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OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

By Bruce Byfield on June 22, 2005 (8:00:00 AM)

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Several years ago, I wrote "Opening Up to OpenOffice.org: Finding an Alternative to Microsoft Word" -- my most quoted article. At that time OpenOffice.org (OOo) was barely known, so I confined myself to highlights. Now that OOo is starting to be used in business, a more detailed look seems overdue. Accordingly, I compared the beta of OOo Writer 2.0 with Microsoft Word 2003. Both are adequate for most users' purposes, so I focused on functions that power users are likely to want:
  • Styles
  • Templates
  • Outlining
  • Bulleted and numbered lists
  • Tables
  • Headers and footers
  • Indexes and tables of content
  • Cross-references
  • Conditional text
  • Master documents
  • Drawing tools
  • Unique features

At the end of each category, I give my verdict about which program has the best combination of features and usability. While hardly surprising, the results offer a concrete example of how open source tools are not only equalling but starting to surpass proprietary ones.

Styles

Styles allow users to define formats once and then apply them to multiple blocks of text. Microsoft Word supports them, but users sacrifice little except their own time if they format manually. By contrast, in OOo Writer, by formatting manually without using styles, tasks such as adding a different header or footer become a matter of laboriously adding page breaks. In general, Writer pressures users to format with styles for anything beyond the simplest, shortest of documents.

Like most word processors, both OOo Writer and Microsoft Word have paragraph and character styles. However, Writer consistently allows more control, offering settings for hyphenation, automatic page breaks, and the last line in a fully justified paragraph. The only advantage that Microsoft Word has is that its dialog includes a keyboard assignment for a style, something that in Writer requires opening a second dialog after the style is defined.

Moreover, Writer extends the concept of styles to frames, lists, and page styles. Write automatically uses many styles in each of these categories, but the ability to tweak them gives Writer basic to intermediate desktop publishing capabilities.

Writer's page styles are especially useful for designers; beginners are often baffled by them. The largest trouble spot is the pre-defined Left and Right page styles, which add blank pages to even out the page count -- a feature useful in hard copy, but easy to miss when exporting to PDF. By contrast, beyond including Themes for basic page layout and page borders, Microsoft Word has no concept of page design at all.

In their latest versions, both Writer and Word use a floating window entitled Styles and Formatting for applying and managing styles. In Microsoft Word, this is a new feature, replacing the cumbersome Format > Styles menu item -- and one of the rare examples of Word being influenced by Writer, rather than the other way around.

The Styles and Formatting floating window is similar in both programs. Both can float or be docked to one side, and both allow multiple views that help in locating styles. OOo's views are especially helpful, including not only the All, Applied, and Custom views of Microsoft Word, but also Hierarchical, which offers a tree structure that shows at a glance which styles are based on which, and a number of general categories, such as HTML and Chapter.

Word's major innovation in the Styles and Formatting window is displaying formatting using each style's name within the floating window, just as both programs do with available fonts. This is a welcome addition for character styles, but seems pointless for paragraphs, because the sample is too short to be useful and too easily obscured by indentations and changes in size. Word's Style and Formatting window is further weakened by the fact that, while basic format choices are available in the main windows, for details users must fall back on the drop-down list of categories that made its old Styles window such a frustrating exercise in mouse-clicking. Writer's tabbed window remains much more convenient for style design.

Verdict: OOo Writer. While manual formatters object to its extensive use of styles, Writer's enforcement of style use gives the program much of its power. Microsoft Office 2003 is an improvement over earlier releases, and includes some features that OOo Writer lacks, but its implementation of styles is generally more limited and less powerful.

Templates

Templates are documents saved so that other documents can be based upon them. This is a time-saving idea -- but in Word they cause endless problems. In particular, formatting options seems to be stored in both the template and the document. If the information in the template and the document differ, then the document is corrupted and often unusable. This close relationship is further strained by the fact that Word also allows multiple templates to be applied to a document.

Another problem, especially in group environments, is that the style window encourages users to select the prominently displayed "Add to template" button whenever they make manual changes. Since many users never stray beyond the default template, this feature -- presumably intended to help keep documents and templates in sync -- can cause other documents to reformat spontaneously when the user next opens them. It also means that the default template often differs on different workstations. Notoriously, Word users can never be sure how a document will look on another machine.

By contrast, Writer's handling of templates seems specifically designed to avoid such problems. For example, the relationship between templates and documents is looser than it is in Microsoft Word. In Writer, a template determines only the initial formatting of a document. A link is maintained only to give you the option of updating the document with changes to the template. However, users can ignore this link because the source of formatting information is the document itself.

OOo Writer templates cannot be altered from within a document based on them, and the default template -- not the same thing as "template set as default" -- cannot be changed. Nor can more than one template be loaded into the same document. Instead, users must choose Format > Styles > Load to modify a template with the settings of another document. The result of these arrangements is that file corruption is much rarer in Writer than in Word.

Verdict: OOo Writer. The problems with Microsoft Word templates have been known for years, and are badly in need of correction.

Outlining

For document outlines, Microsoft Word uses the Outline view, while OOo Writer uses a floating window called the Navigator. As the name suggests, the Navigator's main function is to help you jump to key points in a document, such as a heading, a table, or a graphic. From this use, it is a small step to outlining.

The problem is that Writer's Navigator is less flexible than Word's Outline View. Navigator allows only levels of headings to be concealed, not individual headings. Nor does it display body text styles, unless you customize Tools > Outline Numbering. Even then, Writer has no word wrap, so viewing more than the first line of a body text style with Navigator is often impossible.

Verdict: Microsoft Word. Many people will find OOo Writer's Navigator adequate for outlining, but dedicated outliners complain about its limitations.

Bulleted and numbered lists

Although lists are somewhat more stable in Microsoft Word 2003 than in earlier versions, rearranging list items or nesting lists can quickly corrupt the numbering. Applying lists via a style can make them more stable, but a better solution is to use SEQ fields to restart numbering. The best solution of all is to use fields for every bullet and number, but that requires recording a series of macros so that you don't need to insert each bullet or number manually.

OOo Writer sidesteps these problems by adding all numbers or bullets inside a field. With bullets and numbers safely contained, list items can be rearranged with few permanent problems.

Another advantage of Writer is that it creates list formats in a separate style that users can then assign to any number of paragraph styles. This separation not only allows list styles to be re-used with different styles, but also provides the screen real estate for an entire dialog window full of options.

Like Word, Writer offers bulleted and numbered lists, as well as outline numbering, which uses a single style for formal outlining. Both programs also offer a choice of bullet styles, including special characters and graphics. However, Writer goes beyond Word, with detailed options for positioning numbers or bullets, for adding characters before or after, and for formatting them differently from the list item text.

Verdict: OOo Writer. The list options for Writer are closer to those of FrameMaker than Microsoft Word's.

Tables

In earlier versions, Writer tables suffered from two main drawbacks: They did not allow rows to break across a page or column, and they could not be nested -- a feature often used in HTML documents to create complex layouts. Less important, but even more frustrating, number recognition was turned on by default, so that entering numbers in a Writer table immediately aligned them with the lower right corner. All these features have been corrected in version 2.0, and Writer tables are now a closer match for Word tables. Writer has even moved tables from the Insert menu to a top level menu of their own, which makes the resemblance to Word stronger.

Unfortunately, while Writer allows users to define autoformats, the feature remains less flexible than Word 2003's table styles. Admittedly, Word's table styles are limited, but Writer's autoformats are remorselessly literal. For instance, if you create an autoformat with 10 rows with alternate blue and black backgrounds, then it is useful for only tables with 10 or fewer rows. Add an eleventh row, and it has a white background -- and the entire purpose of the autoformat is lost.

Writer fares better in its ability to perform basic calculations. With a few small but annoying differences, adding calculations in a Writer table is much the same as adding a formula to a spreadsheet. This arrangement is much more convenient than Word's arcane system for table calculations. Yet it is less likely to interest users than formatting abilities.

Verdict: Microsoft Word. Writer autoformats would benefit from allowing formatting patterns, and from actually becoming styles, rather than non-editable patterns selected by the mouse.

Headers and footers

For more versions than anyone remembers, Microsoft Word has been haunted by a pre-WYSIWYG treatment of headers and footers. In fact, neither is visible until a users selects View > Header and Footer. Once headers and footers are visible, users must turn to an awkward floating window for switching between them or setting up different versions for beginning, right, and left pages.

In OOo Writer, headers and footers are a less intimidating proposition. All headers and footers are visible in the editing window. Unlike Word's, they can be edited using the full array of Writer features. Employing multiple headers is simply a matter of defining new page styles, and jumping to the current page's header or footer is a matter of repositioning the cursor or using a keyboard shortcut.

Writer also boasts two tabs of options for headers and footers. These options include both positioning and design choices such as borders, backgrounds, and shadows.

Verdict: OOo Writer. Microsoft Word's header and footer tool should have been scrapped years ago.

Indexes and tables of contents

In both Writer and Word, users can create indexes and various tables of contents (TOC) from individual markers and a selection of styles, but Writer includes more options. For instance, you can assign index markers in Writer to several entries or apply them automatically by creating a file of key words. Similarly, you can customize TOC and index entries using a graphical representation of elements that include lists, cross-references, and variables. Writer also allows you to divide indexes and TOCs into columns, or give them a background color or graphic. This ability to customize easily trumps Word's pedestrian choice of options.

