OpenOffice: It Works when you Least Expect it

September 12, 2009

I was buzzing around a few local chamber of commerce sites today and I was mostly interested in how much they cost to join. Both sites had you download a form. One form was in PDF and the other form was a Microsoft Excel document.

Good old OpenOffice handled it like a charm. The document opened perfectly. There were no formatting errors and the graphics came down in place.

I love when OpenOffice works like it is supposed to. It is really encouraging. I hope that doesn’t sound too negative. I shouldn’t be surprised because there are developers around the world that work on OpenOffice, all determined to make is a superb tool.
Think about that for a second. Open source software is made up of people who just love this type of technology, and their outlet is looking under the hood and tinkering until the machine is running in tip-top shape.

I mostly use Writer and Calc, so right now I’m biased towards them. But I expect to find great things with the presentation, drawing, and database. I actually have a drawing project on the horizon.

[off topic: I’m writing this on an Ubuntu system and it is wicked slow … I’ll need to investigate further what the deal is! ]


Moving a doc File from Word to OO3.1

September 2, 2009

It is possible to create a document in Word and open it in OpenOffice. That is the good news. However, the opened document will not be perfect.
You will just have to accept that fact.
If you are lucky, the problems will be easily noticeable, like the margins will be off or the font has changed. It will be the little things that, like additional punctuation marks, that will pester you.
I started an outline in Word and finished it in OO. It came across better than I expected, with only a few style issues present. For example, I had to add an additional space after the number so the text would be easier to read.
Here is one question that appears from the idea of using both word processors for one document:  do you really need to toss a document back and forth? If the answer is yes, then just accept that there is going to be some style issues that arise. There is no getting around that fact.
Word is going to have a lot of code that OO just doesn’t know what to do with. They are two entirely different software packages so that idea is a fact of life.
If you are starting your document in OO, then try to keep it in OO. The best way to give your document to someone to proof or read as a final draft is in PDF. OO has a built in PDF engine, so there is no excuse not to give it out in PDF form.
The bottom line: pick one word processing application and stick with it.