Applixware - An overview
by Joel Sutton <[email protected]>
One of the main problems that main stream users have with FreeBSD
is that it does not come bundled with any easy to use, graphically
based, office integration tools.
Due to the software vendors licensing restrictions, it isn't really
possible to include products of this nature on the FreeBSD CD's. So
to fill this gap, the ports collection provides a few different
The most popular of these packages, Star Office and WordPerfect, are
actually the Linux versions running on top of the FreeBSD Linux
emulation. Whilst this is satisfactory for personal use, the
stability isn't quite 100% yet (but it's getting closer every
day). This is fine for limited and/or personal use but if you've got
some commercial requirements then things get trickier.
Fortunately for us, not too long ago, Walnut Creek teamed up with
Applix and developed Applixware Office for FreeBSD.
"Applixware Office for FreeBSD is a fully integrated, cross platform suite
of adaptive applications and tools for the real-time enterprise."
This review is intended to be a general overview of Applixware
Office's features. Unfortunately I can't cover the whole suite, in
depth, because it's just too darn big.
As always, any given individual is likely to have different needs
and requirements to other individuals. However, in the authors
experience, these are some of the most common:
- Native FreeBSD binary support
- The ability to work on data files of various types, quickly and
- A tool set which is simple to use and easy to learn
Applixware Office for FreeBSD seems to be one of the few commercial
software packages available for FreeBSD in native binary format.
One of the most common questions I get asked, when talking about
Applixware, is "Will it import data files from Microsoft Word"?
Fortunately Applixware offers some pretty comprehensive Office 97
data exchange facilities. Documents imported into Applix Words
retain the correct formatting that was applied in Word 97.
Exporting Applix Words documents back to Word 97 is nothing short of
disappointing. At this stage, the only way back to Word 97 is via RTF
files so you instantly loose quite a bit of style sheet information
as well as some layout options.
Being an X based application, it's quite intuitive. Most
functions are where you'd usually look for them if you were using MS
Word or Corel Word Perfect. Being a less mature product, it's easy
to find little user interface quirks (sometimes things happen that
you don't quite expect). These are, however, fairly minimal and I
found it quite easy to adapt after a bit of trial and error.
It also comes with an excellent manual. It is well written, not too
technical and full of diagrammatic examples.
Buying Applixware encourages other commercial developers to code
for FreeBSD. More commercial software encourages more users to take
the plunge into the world of FreeBSD as they feel that they'll be
able to find tools to get the job done (usually they're not aware of
the Open Source world at this point).
Applixware Office for FreeBSD is bundled with the following
- Applix Words
- Applix HTML Author
- Applix Spreadsheets
- Applix Graphics
- Applix Presents
- Applix Mail
- Applix Data
- Applix Builder
- The Extension Language Facility (ELF)
- Over 3000 built-in macros
- Pentium 133 CPU
- 64MB RAM (20MB available real memory & 15MB swap)
- 150MB available hard drive space
- Working FreeBSD & XFree installation
If you've got a relatively new workstation then you shouldn't have
a problem running Applixware. Older machines will tend to
struggle under the load (especially if you're running one of the
more complicated windows managers like KDE) but usable results can
be obtained if you've got plenty of physical memory.
Applixware is an affordable alternative for a UNIX based commercial
office integration suite. It includes a variety of different
products and is readily available from FreeBSD Mall and Walnut Creek
On a functionality level it is adequate. If you've done some larger
documents in Microsoft Word, you've probably gotten used to some of
it's nice features (such as the outline editor). These aren't really
available in Applix Words. But if you just need to write up a few
reports and letters, do a quick presentation or knock together a
simple spreadsheet, then Applixware can do the job.
If you've got the funds, I encourage you to head on down to
FreeBSD Mall and order your copy. Not only will you be
getting a good up and coming office suite, you'll be supporting the