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Shortcomings of OpenOffice and Working Around Them? 236

Posted by Cliff
from the problems-and-fixes dept.
1mck asks: "Most free office software does the job, and after a hard drive failure, I decided to go MS Office free, so I'm trying out OpenOffice; however, I've noticed that there are a few deficiencies that I'm having a hard time getting around like the 'Shrink to fit' function, and also having PPS files open up directly in 'Presentation' mode rather than in the Edit' mode. Has any one else picked up on other deficiencies in OpenOffice? I realize that it is free, and it won't be as well featured as most purchased software, but when I went on the hunt for the workarounds at the OpenOffice forums, and on the web I've come up with very little to no information at all. Have I chosen the right free software, or would you suggest something else?" What minor irritations and shortcomings have you found in OpenOffice and how have you adjusted to (or worked around) them?
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Shortcomings of OpenOffice and Working Around Them?

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  • by mswope (242988) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:03PM (#15355882) Journal
    Is it possible that you've expected behavior from OO? I'm not certain that OO's credo is to "replace" M$ Office as an exact copy. However, they probably intend to include *equivalent* functionality in most cases. So, simply opening in a different state ("edit" vs. "Presentation" mode) is a case of you expecting an M$ Office behavior when working with an entirely separate, discrete, different, non-Microsoft Office piece of software.
    • by PinkyDead (862370) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:11AM (#15356173) Journal
      I agree, working in OO the other night, I wanted a different header for the front page. I've been using OO since its early versions but there are still some things I haven't got to grips with yet and this was one of them.

      Instincts (derived from using Word for too many years) tell me to insert a section and disconnect the headers from the previous sections. I tried and it just makes a complete mess - OO couldn't be this bad could it.

      Then decided to bite the bullet and RTFM.

      Go to the page, open page styles and select 'first page'. Once I'd done it, it just made so much sense. The Word way is just plain stupid.

      Most of the techniques that we have gotten from the Windows/Office world were hard won and difficult to give up, but that doesn't make them right.
      • And sometimes things are better the MS way. (Did I just say that?)

        The one (and only) example I can think of is the way the enter key behaves in the spreadsheet tool. It makes sense to me, if I am entering in a lot of data, I should be able to tab through the rows and when I'm done that row, if I hit enter, it should go back to the first field of the next row. It does this in excel and I would probably switch to OO except this "feature" drives me nuts.
        • Excell has picked up a ton of really nice features over the years. I haven't found a way to customize the keyboard shortcuts to add fill down and fill right, they were there and now they are gone, I really miss that feature.
        • I second this STRONGLY.

          Seriously. The current setup of enter only going one row down...in the same column...this is not a feature to make life easier.

          A simple config tick mark or something to enable 'smart return key' or something would be nice.
      • Based admittedly on OOo v1:

        Generally the "problems" are because you've only known the MS way. Most (but not all) are behavior I slightly prefer...

        The printing is definitely different, and we had training problems getting people to convert. Calc printing had some issues with printing a ton of blank pages, but so does Excel. Generally I think it was superior to MS's tendency to reformat everything...

        The problem that literally got it uninstalled and MS purchased on one machine was the lack of a comma butto
  • PPS Files (Score:5, Informative)

    by HeavyD14 (898751) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:04PM (#15355886) Homepage
    Well, PPS files are supposed to open in show mode. PPT files get saved as a PPS file so you can give them out so everyone and their grandmother can view them without spending ten minutes finding the "View as Show" option. In MS Powerpoint, you have to open the program, then chose to open the file to open in edit mode. Perhaps you should try that.
    • Re:PPS Files (Score:3, Informative)

      by m874t232 (973431)
      The equivalent of PPS in OpenOffice.org is PDF. There's even a toolbar button to generate them quickly.
    • Re:PPS Files (Score:5, Informative)

      by crath (80215) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @07:09AM (#15356306) Homepage
      To add to the previous poster's comments...

