Suites for the Sweet: KOffice - page 2
Starting from Scratch: KOffice for KDE
There have been daily snapshots of KOffice available for nearly two years, initially written to work with KDE-1.x then, more than a year ago, moved to the KDE2 project. While both KOffice and KDE2 are usable now (I've been running KDE2 builds exclusively since November; you can read a preview of KDE 2 here), neither KOffice nor KDE2 is currently in a condition that pampers the user the way KDE-1.1.2 does. Both will get there, but they ain't soup quite yet.
This preview is written using the KDE-1.90 beta that was released late the evening of May 9. This version of KOffice added a whole new module, KOShell (which is shown in Figure 1). While the parts--the individual applications--in KOffice can all be found in the KMenu of the new Kicker application in KDE2, KOShell makes icons to start them, and a listing of active documents, visible as part of a kind of KOffice super-window. Initially, KOShell opens with a stack of icons draped down the left side of an otherwise grey space; when one of the icons is selected, the corresponding application opens in that grey space. (Expect this to change considerably before the release of KOffice.) As subsequent applications are opened in the KOShell window, they are stacked one atop the other, with the user able to move among them by choosing the document that each contains.
Users, though, may well choose to start just one part of KOffice--KWord, or KSpread, or one of the others--with no need for KOShell. This is readily done from KMenu, with access to the other parts from within each application as needed. For instance, a spreadsheet frame within a KWord document is handled by KSpread itself, rather than a subset of it. The appearance of each application is user configurable, with the ability, for instance, to edit toolbars or choose which ones to display. Key bindings can likewise be changed by the user, though of course this should be undertaken with care to avoid conflicts (and confusion, if more than one person uses one user account; the settings are stored in a configuration file in the account's home directory, so each account can have settings that suit its owner).
Much of KOffice will be familiar to KDE users. The file-manipulation dialogs are reused throughout KDE, as are little niceties such as Ccalc, the little calculator that's available as a menu item anywhere it could be of use. And much of KOffice is at this point a little mystifying--for instance, in KSpread large pieces of the default toolbars appear vacant, not because there are no functions there but because the icons for them do not yet exist. Fortunately, there is bubble help, though strolling down a long toolbar, resting the mouse pointer here and there in hope of locating the desired action, would get a little maddening before long. Remember -- this is a first beta of a suite that's a few months from release.
Let's look now at the individual applications.