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OpenOffice.org 3.0 Wants to Compete with Outlook 464

jason writes "At the OpenOffice.org 2007 conference about a month ago there was a presentation on what to expect in the next major milestone for their Microsoft Office competitor. "The presentation mentions bundling Thunderbird with their Office Suite, and refers to it as an 'Outlook replacement.' This is all assuming that Thunderbird recently losing two of its main developers doesn't affect the decision, because I'm sure OpenOffice wants to ensure that Thunderbird will continue to progress before including it." This probably won't sway large corporations away from using Microsoft Office, but it could make it more intriguing for the smaller businesses that are looking to cut some costs."
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OpenOffice.org 3.0 Wants to Compete with Outlook

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  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <.Satanicpuppy. .at. .gmail.com.> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:21AM (#20973443) Journal
    Jesus. How about they compete with Word first, eh? Calling Thunderbird an "Outlook Replacement" just shows they have no idea what people use Outlook for. Outlook Express replacement, sure.

    The great thing about Office is all the damn pieces work together. Excel is friendly with Access, Access is friendly with Word, Everything is friendly with Outlook. To beat Office, you have to have an Office suite that works like that. Not just all the pieces in one package.

    There is not one single thing in OO that doesn't have an OSS equivalent stand-alone application that is at least as good. Bundling a mail client with the rest of your apps doesn't suddenly make you competitive, especially when your whole user base could have already installed that mail client if they wanted it.

    There are OSS projects that are actually making a push toward doing the things that Outlook does (like Kontact [kde.org]). But Thunderbird is still lagging behind Evolution imho, and neither of them play all that great with any of the groupware servers out there, open or closed.

    I used to try and push OO on people, but I've completely lost faith in it. I keep thinking, maybe they'll get their crap together, but then they do stuff like this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:21AM (#20973447)
    I know my business does. Packaging them will only make things easier.

    Changing the names of the various apps in OOo would have a bigger effect. The number of times I've had someone think that Calc was windows calculator replacement, rather than a spreadsheet is far too high.

  • Exchange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sc0ob5 ( 836562 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:22AM (#20973459)
    When it can sync with exchange servers without having to use webdav I think it will be a contender, until then I don't think so. Still, nice to have it included in the office package I guess, but does it really make a difference?
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:26AM (#20973493)
    I wish I had mod points left over...

    I know exactly how you feel. I used to use Office 2000 since about 1999. Since then I have been waiting for Open Office to serve as an Microsoft Office replacement. What happened? I upgraded to Office 2007 a month ago. I as well have given up on OO. Maybe one day, but then I will be ready for retirement and won't care.
  • by Helmholtz ( 2715 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:29AM (#20973503) Homepage
    As many people have already noticed, people don't choose to use Outlook. Somebody else choose to use Exchange, and that means you're using Outlook. There's no way a third party could attempt to compete, since Exchange uses totally proprietary hooks and methods.

    Personally, I think it'd be better to focus on something like a Visio replacement. Use Dia as a starting point, etc.
  • I don't know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Keyper7 ( 1160079 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:29AM (#20973505)
    ...bundling Thunderbird is a good idea in the sense that they won't try to fit more stuff in the saturated market of email clients. On the other hand, should email client and schedule integration be a priority? From my point of view, Microsoft is using Office as a tool to turn Windows itself into an all-purpose environment. Sun's efforts will probably be restricted to improve OpenOffice, and OpenOffice alone. They might risk turning it into a bloaty 300 Mb mess that people will ditch in favor of KOffice, Evolution or Office 2007 in the case of Windows users.
  • by niiler ( 716140 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:46AM (#20973595) Journal

    First, let me say that your experience with OO will depend on what you use it for. As I use it mostly for writing papers for publication in scientific journals, quick spreadsheet applications (usually for classroom illustrations), and for "powerpoint" presentations at conferences, it works just dandy for me.

    I do have to respond to your comment that "There is not one single thing in OO that doesn't have an OSS equivalent stand-alone application that is at least as good." I like the concepts of KOffice, and Gnome Office, but KOffice really isn't as functional as OO in any way, shape or form. It used to open faster than OO, but recently, OO has taken just three seconds from click to start on my computer, so I can't complain about that. Gnome Office is not integrated. Abiword is great for very small documents of limited functionality, but is no where near the abilities of swriter. Gnumeric is arguably equal with scalc, but then it doesn't have the same sort of interapplication communication with documents as scalc shares with swriter. As a long time simpress user, I have yet to find either a problem with it interoperating with powerpoint, or another opensource program that holds a candle to it.

