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Misleading article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 10:37 PM

I find the article to be a little misleading. I have made extensive use of
both OO and Office. Many of the features mentioned are not really needed by occasional
users but become more important for day-to-day users or large-scale users.


Styles by far are handled better in Word. Word makes it easier to update styles
by modifying the format of a paragraph with the style and then selecting the
style from the palette. Additionally, Word has always offered styles on the
toolbar for an easy drop down list. Since most of the format is "Normal" or
"Body Text" or some other style for a typical paragraph, it is
convenient to write much of a document in that style and then change the style
through the drop down for the few odd paragraphs (like headers and titles).
Word will additionally display styles in the floating palette with ad hoc
format changes. This allows you to create styles that are similar to another
style but with a minor change. For example, an indented paragraph style is
"paragraph + indent" in the palette. This allows consistent
formatting to be used even if the user was not planning on being so consistent.
It also makes it easier to find where odd formats are used since Word allows
you to search for use of styles (right click on style and select instance).


Templates are not that complex in Word, and if you are using templates you
probably understand them. Word will not magically send formats to the template
without the user specifically asking for it. The "Add to template"
and "Automatically update" radio boxes are usually not selected for
styles and are not conspicuous. A user must specifically select those. You may
never see the options if you create your styles by marking up a paragraph and
using that as the basis of the new style.


For bullets and numbered lists, Word actually does what it should do in most
cases. Once in a while you will need to tell it to restart numbering for a
given list, but that is a format option under "Bullets &
Numbering" (obviously enough). More importantly, though, is Word will help
you by recognizing common typographical conventions as lists and format them
appropriately. Word offers using special characters, pictures, and various
different formats for the bullets. Select customize from the "Bullets
& Numbering" dialog for these more advanced features. Word will
conveniently remember the ones you use most commonly.


For tables, I actually dislike both sides. I tend to give OO an edge over Word
here because it handles extremely complex Tables better (mainly by not crashing
and corrupting my document). Word offers a few usability features that make
tables easier, but the complexity of options around tables can get you in
trouble. My tip for both is to keep tables simple.

Headers and footers

You can double-click on the header or footer from the Print Layout (the default
view) of Word to modify it. You can use all styles available in Word to modify
them. Other options involving headers and footers (like alternating headers for
odd and even pages) are available through the page setup dialog. There is no
odd treatment here. It is true that you must select a specific option to view
the headers and footers, however. On the other hand, most people do not care
about the header and footer even while reading the document itself.

Indexes and tables of contents

Word can do anything that Writer can do in terms of columns. I am not sure what
is meant with a "graphical representation" of elements, but Word can
do all the things this article says that only Writer does in terms of indexes
and TOC.

Conditional text

Conditional fields and sections are still supported in
version 2.0. However, they have become obsolete with the addition of a Hidden
check box on the Font Effects tab for character and paragraph styles. This new
feature allows hidden characters and paragraphs to be turned on or off without
any need to locate them.

Guess what, that feature is directly copied from Microsoft
Word 2003.

Drawing tools

To mention Drawing tools and Visio but ignore PowerPoint is a disservice.
Additionally, Word offers additional clip-art available through the Internet.
Word itself is capable of retrieving the extra clip art. This combination of
capabilities tips the drawing features to Word.


Word is still a better product. However, OO Writer is very capable. With a
serious cost differential, though, OpenOffice ($0) may be a good replacement for
Microsoft Office ($399+tax). In fact, I believe that most of the features that OpenOffice
lacks are not critical. The overall productivity increase for most people will
not be worth the price differential of the product. Of course, this ignores
compatibility concerns. OpenOffice will valiantly open Word documents, but does
not always get the format right in complex documents (to the point of making
some diagrams and text illegible).


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