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Software Sun Microsystems

OpenOffice.org Is 4 Today 333

craigaa writes "OpenOffice.org turns four years old today. A press release on the announce list giving an overview of the project has been issued with a link to the birthday page. What have your experiences been with OpenOffice.org over the past four years? Has the project and software met your expectations? What are you expecting in the years to come?" An interview at NewsForge (also part of OSTG) poses the same kind of questions (and others) to Louis Suarez-Potts, the project's Community Manager. Suarez-Potts notes some specific ways to help the OO.org effort (especially if you are a Cocoa expert to help with the move to Aqua), and talks about the recent Sun-Microsoft agreement.
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OpenOffice.org Is 4 Today

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  • shame on me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mirko ( 198274 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:28AM (#10513349) Journal
    What have your experiences been with OpenOffice.org over the past four years?

    I carefully considered its monolithism and decided to use lighter tools such as Abiword [abiword.com]...

    But I am glad that OOo exists because it's still a nice Free Trojan when it comes to infiltrating corporations with Free Software, so, Happy Birthday, OOo !!!
    • Re:shame on me (Score:3, Informative)

      by iplayfast ( 166447 )
      Well said. I too, use lighter tools like the koffice suite. But I have used Open Office in the past. And found it to be clunky, but useable. My kids use it on thier XP game machine for school work.
    • Re:shame on me (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pxtl ( 151020 )
      Dunno, some of us like the extra features that OOo brings. After struggling with Dia to make simple organisation charts, OO Draw is a dream (and much nicer than any of the MS office products for drawing unless you splurge for the newest office with Visio).

      Just wish OO Draw could import Dia shapes.
  • well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dash2 ( 155223 ) <davidhughjones AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:29AM (#10513356) Homepage Journal
    .... The spreadsheet native format takes an age to save. Writer is way too slow on my P266 laptop. Menus are unintuitive, user interface design is lacklustre. Presenter is a pain. They've even managed to clone Clippy, with an annoying lightbulb thing that gives you pointless advice. (Oh, and the help system for that advice takes an age to load.)

    BUT it allows me to use Linux on the desktop, and for that I am truly grateful.
    • Re:well... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Libor Vanek ( 248963 )
      Sorry, but using P266 you shouldn't expect any good "interactivity" using OOo. Use some other tools (which are "profiled" as single usage small footprint - like Gnumeric, Abiword etc.)
    • Re:well... (Score:3, Funny)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
      .... The spreadsheet native format takes an age to save. Writer is way too slow on my P266 laptop. Menus are unintuitive, user interface design is lacklustre. Presenter is a pain. They've even managed to clone Clippy, with an annoying lightbulb thing that gives you pointless advice. (Oh, and the help system for that advice takes an age to load.)

      BUT it allows me to use Linux on the desktop, and for that I am truly grateful.


      If that makes you happy, I'd hate to see what you would do if you considered yourse
    • Writer is way too slow on my P266 laptop.

      Strange, other than startup speeds I've had no complaint about OO's performance on my PII-300 desktop, which shouldn't be substantially different to your laptop.
      • Re:well... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ClippyHater ( 638515 )
        Ah, but a critical component wasn't discussed: his laptop's available memory vs. your desktop's available memory. Also hard-drive performance will probably have an effect, especially in low memory situations.
  • My experience (Score:2, Insightful)

    What have your experiences been with OpenOffice.org over the past four years?

    My experience with it is that it segfaults opening the one Word document that I need to edit on a regular basis. Office XP Pro and Office 2003 Pro handle the document just fine though.

    Oh, I guess you meant what positive comments do we have with this product... well, it sort of renders most Word documents half-way decently, although checkboxes and such look like crap compared to the real Word from Microsoft. Basically it's a us

    • "Basically it's a usable free word processor, but it's definitely no Office 2003 replacement."

