Believe it or not, Abiword is *not* dead

Roland Taylor's Gravatar

Roland Taylor
published Aug. 18, 2018, 1:13 a.m.

And neither is this blog, even though I've had this post in "draft" mode for 2 years!

According to the a post on Planet GNOME, Abiword was never dead, just dormant. I did notice this some two years ago when, on a whim, I decided to check out the (then) SVN repository for any signs of activity. Truthfully, I didn't (still don't) use Abiword anymore, but nostalgia is a hard feeling to shake.

Ah, The Good Old Days:

If you've been using desktop Linux for a while (in my case, full-time since 2007), then you're probably familiar with, or have at least heard of, the once ubiquitious Abiword. It was the big-deal word processor for Linux before OpenOffice and later LibreOffice took that crown. In fact, I even used it on Windows at times because, quite frankly, I really liked it. Even though I didn't use half the features and plugins that come with it (no really, they're quite a lot of them), I can remember being impressed with the fact that an open source application was this complete and stable, and it gave me a sense that I was moving in the right direction, having chosen to start using open source software as a major part of my workflow.

Sleeping Beauty:

Unfortunately, since that time, Abiword development slowed to a creep, after the release of version 3.0.0. For it while, it even seemed that Abiworked had kicked the bucket, and would never see the light of day (or night!) again. But my (not so) keen eye did notice something during these silent years. Occassionally, small commits would drop, even though no new releases were showing up. From the nature of these commits, I came to the conclusion that Abiword wasn't in fact dead, but in deep hibernation.

The Prince Has Arrived!

Latest build of Abiword running as a snap.

Abiword 3.0.2 running via flatpack.

Released earlier this month, Abiword 3.0.2 brings a number of simple fixes, which you probably won't be able to notice, and improves the general stability of the application as a result. I can't provide any real concrete info on what is in store for the future, other than fixes, as such information is limited at the time.

However, there does seem to be a plan to port Abiword to GTK4, the next major version of the popular cross-platform toolkit (and major "competitor" to Qt). With GTK4 finally bringing many long awaited features, including a scene graph, blurring and much more. Whether or not these improvements will bring anything new to the table for this "ancient" but well loved word processor remains to be seen.

In any case, it's just nice to know that Abiword not only alive, but kicking, once again!