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The StartX Files: HancomWord Dumps WINE for Qt - page 2

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  • November 15, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

HancomWord is one of those applications that should not need an exhortation for more funding. It's parent company, Haansoft, has made darn sure that the Windows version of this application is the dominant word processor in the Korean market. So when Haansoft did some internal shuffling and formed the HancomLinux division back in 1999, it seemed a sure thing that the Linux version of HancomWord and the rest of HancomOffice would be a pretty strong offering.

Well, not exactly.

When HancomOffice 1.2 came out on Linux in 2000, the whole thing was a WINE port of the Windows version. So it had all of the problems that comes with WINE. When HancomOffice 1.5 came out, everything ran native on Linux except for (you guessed it) HancomWord.

So it's a long-anticipated release of HancomWord this time, as HancomWord 6.0 makes it debut within the HancomOffice 2.0 beta.

The version of HancomWord I did the majority of this review was the version found in Beta 1 of HancomOffice 2.0. This translates to HancomWord 6.0 Alpha 1. The Final Beta of HancomOffice was released just today, which led to some hasty changes to the original review, since I wanted to include some notes on HancomWord 6.0 Alpha 2. Unfortunately, I regret to say that there were no Alpha 2 release in the Final Beta of HancomOffice. At least, none that I could find.

Here's what happened: I downloaded and installed HancomOffice without incident last week when Beta 1 became available. Everything looked good and, save for the things I will mention in a bit, worked okay too.

Then, early this morning, I pulled the Final Beta tarball down (all 106 Mb of it). I ran the Uninstall script that came with Beta 1, and then ran through the tar and install commands for the Final Beta. And then everything went to heck in a handbasket.

For instance, in Beta 1's Alpha 1 HancomWord's interface is something to behold, especially in KDE. This makes sense since HancomWord, like the rest of HancomOffice, is based on the Qt libraries. Fonts on the interface are crisp and clean and the whole thing is pretty well put-together. Unfortunately, in the Final Beta, HancomWord's (which is still tagged as Alpha 1 in the application, despite what the Web site says) fonts were completely out of kilter.

Now, I am perfectly willing to concede that I screwed up somewhere in the uninstallation/installation process and that a true installation of HancomWord 6.0 Alpha 2 is possible on a system that has not had Alpha 1 on it to begin with. But, I would only be willing to share a little of that fault, since there were no instructions on how to (or whether to) uninstall HancomWord and the rest of the HancomOffice suite. One thing HancomLinux needs to do right away is clear up the procedures for moving from one beta to another.

I will be interested to hear how users fared when they installed the Final Beta files on a Hancom-free system. Maybe you will have better luck than I.

In whatever edition, HancomWord's initial screen throws a lot of toolbars at you from the get-go, so it was a bit cluttered. Since you can collapse the toolbars with a single click of the control bar, though, this was not a big deal. Tools are well-placed, and there are certainly a variety. From spell-checking (which HancomLinux states does work in Alpha 2) to a really nifty little indexing tool. Table creation and graphics file manipulation was easily managed as well.

Since this is a beta version, some of what I point out here are beta issues that should go away. For instance, HancomWord has no Help system yet, nor is TrueType font management for the documents in place yet. The import filters, which were promised to be ready in Alpha 2, are not really in place either.

Actually, this might not be a filter issue. It's hard to tell, since neither revision marks tools or styles are present in either version that I looked at. The only style in the default version of the beta is Normal. You can, however, add your own styles with a Style tool that I thought was very well made. I am relatively sure that more styles will be included in the gold release of HancomWord, but knowing that Style tool is there will still be a big plus.

The CEO of HancomLinux USA did inform me that all of these features are expected to be in place by the end of the month, though he was not sure if the revision mark feature would be ready at that time. That was good to know. Without true working import filters, it is impossible to tell how this application will play well with other word processors. If you're reading this, HancomLinux developers, just make sure that styles and revision marks are carried across with the document.

The HancomLinux executive with whom I spoke was quick to offer some caveats.

"Honestly, [Hancom]Word is in an alpha state, it's not as far along as the other applications," he said.

And this person would know, because Shawn Gordon is not only the CEO of HancomLinux USA, he's also running theKompany.

Gordon's relationships with HancomLinux and theKompany are two entirely separate things.

"This is a strategic partnership," Gordon explained. "I'm running the U.S. [HancomLinux] office in addition to my work with theKompany. There is no ownership of each other, simply a product bundle and financial arrangement for royalties and such."

One thing's for sure, Gordon is working pretty hard to get Linux on the desktop in whatever way he can.

Though this is still just a alpha application within an overall beta release of the HancomOffice suite, I am intrigued by what I have seen so far. If Hancom can plow through the inevitable bugs that show up in any alpha release, they will have a solid product on their hands. I look forward to seeing the final version of this app in the near future.

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