softmaker office review

Conrad - your technology specialist. More than products for professionals. 95 years of experience in electronics, information technology, mea. Softmaker for Linux is now available to download. The office suite includes native support for Microsoft office documents, and a new. SoftMaker's FreeOffice Linux office suite is a LibreOffice look-alike My intent was to download the open source edition for a review.

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SoftMaker Office 2021 - Una buena alternativa a MS Office en Ubuntu 20.04

Softmaker office review -

Chief Reviews Editor
July 9,

As a long time Handheld PC user, one of the challenges I have always experienced has been around word processing and spreadsheets. Simply put, for anything beyond simple editing or data manipulation, the included Pocket Word and Pocket Excel applications that come on most H/PCs are simply not adequate. Further, for most .NET users, functional editing is no longer an option. In this version of Windows CE - commonly found in the NEC c and Smartbook G - you only have viewers, and at best on other devices rudimentary editors. It makes a "business class" device a bit of a challenge to use when commonly used applications are ineffective. Fortunately there is a powerful solution that truly makes your H/PC a business class word processor and spreadsheet manipulator.

Several years ago the German software development company SoftMaker attempted to address these struggles with their applications TextMaker and PlanMaker. TextMaker, released initially in , was a significant step forward in mobile word processing, allowing essentially any desktop function to be replicated on your Handheld PC. They followed that up in with PlanMaker, their spreadsheet application which proved to be equally as powerful. Both applications could read and save in Microsoft Word/Excel formats and the Professional versions provided you a desktop (host) version of the applications as well. Synchronization was a snap through ActiveSync and things such as formatting, file passwords and complicated formulas stayed intact.

While Service Packs were offered from their launch until recently for TextMaker and PlanMaker , no major upgrades had been made to either application until the launch of SoftMaker Office The wait was very much worth it! In Office - which includes TextMaker and PlanMaker - both applications have received a major facelift along with dramatic improvements "under the hood". All of the features you have come to expect from both of these award winning applications are there along with host of new features and functions. Simply put, Office offers Handheld PC owners the ultimate word processor and spreadsheet applications, applications that are powerful, easy-to-use and compatible with the desktop. They are unique amongst competing products and bring your business class device to its full potential from a word processor and spreadsheet perspective.

While TextMaker and PlanMaker are coupled together as one application (Office ), I will be looking at each application individual in this review to give you a more comprehensive overview of them. Additionally, this review is based on the Office for Handheld PC and Windows PC. I chose this version to review as it gives a more complete look at what these two applications can do, especially when it comes to file synchronization and sharing. While it is possible to purchase just the Handheld PC versions of these applications it may be worthwhile for you to purchase the desktop versions of Office Keep in mind that you can of course save your files in feature-rich Word and Excel formats and use the Microsoft applications on your desktop and use the SoftMaker applications on your Windows Mobile device.

Office installs to your Handheld PC device via a desktop installer (which uses ActiveSync in the background) and requires approximately 16MB of storage space on your device. It can be installed in your device's main memory or on a storage card and requires that you have a device running H/PC or later. By default Office has dictionaries included for US English, UK English and German but more dictionaries in other languages are available as a free add-on. For more information on additional language support see the link at the end of the review*. These dictionaries will require an additional MB of storage space on your device. If you purchase the Windows PC versions of the applications you will need approximately 50MB of hard disk space on your PC and your PC must be running Windows , XP or Vista.



When you start TextMaker you will see that its look and feel is similar to Pocket Word or Word on your PC. At the bottom of the display is status bar which allows you to turn on or off various features. For example, by pressing the font button, the font menu is displayed allowing you to change the typeface, size and formatting of your font. Likewise the information button gives you column, line, chapter and page number information and the file button gives you the ability to open or save files as well as edit them from single taps. In all you can have these three additional toolbars displayed all the time or can toggle them on-and-off using their respective buttons on the taskbar. Obviously the more you display at once the less typing area you will be able to see although on larger display devices, like the Smartbook G, it is not much of a loss having multiple toolbars open.


Once you start using TextMaker in earnest you will quickly learn how powerfully and desktop-like this application can be. Like desktop word processors, TextMaker allows you to edit virtually any aspect of your document: Fonts, paragraphs, bulleted lists, headers and footers, page breaks, and chapter breaks. There is not really anything you cannot do when it comes to editing a document. The real beauty of the application is all of this formatting is saved - % - when you synchronize this with your desktop PC. This ability makes TextMaker stand above other applications. In addition to formatting being saved, documents can have embedded tables and images as well.