    So to finish, you are probably right in that OpenOffice has a long way to go in matching every type of functionality as MS Office, but I still can't say it has any real competitors in the OSS world at the current time. [Note to KOffice users: I have seen quite an improvement in functionality over the last couple of years, but you all need another couple of Google Summers of Code to catch up. - No flames intended, it's just my humble opinion.]

  • Not what we want (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:49AM (#20973619)
    Apparently the OpenOffice team is not listening to what users want. Most of us don't want a "bundled" Email client to add to the bloat.... we already choose the Email client we want to use. I don't want an IM client, web browser, or music player bundled into it either!!!

    This is what they should be concentrating on:

    1) Faster. Fast loading, faster opening documents, faster saving documents, faster menu response.
    2) Smaller. Higher efficiency. Smaller downloads.
    3) More stable. Better code. Less crashing.
    4) More compatible. With more types of files (for example, docx, wp, svg)
    5) Better documented. End user docs, help, and developer docs.
  • Re:Exchange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:50AM (#20973631)
    But Thunderbird is not a replacement for Outlook.

    Outlook's shared calendar integration, while being a minor thing to most geeks, is one of the major features which get Exchange installed in businesses.

    And Exchange requires Active Directory, which requires a domain driven by Windows Server rather than Samba, so even if you weren't planning to before, you may as well authenticate other systems through that. Then people start looking at other things like Sharepoint and third-party applications which expect a Windows domain, and before you know it you've got an entire infrastructure built around Windows.

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is how Windows became a popular server platform in places where you might otherwise expect to see Unix, Netware or OpenVMS.
  • Wrong prority! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ecbpro ( 919207 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:55AM (#20973659)
    Please this is so wrong, who needs yet another mail client?
    How about first finish cleaning up the OOo code?
    Then make Impress make slides look nice! Graphics output is so ugly I have to be ashamed when I use Impress, drawings in Powerpoint look so much nicer. Why cant they make good anti-aliasing of curves? What is really stupid is that when I export my slides as pdf they look really nice! Oh boy... but no, first they want to add a mail software into an already really slow office suite, THANK YOU!
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:01AM (#20973695) Homepage Journal
    And group scheduling, public folders, notes, etc ?

    If not its replacing Outlook express, not outlook. And there are tons of decent competitors at that level now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:04AM (#20973713)
    "Most, however, complain of the lack of working features... sadly, perhaps the most trivial of which is the default save as .odt, which is unreadable by the school's myriad Word instances."

    Gee, if only there was a way to change the default to save as Word format.
  • by JackMeyhoff ( 1070484 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:04AM (#20973715)
    Without any kind of SEAMLESS intergeneration with ACTIVE SYNC you stand ZERO CHANCE of prying Outlook from my hands. Sure I use Open Office but dumped Thunderbird after giving it more than a fair chance.
  • by Fieryphoenix ( 1161565 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:07AM (#20973729)
    There was exactly zero vitriol in the parent posts, and, as well, they explained precisely what makes OpenOffice unsatisfactory for their needs. In spite of all this you're complaining, behaving like they whipped your pet software. Why's that?
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:10AM (#20973745)
    Have you tried using OO for anything related to earning money? I use Office for two purposes; writing manuscripts, and investing. And in these two respects OO fails miserably! (And I have tried to use OO)

    WRT to manuscripts I can't keep comments, styles, formating etc straight.

    WRT to investing the OO spreadsheet is way to limited, and to extend the spreadsheet with custom functionality is absolutely painful! OOBasic bites, and their component architecture is anything but simple. OO extensions are a joke when compared to Microsoft Office.

    So in the end OO is not usable except for extremely simple things. I am complaining because after eight years of using Microsoft Office 2000 OO is not close to the capabilities of 2000. Yet I have and use Office 2007, and that is the sad part.
  • by niiler ( 716140 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:12AM (#20973759) Journal
    I agree with most of what you've said, although I'd like to comment on some points:

    1) Faster. Fast loading, faster opening documents, faster saving documents, faster menu response.
    2) Smaller. Higher efficiency. Smaller downloads.
    3) More stable. Better code. Less crashing.
    4) More compatible. With more types of files (for example, docx, wp, svg)
    5) Better documented. End user docs, help, and developer docs.
    1) Currently I'm starting up in about 3 seconds using Vector Linux 5.8 with a custom built OpenOffice 2.3. So start time is not an issue. Save and load time are, although I think these may be related to the zipped/XML type format that is used. I have no experience with Office Open XML for comparison.

