Completely lost in Mozilla Composer

In serious need of a word processor, I have finally looked at Mozilla Composer after ignoring it for years. Although it does have its problems, I am feeling the first blush of love.

So getting here was a long journey. I switched from Netscape to Mozilla long ago, and I remember that I was a bit annoyed by all the bells and whistles. The newsreader I didn’t like, though I did use Mozilla for my mail. Composer was there, I suppose, but I never used it.

I used Word-perfect for my word processing when I used Windows 3.1, and when I switched to Linux, I bought Word-perfect for Linux. When I finally ditched proprietary word processors, Abiword was the best free one around. It was most like Word perfect, although I sorely missed the show codes feature, but that’s another blog.

The real point was that Mozilla composer was there, but I never used it. So why did I start using it?

Well, I have had just about enough of Abiword. Its WYSINWYG (What you see is NOT what you get) interface ticked me off one too many times, and so I decided to find something new.

So while searching for reviews of free software word processors—a frustrating and difficult experience I tell you—I found an article which supported this oft overlooked one.

Now I had been writing lots of things that I later put on websites, and I was already using Mozilla which I knew contained Composer, so I was quickly able to put it to the test. And WOW! I was impressed. It was really quick to get something usable out of it, and since the format was HTML, I could read it on any system with just a browser.

I think I’m in love!

OK, I know that it’s just an infatuation. At first you see all the good points, and then as the relationship goes along, you notice them picking their nose or biting their toenails with their teeth, and the honeymoon is over.

In fact, right off the bat, I noticed that there is absolutely NO control over how it prints. There is no print preview. I’ve been having to print it to file and view the .ps file with Ghostview to see if it will print before wasting the paper.

I also know that this is not a desktop publisher, so paper layout is not its main thing. It is about putting pages up on the web, and that’s where it shines. There are four tags on the bottom of each screen: Normal, HTML Tags, HTML source, and preview.

Mozilla Composer

Normal view is where you type it all in. HTML tags has a shorthand of what’s in the HTML, and preview is like a browser. I like the ease of tabbed switching, because if the interface fails me, I can simply switch to HTML view. When I’m not thinking about it, I just type text in, and it works.

There are buttons to help you add links and images and to make a table. Now, I often have problems with tables. I always leave out a td tag or something, but I was able to use the table editor to make one, and it worked fine.

Now I need to do the hard testing. I haven’t got around to using extensive images, or even adding background images, and I haven’t used the publish feature to add my pages to my website, I always pasted it by hand. I also want to see if I can edit how it writes HTML so that I can use it as an XML editor for special web pages. I do have some issue with how much junk is added to the HTML code. I’d prefer a different style than it uses, but so far, it’s working great.

Of course, because it is limited in its layout ability, I have only used it to make short documents. I really don’t trust it yet, although I am willing to try it out. So, although I like Mozilla Composer very much, I still haven’t quite given up on Abiword, though the thrill is gone. So, which program did I use to write this blog?

Gvim text editor, but don’t tell. That’s our little secret.


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