Open Source

Increase productivity with these 10 helpful OpenOffice extensions

OpenOffice offers a host of essential features, but as with most software, it would be nice to have it do just a little bit more. Jack Wallen has sorted through the scores of available OpenOffice add-ons to find 10 that are particularly well suited to simplifying business tasks.

OpenOffice offers a host of essential features, but as with most software, it would be nice to have it do just a little bit more. Jack Wallen has sorted through the scores of available OpenOffice add-ons to find 10 that are particularly well suited to simplifying business tasks.


If you're using OpenOffice 3, you might be considering adding extensions to further its capabilities. But if you've looked through the OpenOffice.org Web site, you know there are a lot of extensions. Wading through this list can take some time. To save you that time, I decided to list the more business-friendly extensions for OpenOffice.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Alternative Find and Replace

This outstanding addition to the standard search and replace includes the following outstanding features:

  • Search/replace text can contain one or more paragraphs
  • Multiple search/replace in one instance
  • Searching endnotes/footnotes
  • Object searches according to name
  • Hexadecimal and decimal searches
  • Preset regular and extended expressions
  • Batch mode searching
  • Built-in help
  • Multi-language support

This new search feature is found on the Tools menu under the Add-ons submenu. When it opens, you will instantly see the expanded features. If you work with a lot of large, complex documents, this extension is exactly what you need to make your job easier.

2: Barcode

If you have to manage a lot of hardware, you know how bar codes can make your system management much easier. With this OpenOffice Draw extension, you can create different types of bar codes (EAN-13, ISBN-13, ISBN-13 from ISBN-10, UPC-A, IAN, EAN-8, and UPC-E) and you can add a checksum digit. This extension is simple to use. Go to the Insert menu and click on Barcode. A small window will open where you select the type and enter the value.

3: eFax

This extension integrates a full-featured fax solution into OpenOffice. With this feature, you can send and receive faxes through the eFax service. Once you install this, you will notice a new menu entry titled eFax. Note: This extension works only with the Windows version of OpenOffice.

4: FastMailMerge

If you have to do mail merges, you know that modern mail merge most often relies on a database for addresses. This is fine if you have employees who can create databases. For those who do not have staff capable of using a database but who still need mail merge capabilities, FastMailMerge may be the answer. This extension allows the use of spreadsheet data instead of databases. With this extension, you select a range of data in a spreadsheet and run the macro.

5: Gantt Chart

This easy-to-use spreadsheet extension enables you to create Gantt Charts in Calc. These charts can display 34 weeks at a time, change date ranges with sliders, create start and end dates dependencies, and display task completion percentages. Note: This extension works only with Windows.

6: GnuCash to OOo

This extension allows you to import Gnucash output data into an embedded database for evaluation. There are some installation issues with this extension. If you are using version 3.0.0, you have to manually install the source file. If you are using 3.0.1 or 2.x, you can install this extension with the extension manager.

7: Sun Presentation Minimizer

If you use a lot of presentations, you know that they can get fairly big. With enough graphics, a presentation can grow beyond nominal. Because so many presentations are presented on projectors, the quality of images does not need to be as high as, say, print quality. This extension optimizes images, compresses images, replaces OLE objects with images, and removes unnecessary data. The result will be a much smaller presentation.

8: Professional Template Pack II

This template pack comes in English and German languages and offers 120 professional-quality templates to use in Writer, Calc, and Impress. This particular pack includes business correspondence, budget and project plan templates, event posters, invoices, notes, minutes, press releases, presentation templates,fFormal and personal letter templates, and business card templates. Once you install this add-on, you will find it under Templates And Documents in the New submenu of the File menu.

9: Writer's Tools

This extension offers a ton of extra features for writers. No matter what you write, there will be a feature for you in this extension. You'll find document backup, conversion, translation, lookup, word of the day, add to notebook, word count, to do manager, invoices, a writer database, and more, professional writers or those who spend a lot of time writing for their office will find this extension extremely valuable. Once this extension is installed you will see a new menu entry in Writer called "Writer's Tools".

10: OOoDesignedLables

How many times have you had to create labels for mailing or personal name tags, or any other occasion only to find yourself fumbling with awkward tables to get the sizing write. The labels included in this extension are all a part of the WorldLabel catalog. This extends the default collection of labels included in the OpenOffice suite so that your label needs should be 100% met. To use this extension go to the File menu, click New, and then click Templates and Documents. You will find a number of new templates located with the various sub-menus.

Other favorites?

Have you come across an extension for the OpenOffice suite that's helped you meet some need the suite doesn't cover? If so, let the TechRepublic audience know so they can continue expanding their OpenOffice capabilities.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

3 comments
jkiernan
jkiernan

For those not aware of it, Go-OO is a version of OpenOffice that includes enhancements and patches that aren't in the standard edition. Increased compatibility with VB macros and additional file formats are included. http://go-oo.org/ OxygenOffice Professional is yet another version that adds a lot of templates, sample files, clip art and fonts. http://ooop.wiki.sourceforge.net/

Ed-M
Ed-M

I've been using OpenCards (http://extensions.services.openoffice.org/project/OpenCards) as a flashcard learning tool in Impress. Lots of presentations available online but it's also easy to make up your own. Has a built-in algorithm to optimise the scheduling and memorisation of presented information. Not everybody's best learning method but I find it extremely helpful as an adjunct to tutorials and manuals. Just input questions and answers to OpenCard as you are going through the material and you have a way to help you actually *remember* the information you are trying to learn. OS independent. Ed

morrisond
morrisond

I've found the Sun Report Builder for Base to be helpful when trying to format database reports. I have been able to apply my familiarity with Access to report creation in Base, since the interface is similar.

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