Text file nerdery

I hate Word. I hate that we have to use it in the corporate environment. I love Markdown and use it more and more everyday. I have even started sending it to users in my company and let them deal with it. My preference today is Byword. I love the simple interface and the speed. I hate the term “distraction free writing environment” but that is truly what it is. [1]

I looked at all my documents and noticed the large discrepancy in file size.
I decided I would run a few unofficial tests to compare writing tools on my mac.

For the tests I used a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro with 4 GB of ram.

About this Mac

To create the test I used a TextExpander snippet from Brett Terpstra to generate the 3 paragraphs of Lorem Ipsum text for consistency. [2] Each document had 318 words and 2159 characters. The applications I tested included Word for Mac, Pages, Byword, TextEdit included with Lion and Mou[3]. There are many more that I could have tried but these were all available on my machine.

Versions

  • Pages: 4.1 Pages ’09
  • Word: 14.2.1 Word for Mac
  • Byword: 1.5.1
  • TextEdit: 1.7.1
  • Mou: 0.7.1 beta

After running the TextExpander snippet I saved each item out to my desktop only using the name of the application as a reference. Nothing else changed. Below are the sizes for each application.

File Size

  • Pages (.pages): 114,330 - 115 KB
  • Word (.docx): 112,184 bytes - 115KB on disk
  • Byword (.md) : 2,159 bytes - 4KB on disk
  • TextEdit (.rtf): 2,466 bytes - 4KB on disk
  • Mou (.md): 2,159 bytes - 4KB on disk

Then I was curious what the overall time was for each to start up from not running to a blank page. For my unofficial startup time test I loaded up the application in Alfred and hit the return key at the same time as the stopwatch. This is far from scientific but wanted to get a general idea fast things were.

Alfred screen shot

Startup Time in seconds

  • Pages: 4.1
  • Word: 7.5
  • Byword: .5
  • TextEdit:. 5
  • Mou: .5

I was not surprised at the startup time of the applications. Word and Pages are much larger applications that allow some sophisticated layout options.  The reality is we almost never use them. For example I never use any of the math functions included in Word. I am sure there are a few people who may need this, but I am willing to bet it is about .01 percent of the population. What I was more surprised was the actual file sizes. I knew the big programs would be larger but I did not expect them to be almost 29 times larger. I would imagine most people don't care about the size of their files, but with today's smaller SSD drives depending how how many documents you create it could add up to a significant difference.

This very basic test just proves to me what I already knew which is using these other editors can have a huge difference in the overall experience.


  1. Another huge benefit of Byword are the versions on IOS devices  ↩

  2. Sample Text:
    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.  ↩

    Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem eum fugiat quo voluptas nulla pariatur?

    At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint occaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio cumque nihil impedit quo minus id quod maxime placeat facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. Itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat.

  3. Mou is an integrated Markdown editor which shows you a preview as you type. It is in Beta now. I used this frequently before I found Brett’s Marked App.  ↩