      To make a PPS file open in edit mode, rename it back to PPT. The only difference between a PPS file and a PPT file is the name; PowerPoint doesn't save the bits differently simply because the user chose to save as PPS.
  • OO cross-references (Score:4, Informative)

    by DrDitto (962751) on Wednesday May 17, 2006 @11:07PM (#15355898)
    Doing cross-references in OpenWriter is clunky and difficult. For each section heading or similar (e.g. Section 2.3.5.13), you need to manually create some kind of bookmark. It is not automatic like MS Word or Framemaker. This is definitely a showstopper for using OpenWriter with complex legal documents and their dozens or hundreds of cross-references.
    • by supra (888583)
      To cross reference headers/sections/tables/graphics/etc, I find OOo's hyperlink to work very well:
          - Insert->Hyperlink...
          - Click 'Document' on left side
          - Click "circle" icon besides Target field
          - Expand Headings item
          - Choose desired heading
          - Click Apply, then Close
          - Provide Text for document (if desired)
          - Click Apply
  • OSS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jarlsberg (643324) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:04AM (#15355924) Journal
    Heh, 5 comments in and all are buried ;)

    OO is neat package, especially for Linux systems, but there's no denying it has some catching up to do to compete feature for feature with MS Office. One bug that's really annoyed me with the latest 2.0 release is that it crashes everytime I import a csv file into Calc, save it and then try to forward the file via my mail client. I haven't investigated it, so I don't know if it does with all open documents, or if it's specific to what I did above. I've filed a bug report, though.

    Anyway, I'd suggest this url: http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Main_Page [openoffice.org] to the submitter, but it does seem to be developer specific.

    • Bullet points and indentation are screwy. These are two things used by common people, not some set of rarely-used features.

      Bullet points can get really messed up when importing from Word -- even documents that don't have macros.

      Indentation is also set at too large an interval. Why not default to 1/4 inch (US Letter), like most everyone else's word processor?

      Just like Word, at times the auto formatting gets in the way. This is especially true of bullets and indentation.

      Other than that, I have few disagree
  • OOo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by m874t232 (973431) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:12AM (#15355961)
    I realize that it is free, and it won't be as well featured as most purchased software Actually, I think OpenOffice is more "well-featured" than Microsoft Office or any other office suite I have ever used. For example, OOo styles work in many more places and are more general and flexible and OOo's mathematical formula support is better than what comes with MS Office. When I am forced to use MS Office, the limitations of MS Office drive me crazy. OOo is not stripped down bargain software, it's a heavy-duty office suite that happens to be open source. The equivalent of PPS in OOo is PDF--it generates stand-alone presentations that pretty much anybody can view--much better than PPS. I don't know of a "shrink to fit", but I find selecting the text and making the font smaller to be quick and easy.
  • by PhilHibbs (4537) <snarks@gmail.com> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:16AM (#15355977) Homepage Journal
    This is mainly an interop issue because OOo does not behave in the same way as Excel, but there are some circumstances in which OOo does what many consider to be "the wrong thing".

    Issue 5658 [openoffice.org]
  • The MS suite is very very common indeed. After 20+ years of single choice market this is trivial.
    But finally, is the MS suite fitting the real needs? How fast is it adapting to the new needs?
    Or rather is it defining the needs?
    All software has bugs, is error prone and shows deficiencies in some way. With no exception.
    One point is whether the manufacturer can (try to) fix, adapt and evolve that software in a reasonable timeframe.
    Another one is whether the suite can be used among different environments, na
  • The biggest problem I have is compatibility with MS Office. I have been using Open/Star Office for some years, but I work with people who want to work with MS Office products, so this has been a major issue for me. I really need both way compatibility - my line manager likes me to be able to read his documents and vice versa.

    It is getting better (OpenOffice 2.0 is a big leap forward), but I still find that there are issues. These seem to be far worse for spreadsheets and presentations than for word processe
    • my line manager likes me to be able to read his documents and vice versa.

