OpenOffice.org – office suite applications

I’m amazed at the amount of free word-processing programmes available for those that choose to not go down the Microsoft Word route, and so far I’ve only reviewed online wordprocessing programmes such as Writely and Writeboard, but today I’ll point out one that is available for download, which can be operated without an internet connection.

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OpenOffice.org is a free opensource collection of the usual office applications, and is available on Linux, Solaris, and Mac OS X, although I chose to download it for windows which prompted a 93MB download.

Extract from Wikipedia:

OpenOffice.org is a collection of different applications that work together closely to provide the features expected from a modern office suite. Many of the components are designed to mirror those available in Microsoft Office. The components available include:

  • Writer — a word processor similar in look and feel to Microsoft Word and offering a comparable range of functions and tools. It also includes the ability to export Portable Document Format (PDF) files with no additional software, and can also function as a WYSIWYG editor for creating and editing web pages. One important difference between Writer and Microsoft Word is that in Writer, many functions and number formats from Calc (below) are available in Writer’s tables. Another difference is that in Writer, automatic save is off by default.
  • Calc — a spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel with a roughly equivalent range of features. Calc provides a number of features not present in Excel, including a system which automatically defines series for graphing, based on the layout of the user’s data. Calc is also capable of writing spreadsheets directly as a PDF file.
  • Impress — a presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. It can export presentations to Adobe Flash (SWF) files allowing them to be played on any computer with the Flash player installed. It also includes the ability to create PDF files. Impress suffers from a lack of ready-made presentation designs. However, templates are readily available on the Internet.[6]
  • Base — a database program similar to Microsoft Access. Base allows the creation and manipulation of databases, and the building of forms and reports to provide easy access to data for end-users. As with Access, Base is able to work as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources and MySQL/PostgreSQL. Base became part of the suite starting with version 2.0.
  • Draw — a vector graphics editor comparable in features to CorelDRAW. It features versatile “connectors” between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts.
  • Math — a tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. Formulae can be embedded inside other OpenOffice.org documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.
  • Quickstarter — a small program for Windows and Linux that runs when the computer starts for the first time. It loads the core files and libraries for OpenOffice.org during computer startup and allows the suite applications to start more quickly when selected later. The amount of time it takes to open OpenOffice.org applications was a common complaint in version 1.0 of the suite, and Quickstarter was a solution of sorts. Substantial improvements were made in this area for version 2.0.
  • The macro recorder — is used to record user actions and replay them later to help with automating tasks, using OpenOffice.org Basic

As you can see, they seem to have most bases covered, and OpenOffice.org provides a good substitute for Microsoft Office, and allows to user to open documents from the Microsoft set of programmes.

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Many people are now mirating to open source software, and this also includes larger intitutions such as the French Police Force, who along with OpenOffice.org have also switched to Mozilla Firefox as a substitute for Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Mozilla Thunderbird instead of Microsoft Outlook.

The OpenOffice.org project aims “To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format.

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