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What's new in SoftMaker Office 2018? – Part 1

Wednesday, 22 November 2017 08:00

Dear SoftMaker customers:

Not long ago, we started shipping our new office suite SoftMaker Office 2018 for Windows. To help you keep track of the numerous improvements, we present the most important ones in a multi-part series of articles here in the SoftMaker Blog.

Have fun reading about our new Office!

Part 1: Don't let the ribbon scare you!

If you have participated in the beta test or tried out out the free 30-day trial version of SoftMaker Office 2018, you have probably already noticed: right at the first start of SoftMaker Office 2018, you can choose the user interface you want to work with:

This gives you the choice to work with either with the classic user interface using menus and toolbars, or with modern ribbons.

As an experienced user of SoftMaker Office 2016, you might wonder if you should really take the plunge and go with the new ribbons. We can only give this recommendation: Do it, you won't regret it!

The new ribbon interface

For fans of the tried and tested, there is good news at this point: Even when using our new ribbon interface, you can still use the menu. To ensue a smooth migration, we have added a handy feature for you: the "hamburger menu":

The name "hamburger menu" comes from the icon that is customarily used for such menus: three stripes that symbolize the three major elements of a hamburger.

As you can see, you will find all menu entries from the classic user interface here. If you don't find a certain command in the new ribbons immediately, you can always invoke it via this menu.

But we are sure you'll quickly find things faster in the new ribbons – numerous elements are more easily accessible than ever before.

The best advice we can give: play with the new ribbons to explore them. You will see that you can rely on your intuition: For example, do you want to insert a graphical shape? No problem – under Insert > AutoShape, you will find a catalogue which lets you conveniently insert the shape of your choice in the document:

Once a shape is inserted, you will notice that something is going on at the right edge of the ribbons: depending on the situation, additional "context-sensitive" ribbon tabs become active, which offer options and commands that "make sense" in the given situation. In this case, the context-sensitive ribbon "Object" is displayed as long as the just-inserted AutoShape is selected:

Here you will find the most important options for editing the selected object, all in one place. For example, you can use the control "AutoShape templates" to conveniently select from a catalog of pre-defined formatting options and apply them to the shape object with a click:

When you let the mouse pointer hover over one of the options, a preview of that option will appear in your document. This makes it much easier to choose between different formatting options.

Backstage view? No, thanks!

You may have seen this in the office suite of a major vendor: You click on "File" and expect an ordinary "File" ribbon with file-related commands. But suddenly a confusing new user interface opens up that takes up the entire screen, makes it difficult to access documents on your hard drive and pushes you to use "the cloud" for your documents. We decided against this so-called "backstage view" for file operations. With SoftMaker Office 2018, you get what you expect when you click on "File": an attractively designed and well-conceived File ribbon:

In this ribbon, too, you will quickly notice some practical "little helpers" for your everyday work. You can use the "New" and "Open" controls to display not only the most recently used files and templates, but also to "pin" frequently used files and templates at the top – all you have to do is click on the small "Pin" icon:

Did you know? All the new control elements discussed here can also be found in the classic user interface – for example, you'll see the improved "Open" icon in the Standard toolbar, directly below the Edit menu:

So, in case you decide against ribbons, you will still benefit from the many interface enhancements, even in classic mode with menus and toolbars.

Small but powerful: the group arrows for advanced functions

Although most features are available directly in the ribbons, sometimes there are situations where you want to dig deeper into the matter, in order to make fine adjustments to your document. In these situations, the little "triangles" at the bottom right of the command groups will guide you to advanced options:

For example, if you want to change the color of a paragraph border, simply click on the group arrow marked above. The well-known "Paragraph" dialog box will appear, allowing you to specify all the formatting settings of the paragraph in detail. All you have to do is switch to the "Border" tab and set the details of the desired paragraph border. In our case, simply open the "Color" dropdown and pick a color for the contour line.

Always at your service: the Quick Access toolbar

Some commands must always be at hand, no matter which ribbon is currently active. For this purpose, there is the practical Quick Access toolbar to the left of the document tabs:

In its default state, it contains the following elements:

  • the "hamburger menu" that we already talked about,
  • a button to activate the touch mode with large icons and more generous spacing,
  • the most important file operations (New, Open, Save),
  • "Undo" and "Redo" and
  • Toggle object mode.

Not good enough for you? No problem: You can customize both the quick access toolbar and the ribbons to your liking! Find out more below.

Your wish is its command: customizing the user interface

Are you missing frequently used commands on the "Home" ribbon? Do you want to add or remove commands from the Quick Access toolbar? To do this, simply right-click on any ribbon to open the customization menu:

Choose the Customize ribbon command. A dialog window will appear in which you can customize the user interface to your liking:

All available commands are listed on the left, while the right side shows the commands in the way they are arranged in the user interface.

If you want to put a new command on a ribbon, first select the desired ribbon in the upper right corner under "Customize". Then select the command from the left list and click ">>" to add it to the right list.

Hint: There are two even easier ways to add commands to the Quick Access toolbar:

  • In this dialog window, click an icon and drag it to the Quick Access toolbar.
  • Even simpler: Commands that are already on a ribbon can be dragged to the Quick Access toolbar without going through any dialog boxes. Simply hold down the Alt key and drag the desired icon from the ribbon straight to the Quick Access toolbar.

We hope this article gave you a first overview of our new user interface. This is the initial article in a series, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about SoftMaker Office 2018, check out the feature list.

Do you want to share your first impressions, comments or suggestions for improvement? Do not hesitate to use the comment function of this blog. We look forward to your feedback!

If you haven't downloaded the trial version of SoftMaker Office 2018 yet, you can find it here.

We hope you enjoy working with SoftMaker Office 2018 as much as we enjoyed creating it!



  • Serg posted by Serg
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 04:01

    Добавьте русский язык в интерфейс сайта , спасибо (RU)

  • Piotr posted by Piotr
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 01:42

    Zapłacę jak interfejs programu będzie w języku polskim !!!

  • Jane Olivier posted by Jane Olivier
    Thursday, 23 November 2017 00:57

    None of the changes are important enough to an editor. I would like to see things like
    - a decent dictionary,
    - the problem with the paragraph style constantly reverting to Times New Roman 10pt regardless of how many times I change it,
    - the ability to change the letter style to 'capitalize each word' or 'capitalize all' or 'sentence font'.

    What you are doing is all window-dressing and does not make me want to buy the 2018 version. Also I am constantly having problems with (not responding) coming up and I have to wait for ages to do something.

  • Roy Martin posted by Roy Martin
    Wednesday, 22 November 2017 21:16

    I have purchased the full version but to date have not used, I use Microsoft Office because I need to use publisher a lot.
    At the moment I don't think SoftMaker has any thing like publisher I wish it did.

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