Archive for the ‘Product’ Category

March

29

by Kaj Kandler

Users of Plan-B-for-OpenOffice.org can enjoy faster page loads and more stability of the website.

I wanted to do improve performance and stability on http://plan-b-for-openoffice.org for a long time. But never seemed to be the moment or my projects stalled due to the underlying Apache Cocoon framework (Version 2.1) not being maintained anymore.

Several attempts to fix some of the excessive loading of dojo related java script files where doomed. I never got anywhere. When I heard that some good souls decided it is time to update the stable 2.1 branch of the cocoon framework, instead of chasing major re-architecting with maven/spring/hibernate w/o clear goals for improvement, I saw my chance coming.

And the team that put together the release cocoon-2.1.12 a few days ago, did a great job. I had usually struggled upgrading the framework underneath my application. In part I only do it so infrequently. Not so this time. The source actually built flawlessly, and the error messages guide my path to fix issue by issue.

Feel free to report any issues you discover as a comment below.

P.S.: We also had to change hosting companies recently. Our long time partner VPSFarm has closed its business. Now the site is hosted on a VPS fully backed by SSD drives.

February

23

by Kaj Kandler

The Document Foundation has released LibreOffice 3.5. The new release has above all improved performance due to the elimination of dead code that is not used anymore or not really needed. This made the application lighter and faster. The most gained has LibreOffice Calc, the spreadsheet application.

Another focus has been interoperability, that allow documents from the Microsoft Office suite and Office Open XML documents to be read. Especially, scalable symbols from PPTX files are not imported correctly and various SmartArt is understood by LibreOffice 3.5. I’m sure that many office users will welcome the new ability to import Visio diagrams and reproduce them correctly. Also the import of RTF formatted documents has been improved.

LibreOffice 3.5 does now also support more completely the Open Document Format specification 1.2. Various graph forms are smoothed better, new data point and line ending symbols have been added. Unfortunately documents saved in the new version of the format are not yet recognized as valid by the Microsoft Office family. Lets hope the “leading” office suite does make its product interoperable soon.

Another major addition is a new and improved grammar checking tool, packaged with the Libre Office suite.

May

02

by Kaj Kandler

This week, Ingots, a group dedicated to teach IT skills based on open source, has published “Introduction to OpenOffice.org for Windows and Linux” (Use “Login as a guest”, to view the material).

I like the concept and the content of the course. However, I’m curious how it compares to the innovative approach of “Plan-B for OpenOffice.org. What is your opinion?

Do you prefer a traditional course offering like the one from Ingot or do you prefer the video based Software manuals from Plan-B?

Would you like to have course material with demo documents and quizzes on Plan-B for OpenOffice.org?

Please leave your comments about innovation in software manuals.

March

29

by Kaj Kandler

OpenOffice.org Release 2.4 is now available for free download.

Curious about what changed?

Release 2.4 has improved

  • Ease of use for setting languages for selected text in multi language documents
  • The chart module with
    • improved label formatting and positioning,
    • regression charts,
    • and inverted axis
  • The presentation application (Impress) has added
    • 3d slide transitions
    • Pictures as slide background
  • The spreadsheet application (Calc) has added
    • Splitting text into separate columns
    • Start formula entry with “+” for faster data entry from the numeric key pad
    • Better flow when entering rows of data
    • Drag and drop cells and columns to move them
    • Performance for loading large spreadsheets
  • The word processor application (Writer) has added
    • more powerful regular expressions for find and replace
  • Update notification for application and extensions
  • Performance in general
  • Improved localization and spell checking for 10+ languages.

OpenOffice.org Ninja has an excellent introduction to new features in Open Office 2.4. Screencasts about the new features are coming soon.

March

12

by Kaj Kandler

At ZDNet, Christopher Dawson compares NeoOffice vs. OpenOffice vs. Office 2008 vs. iWork. He obviously comprares them on Mac OS X, as GeoOffice or iWork and Office 2008 are special releases for the Apple Mac platform.

His report is influenced by his experience managing the IT for a school in Western Massachusetts. Chris concludes:

iWork is very slick and integrates well brilliantly with iLife. It’s easy to use, but powerful enough for serious users. However, it’s lack of compatibility with open file formats is of concern. Office 2008 is also slick and highly functional but not nearly as effortless to navigate. Even with academic pricing (iWork is priced around $10/license academic versus almost $70/license for Office), Office is a bit pricey and hard to justify when cheaper or free alternatives exist. OpenOffice for the Mac really isn’t worth a second look right now given its lack of integration and compatibility. NeoOffice has its niggles, but is generally a solid, easy to use office suite. Even if you choose iWork of Office, it should be installed on all of your users’ machines to ensure compatibility with their students. It could certainly stand alone, as well, but the relatively inexpensive iWork is a hard bit of kit to pass up.

February

18

by Kaj Kandler

This weekend something amazing happened to the traffic at Plan-B for OpenOffice.org. It doubled!

Why? Someone discovered the Open Office Calc video table of content page using the StumbledUpon Toolbar and must have shared it with her friends. And the crowd was really interested. Visitors that came from Stumbledupon stayed 35% longer than average visitors and their bounce rate was half of the usual average.

February

08

by Kaj Kandler

We at Plan-B for OpenOffice.org do love feedback from our users. On average, about 50% send us back a thank you for our answers to their OpenOffice questions. Some of the best we publish on our testimonials pages.

Dear users and readers keep them coming. We love your feedback and appreciate a thank you any time. It is so rewarding!

February

05

by Kaj Kandler

I just stumbled upon this quote

The design uses the same hardware platform as existing WiMax base stations, bearing out assertions from Airspan and others, that a WiMax base station can be sold as an LTE base station, using a different software load. “It’s just like a PC that can run either OpenOffice or MS Office,” said Baines. “We can build a card with the same hardware and run either WiMax or LTE.”

about OpenOffice in an unusual place. It is part of a report about 4th generation wireless equipment. Thanks Mr. Baines, you made my day!

:-)

January

31

by Kaj Kandler

Solveig Haugland, one of the best known trainers and consultants for OpenOffice.org offers free presentations about migrating to Open Office, to organizations that are interested in such a task.

Solveig is the author of many books, teaching Open Office software. Her latest book is “OpenOffice.org 2.0 Guidebook“, which you can also order from Amazon.

January

31

by Kaj Kandler

Sun Microsystems wants to encourage more participation in the Open Office community. For that purpose Sun sponsors a contest for contributions to OpenOffice.org offering $175,000 in price money and public acknowledgment of achievement.

The contest asks not just for development contributions, such as source code or extensions. The contest also solicits documentation, artwork, marketing materials and methods, tools to improve the community in areas such as distribution, translation, etc. It even accepts improvements to OpenDocument Format (ODF) and other creative ideas.

There are a few conditions for entry: You must create original work free of other people’s rights and be of legal age. You also must be a member of the OpenOffice.org community (registered at OpenOffice.org). For the cash prizes you need to live or be a legal resident of certain countries and territories. You can enter the contest as an individual or a group.

If you are interested, read the rules carefully. Determine if you are eligible for cash prizes. If you live in Austria or the Philippines, you are out of luck in this category. Also make sure that what you produce does comply with the licenses of OpenOffice.org and can be contributed to the OpenOffice.org project under the Contributer Agreement (different from the licenses). You should also be willing to have Sun Microsystems use your work for publicizing the Contest and the OpenOffice.org software.