Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

An Early Look at 3.0 369

ahziem writes "With the final release 167 days away and an alpha version available, it's time to look at 3.0's new features: view multiple pages in Writer, notes in the margin, Microsoft Office 2007 file format support, Solver in Calc, new visual theme in Calc, native tables in Impress, more columns in Calc, error bars in charts, performance improvements, real native Aqua Mac support, and more."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

An Early Look at 3.0

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just recently invested in The 2 Guidebook [] , which cost quite a bit. Is 3 going to have massive new UI changes that mean I have to learn how to use the program all over again?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by allcar ( 1111567 )
      Real men never RTFM, anyway.
      But seriously, it should be one of the goals of the project to ensure that such books are not really need. The GUI should be intuitive where possible and on-line help should be thorough where it is required.
  • New Feature (Score:4, Funny)

    by LMacG ( 118321 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:11AM (#22794960) Journal
    "notes in the margin"? That must be for all the OO.o users named Fermat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Personally, I'd love to be able to have a notes feature. I was just recently collaborating remotely on a business letter and we had to type our justification for changes directly into the document. Screwed up the formatting, to say the least, and wasn't that great for readability, either.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      How about VBA support?

      I heavily rely on scripting for my spreadsheets and generating text documents. The files themselves could easily be moved to OOo, but the scripts cannot. To make matters worse, the builtin scripting of OOo is crap. There, I said it. Somebody is probably going to bitch at me for it, but OOo's scripting requires 20 lines of complicated code for what you can do with 2 or 3 lines of VBA code. That is just not acceptable for a scripting language intended to be used by non-hardcore programme
  • Hopefully, the stability issues that have been plaguing OOo 2.3 will be fixed too. A dozen or so users of OOo 2.3 for Linux I know have been experiencing more stability-related issues than all the Windows users of OpenOffice I know combined. Can anyone confirm/explain this? Thanks.
    • I've had no problems with either (dual boot Ubuntu/XP) not a single crash, haven't heard of any from the people I've converted. Mostly windoze, but a few Ubuntu users too:-)

      Looking forward to 3.0 :-)
      • Re:Stability (Score:5, Interesting)

        by alexgieg ( 948359 ) <> on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:57AM (#22795536) Homepage
        I use OOo in Ubuntu, and I really, REALLY hope this new version to stop handling menu and dialog font spacing and anti-aliasing (or the lack thereof, as I prefer) by itself, and instead let Gnome or KDE handle this, as all other applications do. It's just ugly to have the fonts in everything looking perfectly in a certain way, except for OOo.

        My 2nd hope is for OOo 3 to stop using Java for the wizards. Or for anything really. There's no point in having Java handle things behind the scenes on an otherwise compiled application. It just make things slow to load and slow to run.

        And my 3rd hope is for OOo 3 to finally make tables creation and editing in Write as easy, free form and trouble free as it is in MS Word. Click a button, start "drawing" your table any way you like, without giving any consideration whatsoever to the number of rows and columns, dividing cells anywhere you want, merging cells in any way, moving cell boundaries left and right and up and down without any invisible wall preventing you (not even the table's boundaries): that's how it should be, and how it actually is in MS Word.

        Do these 3 things and I'll never look back to MS Office.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I had tons of stability issues. This has been solved so far as I can tell by completely removing the version of 2.3 available in the repositories and installing the one available directly from OOo. It's sad, I know. In the OOo forums people said that Ubuntu (and perhaps other distributions?) don't like to integrate bug updates into the version Ubuntu uses until they are tested as stable in Ubuntu. In the meantime, Ubuntu is then left with a very unstable release of 2.3. I installed directly from Openof
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:16AM (#22795016) Journal
    and there will be plenty of folk who can be pessimistic about this, but I'm having trouble with doing that. It's free, being improved, and already works as good or better than MS office for more than 99.9% of the needs of myself and my family as well as most people I know. Those are not empirical numbers (just a good guess) but I remain impressed. What are the downsides to this? I'm not trolling, just wanting to know what they are.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by VGPowerlord ( 621254 )
      My biggest problem with OO.o 2.3 is with Writer... it doesn't save RTF files correctly for whatever reason. It's pretty sad when you save an RTF, close OO.o, then reopen said rtf and have it suddenly bold everything after the first time you use bold...

      Then again, Writer is also the only component I use. There are also some other minor problems with .doc files and embedded images, but those are rather minor formatting issues.
    • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:29AM (#22795182)
      I am happy that after something like 5 years of suffering, the scientists finally get what they really need - definable range for error bars. Cause really, having to use Gnumeric for analyzing data, because OO 2.X was missing such a vital function was pretty sad.