      Then that's easy - PDF. If you definitely want to be able to edit each others documents that is a different story, but the number of quotes and other things that you would NEVER want to recipient to be able to edit that I've recieved in an editable format is utterly ridiculous.

      Also, we are in these days of the web - powerpoint is somewhat dated and limiting even in comparison to mid 1990's html. So many presentations end up on an int

    • by Stellaaa (253487) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @11:21AM (#15357593)
      (in)Compatibility with MS Ofice has been the deal breaker for OO at my workplace.

      I was overjoyed about a year ago when the word came down from our new CEO that we should try to wean ourselves off M$ Office. I had been trying to do that for 5 years, but he did it in one email.

      I have, sorry to say, switched back. First, it was trying to print Excel files from Calc. I just can't afford all that wasted paper. Excel went back on my machine.

      Then I had to update a manual written in Word. Writer (00 v.2) ate ALL the graphics in the entire manual and went on to balls-up the fonts and formatting. I reported the error and got a message back from the coder that this bug would be fixed in the next release - and that my report was one of hundreds. So Word went back on my machine.

      Then there was the boss's powerpoint. He worked all day, built this file in Presenter (or whatever it's called), unfortunately he saved it in ppt format instead of the native format. Went back to it the next day. WHAT A MESS! Every slide had to be redone. Powerpoint went back on his and my machines.

      We use Access databases all the time. Base has never been up to the tasks we throw at it, or compatible enough to replace Access.

      So that's my sad story of trying to convert an office to OO. I know it's mostly not OO's fault (except for the graphic-eating bug), and their word processor and presentation software is much easier to use (IMHO) than M$'s bizarre shite, but until EVERBODY stops using M$, I'm stuck with it. (at least we haven't bought a NEW version of Office - and have no plans to - just reinstalled the ol' 2000 version)

      Stella
  • by jbrax (315669) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:33AM (#15356054) Homepage
    Cliff wrote:
    I realize that ... it won't be as well featured as most purchased software

    With OpenOffice I can easily "send as pdf-document" or export my presentation into flash animation and publish it on the Web.

    With OpenOffice I can save my valuable data in standard format (OpenDocument) so that ten years from now it will still be readable with any standards compliant word processing software no matter what my operating system is.

    From my perspective OpenOffice seems to be well featured software compared to the "most purchased software" :-)

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "With OpenOffice I can easily "send as pdf-document" or export my presentation into flash animation and publish it on the Web."

      Office 2007 will support PDF. (Although that isn't a great reason to pay for the upgrade price...)

      "From my perspective OpenOffice seems to be well featured software compared to the "most purchased software" :-)"

      OO is quite good. However, the original quote you posted here is still correct. OO doesn't have Outlook, for example. Those who don't know the difference between Outlook
    • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:44AM (#15356615)
      With OpenOffice I can save my valuable data in standard format
      This is a very important point - some of you may remember the different MS Word97 versions that could not open files produced by each other. The first annoying thing is they came in identical packaging, the second was the MS suggested solution was to use the RTF format and live with the problem for three years. The real answer was to install every machine in the building from the same disk and keep all the others snug in their plastic wrap and be prepared for complaints if someone let *.doc format files out of the building.
  • The marketing department is forever complaining that the csv file I sent them has 500,000 rows and Excel can only see the first 60,000 lines. Open Office is just as bad, and older versions can only see 30,000 lines. If Open Office didn't have limit, 90% of the marketing department would switch from Excel tomorrow.
    • 500,000 rows

      Have you considered using a database? Spreadsheets are suited to being a cross of a desktop calculator and a word processor; if you want to be storing vast amounts of data, I'd recommend using a tool designed for it...

    • If Open Office didn't have limit, 90% of the marketing department would switch from Excel tomorrow.

      Don't be ridiculous. Everybody this *this* feature or *that* bugfix is the most important and will result in World Domination. Check out IssueZilla, it's full of bug reports that say "OMG this is the ONE THING that's holding up our Fortune-5 company from adopting OO".