Verdict: Writer. As in many categories, Writer offers more design possibilities.

Cross-references

Unlike Microsoft Word's cross-references, OOo Writer's cannot be built by selecting specific styles, such as heading styles or captions. Instead, they rely on entirely on markers entered in the text.

That said, neither Writer nor Word handles cross-references particularly well. Neither, for example, allows users to store introductory text for a cross-reference. The only alternatives to typing each introduction is to store the introductions in the Autotext or AutoCorrect features, or in the case of Writer, to create user-defined fields for them.

Even more importantly, neither application cross-references other files easily. In Word, bookmarks take the place of cross-references between files. In Writer, cross-referencing another document requires a complex workaround involving the Drag Mode in the Navigator, or, in master documents, maintaining a list of references so that you can add a cross-reference marker despite being unable to see a source in another document.

Verdict: Word. Neither program comes anywhere near the ease of cross-references in FrameMaker, but Writer's support for cross-references remains inadequate.

Conditional text

Conditional text is a block that can be hidden or revealed as needed. This functionality is most often used for maintaining two versions of a document in a single file. For instance, a technical writer documenting a basic and an advanced version of a piece of software could set as conditional text those passages that referred only to the advanced version. Before printing the basic version of the manual, the writer could hide the references to the advanced version and print only the passages that refer to the basic version.

This concept is not supported in any way in Microsoft Word.

In earlier versions of Writer, conditional text was supported only by use of fields that were hidden or revealed by a logical statement. Since only a single line of the fields is visible at one time, they were impractical for large blocks of conditional text. Similarly, although Writer supported conditional page sections, users had to visit each one individually to show or hide them.

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.

Verdict: OOo Writer, by default.

Master documents

Master documents are collections of files that allow users to work on smaller and more responsive files. When the smaller files are finished, the master document collates them for publication.

At least that is the theory. In Microsoft Word, the practice has been different for almost a decade. Years ago, on the Word MVP site, John McGhie wrote, "A master document has only two possible states: Corrupt, or just about to be corrupt." Microsoft Word 2003 does nothing to change that harsh summary. Although McGhie's statement has been challenged, the only way to avoid either state in Word is to avoid using every feature that makes a master document handy.

In Writer, the theory and practice of master documents are much closer. As with FrameMaker's book files, users can manage a master document in Writer from a special view of the Navigator's floating window. Because of its small size, this Navigator view is much easier to use than Word's outline view for a master document.

However, the strongest resemblance to a FrameMaker book is in stability. I have managed several Writer master documents of more than 500 pages, many peppered with screen shots, and never had a crash. The only down side was the unavoidable slowing of response when reaching the limit of system memory.

Verdict: OOo Writer.

Drawing tools

In version 2.0, Writer has a drawing toolbar that is a near clone of Word 2003's. Both offer small libraries of geometrical shapes and callouts for diagrams. The resemblance is so close that Writer goes so far as to take a step backwards by replacing its earlier versions' Fontworks tool with the more cumbersome Fontworks Gallery, an imitation of Word's WordArt Gallery. Fontworks is still available, but users have to know that it is there, and hunt it down in Tools > Configuration before they can use it.

The drawing tools in both programs are adequate for simple graphics. However, Microsoft Word benefits from the availability of Visio as part of its office suite, while OOo Writer offers a richer choice of general graphics tools in OOo Draw.

Verdict: Tie. Nothing in the drawing toolbar for either program stands out. And if Visio is superior to anything OOo has for charts, Draw's graphical manipulation is beyond anything in Microsoft Office.

Unique tools

Microsoft Word has several tools that OOo Writer lacks. Most of these are in the Tools menu. Research combines a thesaurus with links to other data sources such as Microsoft Encarta, while Translation is available under the Languages submenu. The Tools menu also includes Online Collaboration and Shared Workspace tools, as well as a grammar checker attached to the spell checker.

None of these tools has a counterpart in Writer, although an add-on macro that connects to Wikipedia gives the functionality of Word's Research. Nor does Writer have multiple clipboards like Word.

Writer's unique tools include wizards for automating support for additional languages and for downloading and installing free fonts. However, Writer's strongest unique feature is built-in PDF export. In version 2.0, this feature has been enhanced to give users some control over export settings, and to allow the creation of PDF files with bookmarks and links. Of course, Writer has fewer PDF options than Acrobat itself, and it cannot edit PDFs. Some users complain that Writer produces larger PDF files than other alternatives. Still, within these limits, the new version of the PDF export tool makes the purchase of Acrobat unnecessary -- even if you happen to run on a platform that it supports.

Verdict: Tie. Although Writer's unique features seem more practical for most users, Word's unique features are still ones that OpenOffice.org might consider imitating some day.

Conclusion

OOo Writer scores most of its victories in features that make the creation and maintenance of highly formatted or long documents easier. This pattern is not accidental. According to Elizabeth Mathias of Sun Microsystems, the documentation of OpenOffice.org has a long history of being written in Writer itself. As a result, the program's developers had the incentive to include the tools they needed. This legacy continues to give Writer advantages over competitors like Word.

That is not to say that Writer is a perfect program. Its interface is wildly inconsistent. Some features, notably cross-references, can most kindly be described as lacking. And in version 2.0, the attempt to imitate Microsoft Word hides several useful features.

Yet, despite these shortcomings, OOo Writer is not only as fully developed as Microsoft Word, but often superior in terms of features and stability.

Several years ago I concluded "Opening Up to OpenOffice.org" by saying, "OOo Writer outperforms Microsoft Word in almost every way." With the release of the version 2.0 beta, that statement is truer than ever. At its worst, OOo Writer is an adequate alternative for Microsoft Word. Most of the time, it is a superior one. And the greater your need for page design features or long document handling, the greater that superiority becomes.

Bruce Byfield is a course designer and instructor, and a computer journalist who writes regularly for NewsForge and the Linux Journal Web sites.

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for Linux.com.

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Comments

on OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

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styles vs. the original WordPerfect's "blank sheet

Posted by: Paul Hubert on June 23, 2005 05:32 AM
I've always loathed styles. Word doesn't seem to enforce them as OO does and that is exactly why I'm unlikely to move to OO as long as I have alternatives.

I wonder just how much it would take the developers to offer a simple, at least _virtually_ styleless, option as a selectable default for documents?

I still say WordPerfect was and is the best. Too bad THAT wasn't open sourced instead...

I hate to say it, but I find Word far more usable than OO.

#

Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 05:59 AM
You don't NEED to use styles to use OpenOffice.org.


That being said, I would STRONGLY recommend that you use styles. Styles make writing documents MUCH EASIER. It's true that Microsoft Word's styles cause serious problems, but this is a failure of Word, not of styles. Some versions of Microsoft Word actively fight against people who try to use styles by "making up" its own styles "automatically" -- which means you spend all your time undoing its "smart" actions. But if you reconfigure Word to stop doing this, or use a better program, it's not a problem.


Most writers have switched to using styles. Give them a chance with a program that's good at them; I think you'll find they're very helpful.


I once used Word Perfect, and OpenOffice.org works just as well in terms of starting from a "blank sheet". The one thing I miss from Word Perfect is "reveal codes". Neither Word nor Writer have it (both can reveal SOME things, and Writer's in particular is helpful, but it's not quite the same).
If you REALLY want "reveal codes", you can unzip the OpenOffice.org file and edit the raw text, but that's an extreme way to get it.
I do know that there is a project to add "reveal codes" to OpenOffice.org, I don't know how far they are.


I use both Word and OpenOffice.org... at short sizes, it's hard to say either has an advantage. As they get longer, Word gets left behind.

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Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 07:33 AM
>The one thing I miss from Word Perfect is "reveal codes". Neither Word nor Writer have it

There is a macro for Write that gives the same information as WordPerfects Reveal Codes gives.
A different macro provides the smae information for Calc.

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Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's

Posted by: Paul Hubert on June 23, 2005 09:25 PM
Actually, I believe Word DOES now have the equivalent of "Reveal Codes"<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... tho I'm not happy to say it.

Plainly, the feature has had something to do with WordPerfect's continuing existence and I don't doubt THAT continues to stick in Microsoft's craw... if only we could find something to stick it permanently!

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No, MS doesn't have reveal codes, instead...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 11:38 PM
Word 2000/2003 have a feature that reveals some codes in a sidebar, and not even in context.

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Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's "blank sh

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 23, 2005 06:18 AM
If most of the documents you do are:

- short

- used once

- never reformatted

Then you probably don't need to bother with styles. Otherwise, by refusing to use styles, you're probably working harder than you need to.

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Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's "blank sh

Posted by: Paul Hubert on June 23, 2005 08:12 PM
Yes, Bruce, that's exactly where I am<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... really NO large documents at all. The largest I've ever done (in WordPerfect some years ago) was about 25 pages and that was reformatting something I'd downloaded off a BBS (yes, _before_ the www).

It seems to me that learning styles is an effort all unto itself. Tho perhaps I've really never gotten past the typewriter paradigm!

