Described as a simple text editor designed to help you create Docbook, PDF, HTML, EPUB, and MOBI documents, e-books, and presentations, AsciidocFX is actually more of a programmers’ editing tool than a user-oriented app to build e-books. This promising open-source development mixes a top-class WYSIWYG editing environment with the logical inconsistencies of a work still in progress.
At first glance, the program’s interface looks more complicated than it really is, but the mixture of programmer- and user-oriented functions and elements is a bit distracting. The left-hand panel, labeled as Workdir, is actually a file manager, whose usefulness in the context of a text editor is debatable, while the middle and left panels are devoted to the editor itself and its real-time preview, respectively. Elements like Terminal, Log, and even the cryptic Doctype menu, won’t help the layman user to get the hang of it, but will surely make programmers happy.
Following this IDE-like approach, AsciidocFX offers syntax highlight to help you edit those documents where syntax is of the essence, such as HTML files. As said, the right-hand panel will show in real time whatever changes you make in the source text, some of which can be easily performed by using the icons on the top side of the editing window. The above-mentioned Doctype menu will display, grouped by the letters of the alphabet, the extensive list of formats supported. On the top side of the preview window, though, you will find buttons for HTML, PDF, e-book, and Docbook outputs, which may be a bit confusing. The button for ODT present in previous versions has been removed, probably due to the problems experienced in the past with this format while it was at an experimental phase. Saving to PDF or EPUB also presents issues and challenges, though not at the same level as ODT did.
The overall impression is that AsciidocFX is still a work in progress – as most open-source efforts are – that needs a great deal of refining and, above all, defining. It is important to make clear to the potential user the type of tool he’s dealing with – is it a programmers tool, a writers tool, or a tool for non-skilled users who need to create an e-book or a PDF file? The app shows great potential, and it would be desirable to see it developed in full not long into the future.