first impressions from 3.x

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By now, most of the world knows that the new version of, the free office application suite, is out.

Earlier, servers at were busy serving the various choices for win, linux, and Mac OS X (and at some point, they were so slow with incoming traffic). This is the first openoffice version which runs natively in Mac OS X. OpenOffice starts with a splash screen and then a central menu appears which allows the user to select from a variety of tasks.

openoffice version 3 start screen

openoffice version 3 start screen

In addition, it offers a variety of new goodies,
but I am going to mention only the following two:

First, it allows the import (natively) of .docx files, as well as .xlsx and .pptx files. These are the files in Microsoft’s new ooxml format that apparently even MS will no longer support 🙂 I have written extensively in the past about the docx saga and I have noted that the best choice maybe the odf converter (at version 1.1.7 as of this moment). However, with the native import filters, this extension is no longer functional and the system will respond with error messages if you try to install it. However, the functionality is there and you can open the docx/xlsx/pptx files, although you cannot save them in this format, too. Maybe that’s a nice (and not-so-intrusive) way of saying to your co-workers who use MS Office 2007 to use a format that the majority of users can also apply.

Second, it offers a much easier way to deal with multiple language dictionaries and spelling support. In previous versions (notably in versions 2.x), users had to install dictionaries via some semi-automatic scripts or manually by tweaking the dictionary.lst file and adding the appropriate hyphenation, spelling and thesaurus files. Now, things happen differently.

All we have to do is select the extensions manager and install the proper files which are conveniently located at the extensions server. By default, english language files and additional files are pre-installed, but you can add your choice of languages. A close-and-open-again trick is needed in order to apply the proper files.

extensions in openoffice

extensions in openoffice

While you are at it, you may also want to give a few more extensions a try. Download the beta pdf import tool which allows partial pdf file editing. And of course, Dmitri’s writer tools, a wonder set of choices which creates a special “writer tools” menu next to the default tools menu in openoffice.

Openoffice 3 is a great improvement and definitely worth trying for serious work. What is your reaction and opinion regarding this new release? Post a comment and digg it if you like it.


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2 thoughts on “first impressions from 3.x

  1. I think it’s a great improvement, though I was pretty happy before too.

    Do you know if it is a matter of principle that it won’t save as docx., xlsx etc, or is this something that just hasn’t been done yet?

    Not normally a problem, except really big calc files cannot be saved in xls. format as that format doesn’t support as many columns – so they can’t be shared with anyone that won’t/can’t use open office

    Massively inconvenient….

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