      Maybe if you use those bazillion extra features that have bloated Microsoft Office to hundreds of megabytes, but I've yet to find anything that I want to do that Open Office can't do... I suspect that most people who just want a word processor to type average, ordinary documents will feel the same.
      • Re:My experience (Score:2, Informative)

        by JanneM ( 7445 )
        Writing Japanese sort of, kind of works. Opening documents written using kanji with furigana, however, craps out every single time. The kanji loses its baseline and the furigana is lost altogether. And even documents written with just straight kanji+hiragana will get the wrong margins, mysterious rendering errors and mixed-up fonts.
        And here, that is "average, ordinary" documents. Abiword is actually better (though still not at all good) at opening such documents - it doesn't support writing it at all, thoug
    • Re:My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LnxAddct ( 679316 ) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:40AM (#10513483)
      well, it sort of renders most Word documents half-way decently, although checkboxes and such look like crap compared to the real Word from Microsoft

      Oh and how well does Microsoft render OASIS? Oh that's right... it doesn't. Try doing everything in OOo's *native* format and you'll see its real power. Sure it can handle most Word Documents, but it wasn't designed nor ever intended to be a drop in replacement for MS Office. When using MS Office do you save as a RTF? Nope, didn't think so. Why? because you'd be losing alot of potential features and capabilities. Sure MS Office can read and write to RTF, but it wasn't designed with that in as its main use. In that same light, sure OpenOffice can read and write MS Word documents, but it was *not* designed with that as its main use and as a result, some functionality may be lost when using those formats. There are many features in OOo that don't have an equivalent in MS Office, and vice versa, so you should really be using the format that was designed for the Word Processor you are using so you are using its maximum potential(no matter what word processor).Stop feeding into Microsoft, break free, and use the open format that its supposed to use.
      Regards,
      Steve
      • Re:My experience (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arhar ( 773548 )
        This sounds great but unfortunately, rarely works in the real world. Most people create documents for others to view, and in today's corporate environment, that means .doc format. As simple as that.
        • So let's just all give up and assume we'll be using Microsoft's offerings forever. After all, the situation is completely hopeless and there's nothing that can possibly ever be done about it, so why even try. Thank you for your strong leadership on this front, arhar.
        • Re:My experience (Score:5, Informative)

          by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:17AM (#10513847)
          "Most people create documents for others to view, and in today's corporate environment, that means .doc format."

          Maybe my employer is strange, but most documents I get to view in my corporate environment are .PDFs...
          • Re:My experience (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ubergrendle ( 531719 )
            With Sox404 and other corporate compliance issues, i think we'll see the rise of .PDFs in a big way. Yes you can protect Word documents, but .PDFs are considered a much more immutable form. The volume of .pdfs has increased 10x in the past 18 months as we've relied more and more on outsourcing... the best way of confirming exactly what you sent and external unit.
    • Re:My experience (Score:3, Interesting)

      by orasio ( 188021 )
      If the main feature you use from MS Word is reading MS .DOC, oowriter might have problems replacing it (many fewer on 1.1.x than on 1.0).

      I, on the other hand, use it as a word processor, and I am very happy with it.
      The only problem I have is that its GUI is too much of a copy of MSOffice's. In the points it differs, for example the math editor, 10x the writing speed I good with MSWord's, it's far superior. Happy me I just need a word processor, and that I can read everybodys .DOCs just fine.
      If I couldn't
    • Oh, I guess you meant what positive comments do we have with this product... well, it sort of renders most Word documents half-way decently, although checkboxes and such look like crap compared to the real Word from Microsoft. Basically it's a usable free word processor, but it's definitely no Office 2003 replacement.

      ITS FREE! As in speech and beer, but if anyone seriously considers this as a viable office suite, well, did I mention that it was free?
    • Re:My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thepoch ( 698396 )
      Let me get this straight, what you are saying is:

      1. OpenOffice.org doesn't open Word documents very well.
      2. If OOo does open these, it doesn't render well.
      3. You can't use OOo for this *single* document that you edit on a regular basis.

      and by this, you immediately conclude that it's not an Office 2003 replacement?

      1. & 2. You can help by submitting to OOo's bug tracking system documents you've found to not render properly. This will help developers figure more things out about the document format.
      3. I
  • by melonman ( 608440 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:29AM (#10513362) Journal
    It really isn't Word. I use it in our cybercafe, and we have endless compatibility problems, plus the delightful feature whereby saving an OO document as a .doc and loading it straight back into OO often adds spurious bulletpoints everywhere. The PDF exporter prints the footers in the middle of pages... As a way of opening the occasional Word document or typing a letter, it's fine, but anyone who says it's a drop-in replacement for Word is not using many of the Word features.

    Wasn't it Linus who said that the open source model works better for OSs than for WPs?
  • by freelunch ( 258011 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:29AM (#10513365)
    I created some a couple of years ago and they worked quite well in writer. Efforts to import those bindings in recent versions have failed.

    How about some official support?

