We’ve got some exciting news to share today. At Adobe’s annual MAX conference this morning, it will be announced that Adobe Systems has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Virtual Ubiquity. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year.
We’ve often been asked to extend Buzzword support to Firefox on Linux. As we’ve said before, Linux is an important platform for Buzzword, and the feedback we’ve received has only strengthened that impression. So, we’ve done some of the preliminary work required to get Buzzword running on Linux.
Ever search for an email attachment with little success? Work on a document only to find out it wasn’t the latest version? Couldn’t send a file by email because the size of the file was too large? We all have these challenges too…We need an easy and simple way to share important documents internally and externally.
We’re happy to report that our latest version, Preview 5, is now online. This version has lots of improvements, many of which aren’t immediately obvious – essentially, tightening things up to get us closer to a true version 1.0 word processor. Here’s a quick look at some of the visible changes in Preview 5.
Happy Labor Day everyone. Here’s a pair of vignettes from our signup stories. The first, from John Burland (who did a nice write-up of Buzzword on his blog, You Must Be From Away), provides a shining example of off-beat native New Zealand humor:
I was orphaned at an early age (my grandparents – childless, unfortunately – went down with the Titanic.)
Is that good enough? No?
OK, read about Buzzword on Wired, need desperately something that’s as good as this and I PROMISE that I’ll tell all the others in my geriatrics water polo group, all of whom appear to be early adopters of cutting-edge technology. We all have laptop cradles on our Zimmer-frames.
We have heard from a lot of users and prospective users that there’s interest in getting Buzzword onto Linux. Rest assured that Linux, in at least some of its forms and browsers, is on our list of things to do. Not only are the ranks of Linux users swelling, the platform itself is consistent with everything Buzzword stands for – free, ubiquitous and high quality software for everyone.
More Browser Challenges
But, you’re thinking, since Buzzword runs in Firefox on Windows and Mac, it should just work automatically in Firefox/Linux, right? Unfortunately, the Linux version of Firefox isn’t an exact replica of other Firefox versions, so we’ll have to create a Linux/Firefox specific version of Buzzword.
We’ve posted a little on the blog about the tradeoffs of working on supporting additional browsers and operating systems, vs. getting core features up and running.
One of the challenges of delivering desktop-quality software inside a browser is, well, the browser itself. Browsers have clearly come a long way in the last 14 years, but they still fall short of the system level services required to deploy a desktop application.
Fortunately, the Flash Player alleviates some of these shortcomings. For one thing, Flash allows visual experiences far beyond a browser’s native capabilities. The Flash Player also handles some system level chores. We chose the Flash platform over AJAX because it allowed us to get much closer to desktop functionality than native browser and html capabilities.
We work a lot of sleight-of-hand tricks to allow Buzzword to act like a desktop application even though it’s running inside a browser. However, some things are beyond the scope of what current-day browsers permit, due to their architecture, and what Flash permits due to its security model.
So here are a couple browser-related challenges we’re either living with or trying to work around.
You may have noticed that when you go to request an invitation to try our Preview edition, we ask that you tell us a story about why you need a web-based word-processor. There are many reasons for this apparently gratuitous step; for one thing, it helps us understand how people want to use our product.
On the other hand, at Buzzword we’re all about writing, and ennobling the entire authoring process, so we like to encourage the muse in everyone.
Some people write their story based on the facts – e.g. “I am a Technical Publications Manager who works remotely some 1700 miles from the home office. I am still searching for the ultimate collaborative documentation environment to perform peer reviews etc.”
A number of users have asked us about fonts.
Why such a limited number of fonts?
We download our own fonts in order to take advantage of Adobe’s FlashType technology which produces great-looking text on screen and in print. It also improves on our ability to display a document exactly the same way regardless of the computer or printer rendering our text.
How often have you had the problem that a document either isn’t readable or isn’t properly formatted because two people sharing that document have different font sets on their desktops? Buzzword is a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) word processor that looks the same on everybody’s screen. Built-in fonts make sure everyone has the same fonts, and therefore sees exactly the same document.
We want to limit the size of the download so that the user is up and running quickly. To that end we’re only downloading 7 font families to start. In future releases, we’ll look at accommodating additional fonts without impacting the download times.
A number of Buzzword Preview testers have asked us to support some of the newer browsers such as Opera, Camino, K-Meleon, Shiira, or Safari 3.0 (currently in beta). The question arises from the observation that most of these are based on the same engines as the browsers we already support, so why don’t we support these others as well?
We actually have to do a lot of work behind the scenes to make keyboard handling and system clipboard import/export function correctly, and we have to do this a bit differently for each browser, even those that are based on the same underlying engine. We have focused so far on the most popular browsers, with the goal of making sure that every user, whether on Windows or Mac, has two supported browsers from which to choose.
The trade off is that we need to use developer and tester hours to support each browser. These are the same hours that we can also use to develop and test features like Spell Check and File Import/Export. It’s a matter of prioritization, and our thinking is that since we know that everyone has Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox available to them, we’ll support those for now.