    2) This probably is desirable, although the last time I downloaded it took about 5 minutes. For those without superfast broadband connections, a smaller package would be nice.

    3) I haven't had crashing problems with OpenOffice in two or three years. At this point, it just works.

    4) Docx is theoretically supported by Novell's OpenOffice, but I've heard bad things there. I suspect that since it is theoretically "open", that OpenOffice will support it sooner or later. As a former WP fan, I would also like this support so that I can import my dissertation. Finally, I'm also with you on SVG.

    5) The documentation does leave much to be desired, although it's getting better by leaps and bounds. The really key issue here is that the OO.org website sucks. I'll be the first to sing the praises of the program, but their web site looks bad, and is poorly organized. Even when you know what you are looking for, you can't necessarily find it unless you have inside information.

  • by brusk ( 135896 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:22AM (#20973805)
    Lightning works, but just barely (I say this as someone who uses it every day). It doesn't integrate with Thunderbird well enough (e.g., dealing with invites by email). It has a kludgy screen layout in TB. Its reminders don't fire reliably. Contacts are not well integrated with events, and the recurrence system has some problems. It needs a lot of fit and finish work. I say this as someone who LIKES it, and used to use Outlook. But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't prepared to fiddle with extensions, risk losing data, etc. TB+Lightning is also definitely not an Outlook replacement, since it lacks many basic features such as mail and calendar archiving, journaling, complex task management, more than basic contact management, etc.

    Here's hoping that OOo will help support TB and Lightning (with the Mozilla reorganization, the calendar side is up in the air), and bring the two closer together. Without stronger calendar support, there's no way to displace Outlook.
  • by BrentH ( 1154987 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:28AM (#20973847)
    If you think Outlook is used mostly for email, you're mistaken. The whole point here is that Outlook is NOT just a mail-client. The whole synchronized agenda thing is a central pillar and maybe more things that I don't know are in there. Managers and administrations are intertwined with all the features Outlook has, so please, stop the FUD that's only an emailclient.
  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:40AM (#20973933)
    To most people there is no difference, unless they work for big companies.

    Well der. The point, to spell it out more clearly, is that the people who are developing OpenOffice aren't coming up with features that big companies want, and big companies are the ones holding the majority of Office licenses.

    I was rather under the impression that the integration of office components with each other and tightly with windows, while nice in theory, actually made it a horrible security threat. Applications that co-operated but existed wholly apart from the OS, other than running on it would be a good thing.

    Not enough of a security threat to bother any of the hundreds of thousands of companies that have purchased it. But more seriously, macros are completely reined-in, Outlook restricts everything, IE7 has as many security features as Firefox and runs in a sandbox in Vista to boot. (It's not part of Office, but I figured someone would bring it up.) And, frankly, it's been years since anybody has seen a macro virus, or another virus that uses Office to spread, and so even if there is still some security threat to these products more-so than to OpenOffice (which frankly I doubt), there's a sense of calm in that area right now.

    Speaking of security, Office does have a nice feature where you can encrypt sensitive files before sending them out of the office to prevent your data being read by nefarious third-parties. Does OpenOffice have anything of the sort? (I haven't used it in a few years, and their website is so horrible it doesn't even have a basic page describing the features of the product, nor does it have screenshots, or basically anything you'd want to see before downloading it.)

    Openoffice is very nice MS Office has the edge on maturity, but I don't like the locked in nature of the document formats.

    I can guarantee if you go to a professional writer and ask:

    Which would you rather have?
    A) An outline view where you can instantly re-order your work, including notes and references?
    B) A slightly more open document format?

    There isn't a single one who's going to answer B.
  • by plusser ( 685253 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:08PM (#20974099)
    I think that the problem with Open Office is that Microsoft Office has no real competition, hence it can afford to ignore everybody else.

    The problem is very simple, when it comes to using Operating Systems there is very effective competition to Windows, namely Unix, Linux (and its many variations), BSD and MAC OS. While many of these systems are low cost to own, they do provide Microsoft with an incentive to provide a better operating system.