    Big complaint, eh? Openoffice rocks.
  • Starting Page Number (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jak163 ( 666315 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:30AM (#10513375)
    It's great, except there's no good way to change the starting page number. Unless the starting page doesn't exceed the length of the document, you have to force a page to do it, so if you have any serious editing left to do, you have to edit it without the actual page numbers if the document is part of a larger project (e.g. a dissertation chapter). This is quite ridiculous and I just can't understand why it hasn't been done better.
    • actually you can set the page offset.
      R-Click - Fields (last context menu item) fill in the box for offset. (set as a negative number to start numbering on a page greater than one)
  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [reglefb]> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:31AM (#10513385)
    I have gone without using Microsoft Office, and have not missed it one bit. OO.org is simply that good. I now prefer it to MS Office when I am forced to use it at work.

    Thanks, OO.org!
    • Try editing a client/colleague's Word document, save it and send it back. Wait till they reply/call you and say that the document is mangled. It's not that good.
      • Generally, most people use a word processor to edit their own documents, not somebody else's. The whole compatibility thing is, IMO, way overrated -- it's not anywhere near to being the most important aspect of a word processor. Maybe it will prevent it from taking over the world, but popularity has little to do with it being a good program.

        I'm not an OO.o user, incidentally.

        • I don't know where you work, but here almost ALL documents, spreadsheets and presentations are collabortive efforts. I tried using OO as my primary Office suite, but after the 20th complaint I went back to Office 2003.


          I still use OO at home though.

        • Compatablity with Word is the difference (IMHO) between a corporate WP, and a personal WP. Where I work, even if I generate the document myself, it usually needs to be based on a template generated by someone else, and nearly always, someone else will need to edit the documents I create, and they will expect all of the formatting imposed by the template to work properly. This makes using OO.o unusable at the office.

          At home, pretty much the only thing I need is a word processor. I don't generally give pr
      • I've never had that happen; and no one else I know uses OO.org.
    • by schmiddy ( 599730 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:46AM (#10514124) Homepage Journal
      I've been using OpenOffice ever since I've moved exclusively to Linux on the desktop. For me at least, Linux is "good enough" already so that its benefits (flexibility, easy software installations/updates, security) outweigh the few downsides (less polished, not being able to run Windows programs).

      But one thing that's always struck me about both OO and the Linux operating system is that it's always getting better. Right now I'm using Debian, and with its excellent package management it's quite easy to always have fairly current (or trade whiz-bang for stability if that's your thing) software packages. Every time I move up an incremental upgrade of OO, i notice a few improvements here and there. Same with all the shiny GUI tools, KDE gets better every time I upgrade.

      I've used nothing but OO for all the lab reports and essays I've had to make over the past year and a half, and frankly I don't miss Word at all. It's annoying as hell when professors just post .doc files online of handouts instead of something a little more universal like PDF's/RTF's, but I'm managing fine as it is. In a few areas, such as being able to export to PDF, OO even outshines its rival.

      Here's to another few years of the Linux desktop experience only getting better. Keep scratching those itches, developers.
  • I dropped MS Word (Score:5, Interesting)

    by angryflute ( 206793 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:31AM (#10513388) Homepage
    It was about 3 years ago that I decided to totally drop Word and start using OO's Writer instead. And writing/editing is my profession. In all these years, I haven't had any client/editor tell me they had a problem loading my OO-produced documents, which I regularly export into various Word version formats.
    • Agreed. I do a lot of writing (mostly articles) on my Macintosh, and I've found it more pleasant by far to use NeoOfficeJ [planamesa.com] instead of Microsoft Word v.X. Microsoft's software *looks* better on the outset, but NeoOfficeJ is actually more readable, faster responding, more usable, etc. The anti-aliased fonts are wonderful, and I've *never* had a NeoOfficeJ crash that caused me to lose work. (The Java layer they added to OOo traps the error and forces a save before close.)

      The only compatibility problem I've eve
  • by MrFenty ( 579353 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:31AM (#10513392)
    I am currently pondering taking the MOUS Excel 2003 exam (to help pad out the CV), so I bought the MS Excel Step-by-Step book as a learning aid. One thing I quickly realised is how little Excel I actually know, and I thought I was pretty knowledgeable - I really do only know about 10% of what it can do, although I am a local expert in my office.

