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OX Text review: An in-browser word processor with big ambitions

Serdar Yegulalp | May 20, 2013
OpenXchange's new word processor, OX Text, is the first in a set of Linux-based productivity apps. Can it compete with Google Docs and Office 365?

The left-hand strip contains quick links to in-document search, printing and document downloading tools. The right-hand pane, which is collapsible, contains formatting and editing tools. If you collapse the right-hand pane, a few commonly used editing tools  bold, italic, undo/redo appear as buttons that hover at the top right. Finally, the tab strip along the top lets you switch between multiple open documents.

Functionally, OX Text works a good deal like most competing Web-based word processors. Changes are saved automatically whenever you're not typing. Unicode is handled well; I edited documents that were mixes of Western and Asian character sets without problems.

OX Text uses Microsoft Office's DOCX format as its default document format, although ODT, TXT and RTF files can also be opened and edited. (RTFs are converted to ODT format for editing.) PDFs can also be uploaded and viewed, but not edited. All files uploaded to the system can also be downloaded for offline use.

OX Text has a collapsible pane which contains formatting and editing tools.

OX Text also has some sharing capabilities. Documents are shared through the file organizer, where you can manage access rights to files and folders for any number of other users on the same installation of OX App Suite. (You can also give people a public read-only Web link.) Try to open a document that someone else is editing, and you'll get a message asking whether or not you want to acquire the edit rights to that document.

While only one person at a time can actually edit a document, other people with the same document open can see the changes being added in real time. This isn't quite as useful as the real-time collaborative editing offered by Google Docs and Office 365, but it's close.

Clicking on the Search icon in the left-hand strip toggles a Search bar along the top, which also works as a search-and-replace tool. The search function only lets you look for straightforward strings of text, though -- there's no apparently way to use wildcards or regular expressions to perform more sophisticated searches.

Minimal editing features
The real shortcoming with OX Text, at least so far, is how minimal the editing features are. There's some basic text formatting (including tables and images) and a spell-checker that didn't seem to be implemented in the preview version I looked at. Right clicking on text in a document does nothing; it doesn't even bring up a context menu (except when you right click on hyperlinks).

There are also a few browser-related glitches. In Chrome, for example, the End key doesn't always take you to the end of a line -- it often takes you instead to the beginning of the next one. (Firefox didn't have this problem.)


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