    • I agree with another comment that a conversion to a database would be the best solution in instances such as this & would remark that there are very usable interfaces to a database. Heck--most spreadsheet programs have data connectors. If they have to select a new program to get around the limit anyway, why not make it the right kind of program?

      That being said, Gnumeric is an excellent spreadsheet which allows you to set both the row and column limit at compile time. They also plan to allow it to be
  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @05:53AM (#15356121)
    I have yet to figure out how to insert a video in a presentation.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It works fine in OO.o 2.0 with the Java Media Framework installed. Just click Insert->Movie and Sound or Insert->Object.
    • I have yet to figure out how to insert a video in a presentation.

      I hear you. Recently I needed to display video as part of a presentation, and discovered there was no easy way to do it. I found this note [openoffice.org] about the current lack of video support in OOo2, but also information about a Java plugin from IBM that could play MPEG4. Unfortunately I was never able to get the Java option to work.

      After alot of experimenting, googling and hacking, I came up with a solution that did the job for me: I added small "video
  • Why are OOo's default borders different than MSFT Office's borders ?

    (OOo uses something like .7/.7/.7/.7, while MSFT Office is at 1/1/1.25/1.25)

    If the goal is to transition people over, this little difference shouldn't exist!

    Sunny Dubey
    • 1/1/1.25/1.25 is a crappy default, unless you're a high school kid trying to write a report to hit a certain # pages.

      OOo's default margins are MUCH better IMHO.
  • by Masa (74401) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @06:51AM (#15356261) Journal
    There are few thing that I have missed in the OpenOffice Calc. The chart creation is not as painless as it is with Excel. In addition, it seems that it's not possible to set error margins for XY plot chart with individual error margins for upper and lower margin. It's possible to set a constant error margin for all point and for both upper and lower magrin, but it's not possible to define an individual error margin for each point separately and define greater margin for positive error than negative error. So, the XY plot is not so flexible as it could be and I cannot come up any work-around for that. Well, at least this was situation with OOo version 2.0.0. I haven't yet checked the latest version.
    • The chart creation is not as painless as it is with Excel

      I've had the misfortune of teaching first year engineering students how to do some very simple graphing exercises in MS Excel with very simple stress-strain data. When the practical session was upgraded from MS works to MS Excel on the expectation that they would all know how tou use MS Excel it became clear that the graphing function is designed for pretty pie charts in marketing demonstrations - everything else demands a lot of non-obvious steps a

      • The main problem I've had with graphing engineering data in Excel is that it's limited to 32768 (or maybe 65536, I forget) rows. I'd often exceed that trying to pull in data from, say, a digital scope or logic analyzer. Other than that, I found it had some screwy defaults but otherwise worked reasonably well. For my data, anyway; YMMV. I mostly used it to plot XY data.

        You're right, though, that it's primarily designed for pie charts. I never did find a way to get it to automatically export the equati

  • Reference Manager (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr. GeneMachine (720233) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @07:01AM (#15356283)
    Shortcoming: No decent reference/literature managment system available.
    Workaround: Use MS Office+Reference Manager/Endnote, unfortunately.
    • Re:Reference Manager (Score:4, Informative)

      by Noksagt (69097) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @09:11AM (#15356757) Homepage
      OO.o does have great plans to improve the reference management system. Refer to commentary and design by Bruce D'Arcus. In the interim, I think that the ability of OOo to use a database for reference management is pretty good. I use refbase [refbase.net] as my web-based bibliographic database & am able to pull references directly from it in OO.o.

