OpenOffice.org is the name of the open source (GPL) version of Sun's StarOffice package. The name is "OpenOffice.org" and not "OpenOffice", because someone else already had the trademark. The name should be used as an adjective: "OpenOffice.org Application", "OpenOffice.org Community" and so on...

OpenOffice.org seems to do the same thing Mozilla did: A Big Company releases code for a freeware product, and bunch of people create a really, really, really great application package based on that - well, it just takes "some" time. =) It took years and years, but the project has now released the big 1.0.

OpenOffice.org's office package already seems pretty excellent compared to StarOffice 5.x, for example, the following things just rock:

  • SO5's annoying integrated "desktop" is gone. Each document appears in separate window. Likewise MDI windows now appear less frequently, and most dialogs appear as normal dialogs that can be moved wherever you want on the screen.
  • XML file formats. Each file is now a JAR archive (that is, a zip archive with Manifest file) that contains bunch of XML files containing the document content, templates and stuff like that - and a separate directory containing images. Highly nifty.
  • Lack of E-Mail and Scheduler apps. Well, no one used those anway, there are better apps to do that...
  • The package is smaller. Linux version of Build 638C seems to be only 75 megabytes and Windows version was even smaller... Some progress =)

It should be noted that a lot of things that apply to OO.o also apply to StarOffice 6.x, which is based on the same codebase with a couple of proprietary modules.

Web page: http://www.openoffice.org/

The features of the OpenOffice.org Suite are as follows:
  • Writer - A fairly standard word-processing program, Writer's main advantages are in its extremely robust compatibility with Microsoft Word documents, and in its autocompletion feature. The only areas in which its MS Office counterpart seem to have an advantage over it are in the areas of loading time on Windows systems, and in having line and column indicators on the status bar. Neither of which is, in my opinion, sufficient to cover the over $200 price difference between Office XP's lowest priced upgrade version and OpenOffice.org's lack of cost.
  • Impress - Impress is a presentation creator, again highly compatible with the de facto standard, Powerpoint, as well as its predecessor, StarImpress. Functionally equivalent to either.
  • Calc - A spreadsheet program, serving as counterpart to the third member of the Holy Trinity of MS Office products, Excel. Again, compatibility is the word of the day, and Calc performs beautifully, saving and loading Excel documents with the greatest of ease. The GUI is well-implemented, and everything functions as it should in any decently designed spreadsheet program.
  • Draw - Unique to Openoffice.org's roster, Draw is an easy to use tool for creating graphics and diagrams. Intended for business graphics, more than serious artwork, but in its area of concentration, it shines, and can handle both 2D and 3D shapes. Draw can use most of the popular file formats, including BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF, and WMF
  • HTML Editor - It does what it says. HTML Editor is a WYSIWYG style editor, with a decent, if somewhat hidden source editing mode. Not the best feature of the suite, but it does work, and future improvements are bound to come. Lacks a great deal of the functionality of Microsoft's Frontpage or Netscape/Mozilla's Composer, but, on the other hand, doesn't seem to perform the horrible mangling of code that both seem to revel in.
  • Math - Math is a fully functional formula creator and editor. Being a liberal arts major, I have not the slightest idea what this is used for. But it does exist, and seems to have a fairly well designed GUI.

All of the OpenOffice.org components are designed around open XML standards, and each .sxw document is actually a zip file, containing various XML documents defining both the document's content and style, all of which are accessible to any basic text editor.

OpenOffice.org is similar to its closed-source parental unit, StarOffice, except in OO.o being in a more current and constant state of revision, and StarOffice giving access to some proprietary modules, most notably its database program, Base.

http://www.openoffice.org

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