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10 Best Open-source Document Editor Alternatives to Google Docs

Nowadays, Google Docs is one of the most–if not the most used online document editor – but that doesn’t mean it’s the…

By Hailey Friedman

Jun 13, 2022

Nowadays, Google Docs is one of the most–if not the most used online document editor – but that doesn’t mean it’s the most useful. Generally people conduct their work on it just because it comes with their Google account, but there is a wide variety of apps for editing documentation. In this article, we’ll showcase the 10 best open-source alternatives to Google Docs.

In many cases, working remotely in an asynchronous fashion has given employees the chance of tackling complex tasks when and where they are the most productive. That is reason enough for businesses to invest in asynchronous tools like online document editors and word processors. 

After all, writers and journalists alike employ them in their jobs as a daily tool, while programmers may use one to start the process of creating an app. Not long ago, Microsoft Word was the go-to option for writing on a screen, whether it was a novel, a manual or just for taking notes

Best Open-source Document Editor Alternatives to Google Docs

Almanac 

Almanac is a knowledge management software with an open-source philosophy that focuses on collaboration. The changes added by different users can be shown on an activity feed, which makes it more than adequate for remote teamwork. On the same note, Almanac’s ability to branch a document by giving instant access to older versions without implementing the changes until permission is granted, makes it perfect for asynchronous work

No doubt, its fast real-time editing makes it an excellent alternative to Google Docs. One of the strongest aspects of Almanac is its document templates repository. It’s the largest library in existence and it harbors over 10,000 templates ranging from engineering and technical manuals to legal and lifestyle texts.

Much like an open source code, they can be copied and modified to suit the user’s needs. Any user can add new ones and their usage rate can be seen as a ranking on Almanac’s webpage. A shorter version can be found in its snippets, which are fragments of text suggested to the writer, because they’re repeated throughout the document. 

This saves even more time and contributes to a smoother workflow. While its work environment can be personalized to keep users engaged in what is already a highly intuitive interface, its remarkable internal security through advanced permissions is complemented by password protected systems.

Pros:

  • Permission controls allow for comprehensive permission levels within your team
  • Linked documents allow suggestions and editing without changing an original
  • Fast and easy to use with a sleek interface
  • Flexible structure for fluid and productive work environment
  • Personalized workspaces to engage users

Cons:

  • It is still in its early years, so you’ll probably have to learn new features as you go 

Pricing:

  • Free: Almanac offers 25 documents with unlimited guests all for free.
  • Pro: At $12/user per month (annually or $15 monthly), Almanac offers unlimited documents and guests, with the ability to share handbooks to the web. Additionally, Pro users have the ability to customize their handbook and workspace design. 
  • Enterprise: Available for businesses and larger teams, Enterprise offers everything in Pro plus SCIM, SSO/SAML, priority support, and custom onboarding.

Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice is an open-source multi-purpose software that can process files of any type from other commonly used office software packages. The open source nature of its code makes bug reports and updates a constant since its launch over 20 years ago. Although it doesn’t work online, Apache OpenOffice’s software can be downloaded for free on any standard computer.

In its package, you will find:

  • Writer, a word processor similar to Word, but much easier to use
  • Impress, that can be used to carry out slideshow presentations
  • Draw; an application that creates graphics; and Calc, a program for the creation of spreadsheets. 
  • There’s also Base, a database management software
  • And finally, Math, a mathematical equation editor for text documents.

Pros: 

  • Fairly simple and intuitive user interface.
  • Capable of reading files from other office packages.
  • PDF files creation.
  • Updates its software several times throughout the year.

Cons: 

  • Lacks features common in other premium office packages.
  • Compatibility issues with complex documents or specific formats.

Pricing: 

  • The Apache OpenOffice Software is free to download.

LibreOffice 

LibreOffice is another popular open-source document editor and, to many, a decent improvement over OpenOffice. This suite, licensed under Apache License 2.0, offers an intuitive user interface and a richer set of tools to boost productivity, thanks to its already well known programs of Writer, Calc, Impress, Base, Draw and Math.

It also includes the option of creating and adding customizable charts with its Chart Module. This collaborative real-time editor can also be summoned from any of the other LibreOffice apps.

Pros: 

  • It allows the user to sign OOXML to PDF files.

Cons: 

  • Lacks networking capabilities which doesn’t make it a collaborative real-time editor.
  • Being a free, open-source document editor it lacks the support infrastructure of its counterparts.

Pricing: 

  • The suite from LibreOffice is an open source program free for installation.

GitBook

GitBook is a specialized platform for whitepaper creation. These whitepapers are a set of instructions at the core of cryptocurrencies, NFT games, and other similar endeavors. It is compatible with rich text formats and even programming languages, and offers different alternatives for development. 

