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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?

At a Glance

OX Text
Open-Xchange AG
Price: Free for non-commercial use
Pros: Can host on own hardware; clean, easy-to-use interface
Cons: Feature set not yet competitive

Other missing features make it difficult to use OX Text for professional work. You can't add footnotes or endnotes, for instance, and when I attempted to import a document that featured them, they were stripped out without warning. And while each document has a version history that can be seen in the app's file management pane, there's no way to track changes or compare multiple versions of a document to see how they differ. On the plus side, you can add hyperlinks, and OX Text does preserve any links present in imported documents.

The way printing is handled is also a little strange. Instead of invoking the browser's own print function, OX Text renders the document in question as a PDF and then has the browser download it locally. This actually isn't a bad idea, since PDFs provide for far more fine-grained control over text and images than HTML does, but the rendered PDF often has variations in font choices or other formatting options from the original document.

Documents can also be "published"  shared out to the Internet at large  via a static URL. Select this option and you'll be popped into the OX App Suite's email client, with a newly created mail that features the link in question.

Bottom line
OX Text's current attraction is that you can host an instance of OX App Suite (and thus OX Text) on your own hardware, and so keep far closer control over it. But as it stands, OX Text needs a much broader feature set before it can be taken seriously as competition for Google Docs or Microsoft Office 365.

The current version of the suite can be downloaded and hosted on various editions of Linux. A community edition of the product is available at no cost for non-commercial use, and various support licenses are available for hosts, resellers, or businesses. An online test drive version is also available. The noncommercial version is, of course, free; as of this writing, there was no official pricelist yet for commercial licensing.

 

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