Sunday, July 5, 2009

Open Office Wins

I have been using Open Office (the free and open source office suite) for 6 months and am a convert. There were some annoying differences about the product that reminded me how set in my ways I am, but I am totally sold on it now. Small, sleek and powerful. If you want to know why you should give it a go, you can check out this link. Features such as being able to create PDFs from your Writer documents or exporting your slide presentations as Flash SWF files are enough reason to interest many. I have collected a list of links for you this week to help you jump in. The suite doesn't have a good clipart collection packaged with it but you can easily add open source collections. The pick of collections for schools is WP Clip Art which includes instructions for downloading and installing the collection into OO. I have found some problems opening word.docs in OO, particularly where tables and marcos are concerned, but the problems are not major. If you are concerned about compatibility with Microsoft Word, You can set Open Office Writer to save all your documents as word.doc by default or download and install the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office which allow MS Office to open ODFs . But I feel once you start using it, as I have, you won't go back to MS Office and you will soon convert your friends and colleagues as well. As for students, they don't have the same hang ups as teachers. They won't even think about the differences. Do your school a favour and load it on every machine and then send kids home with a copy to install at home. If it doesn't work out, just uninstall it.