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This chapter is from the book

OpenOffice.org Essentials


OpenOffice.org is the name of the program—it can't be referred to as OpenOffice because a Korean software package already has that name.

OpenOffice.org 1.0.1 is the current release at the time this book was written. OpenOffice.org is pretty much the same as StarOffice; OpenOffice.org 1.0 corresponds roughly to StarOffice 6.0. OpenOffice.org and StarOffice started from the same piece of code. Since then, Sun has been working on StarOffice, and an organization of open source programmers, has been working on OpenOffice.org. So there are some differences between them, but they're basically the same program.

You can copy, distribute, or otherwise use OpenOffice absolutely for free. StarOffice has some restrictions, is not free anymore, and StarOffice 5.2 (free for download) is no longer available.

Reasons to Use OpenOffice.org

So when was the last time you sent a Microsoft Word feature request to Bill Gates and got him to put it in? Here's what happened when Rob Pegoraro from the Washington Post submitted a feature request, reprinted by permission.


"I reported that a complaint I'd filed at the OpenOffice.org Web site about its word processor's inadequate word-count feature had gotten a real, live response....Several e-mails and a month later, a few programmers had cooked up a macro that allowed OpenOffice's word processor to count words in a selected block of text, not just the whole document."

...I was happy to add this tool to my copy of OpenOffice, which has since become my day-to-day word processor, much to my surprise. I know there are real differences between this and Microsoft Office, and OpenOffice sometimes has its own moments of clunkiness ...overall, I don't feel like I'm missing much by not using The Software That Everybody Else Runs."

Learning About Newly Developed Features

Sign up for the allfeatures@openoffice.org mailing list, through http://www.openoffice.org.

Differences Between StarOffice and OpenOffice.org

StarOffice 6.0 is a commercial product aimed at organizations and consumers while OpenOffice.org 1.0 is aimed at users of free software, independent developers and the open source community.

By and large, it's pretty much the same product. Figure 1-1 on page 10 shows the same document in StarOffice and in OpenOffice.org.

Figure 1-1Figure 1-1 The same document in StarOffice and OpenOffice.org

The source code available at OpenOffice.org does not consist of all of the StarOffice code. Usually, the reason for this is that Sun pays to license third party code to include in StarOffice that which it does not have permission to make available in OpenOffice.org. Items in StarOffice but not in OpenOffice.org include:

  • Certain fonts

  • The database component (Adabas D)

  • Some templates (but see http://www.ooextras.org)

  • The clip art gallery isn't as big

  • Some sorting functionality (Asian versions)

  • Certain file filters, including WordPerfect (but they're working on it)

You'll also see occasional differences in the layout of windows, such as where a certain checkbox option appears, but usually not differences in the options available in a window.

All development on platforms beyond Solaris, Linux, and Windows is being done by OpenOffice.org.

You can find out about features on allfeatures@openoffice.org; to sign up for this or other mailing lists, go to http://www.openoffice.org/mail_list.html.

OpenOffice.org on Other Platforms

Porting projects—switching OpenOffice.org over to work with other platforms—have been going on for a while. The one receiving the most attention at the time this book was written is the Mac OSX porting project. In May 2002 OpenOffice.org released a pre-alpha "Developer Build" for OpenOffice.org on Mac OSX., targeted at developers familiar with developing for the Mac OS X platform.At that time, the download was available at http://porting.openoffice.org/mac/ooo-osx_downloads.html

Other projects include Power PC and FreeBSD. For more information, go to http://porting.openoffice.org/

No release date for porting projects has been announced as of August 2002.

OpenOffice.org Extras

All the templates, etc. in StarOffice don't come with OpenOffice.org. However, Travis Bauer's Web site, http://www.ooextras.org, has what might be called a plethora of templates and other "extras."

Writing Macros

The StarOffice and OpenOffice.org API is available through http://www.openoffice.org. Contact that site for information about developing applications that integrate with either application, or about joining an OpenOffice.org project.

The following have information about how the project began, and submitting code:



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