The list of new features in TextMaker is impressive. First and perhaps most important, the document filters for Microsoft Word and RTF (Rich Text Format) files has been significantly improved. Because TextMaker will allow you to open these types of files, in the previous version of the application formatting would sometimes not be correct or files would be truncated. This no longer appears to be an issue. In my testing for this review, I was able to open up without any issues files in Microsoft Word , XP and formats. Additionally, and OpenDocument documents can be imported into TextMaker and this version of the application is now Unicode enabled.

File formats are a big issue as Office is now available. Currently SoftMaker Office is unable to open Microsoft Office documents. SoftMaker has indicated they plan on releasing a fix for this in a future Service Pack - for Windows Mobile PocketPC. There is no indication if such a patch will be made available for the Handheld PC version at the time of this writing. Given that both the PocketPC and Handheld PC versions of Office are virtually identical in functionality, hopefully this small but helpful fix will be made across the board by SoftMaker.

Some of the new editing features of TextMaker include the ability to contour wrap text around irregularly-shaped objects, the ability to automatically generate cross references and a bibliography, add line numbers, add hierarchical bullets and paragraph numbering. As with previous versions of TextMaker, you can password protect your files and when you synchronize the file with your desktop PC, the password protection is not lost.

New to this version of TextMaker is "Track Changes" and annotations or comments. Track Changes is a powerful feature commonly used in business environments where multiple groups or individuals are reviewing a document. Essentially this allows for any changes made to a document to be noted and either accepted or rejected by you once you get the document back from the reviewer. As with other formatting features, Track Changes is synchronized with your desktop PC if you have the desktop version of TextMaker Further, Track Changes is compatible with Office meaning if you save the file as a Word document, you will see the changes in Word as well.

Comments allow you to make annotations on a document pointing out something to the reviewer or the author. Like Track Changes, these are synchronized with the document to your desktop and are another advanced editing feature that, until now, was only available on your PC.



Table support in TextMaker has also dramatically improved. Now you have the ability to nest tables, merge, split and rotate cells, and repeat header rows on every new page in a document. While tables have been supported in previous versions of TextMaker, makes the use of them easier and more functional.

Like Tables, drawing and image insertion has been supported by previous versions of TextMaker. Now in the version, all drawing is fully compatible with Microsoft Word's Autoshapes. Additionally, you can adjust the brightness, contrast and gamma of an image while in TextMaker, eliminating the need to edit it before inserting it. While it is not as sophisticated as a full-fledge image editor, this feature does save you time and effort by keeping you in one application instead of having to switch back and forth.

The complete list of features - both existing and new - is impressive in TextMaker and I recommend you download the free Users Guide to get a complete list. You can download it directly from SoftMaker's site. Note that this is written for the Windows Mobile PocketPC version of Office but given that both the PocketPC and H/PC versions are identical in function, you will be able to use the guide easily as you can see however, TextMaker is truly a powerful word processor with an array of features that rival most desktop applications. TextMaker is intuitive to use and most will find it very "Word-like" in nature.



The second part of SoftMaker's Office suite is PlanMaker , their spreadsheet application. From a new feature perspective there are fewer in PlanMaker than there are in TextMaker. However do not let that fool you into thinking that there have not been any changes. Aside the much needed and noticeable facelift the application has received, the performance of PlanMaker has substantially improved over previous versions. Loading times are sharply down and working with large, complex spreadsheets does not impact performance as much. PlanMaker, like the new TextMaker is completely Unicode compliant and has improved import and export filters for Excel spreadsheets.

What sets PlanMaker apart from any of its competitors is the plethora of features and customization that can be done within the application. Every mathematical, formatting and operational function is included in the product with the only real add-on being the dictionary. Further, almost every aspect of the application can be customized to fit an individual need or preference. This includes the layout, where taskbars are located and the functions on those toolbars. To go over all of these features in this review would be a challenge so I will only go over some of the key features that set PlanMaker apart from its competitors. I encourage readers to download a demonstration version of PlanMaker from the SoftMaker website to see all of the functions and features for themselves.

The default display of PlanMaker is very similar to that of Pocket Excel. Rows and Columns are identified at the left-hand edge and top of the display and each cell is easily identifiable. In the bottom left-hand side of the display is the menu key which allows access to the multitude of options and features PlanMaker. From the menu, every feature of PlanMaker is reachable via a submenu. The menu is easy to navigate and is intuitive in function. The built-in help is excellent and well written and should be the first place to check for answers to questions.

