OpenOffice 1.1 -- A Complete Office/Productivity Software Suite
It's a free office suite for GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, MAC, MS-Windows, Unix, and more
Mike Angelo -- 21 November 2003 (C) -- Page 1
Sun's StarOffice is a commercial version of OpenOffice. Thus, it is not free. Because OpenOffice and StarOffice are so very similar in form and function, much of what is said in this article about OpenOffice 1.1 also applies to StarOffice 7. There is a link in the Resources section at the end of this article to Sun's document, Comparison of OpenOffice 1.1 and StarOffice 6.1. Sun's StarOffice 7 will be discussed on its own in an upcoming MozillaQuest Magazine article.
Standing on its own, OpenOffice is a darn nice suite of office/productivity applications. Moreover, since OpenOffice is a multi-platform applications suite, it looks and feels the same whether you are using it with GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, LinuxPPC, Mac OS X or X11, MS Windows, Unix or any of the other platforms upon which it runs.
That can be particularly important to IT/IS managers and administrators where their organizations have computers running on different platforms. By deploying OpenOffice, their people need to be trained on only one office/productivity suite of applications.
Once so trained, those people then easily can adjust to any computer in the company or organization for their office/productivity tasks. That's because the very same office/productivity software is on all the enterprise's computers -- regardless of what operating system is installed on them.
OpenOffice's multi-platform compatibility also is important for students, teachers, schools, and colleges for many reasons. Because OpenOffice is free, any student can afford to install it on his or her home computer.
Yet because OpenOffice is multi-platform, if schools and colleges use it in their classes and laboratories, then all students can then do their homework on the very same office/productivity applications they use in classes, the OpenOffice applications. That's because whatever major operating system students have on their home computers, they can run OpenOffice on their home computers.
Please see the Academic Multi-Platform Note in the right-hand sidebar.
Document-processing software includes everything from
It is likely that document-processing software is installed on just about every desktop and laptop computer today.
OpenOffice Writer is a document-processing application that does all of the above very nicely. That puts OpenOffice Writer right up there with Lotus AmiPro/WordPro, Microsoft Word, and WordPerfect as a document-processor.
There are several important reservations to that statement. On the downside, OpenOffice Writer does not have a grammar checker whereas Word, WordPro, and WordPerfect do have grammar checking. On the upside, OpenOffice Writer is the only major word-processing/document-processing application that is free and also available for all the major computer platforms -- GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, LinuxPPC, Mac OS X or X11, MS Windows, Unix and more.
We asked OpenOffice.org's Community Manager, Louis Suarez-Potts, in an e-mail discussion why OpenOffice 1.1 does not have a grammar checker?
Louis replied: It's being worked on. There are open-source grammar checkers and there is the will to do it, so it will be done. Kevin Hendricks and Richard Holtare are leading this effort and have the support of many contributers and their project, "lingucomponent," is popular. But one problem is that OpenOffice.org supports many languages -- several dozen, at least -- and so the task is not trivial.
Another plus for OpenOffice Writer, and all the OpenOffice components for that matter, is there are some very good, comprehensive books available to help you learn how to use OpenOffice Writer and all the OpenOffice applications. Please check the Resources section at the end of this article for a list of OpenOffice and StarOffice books and links.
In essence, StarOffice is a commercial version of OpenOffice. Thus books about StarOffice also pretty much are books about OpenOffice too.
Figure 1, on page 3, is a simple newsletter created to test OpenOffice Writer as a DTP application. As you can see, OpenOffice Writer handled all the basic DTP elements of a newsletter. It can do columns and moreover it can mix columnar formatting with non-columnar formatting.
The publication title in the Masthead and the main headline were done in a non-columnar section of the page. The date-bar for the Masthead is a one-row table inserted into that same non-columnar section of the page.
The About OpenOffice and OpenOffice v MS Office Money articles are set in a two-column section of the page. The OpenOffice.org 1.1 image was grabbed from the OpenOffice.org Web site and inserted into the first column.
Next, the OpenOffice Demo Newsletter was exported as a PDF file and then opened with Acrobat Reader. That worked well. Moreover, the OpenOffice Demo Newsletter as opened in Acrobat Reader was such that the text could be copied and pasted to another document.
KDE's KSnapshot was used to make the screen-shot of the OpenOffice Demo Newsletter in order to produce a PNG version of it for this article about OpenOffice. (That procedure was done in order to get the file size down from 136-KB to 47-KB thus conserving substantial bandwidth.)
For more details about how the OpenOffice Demo Newsletter was created, please see our OpenOffice Writer tutorial article, Creating a Simple Newsletter with OpenOffice/StarOffice Writer. (To be published tomorrow.)
Incidentally, OpenOffice 1.1 comes with SUSE Linux Professional 9.0. So this article as well as the OpenOffice Demo Newsletter, plus the screen-shot of it, were written and done using OpenOffice 1.1 with SUSE Linux Professional 9.0. The test box is a 300-MHz AMD K6 system with only 128-MB of RAM and a 256-MB Linux Swap File. (You can run a GNU-Linux desktop distribution with only a 128-MB RAM and a 256-MB Swap space. Nevertheless, we recommend that any Linux desktop system have at least a 256-MB hard RAM and a 512-MB Swap space.)
However, because OpenOffice does not have a grammar checker nor is it able to provide word counts of selected text blocks, MS Word 2000 was used to put the finishing touches on this article before it was moved to the layout phase. Fortunately, the same 300-MHz AMD K6 system running SUSE 9.0 Professional mentioned above has CrossOver Office 2.1 and MS Word 2K installed on it. Thus the article was written completely on a Linux-based computer system.
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