OpenOffice Version 3.1 Arrives: Better Graphics, and All Apps Updated

by Ostatic Staff - May. 07, 2009

The new version 3.1 of the suite of open source productivity applications is now available for download. It appears to be a hot download today, too, because I experienced some wait times getting to the OpenOffice site. For this release, users of OpenOffice were asked to vote for their most desired new features, and the wish list helped dictate goals for version 3.1. There are enhanced on-screen graphics and improvements to all the applications in the suite. Here are details on what's under the hood.

According to the OpenOffice team, the biggest single change in the OpenOffice suite (reportedly half a million lines of code) is anti-aliased, enhanced on-screen graphics. These affect how images look when they are being dragged and dropped, how text looks when highlighted, and more.

Each of the applications has been updated, with the following improvements made:

Writer (word processing)
Improvements to comments: reply feature now supports 'conversations'
Further grammar checker integration
Outline levels within paragraphs for complex documents

Calc (spreadsheet)
Hot hints for formulae, with new and improved formulae available
Improved sorting
More performance bottlenecks removed
The zoom slider added to the status bar
Rename sheets with a double-click

Chart (graphics engine)
Flexible positioning of axes for scientific and educational users
Flexible handling of "missing" data points

Impress (presentation)
Font size buttons

Base (database)
SQL syntax highlighting
Easier deployment of macro applications
Internationalization and Localization
Improved support for bidirectional scripts
New locale support

You can find a complete summary of the new features here.  Of course, one of the big questions with OpenOffice is what will happen to it now that Oracle becomes the steward of the suite, as it  swallows up Sun Microsystems. According to the OpenOffice community there were 60 million downloads of version 3.0 of the suite, and some reports estimate that there are more than 10 million regular users. I'm looking forward to testing the new version and will put up a review.