    What does this have to do with OOo ? Well, I like OOo, and use it on my Mandrake/KDE box at home. For future features/direction, I'd suggest that rather than adding in yet another additional funky feature that less than 1% of people will ever find/use, I'd ensure rock solid filters to import/export from MS Office. I still find OOo's ability to handle complex MS Word docs poor (tables, inline graphics, etc) and this is an issue preventing me completely moving across to Ooo. Some things are great - PDF creation, for example, is a killer feature for me. But rock solid MS Office import/export would be sooooo useful.

    And yes, I do appreciate that it is difficult, given the lack of open specs from MS, and the fact that the format themselves is such a messy PITA.

    Iain.

    • For future features/direction, I'd suggest that rather than adding in yet another additional funky feature that less than 1% of people will ever find/use, I'd ensure rock solid filters to import/export from MS Office.

      Try gnumeric [gnome.org]. It blows the OO.o spreadsheet out of the water in virtually every respect.

    • I'd suggest that rather than adding in yet another additional funky feature that less than 1% of people will ever find/use, I'd ensure rock solid filters to import/export from MS Office.

      Part of "rock solid" import/export filters is supporting every funky feature. When importing an Excel document that uses some marginal feature, the filter must be able to handle it somehow. This is part of why creation of the filters is difficult; there's a shitload of weird features that must be handled somehow.

  • Strip it down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zenmojodaddy ( 754377 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:34AM (#10513410)
    OOo is solid, and it's free. This is good. It's also a great big resource-hungry lump. This is not good. I'd love to see the applications separated, kinda like Firefox and Thunderbird, so there's no need to install the spreadsheet if all you want is the word processor.

    That would be nice...
    • Re:Strip it down (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:56AM (#10513629)
      Absolutely. Not only that, but I would love there to be extensions that can be installed as easily as the Firefox ones, and an extension manager that notifies you when there are new ones available.

      There is loads of room for innovations in the office suite area. I think that because everyone has become so used to MS Office, we've forgotten to question the design of office suites. Come on openOffice team, innovate! Or even better, make it so that openOffice is easily extensible so others can create innovative extensions!
  • Improving.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:34AM (#10513415) Homepage Journal

    As a Linux user in a corporate world full of Windows site licenses, is it possible to make it easy for OO.o users to take advantage of the Windows fonts for which they already paid?

    Not a 12 step program involving grungy details of xset fp , but something in the form of an easy script that looks around and automatically does the Right Thing.

    Powerpoint presentations are decipherable under OO.o, but frequently look ugly, mostly from the font problem.

    OO.o has gotten a lot better over the past few years; I'm looking forward to it improving even more.

    [But I still think a cross-platform, SVG+MathML editor with TeX-like math rendering would be a nice way to publish both web and paper documents, much better than the WYSIWYG word processors most people abuse.]

    • [But I still think a cross-platform, SVG+MathML editor with TeX-like math rendering would be a nice way to publish both web and paper documents, much better than the WYSIWYG word processors most people abuse.]

      It seems to me that Lyx [lyx.org] comes fairly close to this -- at least, it's cross-platform and the math editing functions are very nice. However, although it makes great paper documents, trying to get it to do HTML leaves a lot to be desired.

    • As a Linux user in a corporate world full of Windows site licenses, is it possible to make it easy for OO.o users to take advantage of the Windows fonts for which they already paid?

      With most modern Linux distributions, do 'locate *.ttf' to find where it's installing the truetype fonts, then copy the fonts from your windows machine to the same directory. You may need to restart X for it to notice them.
  • I would love to try this on mac. Will 2.0 work natively with on OS X with an aquified GUI?
  • by joeykiller ( 119489 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:35AM (#10513425) Journal
    The Open Office software is OK, but what I actually have high hopes for is the parts of Open Office that's not just code, i.e. stuff like thesauruses, dictionaries, determining prefixes and suffixes, and so on.

    In short: I have hopes for this part [openoffice.org] of OpenOffice, since I can see that it can become incredibly useful for other kinds of applications, search applications especially.

    Open Source search implementations are held back because they know little or nothing about grammar or common spelling errors, and until they do they will never get the same quality as Google or Fast's products.
  • by Rick Genter ( 315800 ) <rick.genter@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:37AM (#10513437) Homepage Journal
    I have a client who uses Excel extensively. They've built a spreadsheet that they've been steadily adding to over the past year. Yesterday, Excel just rolled over and died on them. This was a 6,000+ row spreadsheet with formulas, various flavors of highlighting, etc. that contained a year's worth of data. I don't know how they managed to save it, but if you tried to open it with Excel you'd get the friendly(?) "Microsoft Excel has encountered a problem - do you want to send a bug report to Microsoft?"