O.K. so I'm an old "green screen" (and earlier) fogey. Still, I find OO clumsy looking and it's hard for me to get beyond that!

I'm quite sure I could work with it if I had to, and I certainly don't mean to fault your review. It is a good one and needed.

I must confess I was thinking exactly what another poster wrote re: comparison to WP, but I also know there's not much point!!!

The next time I inherit a few billion $$, I promise I'll buy Corel and open source WordPerfect<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... even to resurrecting 5.1 if, as another writer wondered, it still exists somewhere!<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-D

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Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's "blank sh

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 06:33 AM
I used WordPerfect 5.1 in DOS and 6.0 in win3.1. I also agree that none of the modern wordprocessors are as good as WordPerfect. Sadly, seeing the fate of WordPerfect...the best cannot always survive.

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Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's "blank sh

Posted by: Reziac on June 23, 2005 01:46 PM
[laughing] Dead-on... As I read the article, I repeatedly had the thought, "But WordPerfect has all these features, generally better implemented, and most of 'em all the way back to v5.1 (released in 1989)!!" -- If you want a REAL comparison of Oo's capabilities, compare it to WordPerfect, not Word. Word is fine if all you ever do is memos and automated stuff, but horrible for complex documents. But even so, I agree -- last time I looked at Oo, it made M$Office look usable.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:(

And one of my great fears is that the source code for WPDOS 5.1/6.1 will be lost... please, Corel, opensource it before it's too late!!

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Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's "blank sh

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 12:57 AM
If you're not using styles then you fall into one of two categories:
1) You're just banging out one-off notes and memos. All you need is Notepad or Wordpad. You're wasting your time, money and resources on Word, WordPerfect or OOo.

2) You're a boob. Get a typewriter.

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Re:styles vs. the original WordPerfect's "blank sh

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 05:19 AM
If you're using styles then you fall into one of two categories:
1) You're just playing with formats, tweaking and twiddling to make things pretty. You need an expensive bloated program like MS Word. You're wasting your time, money and resources.

2) You're a tube. Get a dicta-phone.

#

Good article!

Posted by: Paul Hubert on June 23, 2005 05:46 AM
Just the kind of comparison I've been looking for.

Looking at the 1.9xx beta, I'm unimpressed with the icons<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... Word's seem to be more precise and easier on the eyes.

I'd used WordPerfect from DOS 4.1 and through the Win 3.x beta testing and beyond. WP had always been more flexible and configurable than Word.

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Re:Good article!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 06:35 AM
Has anyone tried the WordPerfect Import features of OOo?

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Re:Good article!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 04:41 PM
Yes, and they work just fine.

Admittedly, I don't do this everyday, but I had our lawyer sent a few<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.wpd files and they all opened just fine.

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Tools that OOo has that the article implied it did

Posted by: pseudo_daoist on June 23, 2005 07:10 AM
a) Grammar checking for OOo is available, albeit as an add on macro. The only one that is really ready for prime time is Cymraeg, for Welsh.

_Language Tool_ is in beta for Hungarian, German, and English.

_An Gramadóir_ is in beta for Irish.

_CoGrOO_ is in beta for Portuguese.

Work on creating rule sets for about twenty more languages, for these grammar checkers is underway.

b) OOo IME tools

_The Indic Transliterator_ macro, takes text input in the Latin Writing system, and converts it to the appropriate text in Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu - depending upon the user selected options.

_The Hebrew Virtual Keyboard_ converts one's keyboard to Hebrew, Greek, or Cyrrillic. Unreleased versions include various Oriental languages.

_Thesalonika_ Macro is available for Early Greek.
[And provides much better Greek editing _The Hebrew Virtual Keyboard_ does.

c) Translation tools.

_Vocabulary_ is the simplest OOo translation macro. It simply is a list of words in two languages.

In general, OmegaT is suggested for translation, since it was designed as a translation editor, and can read/write OOo 1.x formatted documents.

***

Finding these macros is difficult, since there is very little centralization for OOo addons.

#

Writer gets the job done!

Posted by: Brian Masinick on June 23, 2005 08:04 AM
I don't have very stringent personal requirements for an office suite. In fact, except for the expectation these days of having resumes written in a Word readable format, I have little use for office suites. I suppose if I did a bit more project work, I'd use the presentation tools - I certainly used the entire office suite while I was attending graduate school.

For what I do, Open Office is more than sufficient to get the job done. However, now that several of the other open alternatives do basic document handling, I could probably use KWord, Abiword, or Open Office. I have to say, though, Open Office has really stabilized over the years. Most of the time I use Version 1.1.3 on my main desktop system, but I have tested out an early version of Open Office 2.0 and it seems to work even a bit better than the usual version I use.

One feature I particularly like in Open Office is the ability to generate output in a couple different formats. Sure, I could run one of those UNIX thisTOthat application filters, but it sure is nice to have conversion features built in.

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Re:Writer gets the job done!

Posted by: carl0ski on June 23, 2005 10:29 AM
Anyone had OO 1.9 crash yet? can't believe data recovery wasnt included in article

I didnt but i forced it to on windows XP
and the data recovery of documents is leaps and bounds ahead of MS word XP (i dont have 2003 so can't say)

It has never crashed on linux and i havent figured out how to force it to crash.

OO (not a Writer Specific one) gives a clear concise wizard and lets me choose the version of my documents (writer calc etc) i wish to recover.
latest is chosen by default, but i can open any or all. A small preview was shown and i'm not limited to opening just to one so i can review them.

MS opens the latest one, which in my case most times Word crashes i either opens upto 30mins out of date recovery file, b. display a completely corrupt file (gaga language) mainly because the formatting gets damaged when not saved (sorta like a CDr i guess that isnt finalised/closed is unusable)

Open office i barely lost 1 character everytime.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:) didnt damage formatting

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Re:Writer gets the job done!

Posted by: m2brew on June 23, 2005 11:56 AM
It has never crashed on linux and i havent figured out how to force it to crash.



Really??! On average I crash it about 3x a day on linux. No surprise - I am writing a dissertation on it (a dissertation on beta version software!) and am making use of the master document feature, heavy use of styles, templates, several different kinds of tables, embedded spreadsheet and draw objects, the bibliographic database, lots of imported images, etc. Even using beta versions, I have lost a total of only two lines of text out of 150+ pages in two months, and have had no corrupted files.

One surprise I have is that export to PDF gives an accurate, high quality document, in spite of the heavy formatting and abundance of graphics present. It looks like it is probably good enough for print quality.

But, man, does it ever crash for me.

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Re:Writer gets the job done!

Posted by: carl0ski on June 23, 2005 03:59 PM
cool i was hoping to know if the file recovery in the linux version was as good<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

but what distro, OO version and method of install did you use?
OO may crash a bit if you don't have Sun Java j2re1.5 installed correctly.
(to use it without jre at all i think you have to compile it from scratch<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:( )

i found the text converted to PDF a little blurry & hard to read when used with acrobat 6+ on windows (works fine on linux), and distorted.

all formatting does stay almost like it was scanned poorly.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:S



inline Word complete is also i god send i find<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

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Re:Writer gets the job done!

Posted by: m2brew on June 24, 2005 12:48 AM
This is on SUSE 9.2, I installed OO from RPMs from the command line. I'll see if updating Java helps the stability. Thanks for the tip.

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Re:Writer gets the job done!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 04:38 PM
In my experience, OO 2.0 is less stable than 1.1.4, which is expected, given that it is a beta.

I have found that it's the inclusion of large images that makes it crash.

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Re:Writer gets the job done!

Posted by: richlv on June 27, 2005 10:55 PM
i did some testing of 1.9 versions - up to m-eighties/nineties i could quite easily find a reproducible crash scenario almost every time i tried.

i tried to avoid doing any real work with it, though - especially once when i lost a couple of pages (my own fault - even after some pre-crashing oo.org asked wether i want to save the file. i probably should have copied original file - it was damaged beyond repair so i had to restore previous version).

since snapshots have gone over 100, i have only been able to crash it a couple of times - and even then in a non-reproducible way, so stability is on it's way.

of course, it's far from 1.1.4 - i haven't been able to crash it at all (1.1.3 popped a couple of times). hopefully we won't have to wait for 2.1.4 to reach the same stability<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

ps. using slackware-current and installing with unsupported rpm tool =)

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Re:Writer gets the job done!

Posted by: Brian Masinick on July 06, 2005 04:00 AM
I have not had any documents crash and burn on me, but it is good to know that from your perspective, recovery is a strong point compared to the Microsoft Office alternative.

I can tell you at least two horror stories about problems I have had with Microsoft Office and both of them have to do with formatting ard recovery.

The first story is about inconsistent formats. I was working on the Fidelity Test 2000 effort, which was a large project to test and ensure the smooth integration functionality of client-server financial applications at Fidelity. The company wanted to make absolutely certain that major applications would function without incident when moving from 1999 to 2000.

We had very comprehensive test plans, test cases, and test scripts written for a number of applications. We had rather involved test plan templates, complete with hidden macros that described how the plans were to be written.

The project started many years before 2000, so I think that some of the documents were written using Office 95 and others using Office 98. That created problems right there.

Another problem that showed up was that when templates and test plans were copied, linked, and modified numerous times, some of the documents would either refuse to save or refuse to accept modified contents.

