Open Source

What's new in OpenOffice.org 3.0

On October 13 of this year, OpenOffice.org 3.0 was released. This highly anticipated release provides a number of enhancements. Vincent Danen shares some of the best new features.

One of the most helpful new features of OpenOffice.org 3.0 is the support for more third-party extensions, which are available online. A quick perusal finds that there are extensions to provide a mortgage payment calculator, various dictionaries and spell-checkers for other languages, PDF import support, template packages, and more.

In the new Open Office there is also improved support for various file formats. This release supports Microsoft's OOXML format — the new format in Office 2007. It also allows you to edit PDFs and MediaWiki "documents." With this release, you can create a document, lay it out however you like, and then export it to a MediaWiki format, which will save it as a text file with all the MediaWiki markup required to make it look just like the original layout. It can then be inserted into any MediaWiki-based wiki.

Many of the up-and-coming distribution releases will include OpenOffice 3.0 by default, so keep an eye out for those distro upgrades. The recently released Mandriva Linux 2009 includes a release candidate of OpenOffice.org 3.0; expect an update to the final version soon. The next versions of Ubuntu, SUSE, Fedora, and others should all come with the new OpenOffice.org as well.

On Windows, simply download the package from the OpenOffice.org Web site (at the time of writing, downloads were pretty slow due to the popularity of this office suite). Another of the big steps forward on this release is the fact that it runs natively on Mac OS X now.

For the most part, it looks and feels the same. Most of the improvements are under the hood with improved file format compatibility; however, once you start adding various extensions, expect the feature list of OpenOffice.org to grow dramatically. Also, the new version promises better multilingual support.

Unfortunately, OpenOffice.org is still fairly slow; in fact, it doesn't feel much faster than 2.x. If you were hoping for a big speed boost, you may have to wait for a future version.

If you are running an older Linux distribution and can't wait for an upgrade from your vendor, visit http://www.openoffice.org and download an RPM or DEB package. It may not be quite as integrated with your system as it would be were it vendor-provided, but if upgrading to a new release immediately isn't your cup of tea and you want to begin exploring what's new in OpenOffice.org, this will at least get you up and running.

If you've already tried OpenOffice.org 3.0, what are some of your favorite new features?

On October 13 of this year, OpenOffice.org 3.0 was released. This highly anticipated release provides a number of enhancements. Vincent Danen shares some of the best new features.

One of the most helpful new features of OpenOffice.org 3.0 is the support for more third-party extensions, which are available online. A quick perusal finds that there are extensions to provide a mortgage payment calculator, various dictionaries and spell-checkers for other languages, PDF import support, template packages, and more.

In the new Open Office there is also improved support for various file formats. This release supports Microsoft's OOXML format — the new format in Office 2007. It also allows you to edit PDFs and MediaWiki "documents." With this release, you can create a document, lay it out however you like, and then export it to a MediaWiki format, which will save it as a text file with all the MediaWiki markup required to make it look just like the original layout. It can then be inserted into any MediaWiki-based wiki.

Many of the up-and-coming distribution releases will include OpenOffice 3.0 by default, so keep an eye out for those distro upgrades. The recently released Mandriva Linux 2009 includes a release candidate of OpenOffice.org 3.0; expect an update to the final version soon. The next versions of Ubuntu, SUSE, Fedora, and others should all come with the new OpenOffice.org as well.

On Windows, simply download the package from the OpenOffice.org Web site (at the time of writing, downloads were pretty slow due to the popularity of this office suite). Another of the big steps forward on this release is the fact that it runs natively on Mac OS X now.

For the most part, it looks and feels the same. Most of the improvements are under the hood with improved file format compatibility; however, once you start adding various extensions, expect the feature list of OpenOffice.org to grow dramatically. Also, the new version promises better multilingual support.

Unfortunately, OpenOffice.org is still fairly slow; in fact, it doesn't feel much faster than 2.x. If you were hoping for a big speed boost, you may have to wait for a future version.

If you are running an older Linux distribution and can't wait for an upgrade from your vendor, visit http://www.openoffice.org and download an RPM or DEB package. It may not be quite as integrated with your system as it would be were it vendor-provided, but if upgrading to a new release immediately isn't your cup of tea and you want to begin exploring what's new in OpenOffice.org, this will at least get you up and running.

If you've already tried OpenOffice.org 3.0, what are some of your favorite new features?

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About Vincent Danen

Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.

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