    They were desparate: they (of course) had no backup except for the original source data, meaning it would take them days to re-assemble the spreadsheet. They asked me to "fix it." I had had problems like this in the past, and usually saving the file as a .csv then back again as a .xls would fix it, but this time I couldn't even open the file. I figured it was toast.

    Then I tried OO.o. I opened it with "Spreadsheet" (offtopic aside - part of me wishes the OO.o guys had more clever names for their components, and part of me is glad they don't waste their mental energy on such trivialities :-). It opened just fine. I saved it as an Excel 95 format document, then tried opening it from Excel. It opened just fine.

    I'll never get my client to move to OO.o (they are a 10+ year Excel user and are basically computer illiterate and petrified of ANY kind of change), but it's nice to have it as a tool that actually works for those times when Microsoft falls down on the job.
    • I had a similar problem. My dad, being a preacher, likes to use powerpoint for his sermons. One of his sermons, for some strange reason, kept crashing on a certain slide. OOo however saved the day :)
    • I opened it with "Spreadsheet" (offtopic aside - part of me wishes the OO.o guys had more clever names for their components, and part of me is glad they don't waste their mental energy on such trivialities :-)

      Actually, OO's spreadsheet component is called 'calc'.
    • Why not return it to the client in OOo format complete with an install disk for OOo, and say "I recovered it into a more stable format - OpenOffice" ;-)

      J.
    • "I opened it with "Spreadsheet" (offtopic aside - part of me wishes the OO.o guys had more clever names for their components"

      What the... everybody on Slashdot is always whining that open source apps use weird and undescriptive names, and now people whine that OpenOffice uses a highly descriptive name?!?! This just proofs that nobody should ever listen to Slashdot criticism, ever.
  • My experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mks113 ( 208282 ) <mks@kijaMONETbe.org minus painter> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:37AM (#10513441) Homepage Journal
    OO.o works. I'm used to MSWord at work, and transitioning to OO writer is painful. It is about learning curve, not capabilities. I can do most things, but when I try some more complex things (e.g. sections) I cause myself pain.

    I've never had a problem with basic spreadsheets. It does everything I need (which isn't much).

    I use the presenter all the time. The only glitches have been in converting a ppt to it. For creation and display, it is great.

    It isn't MS Office. Get over it. There is a learning curve to it, just like any other transition. It does what most people need. It does what *I* need.

    If only they could get a database program with a decent front end. I ended up "finding" access because I couldn't get a free alternative for some fairly trivial stuff.

  • by Z-MaxX ( 712880 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:38AM (#10513455) Journal

    On the plus side, OpenOffice has gotten *much* faster since 1.0, and compatibility is remarkably good. I let my dad try OpenOffice about a month ago and he loved it and switched to it for all his office work.

    However, on Linux, OpenOffice looks like *crap*. The interface doesn't match any other apps on my system. GTK apps look tight and clean, QT apps too. But OpenOffice doesn't even look "native" like it does on Windows. It has a look all its own, which is ugly, the widgets are not as responsive as GTK widgets, and it's quirky--especially with respect to input methods, such as Japanese. If they simply used a toolkit such as GTK, they would have *proper* Japanese input, a consistent, clean, customizable interface, and access to any future GTK features.

  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:38AM (#10513459) Homepage Journal
    OpenOffice is what I use whenever other people pick up word, excel or the other ms crap.

    Funny thing is, at first the MS junkies tried to put me down (even OO does have it's problems, you know). After a while, though, they started coming over, especially after using it for a while.

    I don't use word often, except when forced to at work. Every time I cringe about one of its billion bugs or quirks, I find that OO did the same thing properly, and I rejoice.

    OO isn't without problems, but it's worth a try and so far none of the people I convince to try have gone back to the MS crap.

    • I don't use word often, except when forced to at work. Every time I cringe about one of its billion bugs or quirks, I find that OO did the same thing properly, and I rejoice.

      My least favorite "feature" of Word is something that broke between Word6 and Word97.

