Much of my work time these days is spent writing. Until maybe about a year ago I used TextEdit Plus, then I switched to BBEdit. When I’m writing I don’t want to be distracted with bold, and fonts and margins and bullet points — I just want to get the words out, in the right sequence, correctly spelt, and conveying what they need to.
Text editors work perfectly for me, while I find MS Word clumsy, annoying, intrusive and distracting. In fact, even when I’m required to produce a Word document I’ll avoid Word as far as possible, often writing in BBEdit and then pasting into Word at the end.
Now, to be quite honest, I’m actually often writing directly into HTML, as my output often ends up on a web page, but even when I’m not I still head straight for the text editor.
The other day when I wiped my Macs and installed Leopard, Microsoft Office was one of the bits of software I held back on reinstalling. I still don’t have it on either machine. I figure I’ll install it when and if I need it.
Meanwhile Maria Langer has been setting up a 12″ Powerbook and ponders in A Computer without Word?:
But the real question is: Do I need Microsoft Office on it?
…I definitely need a Word processor. I’m a writer and I use the computer to write. (I use most of my computers to write.)
But Mac OS X comes with a perfectly good word processor: TextEdit.
Since installing Leopard I’ve had to hand in several documents as Word files. For one I used Apple’s Pages.app to open the template I’d been given, paste in and format my text, and then export in Word format. My client made no comment and perhaps didn’t realise I’d taken this unorthodox route.
For another I uploaded the document I was given into Google Docs. Again I did the work there and finished by exporting into a Word format. Again, there were no comments or complaints.
These were pretty straightforward documents, but then most of my work is. I rarely need any of the advanced features available in Word.
And as for Excel spreadsheets, I open files into Numbers.app or Google Docs.
BBEdit is very powerful. It’s a wonderful piece of software for someone who wants to edit text. While MS Word can do Grep replaces for example, they are tricky and just weird. In BBEdit I use Grep all the time, often in conjunction with Applescript to do powerful transformations on documents. Not a day goes by that I don’t use both Applescript and Grep in a document I’m working on.
When I use Word the interface just gets in the way. I get distracted by all the junk, and driven insane by Word’s erratic behaviour. How many times have I (or anyone) leapt up and cried out: “Noooo, I don’t want the entire document bulleted!!!!”?
For me, Word has its place — and that’s on a shelf in the cupboard.