    However, Microsoft Office has no real competition. Some people will say "but what about Open Office", but the problem is that while it may be free, there is no incentive for anybody to develop program other than for the simple joy of it. Unfortunately developing a office tool today is not like developing an operating system, as you have to offer dictionaries, grammar tools, paper formatting and tool integration to support every country in every region of the world; something you either buy or pay for a lot of work to be done. The problem is that the commercial alternatives to Microsoft Office have all but died out (Word Perfect etc..), hence the market share for Microsoft Office is probably greater than that of Windows.

    The solution is that somebody needs to take Microsoft on where it hurts, i.e. offer a proper Office suite that costs less than Office. Unfortunately the only company that is any position to do this is Apple, but having been hurt by Microsoft when Explorer was withdrawn for Mac OS after Apple launched Safari, I doubt whether they would even attempt to tackle this problem as Mac without Office would be a problem for interoperability with documents in the future. There is of course Star Office, but that is just a commercial version of Open Office.

    So the solution is that we get total bloatware and zero innovation. While I have not used Office 2007 yet, I suppose that like 2000, XP and 2003 there is little innovation over 97, which was actually quite a good piece of software.

    For your information, I do use Thunderbird as my home email client along with Open Office on my Home PC. But believe me, if I was running a small business, I would have no option but to pay the "Microsoft tax", even if I was not using Windows.

    I personally think that the only reason that Microsoft does not sell Office as part of the operating system (which for many people it could be described as, especially when it comes to Outlook) is that not only do they make most of their money from Office, but if they did they would suddenly find being themselves being prosecuted for anti-trust by the EU and US.
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:39PM (#20974285)
    If you are investing at the level that OO Calc is too limited, then all or some of the following are true:
    • A copy of Office Pro costs less than your hourly billing rate, and you have no interest in this debate, so why are you posting?
    • You should not be using Excel at all. You should be using a proper financial modelling system connected to a relational database, e.g. Business Objects with various add ons. Again, for the level of investing that this necessitates, the cost is unimportant to you.
    • Either you employ somebody else to do this stuff anyway, or you have to adhere to corporate policies, and so your desktop is locked down by IT and you don't have a choice of tools.
    Alternatively of course you are just someone playing at investing. In which case your opinion is not particularly valuable. Given how expensive professionals have been getting it so wrong lately, anyone who trusts the financial models of an amateur without access to proper business modelling tools and data...deserves to buy a share in this wonderful toll bridge I just bought that links England and Wales.
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:02PM (#20974491)
    >I disagree. MS VBA also bites & MS keeps threatening to drop it from Office. OO.o does support some VBA if you really like it better. OO.o supports python, which is quite cool. The IDE still has a way to go, but I think that having a choice of scripting languages (including the one used by MS Office) gives OO.o a real advantage here.

    Sorry, but with Excel I have the following options: VBA (which in 2007 is actually pretty good), XLL (pain, but you get a .NET mapper), UDF (web service on the server side), RTD (realtime data control), or COM... Excel is actually pretty good once you get through the different possibilities.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:02PM (#20974495)

    This may surprise you, but most people don't want to learn a programming language to write a document.
    This may surprise you, but it is perfectly possible to use LaTeX without writing a line of code. See LyX, Scientific WorkPlace, or even AbiWord.

    I've never had problems with documents hundreds of pages in length. I'm calling BS on this as a Slashdot urban legend.
    Calling out slashdot bias but keeping your head in the sand doesn't help.

    If you've never, ever run into problems, you must be a relatively new and/or infrequent user who hasn't had to fight with multiple versions of Word on multiple platforms, etc. And you certainly haven't had to use common extensions to Office that help screw things up such as Endnote and MathType.

    MS Word can handle long documents, but even MS suggests that you use master documents & maintain backups to accomplish this task.
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:09PM (#20974559)
    > A copy of Office Pro costs less than your hourly billing rate, and you have no interest in this debate, so why are you posting?

    Why am I interesting in this debate? Because I had to buy Office 2007! I was holding out for the longest time, hoping that OO would finally allow me to do what I want. The days of Office pro being less than an hourly rate is long gone, just like the dotcom bubble.

    >You should not be using Excel at all. You should be using a proper financial modelling system connected to a relational database, e.g. Business Objects with various add ons. Again, for the level of investing that this necessitates, the cost is unimportant to you.

