debate about Free software for the ACT Government

Doug Palmer doug at
Thu Apr 25 11:01:57 EST 2002

On 2002.04.25 10:43 Simon Fowler wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 25, 2002 at 09:51:51AM +1000, Alex Satrapa wrote:

> I admit it's been a long time since I used any commercial
> wordprocessors, but are they really /that/ different? I know from
> using wordperfect a bit that the basics are the same - the things
> that 90% of users actually make use of, even in a corporate
> environment. You type stuff in, do some formatting with
> mouse/toolbars/etc, save, print, that kind of thing. How mnay people
> actually /use/ things like stylesheets in word? And how long would
> it take to pick up those differences when needed?

I think that, conceptually, most wordprocessors are pretty much the same 
thing. You have outlining, page layout, styles, indexing, cross 
references, tables of contents, etc. Your point about "proficient in 
wordprocessing" is well taken. And for someone like the archeologist in 
the previous message, that would probably be enough.

There is a difficulty when you get to the point where you want to be fast 
and efficient. For example, someone who has to publish brochures and 
flyers. At that point, you want to have a good knowledge of the shortcuts, 
control keys and places where you configure things. At that point, 
switching between WordPerfect and Word becomes a chore. It similar to 
switching between vi and emacs in Unix-land. I use vi, because I've been 
using it since 1980. I keep on planning to get proficient in emacs. But 
every time I start using emacs I just wander away after a while. It just 
takes so damn long to just get anything done. This isn't a comment on vi 
vs. emacs; it's a comment on what I learned first.

Doug Palmer   doug at

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