Some desktop systems were really limited in system resources, and these large documents would completely tax (and sometimes crash) an entire desktop, not just the word processor, especially when printing an entire test plan (which was a pretty common thing).

Needless to say, the combination of Windows and Microsoft Office was anything but a stable combination in that environment!

A year or two later, I was asked to come into Comverse, a Voice and Data messaging company. Again, I had to quickly design and co-author a comprehensive test plan with one other person using Microsoft Office, mostly Microsoft Word. We began with two of us on the project, but quickly had to add a third person because in the middle of our document, something got corrupted, and we had to retype nearly the entire document from scratch! We had backup copies, we had printed documents, and we had system backups, but everything we tried to access was corrupt!

We were successful in reconstructing our work and reaching our milestone on time, but no credit to Word or Office!

Clearly the backup and recovery features you mention for Open Office are features we could have used on BOTH of these large documentation projects!

#

Good article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 11:34 AM
I appreciate the time and effort put into writing the article. I'd like to share my experience with OO.
I worked for a small company in the e-learning field, that often shares its documents with the outside world. The common answers I got everytime I pushed the twenty something editors to adopt OO to save the license fees on Word was "it changes the fonts" and "it screws up my formatting" when importing/exporting to Word 2000.
IMHO, the rate of adoption would increase dramatically if the conversion to/from Word was better.
Cheers
Yeti

#

Re:Good article

Posted by: Daniel Carrera on June 23, 2005 12:01 PM
Please try out OOo 2.0 beta. Conversion with MS Office propietary formats has improved a gret deal.

You may want to remind your friends that the only reason conversion is difficult is because Microsoft keeps their format secret to hurt competition. Also point out that MS Office formats are inherently unreliable. You can get formatting changes simply by opening the file on a different computer, or even on the same computer after installing a new printer. Not to mention opening a file with a different version of MSO than was used to write it.

OOo's compatibility with MSO is better than that between different versions of MSO. And this is more true now with OOo 2.0.

Cheers,
Daniel.
OOo volunteer.

#

Re:Good article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 12:28 PM
I can confirm this.

At my previous company, I was filing bug reports and submitting test cases on any files I could find in the company that didn't import correctly in OOo.

Most of them were fixed in the development version (that will be 2.0 soon) about three months ago before I was laid off.

Mike Fedyk

#

Re:Good article

Posted by: m2brew on June 23, 2005 12:09 PM
Yeah, I agree.



I use OO in my chemistry lab, and while I can use it to read MSWord docs during the manuscript writing/revision process with my advisor, they generally get mangled in some way. This forces me to use Word if I want to edit the document and send it back looking OK.



This is the only instance when I use MSWord. If the import/export filters were flawless I'd never use it at all.

#

Re:Good article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 04:46 AM
actually, you don't have switch to MSWord for that. i wrote my resume using Word 2000. running linux now, i can edit my resume just fine with OOo and send it out to Word users.

Oddly, my resume goes 2 lines over 1 page in OOo. As long as i keep to the "2 lines over" maximum, it comes out on 1 page in Word. I tested by sending to my wife (win2k, word2k) and myself at work (winxp, word2k3).

#

Re:Good article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 01, 2005 07:45 PM
here, here, Yeti has hit the nail on the head, It needs to be able to render Word docs flawlessly before you will see mass migration.

I am keen to change, my only remaining ms progs are my OS & Office & I'd rather see the back of them. Firefox & Thunderbird have only recently made the grade but are now very good replacements, NVu is also a very good replacement for frontpage.

Most of us don't have wads of spare time to dedicate to making software changes that are not absolutely necessary.

As a small business user I have a multitude of docs, much of it promo gear, i.e. card, leaflets, brochures, booklets. I keep coming back & trying OO but still until this day I would have to dedicate several weeks of work to "fixing" all my docs, that's a luxury we simply can't afford, so I have once again uninstalled.

Why this is so is not relevant to the end user, blaming microsoft, rightly or wrongly, does not make the problem go away, does not change the reality that at the moment converting is just not viable/feasible/practical/affordable/attractive for/to most end users.

I would recommend OO to anyone who does not already have a substantial time investment in word docs, but if you do, OO is still not ready to replace word without a serious blow to your workload. Like me, you probably have more than enough to do already without unnecessarily having to re-work all your docs.

Leigh.

#

Area Left Out

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 01:30 PM
Editing features in both programs are crude to say the least. 10 year old Word Perfect programs still have better document editing than either Word or Writer. I frequently have had people bring me Word documents with strange formatting that they couldn't get to go away. The easy solution is to save the document as a WP5.1 file, load it into WP and edit it there, then resave it and import back into Word. Some complex formatting may be lost, but it does solve the problem.
Word in it's online documentation still tries to deny that this is a real problem. For me, the amature level of the Word editing features is still the program's biggest drawback, even eclipsing the automatic loss of old documents when you upgrade, due to Microsoft not supporting Microsoft.

#

indexing

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 02:54 PM
OO might offer more layout options, but

- in Word you create index entries in 1/3 of the time; no complicated dialogs, you just enter the index text as hidden text

- you can do find&replace operations which change *both* main text and index entries

who ever has indexed whole books with both Word and OO (I did) knows that OO interface to index entries is way too complicated

btw, I am a big fan of OO, Open Source and Linux

#

Next time compare also handling of Footnotes

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 03:03 PM
Try to do a document that has many footnotes per page. You will see that it is almost impossible with
Word to get all the footnotes on the correct pages. Writer is much better in this.

#

Legal Pleadings...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 04:32 PM
If someone can make Ooo.Writer do legal pleadings as good as WP, it would probably quickly make legal offices have to start considering it over Winword...

This feature kept Winword out of legal offices for much longer than users' knowledge of WP keyboard sequences did anywhere else.

#

Re:Legal Pleadings...

Posted by: greengrass on June 23, 2005 05:11 PM
Give us a hint. I fact, give more than a hint and let us know what is required to do "Legal Pleadings"

#

Re:Legal Pleadings... see groklaw for what is need

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 08:39 PM
There was a long discussion about this on groklaw <a href="http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20050604110353735" title="groklaw.net">http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20050604<nobr>1<wbr></nobr> 10353735</a groklaw.net> - PJ asked if some of the folk getting google funded summer coders to work on this and there is an good description of exactly what is needed.

#

Re:Legal Pleadings... see groklaw for what is need

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 09:38 PM
As for pleadings,... it's easy...

Use a 2 column table to create the Caption, and only turn on the middle column border with a dotted line border...

Instant Caption that can be cut and pasted onto subsequent pleadings.

The numbering should work just fine for creating multi-count averments...

#

Re:Legal Pleadings... see groklaw for what is need

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 11:44 PM
And is this some kind of style that can be applied to an imported document or is it a bunch of steps to do what you've described?

Just wondering. I don't do any of this stuff myself.

#

comments and changes

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 04:43 PM
i am a user of writer - i don't use anything else. what i want to be incorporated into writer from word are:

1. comments (you can hardly see the indicators in writer)
2. changes (have the corrections in the main body of the document and the changes + deletions to the side / margin of the document)

in terms of data and format consistency - writer is tops. it is just the small 'extra's that needs polishing up. and a better 'compression' that does not hog up the memory.

#

I'll second the first one

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 12:29 AM
The almost invisible comment indicator is annoying. Unless you know where they are supposed to be in the document, you'll most likely miss them.

As for showing editing changes and such, I would like something like an old-fashioned editor's markup. That will probably never happen; the only way I can envision it, is some kind of overlay (like layers in a paint program) and you'd need a pressure sensitive tablet to really do it right.

#

Re:I'll second the first one

Posted by: richlv on June 27, 2005 11:01 PM
heh, i see this as major drawback in oo.org when compared to msword (well, selection of vertical blcoks of text comes to mind as second<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;) ).

to check notes/comments it's better to use navigator - just expand 'notes' section and doubleclick on them.

#

Usability &amp; polish

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 05:18 PM
The article doesn't cover usability, nor general "polish". Both are quite subjective, and that's probably why.

I think usability is a severe weakness of OO.o. I tend to view the interface of OO.o as an awful clone of a ghastly and cluttered user interface. In other words, Office's UI is quite bad enough, let's not clone it badly to make the situation even worse.

A new UI focusing on discoverability, logical organization, and appropriate informating hiding would be wonderful, but it's not exactly the sort of thing that'd be trivial to retrofit onto OO.o. Nonetheless, the UI is in my view the single biggest problem with OO.o. Hey, I can hope - maybe someone might get together a team for their PHD in user interface usability, or maybe some inspired genius will take it on with the lure of some money from Google.

Polish is the other issue I have with OO.o. There are many places where things you'd expect to work, don't. Note that I've used OO.o more than MS office, especially the later versions, and started using it earlier than MS office too (excepting Word 5). These aren't "what I expect as an MS Office user" expectations, they're "what I expect as a user from a user interface" expectations.

For example, hitting F1 with a function selected in a spreadsheet bringing up help on the function entry bar, not the selected function. I was pleasantly surprised recently to find out that Excel brings up help on the function.

