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A First Look at OpenOffice.org 1.0

Evaluating the OpenOffice.org 1.0 Production Release

May 8, 2002

We are in the midst of a revolution. Companies have realized that the recent rumblings of Linux moving into the business world are real and that it is quickly becoming a desirable OS for production business use. Programs needed in a business productivity suite include a word processor, spreadsheet, drawing and presentation tools. The business world revolves around these tools, although some would argue about the value of email, scheduling software and a Web browser. I've used StarOffice in the past and have been pretty happy with it. Alternative business productivity packages, under Linux, include Koffice, Applix and others. MS Office leads the charge in a Windows environment. The goal of this article is to evaluate the Linux OpenOffice.org suite on its own merits, point out some common features that will help your business process and bring attention to areas that might initially cause you problems.

I've drawn comparisons with the Microsoft Office suite hoping that future Linux practitioners will see that the Linux world is providing viable software options. And, to make the options even more compelling, OpenOffice.org is available for Windows, which could provide an initial starting point for those interested in a free office suite but not yet interested in a full-scale platform migration.

I see the release of OpenOffice.org (based on donated StarOffice code) as a great Open Source foundation for a quality desktop business productivity suite of the future.

OpenOffice.org does have a few teething problems, like lack of an import/export function for WordPerfect. Law offices have been heavy users of WordPerfect so at present they may be disappointed. I would think that the situation would be addressed in subsequent releases. The program also doesn't have any facility for managing your schedule or email.

While many are quick to point these issues out as serious show-stopping flaws, I don't think OpenOffice.org was meant to be an "all inclusive do every business process in the world" kind of package. Besides, since it's open source, you have the opportunity to enhance it to suit your needs.

As with any evaluation of a product, your own independent study should be done to make sure your team knows the benefits and shortcomings of that product. In my opinion OpenOffice.org is a good product, but the user needs to make the ultimate decision.