, that's the whole reason for the Document/View design.

Having some sort of DCOP interface between the two, to allow remote editing.... is for KOffice 3.0 ;-)

Let's get something working well in the normal case first, the design is there for such things later.

By David Faure at Fri, 2001/07/06 - 5:00am

People seem to be fairly impressed with KWord. I hope that as much effort has been put in KSpread. It's not a serious office suite without a serious spreadsheet.

By Rimmer at Thu, 2001/07/05 - 5:00am