      Kudos to the development team for implementing these changes, and allowing me to further propagate open source software within the academic community.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's ready for prime time. OO does not have any greater number of annoyances than commercial software.
    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:31AM (#22795204) Journal
      I thought so too with 2.0 and unleashed it upon my non tech savvy friend. Turns out she does use some crazy word functionality for tracking edits. Different parts of a document are highlighted according to when and by whom they were eddied by. At least open office 2.0 didn't really support that, now she has a negative experience with free software. She'll be a little more skeptical the next time I tell here a free program will do everything she needs it to do. On the other hand my non tech savvy brother is using Open Office in med school exchanging a whole litany of MS office formatted files, with out a hitch. Well the 2007 format was a hitch, but the Novell version of Open office handles them perfectly.
      • by Ciarang ( 967337 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:41AM (#22795318)
        I wouldn't call it "crazy word functionality", it's a very commonly used and important facility.

        The same thing is supported in Open Office Writer 2.0 as well, see Changes on the Edit menu. I *think* it's even reasonably compatible with the Word implementation, but don't make any more dubious claims to your friends based on my say so.
      • she does use some crazy word functionality for tracking edits. Different parts of a document are highlighted according to when and by whom they were eddied by
        You mean like Edit / Changes / Record?
      • by EvanED ( 569694 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [denave]> on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:49AM (#22795430)
        At least open office 2.0 didn't really support that...

        It does, but not nearly as well as Word. For instance, I'm not sure how well it handles tracking edits by multiple people, and I do know that deleted text shows up in the original place, just strike through, which probably throws off the pagination. Word displays deleted text in the margin, like the new notes feature. I was excited when I read that because I expected OO Writer to follow suit, but according to the article, that's not yet. Still, the notes in the margin seems like the fist step there, so hopefully better track changes support is not far behind. Here is another issue [] with the track changes feature that I had forgotten about.

        (This is a feature I use myself a fair amount, and have been disappointed with OO's support for it.)

        I also have a couple votes for this improvement [], which is to add something like Word's normal mode. Having the margins there I think is really obnoxious. Normal mode in Word will make it so that successive lines aren't a couple inches apart on the screen. Even Word's page view mode lets you collapse the top and bottom margins.

        There aren't major issues with OO Writer, but at the same time, there are enough minor annoyances that I'll still take Word in a second.

        (Calc vs. Excel is another matter... I go back and forth there. Excel has a bunch of annoyances too...)
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      Right now, I'd say it's mostly the "it's your problem" factor. If I'm working with Office 2003 and get some Office 2007 documents or whatever that don't work right, I'll tell them it's their problem. If it doesn't work right in OpenOffice, they'll tell me to use the normal Office and that it's my problem. It doesn't have to actually be my problem, but it defaults to me.

      I've experienced a bit of the same with Linux apps, if something is hard/not working then it's because it's Linux. So I let them struggle wi
    • For me the X11 requirement on OS X is a real nuisance. I can't tell if 3.0 is now truly native on Macs, although I know they are working on it. Until it's native I'll stick with NeoOffice, which is effectively the same but sometimes a little behind in versions.
  • by OrochimaruVoldemort ( 1248060 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:18AM (#22795038) Journal
    it just isn't a full office suite without one, not to say that thunderbird isn't bad or anything. hopefully, they will have one when 3 comes out for everyday use. I still would like to see a publisher replacement (for printouts and what not).
    • by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:27AM (#22795168)
      Thunderbird is more like outlook express. You are searching for Evolution [] I think.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      it just isn't a full office suite without one, not to say that thunderbird isn't bad or anything. hopefully, they will have one when 3 comes out for everyday use. I still would like to see a publisher replacement (for printouts and what not).

      Spicebird [] looks promising. It's based on Thunderbird and Lightning, but overall it seems much nicer. Like Thunderbird it's licensed [] under the MPL, GPL, and LGPL. I tried it out a few days ago but not throughly. [] did an article on it recently, which, btw, is how I found out about it.

    • by simong ( 32944 )
      There was one in StarOffice. I used it in an Exchange environment with few problems (it used POP3/IMAP and LDAP so you had to be friendly with the admin) but it disappeared from StarOffice before Sun took it over and never appeared in OpenOffice. Wonder where and why it went?
  • Been using docx, etc. with OOo under Ubuntu for months now, using Novell's conversion filter/whatever.

    • What are the advantages of using .docx, .xlsx file formats? I have set my office programs to save in the old .doc and .xls formats just because they seem to be more sharable with people who haven't upgraded. I also have thought to myself, "I have been using .doc for over a decade, why switch?"

