You might have already read about SoftMaker, the full-featured office suite for Windows Mobile on TamsPPC several times. Tam Hanna, for example, wrote about SoftMaker Presentations in June 2010. Now I want to focus on TextMaker 2010 which promises the power of a desktop’s word processor.
The interface is very similar to Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org. There are several views available, such as an outline or the standard page view, with different zoom levels and a ruler, of course. The toolbars are shown on the bottom of the screen, for example file and formatting options or a drawing toolbar and a toolbar for editing images. But it also allows creating and editing own toolbars. The average Microsoft Word user will recognize the organization of toolbars, menus, dialogues and tabs quickly.
Windows Mobile, an operating system which was designed for stylus use, displays smaller buttons or checkboxes in its dialogues than finger-based interfaces like HTC Sense or other smartphone operating systems like Android or iOS, which is is not a problem as long as you may use a stylus. As this also applies to TextMaker (which does not use an alternative interface), owners of a finger-based phone like the HTC HD2 might have problems to hit small buttons.
But there are also small issues beside the interface: The “Open file” or “Insert image” dialogues do not only show a list of files, but also dropdown lists for choosing a different folder and file type and several checkboxes / buttons. Hence there is not much space for the list of files, which – in case of inserting images – shows only the name of the images. A preview box for images does exist in this dialogue, but a thumbnail view would have been better.
Fonts and characters
On my blank Windows Mobile 6.5 phone, there are nine fonts available, including Courier New, Helvetica, Tahoma and Windings. Beside several font collections which are also being offered by SoftMaker, you can install fonts which you find in the web or on your desktop computer. You just need to copy them to your font folder.
You can define the font size and style, but also different underlines, font and background colors or the space between characters.
Images and drawings
As one of very few mobile word processors, TextMaker allows inserting images. Unfortunately, the insertion and even the preview of photos (3 MP) made my device took about a minute and it slow (HTC HD2) or even unstable (MDA Vario IV). As some expansion cards are slow, the speed could be increased by installing TextMaker directly on the device.
A small image (200 x 150 pixels) made no problems. The editing capabilities include changing the brightness, contrast, colors and the orientation. It even allows you to set a special text flow or put a frame around the image.
The drawing tool bar includes many shapes you already know from Word, including lines, free-hand, boxes and ellipses. A tap on the Auto Form tool shows a variety of another ~ 130 shapes. The shapes can have different line styles and can be rotated and filled with colors, color gradients, pattern and images. Furthermore, all fills may have a transparency from 0 – 100%. Even shade, 3D and mirror effects are available.
Supported file types
Beside the support of printing, TextMaker also exports documents to PDF files, which can include a table of contents and even form elements from the document (PDF forms).
The list of supported file types includes several TextMaker formats, but also Microsoft Word (even the 2007 .docx format), OpenDocument, Rich Text, Pocket Word, HTML and plain text.
Indeed, it is the best word processor for Windows Mobile and indeed, it is a desktop software on a mobile phone. Nevertheless, this fact can sometimes lead to lags when you are working with many shapes, big documents or images. But this is not necessarily the fault of the programmers, it is the consequence of these high-end features on slow devices. Expensive smartphones with a fast CPU have an advantage, of course.
The handling of the software could sometimes be better, especially on finger-controlled devices. This is why I am looking forward to testing the announced SoftMaker Office for Android.