OpenOffice.org is a set of integrated programs maintained by the OpenOffice.org team that you download from the OpenOffice.org website. Talk about name branding!
Originally, a German company named StarDivision created StarOffice in the mid-1980s. Sun Microsystems purchased StarOffice in 1999 and added features, lowered the price (to free ), and changed the name to OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org works on the Windows, Linux, Macintosh, FreeBSD, and Solaris operating systems too. Current versions of OpenOffice.org share most features and an almost identical interface with Sun Microsystem's StarOffice package, a suite offered for sale as another alternative to Microsoft Office.
This book assumes you use a Windows operating system environment, although OpenOffice.org works uniformly on any supported operating system. So even if you work on a Solaris or Macintosh computer, you'll feel right at home here as you learn OpenOffice.org along with Windows readers.
OpenOffice.org offers integrated software tools that are powerful yet easy to learn and use. Offices large and small can use OpenOffice.orgbased applications for many of their day-to-day computer needs, as can families and home-based businesses that want simple but robust writing and analysis tools for their computers.
With each new revision, OpenOffice.org takes you to the next step with an improved user interface and more solid features that help you become more productive in the way you use the OpenOffice.org products. The OpenOffice.org website is loaded with information, technical support, white papers, forums, press information, upcoming events, and manuals that give you support and background information about OpenOffice.org.
With OpenOffice.org's help, you'll get your work done better and more quickly. OpenOffice.org automates many computing chores and provides tools that work in unison and share data between them.
OpenOffice.org is often abbreviated OOo .
The OpenOffice.org website dedicates itself to helping you use OpenOffice.org better.
There can be no hiding the fact that OpenOffice.org is a direct competitor to Microsoft Office. On a price/performance comparison, OpenOffice.org mangles Microsoft Office, even though Microsoft Office is more powerful than OpenOffice.org, at rare times more stable (depending on which Microsoft Office updates you've applied recently and how stable they are), and is better refined in certain tasks . For example, cropping an image isn't quite as simple as the same task in Office. Yet, those fine- tuned advances in Microsoft Office come at a price, and the price is steep compared to the free OpenOffice.org system.
Lots of politics exist between those in the OpenOffice.org camp and those in the Microsoft Office camp. Throughout this book, I'll do my best to display my encouragement and strong support for OpenOffice.org, its concepts, and its power. At the same time, I don't want to enter the political debate between those on the OpenOffice.org side and those on the Microsoft Office side. I see no reason why both cannot coexist, especially given the ease with which OpenOffice.org works with Microsoft Office files.
One of OpenOffice.org's primary strengths (in addition to its free price tag) is its strong support for Microsoft Office files. OpenOffice.org opens, converts, and lets you edit virtually any document that you or someone else created in Word, PowerPoint, Access, or Excel. When you move to OpenOffice.org, you don't lose work created elsewhere.
What's in OpenOffice.org?
OpenOffice.org contains the most needed applicationsa word processor, a spreadsheet program, a presentation program, a drawing program, a database programand more inside a single system. OpenOffice.org is designed so that its programs work well together, and although you might not need every program in OpenOffice.org, you can easily share information between any OpenOffice.org programs that you do want to use. Program collections such as OpenOffice.org are often called program suites .
Suite An application that contains multiple programs, each of which performing a separate function. These programs generally work well together, with each one easily reading the other programs' data.
The following is a quick overview of the primary OpenOffice.org programs:
Base is new to OpenOffice.org 2.0.
In addition to these five major programs, OpenOffice.org includes several other features, such as an HTML editor for web page design and editing as well as a mathematical formula editor that you use to create complex math equations (see 30 Use Mathematical Formulas in Documents ).
All the OpenOffice.org programs share common features and common menu choices. The next two figures show an Impress editing session and a Draw editing session. Even though the Impress screen shows a slide from a presentation and the Draw screen shows a flier being created, the surrounding interface elements are extremely similar. The menus , toolbars , and status bar buttons are almost identical for both programs. When you learn one OpenOffice.org program, you are well on your way to knowing quite a bit about all the other OpenOffice.org programs, too.
When you design and edit presentations with Impress, you'll recognize the interface because OpenOffice.org programs share a similar interface.
Unlike other application suites, OpenOffice.org was designed as one single software package, right from the start.
In addition to working with familiar interfaces in the OpenOffice.org products, you can insert data that you create in one program into another program within the OpenOffice.org suite. If you create a financial table with Calc, for instance, you can put the table in a Writer document that you send to your board of directors and embed the table in an Impress presentation to stockholders . Once you learn how to use any program in the OpenOffice.org suite, you will be far more comfortable using all the others because of the common interface.
Draw's menu, toolbars, and status bar elements are virtually identical to those of other OpenOffice.org programs, especially those of Impress.
OpenOffice.org Is Versatile
The OpenOffice.org products are general purpose, meaning that you can customize applications to suit your needs. You can use Calc as your household budgeting program, for example, and also as your company's interactive balance-sheet system.
You can integrate OpenOffice.org into your networked system. This way, OpenOffice.org provides useful features whether you are networked to an intranet, to the Internet, or to both. You can share OpenOffice.org information with others across the network. OpenOffice.org fits well within the online world by integrating Internet access throughout the OpenOffice.org suite.
When you need to write any text-based document, look no further than Writer. Writer is a word processor that supports many features, including the following:
The next figure shows a Writer editing session. Even though Writer is a word processor, you can see from the figure that it supports advanced formatting, layout, and graphics capabilities so that you can produce professional documents, covers, and title pages using Writer.
Writer easily handles text, graphics, and advanced formatting of any document you wish to create.
Calc's primary goal is to help you organize and manage financial information such as income statements, balance sheets, and forecasts. Calc is an electronic spreadsheet program that supports many features, including the following:
The following figure shows a Calc editing session. The user is entering income statement information. If you have worked with other worksheet programs, you might be surprised at how fancy Calc can get. Calc's automatic formatting capabilities make creating advanced worksheets easy.
Calc helps you create, edit, and format numeric worksheets.
Have you ever given a presentation and longed for a better approach to messy overhead slides? Have you seen the pros wow their audiences with eye-catching, professional computerized presentations? With Impress, there is simply no reason why you shouldn't be wowing your audiences as well. Professional presentations are now within your reach.
Impress supports many features, including the following:
The next figure shows an Impress editing session. The user is getting ready for a presentation and has only a few minutes to prepare six color slides for the meeting. With Impress, a few minutes is more than enough time!
Impress helps you create, edit, and format professional presentations.
With Draw, you can generate drawings and graphics. Draw supports all popular graphics formats, both for importing images and for the drawings you want to save. You can create freeform drawings and you can use Draw's predesigned shapes to create more modern artwork, such as a commercial artist may require.
Here are just a few features that Draw supports:
The next figure shows a Draw editing session. The drawing contains both text and graphics. Draw's ability to combine both text and graphics makes it great for businesses that need to design brochures , ads, fliers, and logos.
With Draw, you can create impressive drawings and include text with them.
Introducing the Base Database
Base puts the power of information right at your fingertips. Whether you're a soccer dad who wants to create a contact sheet for the team or a store manager with a warehouse full of products, Base can keep you on track. Base is a database management program that supports many features, including the following:
The next figure shows a Base database session. As you can see, the application can manage a lot of data and offers tools for sorting, grouping, and presenting the data in meaningful ways. Base also makes it easy to connect to existing databases. It offers native support for many popular databases including Microsoft Access, MySQL, and LDAP-compliant address books.
Let Base manage your information.