I am a fan of lightweight word processors and personally enjoy using them on my old laptops. Why would one need to install a fully-blown Microsoft Office wasting gigabytes of disk space and tons of memory just to be able to print a few paragraphs? In such scenarios an application such as Wordpad or maybe Abiword would be more than enough.
Recently I came across Jarte, another lightweight word processor and decided to try it out. The software has a minimalist tabbed interface, with the top menu bar or ribbon replaced with a few buttons, and runs on Windows XP or newer:
Despite the simple interface, features such as tables, embedded images, page break or equations (via MathType) are supported. There is even an offline thesaurus/dictionary feature which will launch the free Wordweb software, if installed:
A simple spell checker is supported and spelling suggestions are shown through a context menu. There is no grammar checker, but then again I do not believe that one is necessary. Computerized grammar checkers have never been perfect and over-reliance on these tools could prove to be counter-productive.
Jarte’s native file format is RTF, short for Rich Text Format. RTF is widely supported on many operating systems, starting from Wordpad for Windows 95 to TextEdit for Mac OS. In addition to RTF, Jarte also supports .DOC files (with the Office 97 compatibility pack) and .DOCX files (with the Office 2007 compatibly pack), according to its website.
When you open a .DOC or .DOCX file, Jarte will prompt you to install the necessary compatibility pack if it’s not already installed. During my tests, Jarte opens .DOC file and maintains original formatting pretty well, albeit at a slightly slower speed compared with Microsoft Office. I could not get Jarte to open various .DOCX file despite installing the Office 2007 c0mpatibility pack – just an empty page is shown. I also observed that the checks done by Jarte for the presence of the Office 97 compatibility pack is not perfect and not all .DOC files will trigger the warning. If a file doesn’t trigger the warning, most (if not all) of it would still display properly in Jarte. For .DOC files, advanced features not supported by Jarte will be lost if the file is saved.
Jarte’s RTF support is excellent and the RTF file it generates can be opened on various other software, formatting preserved. On my netbook with just 3GB of RAM running Windows 7, Jarte starts up almost instantly whereas Microsoft Word took a good 10 seconds. Jarte is still being actively maintained is in my opinion quite a good choice for serious writers.