AutoCorrect-as-you-type is another case. While you can disable AutoCorrect in OO.o, it doesn't<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/adapt/ without configuration. If I type OOps, for example, AutoCorrect changes that to Oops. Helpful. Let's say I meant' OOps. I go back and change it. I expect it to stay changed - I did, after all, just UNDO something AutoCorrect did for me. Autocorrect changes it again. I recently checked MS word - and sure enough, if you "show" it that it was wrong to autocorrect that case, it won't change what you just corrected back again.

The little things like this make a big difference - the difference between swearing at the app while you try to do your work, and noticing how the app improves the flow of your work without getting in your way. That's what I feel is missing from OO.o even more than MS Office.

--
Craig Ringer
craig@postnewspapers.com.au (the spam can't get any worse anyway)

#

Re:Usability &amp; polish

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 03:32 AM
Yes, this is how I feel too. I'm a adjunct at a state college testing out OO to see if we are intrested in teaching it. To test rather or not OO will meet our accreditation needs I'm taking it through it's paces using a MS Word book.

So far there has only been a few handful of things that have not stacked up to Word. But Word has OO beat in one catagory that the article did not cover...convience. Craig is right. OO is full featured, but it's not very intuitive for the average user. I've been using Word Processors for years and I'm having problems getting simple features to work or even understand the basic process (headers/footers is one of them - it's the whole page style thing).

OO needs to work on it's convience factor...those little things that polish it up to where the user feels like the program is working with him not fighting ever step of the way to do basic processes.

Don't get me wrong, OO is a great program...but Word offers a lot of convience to basic users. If I was deciding between OO and Word my biggest question would be "how much moeny is convience worth?". You get what you pay for. OO might be free, but it's not polished. If I had the money to spend, I might just decide that convience wins over Open source. I spend lots more time cursing at OO then I do Word.

#

Re:Usability &amp; polish

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 06:12 AM

Don't get me wrong, OO is a great program...but Word offers a lot of convience to basic users. If I was deciding between OO and Word my biggest question would be "how much moeny is convience worth?". You get what you pay for. OO might be free, but it's not polished. If I had the money to spend, I might just decide that convience wins over Open source. I spend lots more time cursing at OO then I do Word.


You are correct when you are talking about convenience for basic users, but basic users won't need much more than WordPad. Once you have to raise the level of complexity beyond basic use, Word will cause you more headaches than you deserve for the $$$ you gave Microsoft. Two reasons: first, advanced funtions are hidden in places where no one would look for them. Second, once you have found them, you will recognise that they are poorly implemented. Hardly anything in Word is working as it should, and chances are good you are losing your data through crashes and corrupted files. If you want to make a reality check, ask an average office user how many pages a word processor document should contain. Most will tell you about twenty. Is there any reason why a word processor shouldn't contain more than twenty pages? OOo Writer will happily handle 1 000 pages or more with footnotes, images, references. Try that with Word.


Sorry, Word is one big mess and still as "stable" as Win 95. I'll never let it touch my computer again, no matter how 'convenient' it seems to be.

#

Re:Usability &amp; polish

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 12:48 PM
I have to agree with you in general, but not with your example.

OOo should adapt if you press control+z (undo) immediately after the autocorrection. In general though I agree with you on the polish aspect. My particular issue is with lists. I have done some work in Word and lists and it was bad, but OOo has its quirks in this area also. I haven't isolated the exact steps yet to make a bug report though. And it may already be fixed in 2.0 Beta, I haven't checked.

One specific issue I have come across in Writer is referencing fields from a Calc spreadsheet (used as a "database"). When I make a change in the Calc "Database", the changes won't show in the Writer document for mail merge until I close and open the document again.

I haven't tried reproducing this on other machines yet, so it may be a bug with this machine's install.

Has anyone else seen this?

Mike Fedyk -- mfedyk a mikefedyk.com

#

Re:Usability &amp; polish

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 26, 2005 10:10 AM
Mike:

Have you tried using Tools > Update > Update All?

That should update everything for you.

#

Tables

Posted by: Leon Brooks on June 23, 2005 05:35 PM
One thing not mentioned in Tables is splitting and merging cells. Writer can do at least as much of this as HTML can, and is much more capable than MS-Word when it comes to complicated tables.

For example, repeated splitting and mergings across generations get disconnected by MS-Word, but in Writer it's dead easy, very natural, to get them all synchronised again. I have a newsletter with just such a table in it which is about 25 generations old in the best load-last, save-as-new, edit tradition and routinely gets split and merged. No problems. If I'd been using MS-Word, I would have deleted the whole table in frustration and rebuilt it at least half a dozen times by now, and the document would be steadily growing. Kind of like a memory leak on disk.

BTW, Craig is an insightful critic. His views have been used to improve many software projects. Anyone in the OOo project, please note.

#

Nice article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 05:52 PM
This is a very nice article. Very accurate. I hope that next time you also add KOffice and maybe other office suits into comparison. And I hope we see a similar article about other office componenets.

#

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

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

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.



Lists



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.



Tables

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.



Conclusion

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).

#

Re:Misleading article

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 02:05 AM
<i> 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.</i>

Writer 2.0 makes it easy too by clicking on "New style from selection > update style" from the Styles and Formatting window.

<i>Additionally, Word has always offered styles on the toolbar for an easy drop down list.</i>

Uhmmm... so has Writer.

<i>Word will additionally display styles in the floating palette with ad hoc format changes.</i>

That doesn't seem so useful. Considering how many dozens of options styles can have, I don't see how you could offer a representative sampling of what styles can do.

<i>Templates are not that complex in Word, and if you are using templates you probably understand them.</i>

My mom and dad use templates for letters, invoices, etc. My kid brother uses for presentations at school (he grabbed them from OOExtras).

Why should templates be advanced features? It shouldn't be complicated.

<i>For bullets and numbered lists, Word actually does what it should do in most cases.</i>

But they are still unreliable when you try to do something interesting like having several nesting levels, or moving items around.

<i>More importantly, though, is Word will help you by recognizing common typographical conventions as lists and format them appropriately.</i>

Such as? Please only specify things that Writer does not do.

<i>Word offers using special characters, pictures, and various different formats for the bullets.</i>

Writer does that, and then some.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-)

<i>Word will conveniently remember the ones you use most commonly.</i>

And Writer provides list styles. I'd rather have styles, than have the program "remember the formatting I most use".

<i>You can double-click on the header or footer from the Print Layout (the default view) of Word to modify it.</i>

And in Writer you can single-click on it and do anything you do on the document body.

<i>Other options involving headers and footers (like alternating headers for odd and even pages) are available through the page setup dialog.</i>

And in Writer they are part of the page style. A concept foreign to Word.

<i>Guess what, that feature is directly copied from Microsoft Word 2003.</i>

I don't know if that's true. But if it were. Do you disapprove of OOo copying a good idea?

It's ridiculous that people complain "OOo should do xyz like program abc" and when do that people complain "OOo copied!".

OOo copies ideas when we think they're worth copying. When we think we have a better idea, we use ours. Hence, some things are copied, and many ohters are different. It goes both ways you know? MS

#

Word wins hands down in Styles

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 06:58 PM
In my opinion, both programs are badly broken in their handling of styles, since it is substantially more time consuming to use them than not to use them. There are shortcuts for all the basic formatting operations (to change spacing, underlining, alignment, etc.) but no shortcuts for styles. So you have the option of ditching styles and typing quickly, or keeping with styles and mousing around. In the case of long documents, of course, you set up key commands, etc., but this is a substantial time commitment and not something the programs are set up to encourage.
But Word's "Stylist" works around this feature by allowing you to treat all text as styles. In Word, you can easily say "Select all indented text and make it double spaced." The Stylist shows you a break down of all the different kidns of formatting you have in your document, regardless of how you created that formatting. This makes *much* more sense: make the program do the work of information about styling rather than the user.
And on the UI front, Word puts the stylist in a sidebar panel that can't obstruct your view of your main document. This is smart and inline with some of the good changes that have been coming to gedit. In wordprocessing, all main features -- search, formatting, etc. -- should happen in a way that doesn't obstruct your view of the document (this is the minibuffer concept from emacs, really...). Word is slowly getting there (though search and replace, for example, still requires a cumbersome dialog). There's nothing I've seen to indicate that OO is even headed in the right direction.

#

Re:Word wins hands down in Styles

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 08:49 PM
And on the UI front, Word puts the stylist in a sidebar panel that can't obstruct your view of your main document.


In OOo, you can 'dock' your stylist (and just about any other popup window). Hold down the Ctrl key while you drag the stylist window into the approximate location where you would expect it to dock. You should see it snap into place. Let go of the mouse button, *then* the Ctrl key.


I don't know how the OOo team could have made the existence of the feature obvious (except in the "Did you know..." tips on startup, and even then you would have to read through all the tips). It's just one of the Tips and Tricks that you have to discover.

#

Except When

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 05:36 AM
Except when you are trying to copy some content from one document to another and they don't have identical sets of styles.

MS Word is so annoying that I've configured it by unchecking "Keep track of formatting" in the options/general tab and unchecking most of "Autoformat" and "Autoformat as you type" choices in the Autocorrect options.

I haven't used styles enought in OO.o to be critical yet, but since it is a MS Word wannabe, I'm sure I'll complaining soon.

