Archive for the ‘Writer’ Category



by Kaj Kandler

There is a new magazine on the electronic newsstand. It is called o3 magazine and published by Spliced Networks.

The magazine reports on news in the open source world and is distributed as PDF document. The complete magazine is produced using open source tools, namely Open Office for writing articles, Scribus for page layout and Gimp for image production.

I read the recent #9: Open Source Publishing and found it rather unimpressive. The black and white design schema looks rather morbid and the overall layout is not very consistent. My pet peeve is gray text on black background for the table of content. Why make it hard instead of easier for readers to find what is in the magazine?

As to the content, it did not strike me as impressive. One article about publishing images with Gimp, and another one using Scribus, and two articles about OpenOffice, the very same tools that are used in the production of the magazine. The two articles about using OpenOffice are about writing a newsletter and about collaborative writing with the Open Office word processor Writer. Both articles lack a vivid writing style and any usable detail. What I learned from it was “Open Office can do both, collaborative writing and publish a newsletter”, no more. I didn’t learn anything how particular good OOo is at performing the task or how bad, how I actually do it, what steps to take, what pitfalls to avoid or where the programs limits are. Both articles did not even contain one screenshot to dazzle me with a marvelously appealing result.



by Kaj Kandler

I just learned that one needs to be careful when installing 2.3 on SuSE 10.X. Aparrently the packaging has changed so that you can install the various applications, such as Writer, Calc, Base and Impress, separately.



by Kaj Kandler

If you are a Writer, using as you main tool, Dimitri Popov’sWriter for Writers and Advanced Users” might be the book for you to read. And Dimitri does know his OpenOffice, as he also publishes the “WriterTools” extension. WriterTools in version 0.7.1 includes features such as:

  • Lookup Tool – select text and lookup it up in several online references, including Cambridge Dictionaries, WordNet, and Google Define.
  • Google Translate – select text and translate it to different languages using the Google Translate service.
  • Email Backup – Backup your currently open document per E-Mail.
  • Multi-format Backup macro – saves the currently open text document Writer) as Word, RTF, and TXT formats in one command.
  • Open FTP Document – open a document stored on an FTP server and work on it locally.
  • Convert to DokuWiki converts the current document into DokuWiki format.
  • Start/Stop Timer – keep track how long you work on which document and save the data in the accompanying WriterDB database. Use it as you please, such as for billing etc.

This set of tools utilizes the new extension infrastructure. Which seems to gain momentum in general.

I find the DokuWiki macro real nifty. I bet, if it would be MediaWiki as output, a lot of Wikipedia authors would become OOo converts.



by Kaj Kandler

Bruce Byfield has published another article about “Desktop Publishing with”

Bruce does make a point that when it comes to replacing mid level DTP applications like Microsoft Publisher® one does not need to look at Scribus. Writer in combination with Draw do the trick pretty well. He thinks Writer is especially suitable for long texts like books, manuals or thesis. Those documents tend to be text heavy with moderate variability of page design. In case you want to be more graphic heavy with little text, such as brochures, fliers or other marketing material, he recommends to try Draw.

I think Bruce should know, after all he is an accomplished book author and writes frequently articles.



by Kaj Kandler

Plan-B for celebrates the milestone of 100 help topic screencasts for Writer.

This week we added some topics around paragraph formatting and using tab stops. The latest batch contains the following help topics:



by Kaj Kandler

Plan-B for celebrates fast expansion of its help topics supported by screencasts.

Within two weeks, we were able to grow the number of screencasts by 50%. Most new screencasts deal with paragraph formatting.

Some of the new additions are:

If you like fancy document formatting then you need to check out how to create drop cap letters at the beginning of a paragraph.

We look forward to your comments on the new help topics.



by Kaj Kandler

Klaus Manhart has published an article about converting documents from and to MS Office, using He tells it as it is, that simple documents are easier to convert than more complex ones.

In his article he gives two sets of cut and dry advice for text-documents used in OOo Writer/MS Word:

Basic rules for successful data exchange

  • If you know that a Microsoft Office document will be opened in later, don’t use complicated formatting and functions.
  • Agree on the exact Microsoft Office file format to be used. If someone generates a document that’s going to be exchanged and uses a newer version of Microsoft Office, then RTF or another format up to and including Office 97 should be used, rather than anything more recent.
  • Try to avoid round-trip conversion, where documents are edited alternately with and Office. It’s not realistic to have a file that’s sometimes edited with Microsoft Word and sometimes with Open Office.
  • If you’re going to send an document to someone who just needs to read and print it, it’s probably simpler to export it to a PDF file.

Maximize Word compatibility in Writer

  • Enable Use printer settings for document formatting
  • Enable Add spacing between paragraphs and tables
  • Enable Do not add leading (extra space) between lines of text
  • Enable Consider wrapping style when placing objects

Learn at Plan-B for, how to enable/disable OOo Writer compatibility options for compatibility with MS Word or Release 1.1



by Kaj Kandler

ZDNet blogger Dana Blankenhorn points to new tutorials for by InPics.

InPictures covers several applications, such as Writer, Base and Impress.

While the tutorials are basic they are certainly helpful. Interesting is that Dana reports these have been made available with funding from the US Department of Education.



by Kaj Kandler

InPictures has published four new books covering

InPictures follows an unusual concept: [Its] computer how-to books are based on pictures, not text. The company states Most computer books contain over 50,000 words. In Pictures books contain one-tenth as many.

Best of all, the books are cheap, dirt cheap For a limited time, In Pictures books can be downloaded for free.



by Kaj Kandler

Continuing my research of books on OpenOffice. org, the open source alternative to Microsoft Office, I found a few books that focus on single programs of the suite:

OpenOffice Writer