[techtalk] Applixware

Amanda Owens amowens at radonc.duke.edu
Thu Nov 11 09:03:24 EST 1999

I have been using both Applixware (4.3 - we can't afford to upgrade yet) 
and Sun's StarOffice 5.1a at work, and trying to get a feel for both. 
I've been running Applixware 4.3 at home and at work for about 3 years 
now. I got a student version of Applix from Red hat for $79, but you can 
find a retail version of the product for about that price in stores such 
as Borders and CompUSA. Star Office is downloadable from staroffice.sun.com.

Now, the basics said - I'm used to Applix. There are things it does that 
I find annoying (like not being able to click on a cell in the 
spreadsheet, and drag the corner down the column to 'cut and paste' to 
the rest of the cells like you can in Excel and SO.) but I suppose I'm 
used to it. For basic text writing and basic spreadsheet operations, it 
seems robust. I've never had it crash on me that I can think of - not on 
an actually stable system at least. 

StarOffice I couldn't get to install. We have nfs-mounted home 
directories, so while the program installed and runs fine for root, the 
/net install and subsequent user installs fail - a user can't run the 
program because of some nfs problems that sun has yet to fix. It was 
intended as a desktop application, not a server-based workstation app, so 
this is understandable, and if you don't have a server-based LAN, then 
you're fine. I have it installed on a Sun in our network, and can run it 
fine as a user from there - so I have it displaying from that machine to 
my own desktop on linux. The program seems slow, and from what I've 
heard, it'll eat up whatever memory you have, as well as pounding the CPU 
heavilly. There are things I have yet to figure out how to do in Star 
Office (just yesterday, I was trying to print a spreadsheet on one page, 
which is as easy as clicking a 'print to fit' button in Applix) but I had 
to play with size percentages in SO. Give me a program that'll figure out 
how big it needs to be by itself, anyday) that I can do easilly in 
Applix. StarOffice is pretty, and probably easier to use if you're used 
to MS, but it's still got some bugs, and I'd give Sun some time to work 
them out.

This said, I personally prefer Applix, and I intend to fork over the 
$79-$99 to pick up the latest version. They put out a good product, and 
it works. Their latest (4.4.1 or better) version of the product will read 
Office 97 documents, and I *assume* they'll either have a patch for 
Office 2000 documents, or will have a new version out soon that will 
handle them. The current version I use only reads Word 6 or older docs. 
(Bad Microsoft for changing their file format with each Office revision, 
yet leaving the extension the same. *That* is a bad business practice 
that should have been brought up in the DOJ trial - it makes competition 
far more difficult...) Star Office is nice, and it seems to be a 
well-rounded suite. But the word processor (in my case) adds odd ?'s 
before some of the punctuation on the screen that prints out when you 
print it, the spreadsheet seems somewhat buggy (the exact same 
calculations on both spreadsheets yielded different answers. Doing the 
calculations in Matlab yielded answers that agree with Applix), and the 
database isn't at all intuitive (I've used Paradox and Access, and Star 
Office's database isn't as nice as paradox 7. I'm not as familiar with 
access, but I don't recall having the same problems with that that I did 
with Star Office.)

That's my comparative review.
Hope it helps *someone* :)


On Thu, 11 Nov 1999, Lindsay Walker wrote:

> I used Applixware a lot when I was working at Sun Micro and it drove me mad.
> It's not very stable and, compared to Star Office, its UI is terrible. I
> wouldn't pay the money for Applixware when you could get Star Office for
> free and its a much better product.

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