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Suites for the Sweet: StarOffice 5.2 - page 4

The First in Our Series of Reviews

  • May 16, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

StarOffice also includes a mail client, news reader, and integrated web browser. In some ways, we found this portion of the suite the hardest sell: we're quite comfortable with our choices in these areas and question the value of loading a program with the bulk of StarOffice to read mail or news.

Taken on their own merits, though, we were reasonably satisfied with the functionality to be found in each. The mail client and newsreader offered rules for disposing of mail, which is a useful bonus in today's spam-clogged and troll-infested Internet. The mail client, though not enticing enough to get us to drop our existing one, can be used to easily send attached documents without leaving the StarOffice environment, which is how we believe most will tend to use it.

The Web browser was also serviceable. During installation, StarOffice asks for the location of a Java runtime environment for use with the browser, which supports Java and Javascript. It took a little tweaking to get fonts to display very well, but the browser handled most browser functions with little trouble. We suspect most will tend to use the browser as a previewer for documents created with the HTML and frameset editors provided with StarOffice than as a primary browser.

The Windows version of StarOffice integrates the Internet Explorer engine as its browser when that's available. We hope Sun will see the possibilities in integrating a completed Mozilla engine with their Linux offering.

Finally, there is the aforementioned frameset and HTML editors, which did a good job of producing basic documents. If a GUI HTML editor is desired, StarOffice's provides some strong formatting features, and its frameset editor allows users to master creation of a frameset with little difficulty. More sophisticated websmiths may not have use of such a tool, but the corporate user looking to put a page or two up on the company intranet probably will.

A Few Extras: Palm Pilot Integration, Calendar, and Address Book
StarOffice also comes with a few added touches that round out its very thorough list of features. The address book (which is actually a front end for a Base database) and calendar provided solid tools for most needs. The calendar, in particular, was fairly strong: it offered a variety of views, a filterable to-do list, and a simple interface.

Both the address book and the calendar integrate with the 3Com Palm Pilot. It's a good idea to use an external program to back things up before working with the Palm integration. We had some trouble with duplicated records, and it took a little tinkering with the table that formed the foundation of the address book database to fix things. Still, Palm Pilot support is something still under some development in the Linux world, and we were glad to see StarOffice including it. It adds a sense of thoroughness to an already complete product.

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