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LinuxOrbit: StarOffice 6.0 Beta - Out of the (Cyber) Box Experience

Oct 05, 2001, 13:03 (23 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Sean Lamb)
"Since I don't use the Microsoft suite all that often, if at all these days, I really don't know what features are included there that are missing from StarOffice. However, I have found one feature in StarOffice that I have never seen in any Microsoft Office version (it may be there now, but I haven't seen it yet; remember, I don't use MS-Office). StarOffice will allow you to customize not only the widget style in the applications in the suite (Tools/Options/StarOffice/View/Look&Feel), but also the items that appear in the menus at the top of the window (Tools/Configure/Menu) and the fields that appear in the status bar at the bottom of the window (Tools/Configure/StatusBar).

The applications themselves seem to load slowly, but once they are loaded, response time for most actions that don't require a lot of calculations are carried out in what seems no time at all. So far, I've tried displaying and printing a few documents created in that other suite, and I'm only just starting to experiment with creating documents in StarOffice. This review was created by choosing File/New/HTMLDocument from StarOffice Writer (the text document application) and writing plain text into the editing window. Once in a while, in writing this review, I've noticed that I had to go to View/HTMLSource to correct the spacing or paragraph separation, but the HTML code that StarOffice creates is exceptionally clean compared to what I've seen from other office suites. When I do edit the HTML source, StarOffice doesn't overwrite my changes and it displays the document properly when I go back to the normal document view.

The StarOffice website touts the fact that a document's native storage format is in XML now instead of a binary format that can only be read by the office suite itself. This has a great number of advantages, including the fact that StarOffice files can be saved into a CVS tree just like program code, so programmers can store rich-text documentation in the same repository as their code (let's not start any arguments about what tools programmers should be using to create documentation; any documentation is better than none at all, which seems a lot more common, unfortunately). Also, since the native file format is XML, that means that they can be edited in vi or emacs (or whatever your favorite code editor is) in case there's a problem with your StarOffice installation. Also, since the file format is so open, a great many other applications can very easily write import/export filters for StarOffice documents and know that they are working correctly in all cases. For those working in offices where the MS suite still prevails, StarOffice can save documents in MS-Office's proprietary formats for Word, Excel and PowerPoint as well."

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