      Also: MS Office + Endnote really isn't that great! Different versions of Endnote do have major compatibility programs & it is often hard to collaborate on a document which has Endnote markup. One colleague of mine even uses LaTeX & bibtex & LaTeX2RTF for any document that will have references, as his tolerance for Endnote is so low. Endnote's data model is dated & is still stuck in the dark ages of poor character encoding. They've tried to improve it over the years & it is the best commercial product available, but it isn't (and shouldn't be) the end goal for ANY ONE developing a solution from scratch.
      • Thanks, I'll have a look at it. I agree with you that Endnote isn't optimal. If refbase works for me, I might give it a go - however, not while I keep working on a 70% completed PhD thesis...
      • Endnote is the hugest pile of crap ever. I like to think I'm a computer expert, but Endnote is just ponderous. Other programs at least show an error or at least tell you that it can't do that when you try to do something that the program can't do. Endnote just sits there and because it is so slow you never know if it did something and you just have to wait, or if it did something in the background, or if you are just trying to do soemthing that it can't do. I find it hard to beleive that I'm just that d
  • by joe 155 (937621)
    I really like open office, but there are 2 main problems for me with it; 1) it doesn't have a grammar checker, and knowing how bad I am at this stuff I would really like one; I know it won't be perfect but it might be nice. 2) word count. This is a really big one for me. The word count when i ran through exactly the same document in each was radically different (by about 100 words on 5000). Because the work was assessed I needed the word count to be exactly what they would get if they checked (so I had t
    • Re:words (Score:2, Informative)

      by Enderandrew (866215)
      From what I understand the reason that grammar checkers aren't included was a license issue. There were grammar checkers that they wanted to include directly in OOO, but they couldn't just use the code, or bundle the program internally. There are external grammar checker programs and there is work to better integrate these external programs in OOO so they work seemlessly. http://lingucomponent.openoffice.org/grammar.html [openoffice.org]
    • it doesn't have a grammar checker, and knowing how bad I am at this stuff I would really like one; I know it won't be perfect but it might be nice.

      I know I can sound bitter and trollish but... have you considered to learn grammar better as a solution? You can't always be sure you'll have a software grammar checker under your hands. :)

  • My #1 complaint with OOffice, on Suse anyway, is the extremely long start times. Doesn't matter if its the distribution RPMs or upgraded ones direct from OOffice. It can take 30-60 seconds to get the application open. Once it's open, it is very responsive (This is on a 2GHz Athlon 64 system), but the start times are killer. I don't mind if I'm working on docs and keep a window up and open, but for starting and viewing documents from email for example, its brutal. I've started using KWord/KCalc, etc which ar
    • Just tried it under Mandriva/KDE on a 2.13 GHz Centrino laptop - just short of 8 seconds from click to completely open with a blank document.
    • Why close programs.
      If you use it often enough for the startup time to annoy you, why close it?
      Just leave it minimized somewhere and let it swap out.

      With lots of swap and multiple desktops I don't understand this obsession with closing every little program if you're not using it for a few minutes.
    • My #1 complaint with OOffice, on Suse anyway, is the extremely long start times ... 30-60 seconds to get the application open

      One guy that had that problem in my office did not have hard disk DMA turned on - and OpenOfficeOrg does a huge amount of disk access when it starts. Another thing is that version 2 is faster, and I've run it on very slow laptops at a decent speed and would never have considered putting the earlier version on a sub 200MHz machine (laptops with serial ports are scarce and worth keepin

  • My biggest annoyance with OpenOffice is that on Solaris (my main work machine), the window titles are garbled. I'm not exactly sure what is going on, but instead of something like "Untitled1 - OpenOffice.org Calc", I see "Õîôéôìåä ÏðåîÏææéãå®ïòç ×òéôåò" (curtesy of xwininfo). I've looked around a little, but never found any information on this problem. I've only eve
  • Calc has some serious issues (data mangling) importing spreadsheets. Do not use the import Excel function unless you know exactly what your doing -- and what the potential slip-ups are. A big one is the fact that it treats integers cast as strings as an integer = 0 in formulas -- with no warning.

    Another issue is its formula handling. All spreadsheets since Visicalc recongize any of the numeric operations (+ - / *) as the beginning of a formula -- Calc doesn't (it only recongizes the = sign).