      Numbered list styles don't restart in new paragraphs! You have to manually restart the list. I know it's doable properly because Word6 did it 10 years ago!
  • Mac Support (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mreed911 ( 794582 )
    While current Mac/OSX support is decent (you have to use it under X11, but there's easy to use startup scripts for that), I'd love to see a true Mac version. I've been using OOO on my Ubuntu box for a while and found no problems with it for general WP and spreadsheet usage, and I use it on my Mac regularly (mostly with MS Word docs from the office). I enjoy it and think that for a four-year-old product it's a shining example of OpenSource.
  • I converted all computers in my house to *BSD several years ago. My wife and I, as well as our two kids use it. It meets my needs fairly well [no microsoft products, ability to do simple word processing].

    For my wife's thesis, however, I prefer LyX. It takes a little getting used to, but the results are great.

    Bottom line: it's not as bad as AbiWord, yet [and I really hate to say this] it's not yet as functional as Word.

    *However*, WordPerfect 12 is out, and who knows, maybe there will be a new Linux ver
  • The last time I used OO.org, I lost hours of work from a crash. I found it horribly slow on a 1.4ghz system with half a gig of ram. And as mentioned in the first post, "Menus are unintuitive, user interface design is lacklustre."

    I would not recommend OO over Microsoft Word, and that's a bummer because I hate still having to rely on Windows just for word processing (fortunately, however, I don't do a lot of word processing.)

    I realize it's free software, and being what it is, they've certainly come a lon
  • Happy Birthday! I would sing the song, but... you guessed it [wikipedia.org] http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/7/5/112441/6280 [kuro5hin.org]
  • Work and leisure (Score:2, Interesting)

    by herrison ( 635331 )
    I wrote a novel in OO.org. Very pleasant experience. I use it all the time in the office and at home.
    I would love to be able to plug in an xml validator. I'd pay for that. It makes me wish my programming skills were good enough to help out!
  • My thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:45AM (#10513518)

    I love openOffice.org, but...

    I wish they would stop just copying Microsoft Office. There is lots of innovation still to be done in the office suite and openOffice is where it should be happening. I don't want more features, I want well designed user interfaces. They should take a leaf out of the Firefox team's book.
  • Time flies (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wrook ( 134116 )
    When OOo first came out, I was working for a certain competitor to MS's office suite. As soon as the program managers found out about it, they were in a tizzy. "How will we sell our product if they're just giving their's away for free?"

    I calmly invited them to my office and showed them OOo (which they hadn't bothered to look at before). They said, "Man, that sucks. Phew, I guess we don't have to worry".

    To which I replied, "We don't have to worry right now, but give it 4 or 5 years and we will probably
  • by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:49AM (#10513555) Homepage Journal
    OO is not Word, but if my daughter needs something to write school reports on that doesn't cost me more money, it fits the bill perfectly. Plus it does a decent job of making PDFs to boot, which again means I save money! I use Word for work, but where there's no need for Word specifically OO is a very good value. Not only that, OO has pushed down the price of Word, which means I save money at work too! And beyond money, I can load it or reload it on as many machines as I need to. OO has come a long way since the StarOffice days! Happy Birthday OO!
  • Thanks to OpenOffice.org, The Mozilla Foundation, and Gaim, the only Microsoft software running on many of the computers I've built for family and friends has been the OS, and maybe the odd game or two.
  • For me... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by niko9 ( 315647 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @10:53AM (#10513591)
    I does excactrly what I was hoping it would do for me: Print out the lab reports that are only available for downlaod from the college's (a CUNY school)chemistry department website. They are only available in .doc format, and Abiword would choke on even the simplest lab tables. OpenOffice handles the tables, charts and equations fine.

    Thank You OO, you saved me numerous trips to the overcrowded computer lab!

    P.S. I'm sure Abiword would have worked if the .doc was properly documented as some sort of standard. Here's wishing that .swx becomes ISO!
  • I own Microsoft Office for both Mac OS X and Windows, but I prefer the relative simplicity and "not in your face" style of OOo. The OOo technical drawing program is also very nice to use.

    I especially like how simple it is to parse OOo document files (just open a gzip input stream, run through a SAX parser, and grab what you need).

    For Mac OS X, I also like the NeoOfficeJ package: OOo that uses Java to provide a native OOo application on OS X - really cool.
  • New version (Score:2, Informative)

    by madth3 ( 805935 )
    And there's a new version to celebrate: http://download.openoffice.org/1.1.3/index.html/ [openoffice.org]
  • by TeachingMachines ( 519187 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:01AM (#10513675) Homepage Journal

    I was a starving graduate student (literally, my idiot advisor dropped my funding), and I couldn't afford a new word processor. This was terrible, as I had a lot of graphics in my dissertation that MS Word 97 COULD NOT HANDLE. OpenOffice to the rescue! I ended up writing my dissertation in OpenOffice, and my dissertation committee was none the wiser.