The users can tackle projects collaboratively thanks to its really real-time publication capabilities. It doesn’t require technical knowledge and has a highly intuitive interface. Developers across the world can make use of its international infrastructure for enhanced productivity using Gitbook Online. There is also Gitbook Editor, which is a local tool.

Pros: 

  • Personalized domains
  • No need for additional coding for compatibility
  • Synchronization with GitHub and GitLab

Cons: 

  • Though it has an intuitive interface, it may be difficult to get used to for beginners.
  • If multiple drafts are saved, it may have problems saving the right one.

Pricing: 

  • Community: The free forever package for individuals, open-source teams and non-profit organizations. It includes asynchronous and real-time workflow, unlimited public spaces and content API (Beta version). As well as GitHub and GitLab sync and custom domains.
  • Team: Being their most popular, this option charges per user per month starting at 5 users. The monthly subscription costs $8/month, but the annual subscription goes down to $6,40/month. It complements the Community version adding unlimited private spaces and advanced branding. Also including email domain SSO.
  • Business: Also charging per user per month, but starting at 20 users. This option has a monthly subscription of $15 that descends to $12/month if purchased annually. It builds on Team by adding advanced role-based permissions, PDF export and shareable links.
  • Enterprise: This option presents a custom pricing, tailored to the needs of the user with a volume pricing discount. It adds visitor authentication, customer success manager and SAML SSO.

Firepad

Firepad is an open-source, collaborative real-time text editor designed to be used inside other applications. Its main function is to build applications that rely on collaborative editing. It is licensed under the MIT License.

Among its many features, it has cursor position synchronization, presence detection and the very useful version checkpointing. Firepad supports all modern browsers and given that it has no server dependencies, it relies on Firebase Realtime Database for synchronization.

Pros: 

  • Can be added on any application or static webpage.
  • Compatible with most devices

Cons: 

  • Its bare-bone simplicity lacks features present in other premium text editors.

Pricing: 

  • As with many open-source software, it is free to download, use and distribute.

Etherpad

Etherpad is a web-based, open-source document editor licensed under Apache License. This collaborative real-time editor is highly customizable thanks to its wide array of plugins.

Users don’t need a server to install Etherpad, it’s enough to choose one of its instances or set-up your own to engage in group productivity.

Pros: 

  • Highly customisable.
  • Server-independent.
  • Integrated chat-box.
  • Allows access to older versions of the document.

Cons: 

  • Documents have a maximum storage time of 60 days.
  • The format options are extremely basic.

Pricing: 

  • Etherpad is a free software.

OnlyOffice

OnlyOffice is an online text editor software that can be downloaded and even self-hosted. It permits the creation of documents, spreadsheets, presentations and form templates. OnlyOffice is also compatible with OOXML formats.

As a relatively reliable open-source document editor, it can work with a variety of third-party cloud services to help editors with collaborative tasks. Its online editors are highly customisable by replacing logos, links and even allowing plugin creation.

Pros: 

  • Can run on a private server(self-hosted).
  • Runs on desktop, mobile and browsers.

Cons: 

  • May have compatibility issues with the newer versions of Microsoft Office and iOS
  • Not compatible with Chromebook.
  • Lacks RTL text support for Editors.

Pricing: 

  • OnlyOffice Docs:
    • Community Edition is the free version, licensed under the AGPL v.3 license.
    • Enterprise Edition comes in two varieties:
      • for home costs $149 in a one-time payment for a lifetime license.
      • for businesses has a wide range of prices. It starts at $1200 for 50 connections, basic support & updates for 1 year. Meanwhile, the most expensive package reaches $1800 for 200 connections and a 3 years support & updates period, all with a 5% discount, but it can ascend to $3600 if the Support for Disaster Recovery option is added.
    • Developer Edition is aimed at software development and bifurcates:
      • for development costs $1500 for a lifetime license and one server.
      • for production 1 year license costs $7000
  • OnlyOffice Workspace
    • Cloud Service is free for nonprofit organizations and schools, but other educational institutions will get charged, albeit with a discount. Personal use and startups of up to 5 users are also free.
    • Cloud Service costs $6 per user/month starting at 3 users minimum, but it can be lowered to $5 per user/month in the yearly subscription, and $4 per user/month if the 3 years subscription is purchased.
    • Server Enterprise costs $2000 with a lifetime license, but can range as high as $4450 for the Premium version.

In every paid version it is possible to get a quote if the services required surpass the features’ upper margins.

Wiki.js

Wiki.js is an open-source, collaborative real-time editor that runs on the node.js engine. It is partially written in JavaScript and it’s licensed under the Affero GNU GP license. Despite not being a premium paid service, Wiki.js is constantly adding new external integrations for authentication, storage and much more.

