Program: OpenOffice.org v3.0
Category: Office Suite — word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentations, and more
License: GNU Lesser General Public License Version 3. Also includes 3rd party code subject to other license terms (included)
OpenOffice.org v3.0 has been released — it’s not a beta version any more!
The first thing I noticed about OpenOffice.org v3.0 (yes, the .org is really part of the program’s name, as well as being part of the web site’s name and the organization’s name), was that it was a 145MB download.
If you’ve got a high-speed cable connection or a direct Ethernet wired connection, you’ll be happy. If you’ve got a slow DSL connection, it will take a while to download. If you’ve got a dialup connection, check around — there are vendors who sell CD’s of OpenOffice.org quite cheaply via the Internet.
When I installed it, I ran into a little problem with Vipre — it wanted to scan the 145MB file and it took a long time to do it. I’m not sure why I had to do it, but I ended up having to turn off my "active protection" while I did the installation. Of course, immediately afterwards, I turned it back on.
When I started OpenOffice 3.0 (let’s drop the .org for now) from the redesigned desktop icon, I was impressed by the glitzy opening interface, shown below.
OpenOffice.org’s Writer, the word processor, looks very familiar. Writer can read and write Microsoft Word files. You can even set it to automatically convert Word to Writer format on opening, and converting back to Word format upon saving. Alternatively, you can configure OpenOffice.org to always save a wordprocessing file in MS Word format, or any of a number of other formats.
OpenOffice.org’s Calc, the spreadsheet program, looks very familiar, too. Calc can read and write Microsoft Excel files. You can even set it to automatically convert Excel to Calc format on opening, and converting back to Excel format upon saving. Alternatively, you can configure OpenOffice.org to always save a spreadsheet file in MS Excel format, or any of a number of other formats.
And, as does OpenOffice.org’s Impress, the presentations program… Impress can read and write Microsoft Powerpoint files. You can even set it to automatically convert Powerpoint to Impress format on opening, and converting back to Powerpoint format upon saving. Alternatively, you can configure OpenOffice.org to always save a presentations file in MS Powerpoint format, or any of a number of other formats.
OpenOffice.org can create a number of different working files via its File > New menu command. In addition to the Writer, Calc and Impress programs and files, it can create Drawing, Database, HTML, XML Forms, Master Documents, Formulas, Labels, Business cards.
There is even a catch-all for add-ons/extensions to OpenOffice. Some of these are templates. Others actually add functionality (rather than layout) to OpenOffice.org. You can find them via the Templates and Documents selection on the New menu item.
The "Templaes and Documents" menu item opens the corresponding dialog box — and the very valuable "Get more templates online…" link.
The Extensions Repository is structured so that we can easily find extensions and templates by searching. It also has some categories Some of the extensions and templates I quickly found and wanted in Most Popular were:
The first one I saw that I wanted was a beta version designed for importing PDF documents into OpenOffice.org so the user can edit the PDF file.
The Professional Template Pack 2, which contains 120 templates for word-processing (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc) and presentation (Impress). Of course, the original Professional Template Pack is also available.
Writer’s Tools looks like a nice selection of additions that appear to be designed for book and article writers.
Want an easily customizable calendar program? This calendar template may be what you want…
Here’s the original Professional Template Pack of 80 templates for Writer, Calc, Draw and Impress.
How about some labels designed for OpenOffice?
To find and download templates and other extensions:
- File > New > Templates and Documents menu choices.
- Click on the link in the bottom left that says "Get more templates online…"
- Pick an extension or template you want
- Download it and save it somewhere on your hard drive where you can find it again; perhaps create a folder "OpenOffice extensions" in My Documents and put them there.
- Repeat the last two steps until you’ve downloaded all the extensions and templates you want right now
The installation step is easy! To install templates and other extensions:
1) File > Open
2) Navigate to the location where you stored the extensionns and templates you downloaded
3) Select the extension/templates that you want to install
4) Confirm that you really intend to istall the extension
5) Read and agree to the Extension Software License Agreement (you have to scroll through it in order to agree
6) and, almost instantly, the extensionn is added annd will show in the Extension Manager.
I’ve used OpenOffice.org since version 1.0. Version 2 was a major upgrade in compatibility from the v1 series, and was very, very usable.
Now that version 3 is here, I expect to see a lot more of OpenOffice.org on my computer. I’m getting tired of buying expensive copies and upgrades to Microsoft Office.