As with most aspects of PlanMaker, the toolbars are customizable to fit the needs of every user. The default toolbars offer the most common functions to users and for the majority of users will be sufficient. To modify the toolbars, access them off of the Extras>Customize>Toolbars menu. From here, users can select which toolbars to display and where to display them on the screen. To change the functions that are on a toolbar, highlight the toolbar then tap the Edit button. Adding and removing features now becomes as simple as drag-and-drop. Simply tap and hold the function you want on the toolbar (tap it and release to read what the feature does) then drag it to the toolbar at the bottom of the display. As with TextMaker, multiple toolbars can be displayed at the same time in PlanMaker.

When using PlanMaker, or any spreadsheet application, it is often necessary to format cells for particular types of data or in their appearance. In PlanMaker, this is done off of the Format > Cell… menu. From this menu, every aspect of a cell can be formatted to the need at hand including number format, borders, shading, and alignment. Further, cells can be formatted to hide the cell or the formula in that cell as well as being protected (assuming the sheet itself is protected) and unprintable.

Properties of the spreadsheet workbook itself can also be entered via the File>Properties menu. This menu allows for summary information page and hyperlink colors to be defined as well as tab widths and visibility of comments to be defined. Further calculation information can also be defined in this menu, such as iterations, rounding and automatic recalculations.

Additionally, password protection for reading, writing or both can also be setup from this menu. This is particularly important for spreadsheets that contain sensitive data and is a key feature missing from many of PlanMaker’s competitors. Further, if users purchase the Handheld PC/Desktop PC bundle of the application, this password protection is kept when transferred from one to the other via ActiveSync but isn’t compatible with MS Office\. This is a great feature over Pocket Excel which strips out the password protection feature when synchronizing between the desktop and your Handheld PC.

Inserting a chart in PlanMaker is almost identical in nature to the picture insert. With the spreadsheet open, highlight the data that you want to chart. Next, tap the menu icon and go to Object > New Chart Frame…. This will present the default display again with a chart icon. Tap the cell you want to place the chart in and the chart type screen is displayed. Select the chart type then to data series (which will be pre-populated with the data you highlighted). You can customize the data here as well as add different series.

While it must be said that the chart wizard in Microsoft Excel is a bit easier to use, the charts in PlanMaker are exceptional and highly customizable and if you are moving up from Pocket Excel, offers up an added dimension for spreadsheets on the move given the total lack of charting support in the Microsoft offering.

One of the issues many power users of Pocket Excel face when using the application is the limitations that it has with formulas. Many complex formulas the application simply cannot use and are either rendered “null” or eliminated from the files when synchronized between your device and desktop. In PlanMaker, this issue essentially is eliminated. PlanMaker has the ability to handle different formula types which should cover the needs of the vast majority of users. These formulas, like formatting, password protection and other aspects of your files, are seamlessly synchronized to your desktop. Additionally, if you have the Formula Toolbar enabled, you can view and edit your formula quickly and easily using syntax identical to that of Microsoft Excel.



All-in-all you are going to be hard pressed to find an office suite that matches the power, flexibility and functionality of SoftMaker's Office Both TextMaker and PlanMaker stand well clear of their competition and bring the most out of your Handheld PC. Over the last several years I have had TextMaker and PlanMaker in my annual Top 10 Applications list both here at HPC:Factor for Handheld PC users and on Clinton Fitch (Dot) Com! for our Pocket PC cousins and hopefully you can see why. It is one of the few applications that truly brings the Desktop PC to the Handheld platform.

The technical support provided by SoftMaker is done via email and they are quite responsive. Most emails to their support team are answered within 24 hours and their answers are accurate and helpful. Like most support organizations, they do recommend you read the User Guide first as it will answer the large majority of questions or concerns.

SoftMaker's Office is available in two versions: The Handheld PC only version which is $ USD (£ GBP, € EUD, ¥7, JPY, ¥ CNY est.) or the H/PC and Desktop PC version which is $ USD (£ GBP, € EUD, ¥10, JPY, ¥ CNY est.). Given all of the benefits of file synchronization, I recommend purchasing both the Handheld PC and Desktop version.

* For more details on additional languages see SoftMaker's Office Demo page.


System Requirements

HPC or higher
ActiveSync for synchronisation

More information on SoftMaker Office can be found at


Pros: Extremely feature rich, Easy to Use, Robust formulas, Synchronization between desktop and Handheld PC keeps formatting.

Cons: Cost, Password Protection not compatible with Microsoft Word or Excel.

Further Discussion

Let us know what you thought of this review and the SoftMaker Office in the Community Forums!


Microsoft doc formats are the bane of office suites on Linux, SoftMaker's Office beta may have a solution

SoftMaker's Office – a cross-platform office suite that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux – has hit public beta.