It consists of a wiki written in Markdown language and is a decent collaborative hypertext writing software, and it also works from most browsers. Due to its scalability, it’s a good enough option, whether it’s for personal or business use.

Pros: 

  • Scalability
  • Relatively simple to use for mildly knowledgeable users
  • Local and enterprise authentication

Cons: 

  • Lacks quality and quantity of features compared to paid software
  • Unintuitive interface for inexperienced beginners.

Pricing: 

  • Wiki.js is a free man XD free software.

Collabora Online

As an open-source office package, Collabora Online is a collaborative text editor python-working software. It runs a version of LibreOffice core on the server and that may lead to resource problems when scaling up.

Collabora Online can also produce sheets, presentations and graphics. Its package consists of Writer (text editor), Calc (sheets), Impress (presentations) and Draw (vectorial graphics). Finally, it can be self-hosted for better data control or make use of an external provider.

Pros: 

  • Android and iOS offline capability.
  • Runs on browsers.
  • OOXML compatibility.
  • Long term, certified security updates.

Cons: 

  • Potentially low resources for scalability.
  • The CODA version is unstable.

Pricing: 

  • CODA(Collabora Online Developers Edition) is free, but unsupported.
  • Collabora for SMBs offers support from 20 up to 99 users and costs $19.99/user per year, making it one of the most affordable subscription software available.
  • Collabora for Enterprises comes with a desktop version and support for mobile devices. It offers a volume discount according to their client’s needs.
  • Educational institutions and ONGs can get special pricing.
  • There are also unspecified discounts for subscriptions longer than 1 year up front (3, 4 and 5 years).

HedgeDoc

HedgeDoc is a real-time collaborative markdown text editor. It is multiplatform and runs on web browsers. Being a completely free, open-source software, it’s based on the HackMD Community Edition, and aimed at open communities. HedgeDoc is built on the premise of ownership and control of the user’s content, allowing for a collaborative experience through URL sharing.

Pros: 

  • Portable content formatting
  • Capability to download all the online content at once

Cons: 

  • Unintuitive interface for inexperienced users
  • Given it’s a free software, it lacks paid-level support.

Pricing: 

  • It is a free software under the AGPL v3 license.

What does open source mean? 

Open source refers to a software’s code that is made available to be modified by the users. It means that its source code can be accessed, modified, copied and then redistributed without having to pay for it. This is explained in detail in the creative commons attribution share-alike 4.0 license.

The creative commons attribution share-alike 4.0 license basically states that, besides the author, others can build upon, transform and share the code even commercially. All of this is allowed as long as due credit is given to the original author and, if commercial distribution takes place, it is done so under the same license as the original work.

The software itself, whether in its original version or with changes, is not necessarily always free however, since it can be sold by a company as an ofimatic solution as shown in this article. Notwithstanding, what is mainly offered in most subscriptions, along with extra features, is the long term technical support and server usage.

What are open-source document and text editors? 

Document and text editors are programs used to create and manipulate files to prepare presentations, put together spreadsheets and create text documents. They can perform many other functions and in different formats such as PPT, XLS and DOC. Given their open-source nature, they can be modified, and a knowledgeable user can customize a text editor to suit their needs.

Why choose a Google Docs alternative for editing?

Google Docs is often the default go-to document editor for most g-mail users, so people don’t look further for a better software or one that caters to their specific needs. A simple yet glaring example of this is the lack of a copy-paste option from the right-click menu. The classic CTRL-enabled key combinations are available, but other than that users have to use the toolbar. 

Having a feature-rich toolbar is always welcomed, but simplicity is often preferred. That said, a more complex yet seemingly overlooked issue is privacy, since it’s understandable to not want to share critical data with Google.

Plus, you might just like using another platform better, whether it offers different features, better collaborations, or is just easier for you to use. 

Conclusion: Best open-source document editor alternative for Google Docs?

Trying to find the best open-source document editor alternative can be difficult, especially when there are so many options to choose from. To further make this so challenging is the fact that not all of these editor alternatives are going to be good, much less great. Fortunately, of all of these listed options, one stands out above all the rest: Almanac.

When it comes to document sharing, complete formatting, and secure data, Almanac is absolutely the best option currently available. It’s a well-rounded and robust knowledge management app, offering all the features that you could need to make collaborative real-time editing a breeze. Its external integration aspect makes it a very dynamic software, and its features are second to none.
To learn more about how Almanac can help you create complex, detailed, and visually attractive word processing files – as well as work remotely with your teams without fuss–make your free account with Almanac right now.

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