      So is there a good reason to switch?
      • I only got the filter installed because everyone else that I work with uses O'07, so I can open their stuff. I still generate things using the native OOo format and convert to either "old" office format or PDF before I send stuff out to them...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The only reason I've ever bothered with .docx is when I was doing a research paper (at school, didn't have my Ubuntutop on me), and I discovered '07's References feature. Having Word handle all your citations for you is something a student can't easily pass up* (and naturally, saving to .doc strips the references).

        *Yes, I know there's LyX, but I've yet to find a portable version that doesn't crash/burn on startup
  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:21AM (#22795072)
    Am I the only one who thinks the Macro editor should have a button to comment or uncomment a selection of lines?
    The things has a full fledged debugger with breakpoints and everything but they expect you to comment out code manually one line at a time?
  • OO 3.0 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by monschein ( 1232572 )
    I'm looking forward to it. It looks to be visually impressive. Judging from the article OO 3 opened the .docx file with few flaws (one of them being the headers). The notes on the side seem pretty cool too. Seeing that one of the features is that it has official support for MAC may draw even more of a crowd to open office. Open source software is great...
  • Finally! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Swizec ( 978239 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:22AM (#22795106) Homepage
    Finally us mac weirdos will be able to move away from NeoOffice and get to the sweet sweet sensation that is OOO. It was just way way too slow on Mac before because the support was fake.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by doh123 ( 951318 )
      ummm... Have you used the test versions? they need to do a lot.. NeoOffice has taken the OOO code base and made a better product... already supporting some things that OOO cant do until 3 is out. Unless OOO does something majorly different soon, I'll be happy to stay with NeoOffice, as its fast, stable, and well supported. And remeber to always up the memory usage by OOO and NeoOffice as well, unless your on a really old peice of junk computer, as it'll run much faster... even on OSX.
    • Re:Finally! (Score:5, Informative)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @11:31AM (#22795958) Homepage

      I don't want to get in any sort of an argument, but I just wanted to say that I think the NeoOffice guys deserve a little respect here. OOo went for years just not giving a damn about Mac users and meanwhile the NeoOffice project produced a very usable piece of software.

      Yes, NeoOffice is still a bit slow. Last time I tried the alpha OOo Aqua port, it was pretty slow too. Hell, OpenOffice is a slow on Windows and Linux. MS Office on Mac is slow too, for that matter. It seems like only Apple has put in the work to make an office suite on OSX that performs well. But NeoOffice is quite an achievement for a small collection of developers, and it works well. I use it on a regular basis, and don't have any significant problems aside from a slow initial load.

  • Performance? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aetuneo ( 1130295 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:22AM (#22795108) Homepage
    Features are nice, of course, but how does it perform? How much memory does it take to run? Will it work well on relatively slow hardware, or do I need the latest and greatest to run it? Is it significantly slower than the last version, significantly faster, or about the same?
  • by nagashi ( 684628 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:23AM (#22795120) Homepage
    I guess I'm one of the few that really really likes the office 2007 interface and really wish OO would adopt something similar. That's not enough to get me to switch (not an option anyway, running linux fulltime now). It's a little frustrating to see MS continually evolving their product in very visible ways, while OO has looked pretty much the same for 3 years now. If we want people to switch to OSS, we need to be visually superior to MS. All the back end superiorities of OO are not immediately obvious to many (free file format, multiplatform, powerful editable style system, etc), aside from the cost.

    Whether your like or hate the office 2007 interface, at least MS is out there rethinking how people use applications, which tasks they need to access the quickest, etc. OO is sticking to the same old massive row of buttons. Koffice is doing more thinking along these lines, but personally I don't really like where they're going. But at least they're rethinking things.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Wait, you're actually advocating putting developers on bling rather than actually making the product better? Thinking like that is the main thing that's gotten Microsoft to lose as many customers to OO as it already has.

      Me, I'd much rather they put their heads to making OO run faster with less memory. It's truly pathetic that MS Office 2k3 runs faster under vmware+xp than OO does natively in linux.
      • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @11:02AM (#22795596) Journal
        "It's truly pathetic that MS Office 2k3 runs faster under vmware+xp than OO does natively in linux."

        Yeah, but I've mentioned stuff like that before and I got modded troll for it.

        Hopefully 3.0 will be faster, I use OOo on Linux at work and it takes _ages_ to start.