SoftMaker Office features the classic trio of products: word processor (TextMaker), spreadsheet (PlanMaker), and presentation graphics (Presentations). It has been around for 30 years; this new version replaces SoftMaker Office

The suite comes in two guises, FreeOffice and a commercial version. The commercial version has additional features including customisable ribbons, document tabs, thesaurus, better spell checking, SVG image support, mail merge, charts, and VBA-like macros (full details of the differences are here). A permanent licence costs £ per year for the full version, or £ per year for a (only slightly) cut-down Home version.

SoftMaker makes much ado about its compatibility with Microsoft's XML-based document formats, whereas alternatives to Microsoft Office like LibreOffice and OpenOffice use OpenDocument XML. It is a surrender to Microsoft in the document format wars, but pragmatic since the business world still tends to use the Microsoft formats by default.

That said, when you start up SoftMaker Office it asks you to choose between Microsoft XML and its own formats TMDX, PMDX and PRDX, which are not generally supported by other applications for import or export. Users find these choices confusing, since the native formats "support all the features" but it is unclear what you will miss by using the Microsoft formats, other than recipients of your documents complaining that they cannot open them.

OpenDocument XML is also in TextMaker, but buried in preferences after installation. Adding to the confusion, the press release we were sent states: "The applications included in the Office suite natively use the Microsoft file formats DOCX, XLSX and PPTX," disagreeing with the dialogue in the product itself.

SoftMaker told us that "TMDX" is a slightly enhanced version of the "DOCX" format. It can store "some additional features that TextMaker has over Microsoft Word". The company added that it has "plans to add ODS and ODP sometime in the future", these being the OpenDocument formats for spreadsheets and presentations.

Users get this dialog when starting up SoftMaker for the first time

Users get this dialogue when starting up SoftMaker for the first time

Another area of historic contention in office suites is whether to use dropdown menus or a Microsoft-style ribbon UI. The ribbon arrived in Office , partly intended to make the numerous features more discoverable, and partly to make Microsoft Office more distinctive. It was contentious at the time, and SoftMaker maintains neutrality by giving users a choice at first startup, or later in preferences. Options include light and dark, ribbon or dropdown menus, and a "Touch mode" for easier tablet use.

SoftMaker has options for both menu diehards and ribbon lovers

SoftMaker has options for both menu diehards and ribbon lovers

What's new in SoftMaker Office ? Not a great deal, it seems. There is integration with an open-source citation management system called Zotero. There is a new database module for mail merge which uses SQLite "in addition to dBase databases" (yes, this does feel like going back in time). There are tweaks to footnotes, endnotes and cross-references, new navigation features, a few new functions in PlanMaker, and a new option in Presentations to create a standalone slide show.

Not much new then, but a quick spin with the suite shows that it has all the essentials; these are feature-rich products. There is even "New OLE Object" in the menu, in the Windows version, complete with Windows 95 dialogue styling, one of a few occasions where the product feels dated.

It is good to support alternatives to products from huge corporations like Microsoft, but why use SoftMaker Office? This is being typed in TextMaker and little things like unnecessary hyphenation and inferior font rendering are obvious. But Microsoft Word does not run on Linux – well, not without Wine or other trickery, so this is another option there. Unfortunately for SoftMaker, the free LibreOffice is a capable performer and developing rapidly. SoftMaker has perhaps a tidier user interface, including the ribbon UI which LibreOffice lacks, but is behind on some features.

Microsoft Office compatibility: Is SoftMaker better?

Is SoftMaker Office really better than LibreOffice for Microsoft Office formats? Your correspondent is a bridge player and there is Word document in circulation (with a million variations) that describes the intricacies of the game's conventions. The formatting is tight as it must fit on two sides of A4. It has card symbols, multiple tables, two columns, and if anything goes slightly wrong with the precise space occupied by the content in each cell, the document soon gets mangled. In other words, it is a challenging compatibility test. It is worth noting too that there is an interaction with the printer driver in word processor documents, so you will not necessarily get exactly the same appearance on different computers even with Word.

We copied the torture-test document to an Ubuntu system and tried opening it in both LibreOffice and TextMaker. We also took a look in Word Online on Ubuntu, using Firefox. Word Online in Reading mode was pretty much perfect. In Edit mode, however, the font used for card symbols did not display correctly. In LibreOffice the page break went awry with the heading for one column appearing at the bottom of the previous page. In addition, some text was chopped off in one of the table cells. TextMaker got the page break right and the card symbols displayed OK, but the character spacing went wrong next to some card symbols so that punctuation appeared on top of the symbol instead of after it. You can see these issues if you squint carefully at our illustration. In the TextMaker version, there is a a slash character overlaying one of the club symbols.

