Ever since the early days of this project, I had seen the openoffice.org suite, and decided that it was good enough for us in almost every way.Â In fact, I took this decision on the basis of 1 presentation from the guys at openadvantage.org and a couple of minutes surfing of reviews.
Â Today, I dediced to download the latest version, and set the defaults on my PC to run all my word processing, spreadsheet and presentation requirements from now on using open office.Â My motivation in doing this was to trial the installation myself, and get a couple of months hands on experience with using the suite before the other 20 staff at Mercian Labels are asked to run it – lead from the front and all that!
First of all, I checked out the alternatives using this review at wikipedia, prompted because I saw a BBC video clip on the Bristol city Council IT dept moving the entire organisation to open source, saving over Â£1M GBP in fees.Â However, they were using start office, and to be honest, I couldn’t see any reason for an SME not needing serious suport to commit to anything other than the openoffice.org suite.Â There were issues over java licensing for some of the higher level functions, but with the sun announcment for making java open source at some stage, I dont see it as a threat to small users.Â If something goes wrong, then we can change very quickly.
Â So, I downloaded the latest release today, openoffice 2.2 from hereÂ and installed it on my laptop running XP pro.Â I committed to opening and using all existing docs in openoffice rather than microsoft software to show good intent!
First impressions are:
- its good, very good
- its better than MS word for everything we do in an SME
- it runs quicker than MSÂ WORD and EXCEL
- the WRITE user interface is so similar to MS WORD that you dont need much, if any retraining
- It includes a very fast “save as PDF ” function which is excellent
- existing word documents open perfectly well in oo.o and save fine too
- importing custom dictionaries is a bit of a pain, but under 5 mins to learn, and under a minute to repeat when you know how.
- I cannt see any features missing that I would regularly use, with 1 major exception.Â I havent tried the BASE program yet, but I know that it dosnt support VBA scripts well, if at all.Â As this is our major software at present, this is a seriouls problem, and why we are writing our entire CRM in PHP on a web platform.
Overall, I like it.Â I wrote my PhD thesis in WORD in 2000, and I would have doubts about trying to make a massive document with complex formatting and breaks in oo.o, but I#m probably just being paranoid.
OO.o looks excellent, and a credit to the developers over many years.Â I will comment any bugs I find in the coming weeks here on this blog.