    I advise that you actually look at the tools that investment banks use. They in fact use Excel! Sure there is back end stuff, but traders and quants like Excel because it lets them very quickly come up with ideas and strategies.

    >Alternatively of course you are just someone playing at investing. In which case your opinion is not particularly valuable. Given how expensive professionals have been getting it so wrong lately, anyone who trusts the financial models of an amateur without access to proper business modelling tools and data...deserves to buy a share in this wonderful toll bridge I just bought that links England and Wales.

    I find it amazing that instead of actually doing a constructive argument you mock me. I could just as easily mock you since you did not even know that professional traders use Excel. Are you a quant? Do you follow the market?
  • ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m2943 ( 1140797 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:15PM (#20974593)
    These arguments about Microsoft Office, Outlook, OpenOffice, etc. sound ridiculously outdated. Come on, do you really think people will want to install, maintain, or run any of that bloated, complicated crap in the future?

    OpenOffice is a good stop-gap replacement for people wed to old paradigms, and I'm glad its' there, but people: get over it.
  • by mkoenecke ( 249261 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:31PM (#20974671) Homepage
    What I cannot understand: how exactly does anyone expect Thunderbird to compete with Outlook as a contact manager? Sure, I use it for e-mail, and I can see how calendaring and task management could be integrated nicely, but no one seems to be addressing Thunderbird's address book, which has zero usefulness outside of e-mail. Does anyone do anything useful with the Thunderbird address book?
  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @02:01PM (#20974831) Homepage

    OO.o writer is not usable for manuscripts because comments and edits get buggered up. If you want to write without edits, and comments, sure Writer is fine...

    What you're basically saying is this: You can't possibly use any tool but Word because you're attached to the exact implementation of two specific Word features. That doesn't mean that other tools are bad - it just means that you're inflexible.

  • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:52PM (#20975899)
    "How much do you guys get paid to post these?"

    So you disagree. Should we assume that you get paid to praise OpenOffice?
  • by osu-neko ( 2604 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @05:11PM (#20976019)

    That's the problem with most open source software. It's usually 90% of the way there, so it gets hyped as a viable replacement -- but in any program you write, 90% is easy to do, it's that last 10% where the devils hide. So that last 10% never quite makes it into the FOSS solution, it's the kind of difficult thankless boring drudge work programming that you have to pay someone to write, but that last bit is the difference between being able to actually use the product for serious work and almost being able to use the product, if it weren't for that one essential feature you need that it doesn't have. Thus, casual users rave at the free software while professional users expense and buy the proprietary solution.

  • by amorangi ( 187312 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @05:44PM (#20976225) Homepage
    I don't know how you were rated as "5 insightful" - in fact there was zero explanation as to why OOO was unsatisfactory.
    If you don't like OOO don't use it. If it fills your requirements then do so. Personally I have both OOO and Office 2007, but only use Office 2007 to open documents sent to me in that proprietary format and for Outlook, as I am used to OOO and it fulfils my requirements. I would love for there to be an alternative to Outlook - the only reason I use it is that Thunderbird won't sync with my phone (N95) - thanks a lot Nokia.
    Office software is not really something to get excited over - people getting uppity over one alternative over another need to get out more.
  • by kklein ( 900361 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @07:14PM (#20976769)

    What you're basically saying is this: You can't possibly use any tool but Word because you're attached to the exact implementation of two specific Word features. That doesn't mean that other tools are bad - it just means that you're inflexible.

    And what you're basically saying is this: "Your preferences are wrong, and it's because you're stupid." It's the classic Slashdot rebuttal, and it is often modded as insightful, but it's not.

    I don't purport to know what someone else needs to do his/her job. When a guy says OO.o doesn't cut it, despite trying, I tend to believe him. What makes you think you know what he needs?

    Personally, I used OO.o for a year (Writer, to be precise) in grad school because I wanted to get rid of pirated MS Office, and I didn't have the $125 for the student version, and besides, I wanted more than the student version had... Why, I don't know, since I only would have used Word at the time. Anyway, I got quite good at Writer, and there are some great features in there (predictive input!), but ultimately, I had to call it quits and buy the $100 volume license of MS Office from the school.

    What were my problems?

    OO.o tables do not save correctly to .doc. If I needed to work on the document elsewhere, or was collaborating with someone, they had to be reformatted every time.