LibreOffice vs TextMaker rendering a tricky Word document

LibreOffice vs TextMaker vs Word Online: a detail from a tricky Word document

Next I tried an Excel spreadsheet. The default Excel font is Calibri, a Microsoft font. LibreOffice showed this as a missing font and substituted a sans-serif font that was quite ugly and oversized, and the Sparklines in the Excel spreadsheet (which show trends in a small in-cell graphic) did not display. Sparklines were missing in PlanMaker too, but the Calibri font displayed OK. PlanMaker was the winner on this one.

These experiments show that getting perfect reproduction of Office document formats on Linux is still not easy, though considering the challenges both LibreOffice and SoftMaker do a decent job. It is not really a level playing field; there are eccentricities in the details of how Microsoft Office documents render. The good news is that most everyday documents import and export pretty well; the bad news is that if you want every little detail right, there is no substitute for using Microsoft's suite, preferably on Windows.

What about SoftMaker, though? If you need something as close as possible to Microsoft Office on Linux, it is worth a look, though we suggest checking with some typical documents that you work with before drawing firm conclusions on whether it really beats the competition for compatibility. ®



German software company

Founded; 32&#;years ago&#;()
FounderMartin Kotulla




WebsiteSoftMaker's home page in English

SoftMaker Software GmbH is a German software company based in Nuremberg that produces office software. SoftMaker was founded in by Martin Kotulla.[1] In , it also added digital fonts to its offerings. Best known in Germany and the EU, SoftMaker is slowly pursuing the North American market.[1]

Students, teachers, schools, and universities can purchase SoftMaker Office for a lower price, part of SoftMaker's academic sales program. Additionally, a free version named FreeOffice is available.[2]

SoftMaker Office[edit]

SoftMaker Office is SoftMaker's flagship product, an office suite marketed to home, small business and educational users.[1] It consists of the word processorTextMaker (compatible with Microsoft Word), the spreadsheetPlanMaker (compatible with Microsoft Excel) the presentation software application SoftMaker Presentations (compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint) and the scripting language BasicMaker (compatible with Visual Basic for Applications).

SoftMaker Office is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux, MacOS and Android. Its predecessor was available for Windows CE, and Pocket PCs (Windows Mobile handheld devices). The version was also available for FreeBSD and Handheld PCs. SoftMaker began support for MacOS in their family of office suites.

Currently, SoftMaker Office supports all popular Microsoft Office file formats. SoftMaker claims to be working on ODF compliant formats,[1] but currently supports OpenDocument only in its word processor.

SoftMaker Product Equivalent MS Product Platforms File Formats
TextMakerWord Win64, MacOS, Linux, Android .docx, .doc, .rtf, .odt, .tmd, .pwd, .txt, .sxw (import only), .pdf (export)
PlanMakerExcel Win64, MacOS, Linux, Android .xlsx, .xls, .csv, .pmd, .rtf, .dbf, .txt, .slk, .dif, .pdf (export)
PresentationsPowerPoint Win64, MacOS, Linux, Android .pptx, .pps, .ppt, .ppsx, .prd, .rtf, Export: .png, .jpg, Video and .pdf
BasicMaker VBA (limited) Win .bas, .txt

Competitive strategy[edit]

The SoftMaker Office sales strategy is based on cross-platform usability along with reasonable pricing and free post-sale customer service. However, since SoftMaker Office is not free like competitors LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice, or Calligra Suite, its greatest marketing strength is its high degree of Microsoft Office compatibility.[3][4][5] As a major sales point, SoftMaker cites its ability to render graphs and charts within PlanMaker which are often indistinguishable from those created within Microsoft's Excel. Significantly, this level of compatibility extends to non-Windows platforms.[4] Even on Windows platforms, SoftMaker Office competes with native Windows office suites based on its Microsoft Office compatibility.

SoftMaker also claims its Office suite is faster, with smaller memory and hard drive footprints than Microsoft Office or[3]

The most significant areas of incompatibility, as with all non-Microsoft office suites, are in documents that use VBA scripts. While BasicMaker is a step forward, it still does not offer seamless VBA compatibility.


The application FlexiPDF edits PDF files quite effortless.[6]

digital fonts[edit]

SoftMaker offers font packages for the home user (MegaFont NOW) and professional user (infiniType).

To promote its digital font sales, SoftMaker publishes one font each month free for download from its FreeFont web site.


Link: Home Page
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