#

Re:Word wins hands down in Styles

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 26, 2005 12:33 PM
Word violates the very reason for using styles. Try to apply a style to a paragraph in Word. Then try to italicize a single word. Now you have to explain to Word that, no, I don't really want to redefine the style. I just want to override the style this time on this one thing.

After two or three paragraphs, you'll turn styles off because they're more aggravation than they're worth.

Thw whole point of using styles is that you apply the style to format the text, not apply the style to the text to redefine the style. Redefining the current style should be a choice you have to make, not a prompt you have to continually answer, mostly in the negative.

Writer has room for improvement in its use of styles, but Word is completely broken when it comes to styles. Advantage: Writer

#

Re:Word wins hands down in Styles

Posted by: richlv on June 28, 2005 12:14 AM
strange... i never ever used styles while using word - and editing larger documents was painful. then it seemed to be a normal practice. only after using oo.org i learned about styles - and i am continously amazed that word has no concept of page styles. i've seen a lot of documents that people send me with questions "why the hell it behaves like it does ?" - andi can easily see what has been formatted with which style and send them back corrected document.

i can agree that using styles can be more time consuming in short and/or simple documents - but for longer documents this might be true for word (last time i tried to do that just to see what it's like, i just dropped that idea). for anything longer than a couple of pages styles will help you a _lot_. and writer handles them pretty well in my opinion.
charts might have more detailed styles, there are some minor things that i would like to change in calc's handling of styles, but i use writer's styles every day and i could not do without them anymore.

#

compare more than just OO to Word

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 08:09 PM
I was in charge of a task force at Cornell Studying Open Source alternatives to all closed source programs we use within Engineering. In the spirit of open source, I have published my paper under the creative commons and can be obtained for free at:
<a href="http://www.lulu.com/content/120797" title="lulu.com">http://www.lulu.com/content/120797</a lulu.com>

Enjoy - and use this tool to bring open source to more people

#

Spell Check in OO?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 09:02 PM
I am running 1.9 (2) of OO, and after writing a paper, then saving in<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.doc, it seems the spell check is broken? I also could not get the<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.doc to correctly use spell check in word 97 after it was created in OO. Maybe its because this version of writer is beta? Or maybe its just me<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

#

Re:Spell Check in OO?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 09:22 PM
> If the information in the template and the document differ, then the document is corrupted and often unusable.

Complete load of rot. Look, at the end of the day, I see the author of this article as having been bothered to play around with Writer a lot more than Word.

The statement "the relationship between templates and documents is looser than it is in Microsoft Word. In Writer, a template determines only the initial formatting of a document. A link is maintained only to give you the option of updating the document with changes to the template. However, users can ignore this link because the source of formatting information is the document itself."

This is exactly how Word deals with it. Page layouts a style? Interesting verbage. Etc

B&N: I have not experienced the problems he claims exist in 2003.

H&F: Again, a clueless commentary. H&F are by neccesity a section-based object as that is what happens in the real world. If you want page layout software, don't use a WP for your DTP.

Indexes and tables: Yet again the author shows his complete ignorance of many of the features in Word, including a concordance file, multi-column indexes and the like. Complete load of rot this section.

Conditional text: I have had a simple free tool on tech whirlers for years that provides this feature, and again, the author doesn't discuss IF fields and the like.

Master documents: Yes, he even states the opinion he offers is many years old. John cheerfully admits my methodology, available free from tech whirlers for a number years already, gets useful results.

Unique tools: Writer wind purely because it has a free add on for PDFs? Umm - Word has several too. Again, pure ignorance.

Word is more powerful simply because it integrates tightly with a number of other products. These days the 'ye olde sequential document format' is all but dead. Where is the Open office Sharepoint server? Where is the Business Portal? What efforts have been made to allow integration with a database and which one?

Steve Hudson
Word Heretic

#

Re:Spell Check in OO?

Posted by: Daniel Carrera on June 24, 2005 04:02 AM
>I see the author of this article as having been bothered to play around with Writer a lot more than Word.

I know the author, and I'm under the impression he's been using Word longer than Writer.

>Page layouts a style? Interesting verbage.

You don't give much in the way of reasons, do you? Having page styles makes OOo a lot more flexible. I like this feature.

>I have not experienced the problems he claims exist in 2003.

Lucky you. I've heard from many experienced writers who have.

>H&F are by neccesity a section-based object as that is what happens in the real world.

AFAICT they are, by necessity, a property of the page. Making it part of the page style is an elegant approach.

>If you want page layout software, don't use a WP for your DTP.

What if you want to write a document that could benefit from both WP features and DTP features? Personally, I like the way OOo does it.

> multi-column indexes

Writer has those too.

> Master documents: Yes, he even states the opinion he offers is many years old. John cheerfully admits my methodology, available free from tech whirlers for a number years already, gets useful results.

"get useful results"? Is that all you expect from Master Documents? Master documents are currently very unreliable in MS Office. In OOo they work.

> Unique tools: Writer wind purely because it has a free add on for PDFs? Umm - Word has several too. Again, pure ignorance.

No, I think you're showing your ignorance. PDF is not an "add on" in Writer. It's part of the program. And Word's PDF add-on ain't free.

> Word is more powerful simply because it integrates tightly with a number of other products.

Writer integrates tightly with the rest of OOo. More so than what MS Office can do.

> These days the 'ye olde sequential document format' is all but dead.

Funny, I thought the book I'm working on was a sequential document.

> What efforts have been made to allow integration with a database and which one?

You really didn't bother to try out the version of OOo the author was reviewing, did you? OOo 2.0 beta has a database application which can talk to a dozen different databases (MySQL, Oracle, HSQLDB, etc) and has provides two database backends (HSQLDB and dBase). Let's see MS Office integrate with a dozen databases.

Cheers,
Daniel.

#

Re:Spell Check in OO?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 29, 2005 05:30 AM
Yep me too, 1.9.118 (2.0 beta). just stopped working. i have been using it for a few months too. not sure what i did. both inline and menu launched spellcheck are buggered.

#

Now that Writer has been compared

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 10:15 PM
Has someone taken the time to compare and contrast the other components of OOo to the MS Office Suite? I'd be particularly interested in knowing if a comparison between Calc and Excel has been done.

#

Re:Now that Writer has been compared

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 24, 2005 12:35 AM
Last December, Newsforge published my article, "Microsoft PowerPoint versus OpenOffice.org Impress":

<a href="http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/12/02/1544200" title="newsforge.com">http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/12/02/<nobr>1<wbr></nobr> 544200</a newsforge.com>

It's based on OOo 1.x, though, so it's not totally current.

#

Speed Benchmarks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 10:46 PM
In the past a significant difference has been the relative responsiveness of these programs. Has the OO team looked at this?

#

Re:Speed Benchmarks

Posted by: Daniel Carrera on June 24, 2005 04:06 AM
OOo 2.0 will be better. At least, based on my experience it is. But it's no speed demon.

Please do go try it out.

Cheers,
Daniel.

#

Re:Speed Benchmarks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 04:21 AM
I know that OOo 1.1.4 is slower to start than Office 2000 under Crossover Office 4.2, though they are about the same once loaded. The startup speed difference is only a few seconds on my P4 1.6GHz (running at 1.2GHz) laptop with 512MB of RAM. I have not tried the 2.0 betas yet but hopefully they will be faster than Office 2000 under Crossover (Wine).

#

2 things i like in to see in Writer

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 23, 2005 11:01 PM
I have been using Writer for at least 2 years now after almost a decade of using Word. I work in a networked environment where documents are shared and can be edited by users.

Two things in MS Word that keeps all my other colleagues to shifting to Writer are:

(a) Document locking, where one document becomes "locked" and is opened read-only when it is priorly opened by another user.

(b) As pointed out in one remark above, clear comment indicators and a better interface for entering comments.

I'd also like Writer to handle large "recorded" changes more efficiently. Not "shown" recorded changes, as Writer warns, will slow down the program.

#

Re:2 things i like in to see in Writer

Posted by: Daniel Carrera on June 24, 2005 04:20 AM
How would you suggest we implement (a) ?

What you are asking is a type of DRM. Document locking seems counter to the idea of open standards. If we use an open format, then anyone who can read it can also modify it.

How about PDF export? Would that do?

Cheers,
Daniel.

#

Re:2 things i like in to see in Writer

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 07:04 AM

I'm not the grandparent but I think you misunderstand. It's not DRM. He's referring to a simple shared editing facility that MSWord has.



When several people are working on the same document in a shared folder MSWord will allow the first person to access it to edit as usual.



Subsequent people attempting to edit the document get a readonly copy and put in a queue. When the the first person stops editing (closes the file) the next person in the queue gets notified, given the updated copy and given read-write access.



MSWord implements this by having a temporary work file saved in the same folder as the document being worked on. The queued MSWord instances appear to poll this file to see when editing is complete and move to the next person in the queue. The ownership of the temporary file can be used to identify the editor of the document. It can also cause document lockout if MSWord dies unexpectedly leaving the temporary file undeleted, the reason why I know about it.