        If they get it right, maybe a lot of companies might actually switch from MSO 2K3 to OOo instead of going to MSO 2007 - since switching to MSO 2007 will require massive retraining/relearning, perhaps more than even switching from MSO2K3 to OOo.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Blakey Rat ( 99501 )
        Wait, you're actually advocating putting developers on bling rather than actually making the product better? Thinking like that is the main thing that's gotten Microsoft to lose as many customers to OO as it already has.

        The Office 2007 interface isn't "bling." It's a new interface strategy determined from the results of dozens of usability studies, many of them real-world in office environments, not just some random thing someone sketched in a notebook.

        The real problem isn't that OpenOffice should "put deve
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 ( 188840 )
      at least MS is out there rethinking how people use applications

      And by that, I assume you mean, at least MS is out there needlessly changing the interfaces for applications we've gotten used to over the past, oh, 20 years, such that they deviate from UI paradigms we've become intimately familiar with. Yes, thank goodness for that. God bless MS.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ELProphet ( 909179 )
        Until you realize that Microsoft spent money to pull people off the street, and pay them to use the software while watching them. Most (>90%) of the users who have been using Office [98-2k3] for the past "20 years" find, within a week that they are as and often more productive with 2k7. Especially the "power users" who regularly do complicated things like track document changes, large mail-merges (1000s of addresses) etc find the new interface to drastically reduce the number of clicks. The HTML-esque ma
  • Hopefully... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shawn is an Asshole ( 845769 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:24AM (#22795132)
    Hopefully that GUI is not the final version.

    It'd be nice if they'd copy MS Office 2004 [] for OS X or Lotus Symphony [] rather than continue on with a bad copy of MS Office 2003. Notice the side bar? Floating on OS X (I prefer floating, btw), part of the window in Lotus Symphony. For me, at least, that is significantly more helpful than toolbars/menus or that irritating "ribbon".

    It's also be awesome if Writer supported tabs and split editor [] like Eclipse. Those two features are one of the main reason I do everything I possibly can in Eclipse.
    • It'd be nice if they'd copy MS Office 2004 for OS X

      Dear God, NO. Please no. I nearly had an aneurysm trying to click on the tiny little icons in the floaty window that is so difficult to reach and so easy to use to hide important things with. It's like Clippy, but more insidious! You're trying to read or type and THERE IT IS! THE TINY LITTLE USELESS WINDOW! GAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!


      Err... Yeah. Just don't copy the Office 2004 interface. It really is terrible. (Well and truly!)

  • Great news but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by squoozer ( 730327 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:25AM (#22795142)
    This is great news. I've been using OOo for ages but lets face it before 2.0 it wasn't really up to scratch and even 2.0 has some pretty rough corners. I'm hoping that the release of 3.0 which sounds like it will have added all the missing features will also indicate the start of the "polishing" of this great product.
  • Sounds like calc is in for a big performance boost. Its quite frustrating to take a simple operation which is nearly instant on Excel and then turn it into a 30 second operation on OOCalc. I'm downloading the beta now so we'll see where it goes.
  • X error bars (Score:2, Insightful)

    It looks like it's still only y error bars, I see no mention of the ability to add x error bars.
    Makes it less attractive in a scientific environment (like undergraduate report writing).
  • by mgkimsal2 ( 200677 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:33AM (#22795232) Homepage
    What more can I say? This has been requested and brought up for *years*. I really don't get why it's so hard to do, especially considering something that there's already indentation and structure support for lists. I'm not an OOO hacker, but this doesn't seem like something that has a huge technical hurdle preventing it from being done.

    Maybe I missed it - there was no mention in the articles listed.

    Wait - the first article linked to this page: []
      which mentioned an outline mode. Maybe it's coming after all?
  • The newly designed splashscreen and about dialog are mighty impressive! But is there any word on better support for alternate keybindings? It shouldn't come as a shock that folks don't want to learn new editor keybindings for each appliction. Some of us prefer emacs bindings.

    A feature to automatically load alternate bindings at startup would be nice.. Maybe even including some alternates with the release? I'd gladly contribute my efforts. This detail should not be left as a (somewhat clumsy) exercise for
  • why I avoid OOo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aurisor ( 932566 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @10:51AM (#22795444) Homepage
    I run linux on my desktop, and I spend a decent amount of time making charts, editing documents, and so forth. Unless it's an enormous hassle, I'd always rather boot into Windows to get my office work done, honestly because of three major issues:

    1) Charts - 99% of the time when I'm using a spreadsheet, it's just to make a quick graph of some data. The MS office charting features are really simple to adjust after the fact, while the OOo one is like pulling teeth.
    2) Performance - OOo feels less responsive than I'd like, and it takes a long-ass time to load. (Blame java? :) )
    3) Aesthetics - OOo still looks like it's stuck in the mid 90's. MS Office has nicer fonts by default.

