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Quickoffice Version 3 For UIQ - Part 1 Print E-mail
Written by Richard Bloor   
Wednesday, 19 January 2005
SymbianOne is pleased to bring you an exclusive first review of Quickoffice 3, the latest version of MDM's definitive office documents application for UIQ. Sporting a new single point interface, and improved Microsoft Word and PowerPoint support we find Quickoffice is an application to take seriously.

The first noticeable difference with Quickoffice 3.0 is that the separate Quicksheet, Quickword and Quickpoint icons are gone, replaced by a cleaner, single Quickoffice icon in the UIQ menu. Opening the application reveals a list of all the documents Quickoffice works with, along with three additional tabs to view Word or text, Excel, and PowerPoint documents separately.

Breaking slightly with UIQ standards Quickoffice's home screen uses a drive selector in the bottom right of the screen to select the phone memory, memory card (on our P900 it lists it a External(01) but on newer devices such as the P910i it shows the card name) and mail. The addition of the Mail option probably explains the break with UIQ standards as the folder list would be rather long if the UIQ standard had been used.

Selecting the source memory then provides access to the usual folder options on the menu, with the addition of a mail folders list for Inbox, Outbox, Drafts and Sent Items, when Mail is the source. The mail access proved to be really handy. If a document has been attached to a mail but needs further editing it does not have to be resent or reattached, it can simply be open from the Drafts folder.

Quick access icons, on the toolbar, at the bottom left of the screen, provide options to create a new file or open, delete, or send an existing file. In the main menus there are also features to find a document by title, copy and move documents, along with view setting for file sort criteria and the display font size.

Quickword

According to MDM the main focus of improvements in Quickoffice 3 are in Quickword, however this effort is not immediately obvious. The application interface has similar features to its predecessor. When a document is first opened it is presented in view only mode, with text wrapped to the screen. This view shows the majority of font and paragraph formatting present in the document, albeit in a narrow form.

In view mode it is possible to find text in the document (an option available both from the menu and shortcut icons at the bottom of the screen) adjust display zoom (to small, medium or large fonts) perform a save as, and select the edit mode.

Switched to edit mode reveals the first major first improvement as Quickword no longer asks for a copy of the document to be created for editing. This is because MDM has focused on document fidelity in this new version. Quickword now preserves the original document formatting and content integrity during editing, more on this shortly.

Quickword's basic editing options are accessible from the toolbar, found at the bottom of the screen. The toolbar includes functions for; text highlighting and coloring; font selection; paragraph formatting left, right and center justified but not fully justified paragraphs; bullets; and bold, italics, and underline.

More advanced paragraph and font formatting features are available from the menu, providing greater and much improved control.

Paragraphs can now use the original document's styles, bullets can be set up to 9 levels deep, the paragraph spacing can be controlled as can line spacing.

Text control also allows the use of styles along with strikethrough, superscript and subscript options.

When displaying a document Quickword substitutes the document fonts with the built in fonts supplied with the device. For the best experience it is worth loading true type fonts onto the device (as done for the screenshots here) allowing the fonts the documents author intended to be seen. For information on how to do this see our tip "True Type Fonts On Your Sony Ericsson".

The way Quickword deals with tables is ingenious, given the limitations of a narrow screen, stacking a table's columns one above another in a single column. While an imaginative approach, which works well for small tables, there is the potentially for this layout to be quite confusing for complex and unfamiliar tables.

SymbianOne's tests suggest that MDM have done a very good job of preserving the integrity of a document. The editing left embedded objects and diagrams unchanged and text formatting "errors" were always due to the more restricted formatting options available in Quickword. For example, Quickword does not support double underlining so in some cases extending a section of text using this Word feature resulted in text with a single underline.

Despite the improvements Quickword has a few limitations, although many will not affect most users. For example, it does not provide a template feature, but this is easily overcome by keeping a set of template documents on your device.

A more serious limitation is that Quickword does not display embedded objects or pictures. It does not even provide an indication that these types of objects are present in a document. For many documents this will be a serious limitation.

Perhaps the biggest issue, particularly for power user, will be the way in which Quickword handles tracked changes and document comments. In the case of tracked changes Quickword shows all deleted text items as though they are still present in the document. This can make heavily marked documents almost unusable. MDM are however aware of this issue and hopefully the next update will at least display only the final text. In the meanwhile care needs to be taken to ensure that any documents have tracked changes accepted before being sent to Quickword. Similarly comments are not handled at all. Given that these are not uncommon in business documents support in the next version would lift the usability of Quickword significantly.

Overall Quickword is very much improved and while it is not a desktop word processor replacement it is now good enough, in most cases, to be used in conjunction with desktop systems as part of a documents lifecycle. The added support for document formatting options means that the integrity of a document is easily maintained through even relatively large changes, additions and deletions. The improvements in document integrity are impressive, and eliminating the need to make copies before editing significantly improves usability.

Quicksheet

Quicksheet is largely unchanged from the previous release of Quickoffice.

Quicksheet provides good support for the Excel format, although it does not support graphs. Like Quickword spreadsheets can be viewed and edited, although a copy still needs to be made prior to editing. Support is provided for all the commonly used Excel functions and of the less common only a handful are missing. Formatting options are somewhat limited providing only one format style in most of the major categories, such as dates and times.

The biggest drawback of Quicksheet is really a limitation of UIQ, or rather small screen devices. Unlike a text document spreadsheets do not lend themselves to being snaked. Viewing larger sheets can easily become a navigation nightmare, trying to keep track of which rows or columns is visible. Quicksheet does include row and column numbering but this is often little help in finding "May's sales in EMEA" when they are in the tenth column and twenty-third row. While a freeze panes option might help the limited screen space probably makes it impractical.

Despite its limitations Quicksheet is a useful tool for creating, editing, or simply reviewing spreadsheets. This brief coverage is simply because Quicksheet has not been updated in this version, not due to any lack in functionality.

In part 2 of this review we explore Quickpoint and see how, with iGo's Pitch Duo, it make the ideal light weight presentation tool.

Quickoffice 3 for UIQ is available from the Quickoffice Web site, http://www.quickoffice.com/uiq/, or from Handango for $49.95.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 23 January 2005 )
 


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