Office Similarities


OpenOffice.org started life as a proprietary product called Star Office. Sun Microsystems bought the company behind it and released its source code in order to encourage community development. This led to the creation of the OpenOffice.org project, a collaboration between Open Source developers and Sun. This project has released several new versions of OpenOffice.org, and at the time of writing, has just released version 2. The version supplied with SUSE Linux 9.1 is 1.1.1.

Note 

For what it's worth, Sun still sells Star Office. This is based on the OpenOffice.org code, so it's effectively the same program. However, in addition to the office suite itself, Sun includes several useful extras such as fonts, templates, and the all-important technical support, which you can contact if you get stuck trying to undertake a particular task.

OpenOffice.org features a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentations package, drawing tool (vector graphics), web site creation tool, and several extras. As such, it matches Microsoft Office almost blow-for-blow in terms of core functionality. See Table 22-1 for a comparison of core packages.

Table 22-1. How the Office and OpenOffice.org Suites Compare

Microsoft Office

OpenOffice.org

Notes

Word

Writer

Word processor

Excel

Calc

Spreadsheet

PowerPoint

Impress

Presentations

Visio

Draw[1]

Technical drawing/charting

FrontPage

Writer[2]

Web site creation

Access

Writer/Calc[3]

Database

[1]Draw is a vector graphics creation tool akin to Adobe Illustrator. Creating flow charts or organizational diagrams is one of many things it can do.

[2]Writer is used for word processing and HTML creation; when switched to Web mode, its functionality is altered appropriately.

[3]Writer and Calc must be coupled to a third-party database application such as MySQL or Firebird; however, SUSE Linux also comes with the Rekall relational database front end, which is discussed in Chapter 27.

You should find the specific functionality within the packages is duplicated too, although some of the very specific features of Microsoft Office are not in OpenOffice.org. But OpenOffice.org also has its own range of such tools not yet found in Microsoft Office!

Unique OpenOffice.Org Features

Features unique to OpenOffice.org include the ability to export documents in PDF format across the entire suite of programs. These can then be read on any computer equipped with Adobe Acrobat Reader software. In addition, OpenOffice.org features powerful accessibility features that can, for example, help those with vision disabilities use the programs more effectively. For those who are technically minded, OpenOffice.org can be extended very easily with a variety of plug-ins, which allow the easy creation of add-ons using many different programming languages.

Although OpenOffice.org largely mirrors the look and feel of Microsoft Office, it adds its own flourishes here and there. This can mean that some functions are located on different menus, for example. However, none of this poses a challenge for most users, and OpenOffice.org is generally regarded as very easy to learn.

A Couple of Omissions

There are a couple of notable omissions from OpenOffice.org. There's no directly comparable Access replacement and no integrated Outlook replacement.

In terms of Outlook, we discussed in Chapter 11 how the Kontact application built into KDE offers an accurate reproduction, with e-mail, contacts management, and calendar functions all in one location. You'll find this on the K menu under the Office submenu. This isn't directly linked to OpenOffice.org, but it retains the SUSE Linux look, feel, and way of operating.

In terms of databases, SUSE Linux comes with Rekall, a relational database front end that is extremely similar to Access in that it provides a user interface for the quick creation of tables, forms, and queries (among other things). It makes setting up a database very easy. We explore this program in Chapter 27. Additionally, Writer and Calc include most of the tools needed to query a database, as well as create forms for data input, although this requires some knowledge of OpenOffice.org's scripting commands (OpenOffice.org BASIC).




Beginning SUSE Linux from Novice to Professional
Beginning SUSE Linux: From Novice to Professional
ISBN: 1590594584
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 293
Authors: Keir Thomas

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