I've no idea whether Writer does anything similar. It is a useful facility in an office where several people may be simultaneously updating the same document, though perhaps it could be better implemented. In MSWord queued editors are not notified of the identity of the active editor and there is no mechanism for override or true shared editing, at least in the versions of MSWord I've seen. I think the reason MSWord did it this way was to avoid the "multiple inconsistent copies of the one document bouncing around in email" syndrome.



One way to do shared editing would be for the queued editors to be optionally given read/write access to a copy of the document with the different copies being automatically 3-way merged when each editor completes. Typically different editors will be working in different sections of the one document so merging could be relatively painless. This would be very convenient in a group setting. I'm sure you could think of other ways of organising simultaneous editing.

#

My 2 cents

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 12:15 AM
I've used WordPerfect 4.2 through 2000, two versions of AmiPro for several years, all versions of MS Word from Office 95 onward, and most OpenOffice versions since 1.1. I've also briefly looked at others, such as the first commercial version of Lotus WordPro (that was bad enough to make a person cry!).

My largest manual (10 subdocuments, 1 master, TOC and Index in separate subdocuments) is worked on by three different people and is several thousand pages of tables and text. So far WordPerfect 2000 has worked out the best for us.

AmiPro couldn't do subdocuments, the earlier versions of MS Word literally blew up, and OpenOffice turned out to be, well -- Frankenstien's clone of MS Office.

I'm committed to moving to open source and out of Windows. It just seems to be so painful some times.

Quickly scanning through the above comments I noted that one person mentioned writing without styles. Many novel writers prefer to minimize formatting until they've got their first couple of drafts done. Formatting gets in the way when you've to a goal of dozens of pages per day. When the wordprocessor forces the writer to do an editor's job, it just isn't a good tool. Check out the blogs of some professional writers if you'd like to get an idea of what's important to them.

#

Master Documents

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 12:57 AM
In Microsoft Word, the practice has been different for almost a decade. Years ago, on the Word MVP site, John McGhie wrote, "A master document has only two possible states: Corrupt, or just about to be corrupt." Microsoft Word 2003 does nothing to change that harsh summary. Although McGhie's statement has been challenged, the only way to avoid either state in Word is to avoid using every feature that makes a master document handy.

Amazing. Incredible. Yet people still think MS Word is a great application.

I have managed several Writer master documents of more than 500 pages, many peppered with screen shots, and never had a crash. The only down side was the unavoidable slowing of response when reaching the limit of system memory.

They've worked just fine for me in WordPerfect 8 and 2000 too. I haven't tried them in OO.o yet.

#

openoffice.org writer vs microsoft word

Posted by: gottliebpet on June 24, 2005 01:46 AM
The article neglects two importand deficiencies of OO Writer: (1) Word has a richer set of keystroke combinations for invoking a macro. In particular, Word can use ctrl-alt-key, while Writer does not support this combination. Being able to use both ctrl-shift-key and ctrl-alt-key is very useful because it permits one to use the former to turn a feature on and using the latter, with the same value of key, to turn it off. Of course it would be possible to just use one combination and have the macro toggle, but that is sometimes a lot of extra programming effort. (2) While there are 2 different methods for jumping to a bookmark, neither permits its keystrokes to be captured in recording a macro. This is an inconvenience, although there are work-arounds if you happen to be a very proficient programmer in StarBasic.

#

Scripting and HTML export comparisons

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 02:22 AM
I was hoping to see some discussion of Word's and Writer's scripting/macro capabilities (language, recording, usability). The last time I did any scripting in Word was in Word 7/95, before the move from WordBasic to VisualBasic for Applications. Does anyone know if/how Writer's capabilities measure up to Word's?

Another missing comparison, an easy win for Writer no less, is HTML export. Word's "HTML" is an XML-laced mishmash that isn't useful for much but opening in Word or Explorer; Writer's HTML is actually fairly decent (i.e. it won't choke a validator) once filtered through HTML Tidy.

Recently faced with a 200-page Word document I had to get into (structured) FrameMaker *NOW*, I loaded it into Writer, saved as HTML, Tidy'ed, then loaded it into FrameMaker using the HTML application. Later on, I did a global search/replace on element names to convert it to the internal company DTD. That saved me hours of work. Converting a Word document to structured FrameMaker is (as I've learned by hard experience) otherwise something best done by stripping it down to text and re-tagging.

-- Larry Kollar

#

Re:Scripting and HTML export comparisons

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 25, 2005 01:48 AM
I don't know about recording, I've never found that useful.

However, I've done a lot of macro writing in both OOo and MS Office, mostly for spreadsheets.

OOo has fully capable BASIC macro language. Visual Basic is easier to use, since it is more tolerant of sloppier writing, which is not really a good thing, especially in more complex situations. In OOo macros you have more need to explicitly call document objects, and you need to know something about the underlying structure in order to do that. In VBA, it will often assume what you meant and do it, only occassionaly frustrating you by assuming something unexpected.

VBA help is more mature, though I can't stand the fact that it now connects to the internet to download the help articles in "real time" - I'm too impatient to wait 15 to 30 seconds for each article and each search list to appear on my screen.

OOo BASIC and VBA are fairly compatible, but the the Object Models used by OOo are somewhat different than that used by MS Office. With research and a little editing, you can port old VBA macros to OOo.

OOo also has bindings now for Java and Python, so it actually gives the user more choices for writing macros.

#

Wysiwyg sucks

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 12:59 PM
Blech! One piece of awful bloatware (OOo) is not much better than another (Word).

If you're writing serious documents, you need a typsetting system. "Real men" use latex + vi/emacs/whatever. The quality of output and the productivity of input is simply not comparable.

#

Maths

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 04:22 PM
What I think perhaps many people forget / ignore in these reviews is maths. While people doing more serious maths (university level maths) are probably more likely to do TeX, many children in highschool have to do maths assignments with Word/Writer.

If you are interested in a comparison, try some simple equations in both...
The quadratic equation :
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadratic_equation" title="wikipedia.org">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadratic_equation</a wikipedia.org>
A complicated equation with multiple roots :
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/math/3749839363242264e1aed01e5bb45b77.png" title="wikipedia.org">http://en.wikipedia.org/math/3749839363242264e1ae<nobr>d<wbr></nobr> 01e5bb45b77.png</a wikipedia.org>
(from <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_equation" title="wikipedia.org">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_equation</a wikipedia.org>)

To be honest, before I switched from Writer to TeX (or more acurately, LaTeX), I found maths formatting horribly slow in word (you have to do everything with a mouse), and Writer was laggy. Even if you do it the fastest possible way - write the equation in plain text, select it, and then use a keyboard shortcut for creating the formula from it, it still takes a couple of seconds for the formula to render on slow machines (OO.o 1.0.x, may be different in later versions).

Another issue I have had with word is that if you
make equations in a new version of word, and then
edit the document on an older version of word, your equations would sometimes disappear.

#

And lastly...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 08:39 PM
Price:

      Open office writer $0.0

      Word 2003 $nonzero

Winner: Open office writer

Platforms:

      Open office writer Windows, Linux, Solaris, OS-X,

                                            FreeBSD

      Word 2003: Windows, OS-X

Winner: Open office writer.

#

Too many lies or ignorance

Posted by: Mastodont on June 25, 2005 01:44 PM
IMHO author doesn't know Word at all. Only one example of his ignorance:

Conditional text<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... Conditional text is a block that can be hidden or revealed as needed. This functionality is most often used for maintaining two versions of a document in a single file.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... This concept is not supported in any way in Microsoft Word.

It' a lie. Word supports conditional text since version 6. And all I need are two fields - SET and IF.

#

Re:Too many lies or ignorance

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 25, 2005 02:49 PM
//...However, Writer consistently allows more control, offering settings for hyphenation, automatic page breaks, and the last line in a fully justified paragraph...//

It's a clear lie - all these features are available in Word's parag's settings too.. Author never looked at this dialogue - or he's simply natural born liar.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>//..Writer extends the concept of styles to frames, lists, and page styles..//

The styles of frames, list and page are independent in Word, too..<nobr> <wbr></nobr>//..Microsoft Word has no concept of page design at all..//

Word's page design concept is fully derived from the HTML page design concept. Further commenting of this article is waste of time...

What's the need to publish a similar things on this server?

#

Re:Too many lies or ignorance

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 26, 2005 11:09 AM
Sorry to intervene on your parade of self-righteousness, but:

1. Open Writer and Word paragraph style dialogues side by side. Writer's options allow control over hyphenation, page breaks and last lines in justified paragraphs that simply do not exist in MS Word.

2. Word does not have frame, list and page styles, period. It has some options for frames and lists for particular paragraph styles, which is not the same thing. Its list options are more limited than in Writer, and it does not give users any controls at a stylistic level for the frames used by other objects; they all have to be set manually.

3. To say that Word's page design concept is derived from HTML pages may sound good, but it's just another way of saying that it has no concept of the page in a typographical sense. If you ever try to do layout more complex than left, right, and starting pages in MS Word, you'll notice immediately how difficult it is to design at the page level. There are simply no tools available for doing so.

#

Re: Too many lies or ignorance

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 26, 2005 10:55 AM
On the off-chance that you might be interested in a constructive exchange rather than insulting me anonymously, I'd be very interested in hearing the details of how you use SET and IF fields for conditional text. If they can be used for that purpose, then you've stumbled on a technique that hundreds of professional writers who use MS Word daily have missed.

I say this with some confidence, because I was reluctant to make such a sweeping claim based on my experience alone, even though it's fairly extensive. I spent some time searching, and what I found tallied with my own experience. For example, I found a few places where professional writers asked if MS Word supported conditional text and were told by other professionals that it didn't. I also saw one MS Word guru announcing a macro he had written for using conditional text. So, if I'm wrong on this particular point, so are a lot of other informed people.

Which brings up a second point. When a fact is wrong, a person isn't always ignorant or a liar. Sometimes, a mistake is a honest one.

In proof of which: respond with the details of how you use fields to create conditional text in MS
Word, and I'll try it out. If it works, I'll say so, and admit the mistake.

#

Re: Too many lies or ignorance

Posted by: Mastodont on June 26, 2005 08:54 PM
you've stumbled on a technique that hundreds of professional writers who use MS Word daily have missed Oh no, Mr. Byfield, IMHO only you've missed. First field:

SET Bookmark "Yes" (it’ possible use ASK instead of SET)

Second field:

IF Bookmark = "Yes" "Conditional text"

The value of Bookmark could be modified by different means. The result is conditional text, independent from normally hidden text (that can be accounted as other type of conditional text).

When a fact is wrong, a person isn't always ignorant or a liar

If this would be one fact, then I'd agree.

#

Re: Too many lies or ignorance

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 27, 2005 10:25 AM
I've followed your instructions, and I admit that my flat statement was wrong: MS Word does allow the setting up of conditional text.

That said, I'd have to add that I would still consider Word far behind Writer in this area. I don't consider the tools in Writer 1.x to be very practical for heavy use of conditional text, but even those are better than Word's. As for the new Hidden text feature in Writer 2.0, it is so much easier to use that there is no comparision.

Word's are buried away, most suitable for a few small pieces of multiple text, and would be harder to maintain in a document that was going to pass through multiple revisions. Moreover, I find that the instructions you gave will hide text, but not paragraph markers, although I concede it might be possible to figure out a kludge to overcome this limitation. Similarly, you could probably write a macro to make this feature more convenient to use in general, but my main concern is default functionality.

In other words, while I'm always glad to learn something new, even at the cost of saying I was wrong, this detail doesn't change the big picture.

As for how widely known the technique is, do a search for "MS Word" and "conditional text" instead of relying on your opinion (which, although supposedly humble, doesn't stop you from the arrogance of slinging the word "liar" around, I notice), and you'll see how exactly how little it's known. If it was better known, you wouldn't find evidence of so many professional writers asking about it and looking around for plug-ins and other ways to get conditional text functionality.

In the same way, if you compare Writer's and Word's styles side by side, you'll see that Writer does, in fact, have more options in the areas that I indicated.

That's all I have to say in response. I do my articles with clean hands, and that includes admitting when I've made a mistake. I've done that, and I thank you for the correction, but my obligation ends at this point. If you feel like berating me, you can continue without my participation.

#

Bibliography

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 26, 2005 08:45 PM
A point the author missed out is the ability of Writer to use a bibliography database, and add references to other documents and then inserting those references as footnotes or a separate index. Doing a reseach paper for the university i found this feature very helpful, and looking at the xml generated, it seems that the bibliographical entries are stored in the file. To do this in Word i had to install a third party software (non-free, of course); the entries introduced by this software were out of the document, so it was useless.

Although the bibliography feature needs some polish (i.e. more flexible reference format), Writer clearly wins at this point.

#

OOo Needs a Draft / Work / Normal View

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 01, 2005 08:18 PM
Good article. It's a daunting task to compare two large, feature-laden programs, but I think this did a decent job.

I'm a fan of OOo, and have been trying to pursuade my family to give it a try (w/o success). At work I pretty much have to use Word. Taking a cue from "Word 97 Annoyances" (a great book), I've tweaked it heavily. One of my most useful tweaks is an editing view that has:

1) Word set to Normal view -- no page formatting shown, with the text wrapped to the window size

2) A column down the left edge that displays the styles applied to paragraphs

3) Tabs, paragraph marks, and field codes displayed, but no other non-printing visual clutter.

I find this an enormously efficient editing view and spend probably 75% of my Word time this way. I find it quite unfortunate that Writer only offers a Page Layout view and an Oneline view (I may have the names off), neither of which is really a "just let me see what I'm editing, with enough formatting that I can make sure things are tidy" sort of look at what I'm doing.

#

NO! Stop telling that OOwrite can fight MS Word!!!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 15, 2005 02:33 PM
From scientists the point of view I can tell you, that I can absolutely nothing to do with OOwriter because of very bad support of math formulas! I don't mean I need mathtype in OOwriter. I need just formula editor, that can work!

In oowirter-1.4 I can get formulas that are looking terrible. More I need manulally to adjust them! Horror! In open office 2.0 seems that this is only a bit better. So still is not working<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:(

And now take into account that ALL educational institutions have to use formulas. What now do you think about promotion OOfice into educational institutions?

#

Hey!, It's Free! (so what if you didn't pay $45+!)

Posted by: liz_wiz on July 25, 2005 01:50 PM
Yes, I admit MS WORD is HORRIBLE because:
1. It costs $45+
2. That 'assistant' drives people CRAZY!
3. It is frustrating to change formats

Open Office seems a bit more resonable because:
1.it's $0
2.It has no annoying helper
3.Haven't found how to change formats yet

yeah, sure, word may have a few extra features for the money spent but wouldn't it just be easier to get the free version, offer input, and save money at the same time?
-Liz_Wiz

#

OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.133.95.2] on September 10, 2007 04:57 PM
Amanda Gaskins
Ever hear of the phrase you get what you pay for I mean hello you have to put in what you get out

#

OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 217.127.53.248] on September 21, 2007 02:32 PM
Well i think both of them are good and i personally actually prefer microsoft word because its original and OOwriter is just copying word... that program would have never existed without microsoft so i just like it better... ok?! and yes... i know you can make something better but... i would still keep the old one that i know well or 'weller'.

sandra

#

OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 209.19.49.250] on October 16, 2007 09:01 PM
Word does support conditional text, according to its API doc. Of course, who is going to write a VB script to use it?

#

OpenOffice.org crash all the time

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.128.168.167] on October 24, 2007 07:44 PM
with tables, on recover of documents with images etc... it is not an stable software and it is not ready for production (I had been using it for years and it continues crashing all the time)

#

OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.232.214.182] on November 05, 2007 05:21 AM
I make long documents of about 500 pages, comprising meticulous formatting of data in tables that may easily stretch several hundred pages. Included are about 50 or 100 JPGs in a document of that size.

I would dearly love to use OO, but for the past several years OO has stood still in terms of vertical (not horizontal) centering, whether in a cell, a page, or a document. Yes, you can achieve the task, but take a look-see in an OO manual about how you would go about it. In Word, it is as easy to select for vertical centering as it is for horizontal centering. I use this all the time, and I don't want to fool around setting anything up for that eventuality -- it would simply be very, very impractical to have to do that. And so this seemingly tiny annoyance (it's really a huge annoyance) keeps me in Word.

-- WHICH Word, you ask. Well, I have 2000, 2003, and 2007 at my disposal, and I know them all. I use XP by choice over Vista, but both of those are at my disposal too. However, my main machine has an old, tight L2 cache, and whether that is the reason I don't know, but Word 2003 crashes several times an hour. Word 2007 is comparatively slow until I set up my own toolbar--but then what I have is an inferior toolbar to the ones in the former versions. Also, Word 2007 has gone off daydreaming all by itself with its x-rated doc format, which suggests the regrettable 98-2003 format is best--but as a compensatory "compatibility mode" thing? I don't think so.

-- So, you guessed it, to stay light-weight and get the job done, I'm right back in Word 2000. I would prefer 2003, but for the above constraints.

And, project by project, I keep looking at OO Writer and hoping someday it might be able to carry out a simple vertical centering one-press command. I've asked for it, but no one seemed to care.

It's like wishing that Open Office had a name, like Coca-Cola or Microsoft Word or WalMart. Those companies seemed to think their names were kind of helpful to business. What is OpenOffice dot Org? That's not a name; that's a website. Come ON, fellahs!
[Modified by: Anonymous on December 05, 2007 12:46 AM]

#

OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 77.163.123.178] on January 08, 2008 03:22 PM
??

#

OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.194.208.173] on February 15, 2008 05:07 PM
Open Office is awful, horrible software, worth exactly what one pays for it, nothing. Word '97 is lots better -- it automates making of envelopes, has good grammar checker, and actually keeps documents made in other formats the same. Oo does none of that whatever.
If anyone really does "styles" or "conditional text" I've never seen it, nor has anyone else in a real workplace, so those areas of evaluation don't even count.
In my book, WordPerfect 5.1 was the best word processing ever; logical, easy to use, no stability problems. OO is the worst, filled with feature shock, useless on the mundane tasks that count, and slow as molasses.

#

OpenOffice.org Writer vs. Microsoft Word

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.168.50.7] on February 26, 2008 07:41 AM
hi im shankar im using open office when i open a word or excel document right now its not opening

#

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