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OpenOffice: Free and Open Source Office Suite

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  1. Free and Open Source Office Suite Michelle Murrain, Nonprofit Open Source Initiative February 26th 2008

  2. What we’ll cover today • What is • Brief history of • components • Writer • Calc • Impress • Base • Other components • Strengths and Weaknesses • Examples of use (and demos)‏ • How to get help • Do you migrate?

  3. • is a cross-platform, mutli-function office suite • is software that supports open standards • reads and writes MS Office formats (except .docx)‏ • has matured considerably • is free (as in beer) as well as free software/open source • is not Open Office! (Trademark issues)‏

  4. Cross Platform • Available as a free download from for windows • Is bundled with most Linux distributions • Two versions are available for Macintosh • Official works only with X-Windows • NeoOffice is an Aqua port of • Official Aqua port is in alpha

  5. Brief History of • Originally a proprietary office suite • Bought by Sun Microsystems in 1999 • Most of the code was released as open source as in 2000 • 1.0 released in 2002 • StarOffice still exists, and has some proprietary components (like the database, and clip art, etc.)‏ • is now on version 2.3.1

  6. Components • Writer – word processor • Calc – spreadsheet • Impress – presentation program • Base – desktop database • Drawing – drawing program • HTML editor • Formula Editor

  7. Components • are the basics of any office suite, and more • work together • have similar interfaces (easy to get familiar with)‏ • are full-functioning • are pretty much bug-free

  8. Writer • Word Processor • lots of input and output filters • exports directly to PDF • columns, tables, etc.

  9. Calc • Spreadsheet • Graphs • Functions • lots of input/output fiters

  10. Impress • reads and writes .ppt files • templates, master pages, etc. • animation • this presentation was written using Impress

  11. Base • Designed as an Access clone • Uses HSQLDB (foss Java database) for back-end or can use other databases via ODBC • can read Access files (table structure and data only)‏ • Not equivalent to Access (think Access97)‏

  12. Drawing • Basic draw program • useful for diagrams and flowcharts

  13. Math • nice equation editor, if you need one

  14. HTML Editor

  15. Strengths of OOo • Open Source • Free (as in beer)‏ • depends on open standards • reads and writes MS Office formats (except ooxml at this point)‏ • Google docs reads OOo files • 90% of the functionality of Word, Excel and Powerpoint

  16. Strengths, cont. • Components are integrated • Lots of developers • backed by Sun, IBM and Novell, among others • lots of third party extensions

  17. true collaborative editing between OOo and MS Office doesn’t work well (but that’s less of an issue now than it used to be.)‏ Not as slick Can be slower/take more resources than MS Office Weaknesses of OOo • still a few kinks to work out • Base isn’t up to snuff • can’t read ooxml yet • OOo<->MS Office rendering has issues at times • Menus and features are different than MS Office

  18. Open Standards • What are they? • Why are they important? • Faithful reading and rendering of files forever • Faithful reading and rendering of files no matter what the software used • Open Document Format vs. Office Open XML • ODF is a bonified open standard (since 2006)‏ • OOXML has not been approved as a standard yet (a big meeting about it is happening this week.) Word on the street is that it might not happen.

  19. Examples of use • Letters • Writing articles/whitepapers, etc. • Newsletters • Contact lists • Charts and graphs • Presentations • Simple databases

  20. How to get help • Forums • Active and helpful • IRC channel • on • I hang out there • it is possible to get immediate help with problems • Links

  21. Should you migrate? • First, for whom? • individual • organization • Some users • All users • Then, ask why? • committed to open standards/open source • need inexpensive software • run out of donation licenses for MS Office

  22. Should you migrate, cont. • Ask about how much interoperability you need with MS Office or other office suites • read/write all types of documents • collaborative editing • interoperability with MS Access • Platform is also an issue • Windows and Linux versions of are good. Macintosh versions are lagging

  23. less tech-savvy users lots of collaborative editing integration with MS Access required uses bleeding edge MS-only functionality want the cheesy clip-art Should you migrate, cont. Smooth Sailing Rough Waters • tech-savvy users • no need for collaborative editing of documents • no integration with MS Access required • few very high-level MS-specific functionality used • have both Windows and Linux users

  24. Should you migrate, cont. • There are differing opinions about how much training is needed to move people to become comfortable with OOo. • Certainly, the vast majority of organizational tasks that MS Office can do, can be done with OOo (with the exception of MS Access functionality.)‏ • Assessment of both functionality needed, as well as end-user issues must be balanced with impetus to migrate, if any.

  25. Process of Migration • Talk to end-users. Make sure all functions that they need have an equivalent (or work-around.)‏ • Allow time for training, and users to get used to it. • If some users in an organization still have MS Office, make sure that the default setting is to save in MS Office formats

  26. Conclusions • is a full-featured, cross-platform, mature office suite that you should at least download and try out • It is based on open standards • It has all of the features (and more) of MS Word, Powerpoint, and Excel • It is freely available, and open source • It has the backing of big companies, so it is not going away • It does have weaknesses, and migration to OOo is not a slam-dunk.