    • All spreadsheets since Visicalc recongize any of the numeric operations (+ - / *) as the beginning of a formula -- Calc doesn't (it only recongizes the = sign).

      Well, that may be an incompatibility problem, but I suggest that Excel et. al. are stupid to allow numeric operation symbols to do this in the first place. If you have to provide an initial symbol to indicate a formula, why create a muck pile by allowing more than one? Other than insipid things like "= -C3" you're not saving a whole bunch of keystro
  • by stan_freedom (454935) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @09:03AM (#15356710) Homepage
    I am migrating our small business (25 users) to OO from MS. I recently switched our power user, who is open-minded and a quick study. She has been pulling her hair out over what would seem to be a couple of trivial details. She even came in to work early the other day because she was behind on some commission spreadsheets due the switch to OO. The rest of the users are doing OK with the switch. I'm afraid the owners are going to scuttle my migration to OO, even though I have shown a $10K savings. It's not that OO is less capable than MS, the problem is that it is different in subtle but apparantly very annoying ways to experienced MS users. For anyone doing a switch, prepare your power users in advance to expect short-term grief from the small things as they recondition.

    For the record, the "biggest" problem my power user faces is how the Enter key behaves after entering data across several horizontal cells. In MS, Enter will move the cursor down on row and back to the first column that data was entered. For example, B3 -> B4 -> B5 Enter C3. OO does not have this behavior. The Enter key can be customized, but only to go one cell down (default), up, left, or right. Searching the forums confirmed that other MS users are also frustrated by this missing behavior. I tried a quick macro, but no luck.
    • I don't know if this is close enough to be helpful, but ctl-left arrow (and ctl-right arrow) will skip "words", like in text-editing contexts. Here, "words" are contiguous non-empty cells, so if you enter text in B3, C3, and D3 (I don't know if Excel does it the other way, but in OO.o, columns are lettered), and then hit ctl-left, then enter, you'll be in B4. I agree the Excel behavior seems a lot more intuitive, though.
    • It seems like that would be an easy thing for a developer to fix (by adding an option for it to the existing configurations). I suspect that, if you were to subscribe to dev@sc.openoffice.org and ask for the feature, somebody would probably just write it for you because it's generally pleasing to get a patch in with very little work.
  • Problems with Writer (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @09:06AM (#15356728)

    Keyboard usability

    Problem: There is no straightforward way to set keyboard shortcuts for assigning/removing styles, inserting specific special characters, etc. For non-trivial documents, this means repeated use of the mouse/toolbars/insert character dialog are required.

    Workaround: Macros can be used, though this is slow and awkward.


    Typographical weaknesses

    Problem: Support for high-quality typography is poor. In particular, support for professional-grade OpenType fonts is weak, with some of the best (the Zapfino Extra family is a clear example) not rendering properly at all on screen and even being substituted with completely different fonts in PDF output. No advantage is taken of features like ligatures, true small caps, different figure styles, stylistic and contextual alternates, and similar refinements. More generally, the layout algorithms (e.g., for H&J) are poor.

    Workaround: There isn't really one: these are straight-up missing features or outright bugs. However, DTP packages already provide this sort of feature routinely, and more significantly, new versions of MS Office are likely to take advantage of the OpenType rendering support in Windows. OpenOffice's cross-platform nature may be a liability here.


    Poor support for formal, structured documents

    Problem: There is very limited support for things like structured headings and matching tables of contents (try generating two tables, one with only chapter titles+subtitles and one with chapter titles+all subheadings, or formatting a table of contents significantly differently from the default styles). There is no direct support for bibliographies. The UI for bullets, numbering and list styles is poor.

    Workaround: Short of typing things in manually (or editing the auto-generated version every time) there's not much you can do. Cross-references can do a limited amount to support bibliographies within a single document.


