March 03, 2004

A Minimalist Word Processor?

I'm looking for a new word processor, text editor, space to enter text into my computer. My Windows XP computer to be precise.

The main criteria is that it's minimal, simple, quick, and elegant. Nothing getting in the way of the words you know? Something a lot like OSX's TextEdit.

The only problem is there are couple features I want, all of them basic, but all of them necessary. Inline spell check, large numbers of undos, and autosave. That's it. Everything else is optional as long as its tucked out of the way.

Can't find it. Anyone have any tips?

Posted by Abe at March 3, 2004 05:25 PM


if anyone cares, here is all options I've played with.

- Microsoft Word and OpenOffice - slow, big, clunky...

- Eudora - I actually use this the most. Does everything I want when actually composing. But as a way to manage files it fails. And more importantly I don't want my email program open and in the way when I'm writing.

- TextPad - use it as a text editor, great but no inline spell check. Might have other issues as a word processor too

- Boxer Text Editor - not bad, but its got some weird word wrap issues that I can't solve, and this is the 10th release... Also be nice, but not essential to be able to use non monospaced fonts.

- WordPad, no spell check, only one level of undo.

- Jarte - ugg

- AbiWord - haven't tried it but it looks way to overloaded with crap.

Emacs has all those features, it's free, and I've never had any trouble running it under Windows. You definitely _can_ use it as a minimalist text editor, and I often do. Of course it'll be a minimalist text editor that's also set up to help with the syntax of about a dozen programming languages, read e-mail and Usenet, and convert dates to and from the Mayan calendar, among many other things.

I've always liked Editplus (dot com). Really clean and small, efficient, spell checker, LOTS AND LOTS of undo, autosaves .tmp files (interval is customizable), syntax highlighting, basic ftp, projects, etc.

At my new job I had Dreamweaver MX 2004 installed (haven't used DW in years), and I was amazed at how much it sucked -- got rid of it and switched back to EditPlus that same day. (A search and replace that took literally FIVE minutes in DW, Editplus did in a fraction of a second)

It's not exactly minimalist, but UltraEdit is very bloat-free and powerful and has all the features you ask for. The UI is fairly customizable so you can pare it down until it's a lean mean text-editing something or other.

i second the emacs recomendation.

if you can find the couple hours it takes to learn the keyboard shortcuts, this will turn your computer into a 'machine de guerre' as deleuze would say.

I use gvim in linux and just loaded it in XP. It has inline spellchecking with the vimspell script that works fine. The reason I started using it extensively is for the script/plug-in- vim outliner. It's very fast.

emacs, whoa, bit over my head on it so far. Can't get it to do automatic spellchecking yet either. A whole labyrinth to explore...

I've got instant love for EditPlus. Really, so close to perfect. Stripped down in just the right way. Decent chance I'll use it to replace TextPad as my default text editor, although TextPad is damn fine in itself.

Unfortunately I'm not looking for a text editor, I'm looking for a minimal word processor. And I need that automatic spell checking. Bad. My spelling is atrocious. I'd be happy to use a text editor as my word processor if it just had the inline spellcheck. But so far only Boxer has it and its a flawed program...

Alt-X flyspell-mode puts you in automated spellchecking mode.


hmmm, I'm starting to see the appeal of emacs. At the same time I'm completely lost in it.

this is someone who grew up in an Apple only household...

You also have to have ispell to use flyspell-mode in emacs. I am not exactly sure how to set this up under Windows (from a quick search, I found this:

You can do some cool stuff with emacs in flyspell mode, like rebinding CTRL-; to 'flyspell-auto-correct-word,' which will cycle through the recommended corrections for a mispelled word.

emacs has some other really cool features for text editing, such as it's 'kill-ring,' which accumulates 'cut' and 'copied' text.

As big of a fan as emacs as I am, I wouldn't recommend it to you unless you have a friend that can help you out with it, or if you have the time/inclination to learn it and elisp (emacs' scripting language).

Emacs is one half of the Great Unix Editor Wars (vi is the other).

You either love it--because it can do ANYTHING; or you hate it--because it's not an editor, it's an operating system, and as such is kinda/severely bloated relative to the normative Unix aesthetic of
'one program for each task, and pipes to connect them all.'

I'm in the 'love it' camp myself, but I think under Windows it's not nearly as cool a program as the Unix original.

Like yourself, I hate the fact that Windows lacks a good minimal word processor/maximal text editor. It seems like the one category of program that nobody bothers to make for this Satanic operating environment.

Not a shred of evidence exists in favor of the idea that life is serious.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, A medley of extemporanea; And love is a thing that can never go wrong; And I am Marie of Romania.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, A medley of extemporanea; And love is a thing that can never go wrong; And I am Marie of Romania.