    P.S. An undergraduate had introduced me to Slashdot at the same time, and that was basically my social life :) The pathetic things is that it still is :(
  • I find these WYSIWYG text editors a pain.. I certainly stay away from MS Office, because I don't want my data locked in, but OOo is not as user friendly as I would like it..

    1) I want to put a page index in document.. Took me forever to figure it out. It's not explained in the Help text or details are sketchy. So I figure out it's locked to a text style. I'd rather insert a token or something that means 'This is the next chapter'. Oh well..

    2) So I insert the automatic index creating token thingy.. I want i
    • Another few things

      6) .doc Word import is not great.. in fact, sometimes it really SUCKS. We've got product manuals here written in Word.. Try to import those.. egad!

      7) I had some docs that had copies in LaTex, HTML and PDF... HTML sucks since all the chapters are split up in seperate files. Ok, but WHERE are the PDF and LaTex imports filter??? I ended up with copy & pasting all the text from Adobe's PDF viewer to OOo.. meaning I had to reformat the entire document again before I could change what I wa
  • Last year I had a hard drive crash shortly after heading up to school for the year. I had to start over with a completely new system, reinstalling everything... and discovered that I had left my Office CDs at home, with a paper due the next week. So I installed OpenOffice as a stopgap measure, figuring that I'd write this paper with it and then retrieve my Office CDs when I went home for Thanksgiving.

    It's been more than a year now, and still I've had no need to reinstall MS Office. OpenOffice does

  • Advice for OO.o (Score:3, Interesting)

    by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:06AM (#10513728)
    Partner/Invest/whatever to get OO.o running native with Aqua under Apple OS X.

    Why?

    Because this is a user group that:
    (1) has a proven track record of going against the trend
    (2) has gotten a great deal of attention in the same 4 years for their movements towards opensource development & compatibility
    (3) would be a customerbase with proven record of paying a prmium for good products
    (4) is outspoken and
    (5) is known for setting trends inthe industry

    With these benefits, OO.o would generate both revenue and critical market mass to gain momentum in the land of Linux and pentially even move in on Microsoft's Windows.

    Without making a strong showing in the Apple OS X landscape, it is my opnion that OO.o will continue to make marginal strides (yes, I give them a "good" rating on a scale of "failing", "marginal", "good", "very good", "excellent", and "market leading") and will eventually make a couple or three desprate calls for donations before being bought and turned into a marginal product or dispanding as anything other than a weekend hacker effort.

  • by Finuvir ( 596566 ) <`rparle' `at' `soylentred.net'> on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:11AM (#10513785) Homepage
    I had three requirements for a word-processor last year: the ability to easily add complex formulae, the ability to save or export to a near-universal file format, and a price tag of 0. Open Office matched all three.
  • by Qwavel ( 733416 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:13AM (#10513810)
    As a C++ developer I have found OOo to be pretty useless as an open-source project.

    It uses all its own frameworks and conventions, so it is innaccesible.

    If it used the STL, Qt, GTKmm, wxWindows, then I would know where to start with the code.

    It would be really great if one of the cross-platform frameworks (GTKmm, wxWindows, FOX, the Mozilla runtime) could get the extra boost of having OOo run on it. That might consolidate effort around one of them. And it would be nice to be able to write an application (eg. an xml editor) on the same 'platform' as OOo.

    How about AbiWord? What libraries does it use?
    • AbiWord on *nix uses Gtk2, wv, libpng, libxml2, zlib, fribidi popt, and libiconv. All of which are available in all new distro's, except maybe for wv. If you use the GNOME version, it uses several GNOME libraries as well, such as libgnomeprint.

      The Windows version uses the same libraries, except for of course the Gtk2/GNOME libraries, since we use the Windows native widgets and print systems on every platform. Same holds for the native MacOSX version.
  • by dara ( 119068 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:13AM (#10513815)
    My experience with OpenOffice is almost all on Windows. Occasionally some interface item will bug me, but I can accept that I'm just used to doing it the MS Office way. What is most disappointing is the speed.