    Poor support for complex page layouts

    Problem: Features like frames don't always work as expected. There seem to be several obscure bugs where multiple frames are concerned. Features like overlapping frames and transparency aren't supported.

    Workaround: Usually patience or ingenuity, IME.


    Start-up times are very long

    Problem: It takes forever to load Writer the frst time.

    Workaround: Get a faster machine? :-)


    Mail merge support is very poor

    Problem: Various. The UI is confusing. Output options are limited. (Can you merge to a single file in the latest version? You couldn't the last time I tried it.) The data source system is bug-ridden to the point that it's easier to start again and set up a new source if the slightest thing goes wrong.

    Workaround: I've never found one for most of this, although some limitations can be overcome by merging-to-print and using a cheat printer driver that outputs to PostScript/PDF or similar.


    • It seems to me that the solution to all of these problems is LaTeX+{your favorite text editor}:

      Keyboard usability: Depends on editor, but emacs and vim are both pretty strong on this one---but most good text editors can handle this.

      Typographical weaknesses & Poor support for formal, structured documents: Turning out good looking type and uses a mark-up language that separates formatting from conten is what LaTeX is designed for. (You could go with DocBook here too, I guess.)

      Start-up times are very long
      • Though, in fairness, since I learned TeX I don't entirely remember why people use word processors anymore.

        Me too, but since I learned TeX I also don't understand why anyone uses LaTeX.

        TWW

      • I find that "complex page layouts" apply to anything more complicated than a letter. It's difficult to position illustrations in a book. I can't find any support for pamphlet-style text flow (e.g. where one side of the paper has pages 1 and 4, and the other side has 2 and 3, such that when folded it reads like a book.)

        Those are two layouts I use all the time, and they don't seem all that complicated to me. I'd expect them from a word processor, and shouldn't need a dedicated page-layout engine. But I use OO
    • All with you on the crummy page-layout support in OpenOffice. But I don't find that Word is significantly better at it. Maybe a little better, but even after using it for years I find Word's notions of frames and floating images utterly baffling.
  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @09:10AM (#15356749)
    Essential commands are not working. I mean, try ^[:wq or even ^[ZZ to write and quit. I tell ya, worthless junk!
  • When you add an image from a file, it is in line with the text, but when you copy the image that you've already imported to paste again in elsewhere in the document it acts differently. This makes editing the text difficult as OOo will move the image out of place from the text that goes with it.
  • I had the hardest time in OpenOffice Calc printing the gridlines.
    (Found out: it's on Format -> page, but that's not possible with a read-only file, since Format->Page is greyed out!)

    Also, setting the print area, and it was hard to figure out how to get a randomly sized spreadsheet to print in a scale of (1 page tall by x wide) or (1 page wide by x tall) (found out: it's also in Format-> Page, likewise with the read-only).

  • The only problem I've ever had with OpenOffice (and the only reason I have to keep MS Office or Wordperfect around) is that the system for putting in address labels is so badly broken that it's useless. I have two files of about 250 addresses each, listed out as plain text, which I can load into MS Office or Wordperfect, set my paper type to labels, and *POOF*! Each address is on it's own label, no extra fighting needed. When I try to do that in OpenOffice, I either get the same (first) address on all
  • by belg4mit (152620)
    Mouse scrolling is by line not screen, cut&paste of cells is not intuitive and
    available special options are reliant upon the phase of the moon and a PRNG.

    And while I'm not sure if they actually do anything with them, it is interesting
    to note that OOo's bug tracker lets anyone cast a few votes on what they consider
    to be major bugs.
  • If only Calc had built-in histogram capability. I was able to find a macro to do the job [ooomacros.org]), but it becomes a little clunky when one has reams and reams of data (as bioinformatics are likely to produce). Certainly I realize that OOo isn't meant for hard-core statistics. But it's often nice to do these kinds of little tests to know if a trend is worth rigorously following up.
  • If I open my CV which was originally created in Word XP in OpenOffice, and then save it and then open it again in Word 2003, the bullets are screwed and the formatting runs all over the place.

