OpenOffice.org - What's in It for You?
These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced (no more than
5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.
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Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted thought or
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
Windows, Linux, Solaris, MacOS, these are all operating
systems that are supported by the
software suite that is meant to compete with
Microsoft's Office package. The price is certainly right, too. Unlike the MS products, this effort from Sun
Microsystems is free to everybody. Since so many different major operating systems are supported, it means that
you can generate documents on your favorite OS and just about everybody in the world can use them exactly as you
The most recent version of OpenOffice, as of the time of this writing, is 2.3. Not too long
ago, I downloaded and installed an earlier version and attempted to port my RF Cascade Workbook spreadsheet to
OpenOffice. Since my Excel spreadsheet has a large number of custom functions written in the built-in Visual Basic
for Applications (VBA) code, it did not import well into OpenOffice. Re-writing the entire spreadsheet either
without custom functions (or creating new ones from scratch) or by placing full equations in each cell was out of
the question. I did not have the time or the will. The many people who have contacted me over the years about
making some of the RF Cafe spreadsheets available for other operating systems would have to wait even longer.
Well, the waiting is over - I think. OpenOffice v2.3 has thus far done an amazingly good job at importing RF
Cascade Workbook 2005, including all the VBA code. There are some minor incongruities, but have been easy to
resolve. Adjusting for a couple minor formatting and syntax differences has rendered a spreadsheet that appears to
be fully functional except for the charts. I have not even begun looking into the chart usage, but based on the
success with the rest of the porting process, it will probably not be a problem. As a result, sometime in the near
future, RF Cascade Workbook 2005 will be offered for use in the OpenOffice environment, finally giving the
Microsoft haters ;-) a venue for using this outstanding spreadsheet.
Unlike Sun Microsystems (JAVA
), I cannot afford to
give RF Cascade Workbook away, so it will be priced at the same ridiculously low price as the existing Excel
Something that I have not tried yet is exporting the
OpenOffice spreadsheet to an Excel file format to see whether the resulting file can be opened in Excel without
any modification. That would be very nice, because it would mean that any future spreadsheets could be designed in
OpenOffice, and then simply exported for Excel users. It would be a
(that's a real word, by the way).
OpenOffice contains word processor, spreadsheet, vector drawing,
database, and presentation elements meant to compete directly with Word, Excel, Visio, Access, and PowerPoint,
respectively. Word documents that I have tested appear to import perfectly, including all the formatting. With
Excel files, even the background fill patterns for charts are replicated correctly without any adjustment.
OpenOffice will not import a Visio file directly, but if you save the Visio file in WMF or EMF format (vector), it
does a reasonably good job of importing. According to the OpenOffice website, Visio imports will eventually be
supported. I have not tried opening an Access file yet. The couple PowerPoint files I tested imported correctly,
including a large one (41 slides) with many graphics.
It definitely looks like OpenOffice 2.3 will give
Microsoft Office a lot of competition, provided that Sun can get the word out. This is my small contribution.