    Speed to start, open a file, save a file, and perform certain operations is painfully slow compared to Office. I've played with the 1.9.51 branch a bit, and it doesn't seem 2.0 is going to be enough of an improvement to compete with Microsoft on the speed front.

    I used to think that Moore's law will take over, but I'm now using a brand new P2.8 with 1 Gig of RAM at work, and after editing a presentation file with some large images I couldn't edit a slide with only text (don't ask me what OpenOffice was doing in the background with those pictures - it couldn't be autosave, since the problem was constant). I also used to think that OpenOffice should keep adding new features (e.g., macro recorder, which is in 1.9.51), but now I wish they would just optimize the hell out of it and add no new features for a while.

    Perhaps it doesn't feel as slow on Solaris or Linux, but I doubt it - my Linux machine is pretty anemic, but it used to run Office reasonably when it had Windows on it. Now I don't even try to use OpenOffice on it as it is unbearable. When Koffice becomes file compatible, I may try to use that program on this machine.

    The two free cross-platform software projects I use most are OpenOffice and Mozilla (Seamonkey or Firefox). Of course Mozilla's task is completely different, but it works reasonably fast compared to Internet Explorer (faster with some tasks, slower with others). I look forward to the day I can say the same thing about OpenOffice.

    Dara
  • by jusdisgi ( 617863 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @11:38AM (#10514043)

    Well, I've been using OO for a long, long time. Actually, since before it was OpenOffice, back in the StarOffice 5 days. It used to be almost entirely unusable. Now it's good enough to limp on. It keeps getting better...

    I completely defenestrated over 2 years ago at both home and work, and this is one of the pillars holding that up. I use it almost every day; mostly on documents I created, but also a good chunk of time on .doc and .xls files. I have occasional problems...either someone's .doc file gets misformatted (or, very rarely, won't open) or I hear that a document I sent doesn't look right. It doesn't happen often, and when it does I typically just save to .rtf or something to get around it. I also send out all contracts and things that the recipient won't need to edit (and shouldn't!) in .pdf instead. That solves a lot of the display issues. Only maybe once or twice in the last year have I been forced to get a document over to one of my co-workers Windows machines...highly embarrassing, that. But then, I've been asked to untar something more often than that ;-)

    But compatibility isn't my main OpenOffice gripe. Editing is a pain in the ass. Autocomplete will fight you to the death, the onscrean display of text frequently just goes "all weird" so my cursor is away from where the text is appearing and there are blank spots and lines sometimes get crunched together (but these problems don't appear in the printed document). And what's with the text just randomly changing font size while I'm not looking? I can usually force it back to what I want...but man, what a pain in the ass.

    So, in summation, I hate OpenOffice. But I absolutely can't live without it. Which makes it pretty much exactly like every single other Office suite I've ever had to use regularly. Somebody mentioned at some point that a piece of software doesn't need to be the best thing out there to be successful...just good enough and cheap. Well, OpenOffice fits the bill for me.

  • by Devi0s ( 759123 ) on Wednesday October 13, 2004 @02:16PM (#10515295) Journal
    OpenOffice's storage format is not .doc. Just like MS Word saves documents by defualt in it's (proprietary, closed-source) native format, .doc, to leverage all of Word's features (instead of .rtf or .xml or .sxw), OpenOffice needs to store documents in it's native (non-proprietary, open-source) format, .sxw, to leverage all of it's features.

    You should not expect OpenOffice to perfectly store or perfectly open complicated Word Documents. However, it does a good enough job to allow someone to work with an MS user. It also allows you to PDF your documents to share.

    By the way, use Word and don't want to install OpenOffice to make PDF's for free? Check out the free, open-source PDFCreator software at http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/.

    OpenOffice has been a wonderful solution to my need for an office suite while in college. I've never had anyone complain about my documents, and there was not a Word document from a classmate or teacher that I could not open.

    Someone pointed out that it would be great if they would take the Firefox-like approach and package the different components as non-monolithic standalone applications. I thought that was a great idea.

    OpenOffice is a great tool to give to developers, IT staff, and anyone else that does not have to collaborate with clients/executives/managers by passing around Word .doc files. A simple PDF of their sxw document will do and it's a hell of a lot cheaper (free).

    Have you ever noticed that Excel is limited to 65,535 rows? Ever notice that OpenOffice is not?

    OpenOffice is a viable and more than capable replacement for an expensive office suite. It is not a viable replacement for someone who collaborates by passing around files in Word's .doc format.

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