    If I create a new document in OpenOffice and put in bullets and then save it and open it in Word 2003, the bullets are screwed.

    If I create a new document in Word 2003, put bullets in it and then save it and open it in OpenOffice the bullets are screwed.

    This means that I am stuck modifying my CV and customer facing docu
  • The one and only missing feature, the reason my company just cut a check for thousands of dollars in MS office licenses? Outlook calendar and reminders.

    Does anyone have a free product that will replace this? I kid you not - but everyone who will not switch to open office where i work cite this as their ONLY complaint. Reminders, collaboration (the ability to send reminders on the calendar to other outlook users) and the horrible program that is outlook is why i cannot switch them.

    Can anyone recomend somethi
  • Sadly, in an environment with significant parts Windows, Mac, Linux, and other, the lack of a decent Mac version of OpenOffice is an issue. Sure there is the NeoOffice/J which is fine, if a bit slow, for OpenOffice 1.x, but nothing for OpenOffice 2.x. Mind you, MS Office is no better, with Office running only under WINE for Linux. Lets hope standards support becomes a must have, soon and we can get some real tool independence.

  • It's biggest shortcoming is also it's greatest strength: viz., MS Word work-alike-ness.

    It's great because it makes a fairly easy drop-in replacement for MS Word. It's bad because MS Word is a terrible, terrible product.

    Why doesn't anyone ever try to write a Open-Source version of a decent Word Processor, like WordPerfect or ClarisWorks?
  • Here is a prob that I ran into.
    Using PHP and the following headers works fine if you want to generate a HTML table and dump it into Excel.

    header("Content-Type: application/vnd.ms-excel");
    header("Expires: 0");
    header("Cache-Control: must-revalidate, post-check=0, pre-check=0");

    Using the following to open the table in OOo doesn't work. (It didn't for me at least)

    header("Content-Type: application/vnd.sun.xml.calc");
    header("Expires: 0");
    header("Cache-Control: must-revalidate, post-check=0, pre-check=0");

    Luckily
  • Graphs! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MadAnalyst (959778) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @12:58PM (#15358569)
    I find graphing in OOO to be completely unacceptable.

    I am a scientist, and I generate dozens of what Excel likes to call "x-y scatter plots" every day. They tend to be mildly complicated, but thats OK. I like tricks like multiple axes, ease of changing scales and labels and legends, and also the ability to make each graph its own sheet in the workbook.

    I have spent time trying, but I have to conclude that OOO is just bad at all of this.

    On the other hand, I have been quite pleased with Gnumeric for my spreadsheet needs.

    And I also recognize that I am a specialist with a niche need, so I'm not expecting to have my requests fulfilled anytime soon. I realize that the more picky, demanding, and unusual you are the less likely that there is an open source option waiting for you.

    My $0.02.
  • I was struggling a couple of weeks ago to get MS Word to number my damn outline sections properly and was getting nowhere. So I downloaded OpenOffice and guess what? It not only opened the document fine but my numbering problem went away! I was impressed with just how many features there are in Open Write. Most are as good or better than Word. I was really surprised how easy it was to switch. I'm a believer!

    The spreadsheet looks just as promising. Of course any Office Basic Application macros won't

  • by josepha48 (13953) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @01:16PM (#15358770) Journal
    and they never will. They are two different products. The nice thing about OO vs MSO is that OO you can get on the forums and request features or things and its free. MSO you pay for. Personally I have no idea what you are talking about 'Shrink to fit'. Chances are that it may be one of those MSO features that is less used or less needed, but I'm not sure. Also I didn't know PPT could open in presentation mode, I'd wonder if the OO developers do. There may be a way to do it, but it may not be as easy as MSO.

    The 2 biggest issues I have had with OO, is 1) graphing; 2) I have no idea what each program is from their name ( except writer ). Maybe this is just a fedora 4 menu name thing.

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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