    Making tables is an arduous process in OO.o. And being that I use a lot of statistics in my writing, tables are abundant. Word table formatting is quick and easy, and you can get them to look exactly as you'd like in a number of different ways (this has always been the best part of MS software--any way you can think of doing something probably has a way to do it).

    Indent sliders don't snap to sane intervals. This is in violation of the UI metaphor: Those sliders snapped on electric typewriters. Last time I complained about this on Slashdot some pompous ass told me I was too stupid to use styles so I'd better just stick with Word. Except, I did use styles, and I use them in Word, too, and those sliders are the easiest way to set the indent in Word--why the hell should I type everything in when there's a damn GUI slider there? Why doesn't the OO.o slider work right? You can't get the same indent twice. It's maddening.

    I have to work with other people, and they don't know or want to learn OO.o. This obviously isn't a problem with the software, but it is a big problem with using it.

    I finally decided that getting things done was more important than being different. And this is what it comes down to, really, with a lot of FOSS. There are a few things that are improved by the removal of the profit motive (video software that plays anything, PDF writers --utilities like that whose proprietary counterparts are too worried about making money to be any good), but major applications don't seem to benefit. FOSS requires people to learn something new that doesn't do as much and isn't as compatible with the rest of the world's software. And that's why uptake is slow. Not because people are stupid, but because they are smart enough to know it's not worth it for them to switch. Until OO.o is better and more compatible than MS Office, this will be the case, and people will stick to MS Office in droves.

    I value supporting FOSS projects in theory, but at the end of the day, I have work to do, and OO.o doesn't cut it. And I say that as the world's leading expert on how to do my job and live my life. That ought to be a satisfying enough reason for anyone.

  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @07:51PM (#20976931) Homepage

    People who spend a significant chunk of their time working in a given piece of software tend to get attached to the details of how it does things, regardless of the technical merit of those design decisions.

    Your complaints about OO.o are a perfect example of this effect. "Indent sliders don't snap to sane intervals"? Clearly this isn't annoying the crap out of the OpenOffice developers (who have to use the program to write any number of internal documents), so it's not a major problem with using the program - so it must be an artifact of your learned workflow.

    Now, having trouble unlearning that sort of workflow artifact is a real issue. OpenOffice really will suck for you until you've gotten used to the native workflow for every single task that you do. Let me clarify: Until a Microsoft Office user adapts to OpenOffice almost completely, Microsoft Office really will be marginally better for them.

    None of this means anything but the simple fact that OpenOffice, being different from what you have the most experience with, is harder for you personally. You can't get any sort of objective data about other people using the program from a biased sample of one.

  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @08:51PM (#20977321) Homepage

    Whenever you're working with non-native closed format export functionality, there *will* be incompatibilities. That's a fact of life that can't be changed. The fact that you've discovered a specific case (an image in a floating frame) where the export functionality is janky isn't a major issue, it's not even surprising.

    When doing something one way is way harder than it seems like it should be you need to stop and try to see if there's a better way to do it. Maybe you don't really need the frame? Spacing around inserted elements is one of the basic things you can always do in OO.o, and you can even caption the image without inserting a frame around it.

    It does mean that there's no way that I can recommend OOo for even a pilot project here. This kind of basic functionality simply MUST work. First time, every time.

    If you can't recommend OO.o for a pilot project until it provides perfect export functionality for whatever weird combination of native layout elements you might cook up then you'll *never* be able to recommend it. I suggest the following instead: Do a pilot project of OO.o and ODF. That'll work perfectly.

  • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:21PM (#20978373) Homepage

    Don't get me wrong , I love OO , and use it exclusively, but when we are honest about its weaknesses, its much more clear where the work needs to go.

    OO does have weaknesses, that's true. But when we're dishonest about how significant those weaknesses are, and about which things are weaknesses versus simply being different from one specific other office suite then we risk wasting time on trivia and getting drawn into the unwinnable game of being an imperfect copy rather than a high quality piece of software.

    A bad review is a bug report and should be treated as such.

    And some bug reports are stupid and need to be marked "Invalid".

    I can't help being reminded of the 'workgroup' stuff out there that can't work with outlook

    You mean like Lotus Notes? Yea, if it's not from Microsoft than no-one in the world could possibly use it.

    Sorry, just because your workplace is stuck with a Microsoft Office centric workflow and an Exchange-centric communication infrastructure doesn't mean that everyone else in the world is doomed to that horrible fate too.

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