Options and Tools For OpenOffice.org. Users

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 21, 2008

We often talk about how useful the productivity suite OpenOffice.org is for anyone who needs word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software, but doesn't want to plunk down a bunch of money to get it. While you may have heard of OpenOffice.org, there are some lesser-known forks and some handy tools that you might not know about. Let's take a look.

Mac users will want to have a look at OpenOffice.org Aqua for Mac OS X. There's no officially released version yet -- the current official release for Mac is a direct port of OpenOffice.org for Unix, OO.o X11. However OO.o 3 Aqua Beta 2 was released last week and I've been giving it a whirl. It's surprisingly stable and very quick, though some users are reporting compatibility issues with Microsoft 2008 files types.

 If you don't want to use an unstable version and don't want to run OO.o in an X11 environment, you can always try NeoOffice. It requires more memory to run than the X11 version, but because it integrates with the Aqua interface, it has a lot in common with other native Mac apps, including drop-down menus and keyboard shortcuts.

A frequent complaint about OO.o is it's unusually long load time and overall speed. If that's a gripe of yours and you use Windows or Linux, you may want to try a recently released fork called Go-OO. It's reported to be substantially faster than OO.o, and includes some touches the original suite doesn't have, including better system and multimedia integration. Developers also say Go-OO has freer licensing and because it is a "developer run meritocracy", the project also has freer politics.

Once you've decided what flavor of OpenOffice.org to use, you'll want to download the free blank label templates from WorldLabel.com. It's a collection templates to create address, DVD, shipping, diskette labels and more on the fly without leaving Writer. If you're a Mac user who frequently burns OO.o reports and presentations to a disc, be sure to download the iLabel-it CD widget for your dashboard. Use it to make personalized labels for your CDs and DVDs, and lose that Sharpie forever.