Tips and tricks for

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<Update> Soon after I hit the PUBLISH button, I received via email, the newsletter, with an extensive list of related blogs.</Update>

Although there is an abundance of information available at the official site regarding the usability and how to make, the free open productivity suite, work better for your needs, there are hidden treasures of information, tricks, and tips all over the place waiting to be discovered.  Here are some, in no particular order of importance or significance.

The site.
The trick here is to look for the tags you (or somebody else) assign to a post they publish in a blog.  Be as imaginative and creative as possible.  Use combinations of words.  For example, office, open, xml, lead to this page, while open, office, xml lead to this different page. Try other languages, too, and see where the hunt takes you  (if you are versed in that particular language).  For example, the same tags in german will lead you to another page, altogether.

The site
Try the site for openoffice guides and white papers.  After all, they are one of the largest contributors to and they still hold the license for staroffice, the suite that started all once upon a time.  Note that to retrieve white papers and guides you may have to register with a username and a valid email address.  The following two links are interesting:
Migrating from MS Office to or StarOffice,
Creating large documents with writer

Other blogs (of course)!!!!
Try some or all of the following (I am not affiliated with them, nor do I know their owners/editors etc.  I simply read them occasionally). engineering at sun.
Tips and training for
The lifehacker page and its openoffice tips.

Finally, something that I also found while searching around:
1) Open a new spreadsheet in Calc
2) Type the following in any cell
enjoy the openoffice version of space invaders.

For more easter eggs, … well, just look around 🙂


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more extensions to use with release 3

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With the new release of the free application suite, the use of extensions enhancing the capabilities of the suite is easier than ever.

As a matter of fact, the use of extensions is almost required in version 3.0 as the dictionaries and other linguistic aspects of the suite are handled via extensions. By default, you will go under the Tools menu, select the Extension manager and you will see a few (locked) extensions pre-installed.

openoffice extension manager

openoffice extension manager

The english, french and spanish language files are pre-installed and apparently locked in the version I downloaded from the servers (I assume these files are locked in other flavours of openoffice). I like to fiddle with my installation so I downloaded a series of tools/extensions. Here they are with few bits of information about each one:

1. Pagination. This extension adds a simple “insert page number” menu under Insert and facilitates the application of page numbers, styles etc. Perhaps its usefulness lies with its simplicity.

2. PDF Import. This extension allows users to import pdf files in openoffice Draw and complete simple editing (as images). Nothing fancy, but if you want to simple clean up a couple of things (typos etc) and sources are not available, this extension may do the trick.

3. Template Pack by Sun. This is an English language version, although there are packages for other languages, including french, italian etc. It allows for the creation of specialized and professionally looking files, documents, letters, presentations etc.

4. Report Builder also by Sun. This extension provides tools for customized reports drawn from the database files.

5. Writer tools. This extension creates a separate Writer’s Tools top-level menu (next to the native Tools menu) and offers various tools and tips for writers using’s writer. Very nifty!!!

6. Writer to LaTeX. This extension takes a writer (odt) file and transforms it into the proper LaTeX file to be typeset by the finest typesetting system available (LaTeX of course).

It also offers an additional extension to translate the writer file to xHTML files.

Finally, the last extension of the list is the Greek hyphenation/thesaurus/spelling dictionary file (it’s all Greek to you, I know 🙂 ).

What I also like is the update button which allows for periodic checkups and updates for each and every extension. Some extensions require you to scroll through their license agreement, but that’s acceptable, I guess.

Do you have any extensions that you use and you recommend? Post a comment


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odf & docx in OpenOffice

Microsoft Office Word 2007

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Unless you have been cast away in some remote island or hiding under some rock or in some cave (btw, of all three choices, the first one does not seem that bad 🙂 in my opinion), the battle between open document format promoted by several open source supporters and the ooxml format promoted by MS has been raging. Most recently, ooxml was not accepted as a national standard and then as an international standard.

In plain words, what it means, is that if you use Word 2007 and save it as docx (not doc format) you may end up with lots of documents nobody can access (unless they part with a sizable amount of money to buy Office 2007). Anyone knows that OpenOffice saves and opens office documents (doc, xls, ppt). What about docx documents?

UPDATE #2: Also check out this updated post from this blog.

UPDATE: The following link is dead and gets you the error page at Novel. Instead, follow this new link and the instructions provided in the destination page. Enjoy!!!

OLD stuff 🙂
The answer is a converter available at this address compliments of the good guys at Novell. If you follow the link you can download either a solution for windows platforms or an rpm archive for linux platforms. From there (the rpm platform) some work is necessary if your setup does not use rpms. In most cases, the command “alien” will take the rpm and translate it into a deb archive or a tar.gz archive (your choice).

I prefer the tar.gz approach and then completed the following:
1) translate rpm to tar.gz
2) unpack tar.gz archive
3) copy the /usr/lib/ooo-2.0 directory (and its subdirectories) to where openoffice is located in my box.
4) restart openoffice
5) Find under the Open or Save menu choices for docx files

NB. It works for both x86 and 64bit boxes.



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