I write a lot of documentation as part of my day job. Often, this means I have to use Microsoft Word, because that’s what every business has and expects their doco to be in Word .doc format. This sucks for many reasons that they don’t care about.
People really suck at writing documentation in Word. It can actually do some ok things if you don’t push it too hard, but it’s not really designed for large scale professional documentation. Not the way markup and typesetting languages are, and not the way Adobe InDesign, or PageMaker, or a variety of other layout style programs are.
People don’t know how to use styles, and Word makes it easy to munge them horribly in ways that are impossible to fix without starting over from scratch. It’s hard to set up global stylesheets, even if people have a LAN and shared drives. It’s even harder to stop people from killing the global stylesheets.
I had gotten to the point where I could find my way around most of the issues caused by Word 2003. I had some nice, simple stylesheets set up that made my writing look good, and made it easier to read, which is the whole point. I’d even started to get a bunch of other people interested in using advanced features like Properties and Styles because it made their life easier. Woo.
Then Word 2007 happened.
I’ve landed at a client that have it, and all their doco is being created with it. It saves in the poxy OOXML format that bribed its way into an ISO standard. OOXML is bloated, opaque, and incompatible with other software, including other versions of Word! So, I can’t use Word 2003 to edit these documents. No. I have to use Word 2007.
Let me tell you, Word 2007 is awful. They’ve changed the primary interface completely so that it looks all shiny and modern, so now, of course, I can’t find anything. Insert->Field? Nope. Try, Insert ‘tab’, Quick Parts pulldown, Field. And then the dialog box is the same as in Word 2003. So they’ve put a shiny facade over the front of everything, on purpose, hiding all the functionality you’re used to, but it’s actually the same underneath.
The workflow is totally munged. I really cannot, for the life of me, see why anyone who spends as much time in Word as I do would want to use Word 2007. It actually makes my life harder. As if Windows didn’t do that enough already. The only reasons I can see for them doing this are a) they needed a superficial change to make it look different so people would upgrade, and b) it looks all shiny on the surface, so people who’ve never used Word before might want to buy it.
If you’re one of the luck, lucky people who’ve never been subjected to the pain that is working with documents in Word, don’t. Just avoid it. Get OpenOffice. You’ll thank me some day.
And to everyone else: can we all please, please, PLEASE start using OpenOffice and a real open standard, ODF, for all our office documents? It’s free! It works on Windows and Mac! Hell, it works on Solaris. It can even load OOXML documents better than Word 2003 can.
Then maybe I won’t have to spend half my day trying to figure out how to set a paragraph as Body Text style via 5 different dialog boxes.
i feel your pain. i’m a tech editor/writer working now for a company that uses Word 2007. I freakin’ HATE it. It now takes me at least twice as long to document anything. I’ve been using it for 6 months, and I still have trouble with the completely non-intuitive interface. It is much more difficult to find anything, and I always have to use Office online help (which sucks equally).
DITTO there are so many bugs in this program it’s unbelievable. One day I’m going to start documenting them. Then I’m going to send Microsoft a bill for $10,000, all the wasted time and effort I’ve had to put in to deal with it.
I am hoping that Microsoft 2007 version will become the “New Coke” of the 2000’s. For those of you too young to remember, Coke came out with a new and improved Coke in the 80s and it was so awful they dumped it and went back to “Classic” Coke. I got used to this new version but I am clicking around so much more than before because in my job I need certain toolbars up all the time so I have my buttons where I need them. It reallly isn’t efficient in my mind. And the compatability issues are many as well, the worst of which is if you password protect a document in the new versions, and someone with the old version opens it the password is non-existent. That could cost companies lots of money…maybe if that happens, they will go back to “Classic” Microsoft Office…
I hate fucking Word period. And fucking Microsoft for wasting so much of my time, and I just decided to Google that phrase to see if there’s a ‘hate’ site out there that might get MS idiots off their arses and take notice of long suffering workers forced by dickhead IT staff to use this crap. I’m amazed actually at how few people there are complaining. 6 months or so ago I was changed across to 2010 Office suite, and honestly, it’s gotten worse than 2007, which was a crap version of 2003, in itself not great. It is so unbelievably buggy, what the fuck have the MS prats been doing all this time. JP, someone who has patience sure needs to document it all – $10,000 wouldn’t be half of what I’ve had to charge my clients because of Word stuff-ups. My company has 37,000 people, probably all battling like me – how expensive is that?? Me, I’d rather use my own iPad for work (which I’m going to do once the v3 comes out) and screw what our IT say.
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Word 2007 totally sucks and Microsoft should hang for releasing this crap. What a bunch of losers working at Microsoft headquarters mis-managing this sht. Same with Windows 8! I heard that f’er got fired. Word 2007 made my life unbelievably harder with the stupid ribbon. What happened to all the ALT-[Menu} shortcuts? Oh wait, I cant even get to a menu bar in 2007. Just don’t mouse too far to the right and accidentally hit a key or Windows 8 will poop on you. Jeeze, I want opensource for Christmas.