    Anyways, I'm not trying to flame or criticize. I'm just honestly presenting the reasons why I don't like OOo in the hopes of fostering some good discussion.

  • Wake me up when I can embed my XML based SVG graphics into my XML documents.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @11:08AM (#22795682) Homepage Journal
    I know it's too late to get it into OO.o 3.0, or Firefox 3.0, but what I'd really love to have on my desktop is for any app that shows a document of any datatype/mix (and most of them do), to be able to show two of those docs side by side (or above/below) in the same window. Without window widgets interfering between them. So I can really look at both side by side.

    Comparing them, editing one against the other, using one as instructions to modify the other. In fact, if every window panel could slide open (side/side, or up/down) into two, each displaying a different doc (of the same type, or even of different types), that would really increase my productivity. Using one doc as a guide to another is an extremely common use case for most people. All the extra window dragging/resizing/aligning, every time a pair of docs are used, is a hassle of prohibitive annoyance.

    What would really be great would be "generic windows" into which I could assign panels from arbitrary different external apps. So I could open a configured document that would spring up with a Firefox window already showing in the 2/3 left side of the main window, and an editable OO.o Writer document in the right 1/3. I could, for example, save "configmarks" setting some page (eg. instructions) as the default in the browser panel, and some template (eg. my letterhead/footer) in the Writer panel. I could have compound docs with different configmarks in each. And let the other GUI widgets for the parent apps get called when I use the compound doc's menus/toolbars, combined together.

    I'd love to have quick access to arrangements of windows in stacks of tabs, each with a compound doc with Firefox, Evolution and Writer (or Calc, or any other GNOME app) panes in their usable panels, pointing to each of the actual docs I'm using right now.

    GNOME (and KDE, too, with its own apps) could have the windowing-level messaging and composition features to do this. I'd love to stop "using Evolution while using Firefox" and instead just send messages while browsing/searching the Web. It also seems to me that such compound docs would be a lot easier to swing over to my mobile devices, which have such a small screen and clumsy manual controls. Is there a way to do this without rewriting all the apps to use "external panels"?

    At the very least I'd like to keep a config that I open, which in turn opens several different independent apps, and just arranges their windows for that specific use. Including which doc gets opened in each, their arrangement on the screen. Is even that simple organization possible in the GNOME window manager? If not, then in KDE?
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @11:12AM (#22795734) Homepage Journal

    This does not affect the users directly, but it is a major pain for integrators/porters. OO.o has a terrible habit of bundling all of the 3rd-party software packages, that it uses, into its own source tree. I'm talking about (probably missed some):

    If they could, I'm certain, they would've bundled Java too, but — fortunately — Sun's license prohibits that... Now I realize, that this is done to offer "a single package" to those, who build it on their own, but nobody does. Everybody gets these from their OS' integrators. And the pain for us is enormous, because to force OO.o build to stop its silly ways is a serious undertaking. For some of the above packages there is --with-system-foo configure-flag, but not for all, and the default is to always use the bundled one, so support for the external ones bitrots [] quickly...

    Most of the local builds don't bother and so end up wasting disk space and CPU-time rebuilding packages, which are external to OO.o. The end results are also bloated, duplicating stuff, that's already installed on the users' systems and without bug-fixes, which have already gone into each of the respective package since its most recent "bundling" into OO.o tarballs.

    Download a source tarball [] and see for yourself... Something like: tar tjf OOo_OOG680_m9_source.tar.bz2 | grep 'z$'. No other software project does this on this scale and for good reasons — it is Just Wrong[TM]. OO.o better clean up their act in this respect...

  • Standards Boost (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @11:27AM (#22795902)
    With two products supporting Office 2007 files it should be easier for standards bodies to countenance adopting it.
  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @11:32AM (#22795972)
    The feature that is not yet available Hybrid PDFs: fully editable PDFs with embedded OpenDocument files (issue 65397 []) is a real killer. What it means is that you can attach a PDF to an email that anyone with normal PDF software can read. If the recipient has open office then they will be able to edit it too.

    This will be really useful in that you can avoid having to distribute some files in "exported .doc format" so that it can be read by anyone and edited by other editors, or attaching two separate files.
  • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @01:27PM (#22797468)
    autosave saves every word written instead of the current time based systems,which saves every few minutes.

    Writers want this. Computers can't be trusted. There are a few times when power supplies fail or computers crash. You don't want to rewrite an important few paragraphs.

    This is great feature which writers would warm to and the word would spread. Microsoft doesn't have it.

    I don't know who to ask at the OO website.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes