Archive for October, 2006

October

26

by Kaj Kandler

OpenOffice.org is a popular office suite. As it is open source and available for free it is very attractive to institutions that want to save some money. This is especially true for institutions of higher education, that also want to save some money for students.

How popular is OpenOffice.org at the nations colleges and universities? That question has been researched by Benjamin Horst a NY based open source advocate. If your college uses OpenOffice and it is not on the list, drop Ben a comment.

Also, Digg this story so more people read about it and we get an even better list.

October

13

by Kaj Kandler

Highly anticipated, the next minor release of OpenOffice.org is out officially today. You can download release 2.0.4 here.

It is mostly a bug fix release. However it brings support for several new local data such as Namibian Afrikaans, Tigrigina Eritrea, Amharic Ethiopia, Tajik Tajikistan, Kirghiz, and Farsi Iran. OpenOffice.org is now capable to format locale dependent information such as date and time in these languages.

Release 2.0.4 improves the integration with KDE, using now system wide parameters correctly. Apple OS X users will like the better integration of native fonts into applications.

Calc became a function “INFO” that allows to ask for system data and makes spreadsheets more compatible with Microsoft Excel. An improve HTML import makes is more likely for Calc to read HTML formatted tables correctly.

Impress got a new feature to save shapes as images directly from the context menu.

OpenOffice.org can now also import LaTeX formatted files. Also this release lays the ground work for OpenOffice.org extensions to be come popular and easier to manage.

And last but not least, OpenOffice.org release 2.0.4 is supposed to be wicked fast at start up.

I’ll report on my experience after I have used the new release a few days.

October

12

by Kaj Kandler

Apparently speed is a major concern for the development team of OpenOffice.org. They were not satisfied with the time it takes to load large spreadsheets from Excel into OpenOffice.org Calc. So they improved Calc to load large spreadsheets faster by a factor of 15+.

When they say large spreadsheet, they mean really large, 25 megabytes, 100 sheets, 1 million cells and hundred thousand formulas. A change in the algorithm used brought down the times from ~39 minutes to 2:37 on a 1.8 MHz Pentium IV. On a Dual Core AMD Opteron(tm) Processor 275 with more memory, the time reduced from ~28 minutes to 43 seconds, almost a gain of factor 40.

Unfortunately, the improvements will only be included in Release 2.1, targeted for end of the year. Hope for a nice Christmas present.

October

09

by Kaj Kandler

Switching to OpenOffice.org could save the Danish government $21 million over an upgrade to Office 2007. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by Ramboll Management an IT consultancy. The report was commissioned by the Danish Open Source Business Association.

The Danish Parliament decided on June 2 that starting 2008 all documents exchanged with its citizens must be based on open standard file formats. The report compares the two options of upgrading to Microsoft Office 2007 with OpenXML and OpenOffice with the OpenDocument Format (also known as ISO 26300 standard).

The report looks at the cost over five years, including training and file conversion. The report concludes that on a strict cost basis, sticking with installed Offixe XP and Office 2003 and using a plug-in to load and save ODF documents would be the least expensive option. However, switching to OpenOffice, which uses ODF as its native file format, is little more costly. While upgrading to MS Office 2007 would cost additional $21 million.

October

09

by Kaj Kandler

Scott Carpenter published a rather sad satire about “5 ways to save on your monthly software rental bill in the year 2056“.

Scott looks into the rear view mirror at current trends of monetizing software not with an up-front one time license but with a monthly or annual license fee. Well, as many of us know, commercial software does not really have a one-time fee anyhow. After a number of years the pressure to upgrade to the new version becomes so strong that there is no escaping. Did you know that Microsoft’s assisted support for Outlook 98 ended on January 16, 2004. This is barely five years after inception and not atypical.

So enjoy Scott carpenter’s satire and see the grain of truth he is conveying.

October

07

by Kaj Kandler

It appears the next minor release is a bit delayed. According to the roadmap the next minor release with bug fixes and smaller improvements was planned for September.

However, apparently release candidate 3 of the release does turn some heads with its improvements in speed. Some beta testers can’t but rave about its quick startup time.

Sounds rather good to me. I can’t wait.

October

06

by Kaj Kandler

I have recently reported on the new OpenOffice.org chart module and its improvements. Looks like Linux.com has also noticed the ongoing development of better charts for Calc. They have some nice screen shots of the chart preview, the ability to add regression curves, and the new flexible data ranges.

Unfortunately, they confirm the uncertain release schedule.

October

03

by Kaj Kandler

Worldlabel.com sponsors a contest for template and clipart held by the the Openoffice.org Documentation Project.

While OpenOffice.org (OOo) has reached a functional parity with the market leader in most categories that matter, it has not developed the wealth of templates for documents from faxes to letters, presentations and classic calculation projects such as business plans and budgets or travel expenses. It also lacks a great deal of creative clipart for newsletters and memos or simple product fliers.

The OOo documentation project has put the challenge to the many talented designers
and business people to share their creations. All entires must be licenses under Public Documentation License or LGPL. Entries must be posted to the documentation project by October 31st. Prizes of up to $750, sponsored by Worldlabel.com will be awarded for the best entries by December 1st.

See the contest home page for further details.