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 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.

28 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The article is 'double length', with the content posted a second time immediately beneath the first block of content.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

It's that impo'tant. :p

john3347
john3347

Is it really impo'tent or is it mostly impotent?

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I hate office work period! I'm just fine in my little terminal looking at cisco issues, so justtake your offfice suites and leave me alone. :) But if I had to choose, at the risk of public stoning and humiliation I do like Office 2k7 better. I have deployed oo in several areas that don't particularly need office, such as people that don't use our sharepoint services.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I suspect it depends on your point of view. It's always going to be slow compared to M$ Orifice. OOo doesn't have access to the top secret APIs and integration that make M$ products run faster in Windows. But on my work laptop (Dell Lattitude 630), it's not appreciably slower to load than Orifice 2k7 and I can actually customize my interface. And you can't beat the price...like the man said "Whaddayawantfanothin? R-r-r-r-rubbah bissscuit?"

Jaqui
Jaqui

must be yer winders system lying to ya again about an anti MS article. ;)

aroc
aroc

so not just Windoze doing it. However, I could swear that using Firefox on the same Ubuntu (8.0.4) box it only showed it once at first, but when I came back to look after a minute or 2, I did then see the second iteration - did you doublecheck after a few minutes, Jaqui? Viewing the source with FF shows both iterations.

FXEF
FXEF

This is not an anti MS article.... just a pro open source article.

JamesRL
JamesRL

For those of us on Winders, its posted twice. James

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

It posted twice. It posted twice. Almost as annoying as when people post from Google Chrom with those annoying line breaks after like 4 words.

Jaqui
Jaqui

never happen while they use Java. That would require a complete re-write to get rid of their Java dependency.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

I have read several times about OO being slow because it uses/is written in Java. That is simply not true. Most of OO is written in C++. OO does not even call the Java Runtime Machine unless it needed to run some extensions or feature that require Java. Compared to MS Office 2007 in Windows XP, OO 2.4 (haven't used OO 3 yet) is more CPU and memory demanding at start but once you load a medium document (~50 pages some images) OO 2.4 is faster and uses less memory. With very big documents (~1200 pages with many images, vector graphs and tables) OO 2.4 is slow but still usable. MS Office 2007 becomes incredibly slow, unstable and completely unusable.

Jaqui
Jaqui

ANY requirement for Java is an absolute no go for me. I WILL not install ANYTHING that has ANY requirement for Java.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Anywhere between Augusta, GA and Florence, SC. It was there, Jaqui, I just HAD to do it. :D

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

If you are not interested in OpenOffice then "why bother" posting in a discussion titled "What's new in OpenOffice.org 3.0"? Do us all a favour and grow up!

Jaqui
Jaqui

what road you on? I'll send a few trucks down it running everyone off the road. ;)

Jaqui
Jaqui

when koffice doesn't require java at all when maxwell doesn't require java? using OOo is not REQUIRED, there are other options, for THE SAME COST for software, WITHOUT the bloat cost.

techrepublic@
techrepublic@

My current install of OpenOffice 2.4.1 (Mandriva Linux 2008.1) has a requirement for Java but most of the time Java is not running. So, force an install of OO without the Java packages and you can probably run OO without Java, at least until you use some feature that needs Java. Don't know what will happen then.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

but I didn't know you hated the Sun that much! ;)

chris
chris

I thought java was only needed if you wanted some advanced functionality. Keep in mind that it's been a while since I've installed it.

aroc
aroc

I seem to recall reading that the 2.3 update included embedded Java with no more option to leave it out. I decided to hang on to my Windoze 2.2 install package because of that. Correct me if I am wrong...

compjason
compjason

Thank the Lord! I've been wanting this for a while now. Everyone saves their files from Word in those formats around campus and I stuck using a trial version of Office to open them. I'm happy they've included it :)

stef9995
stef9995

Not happy at all here with OpenOffice. Version 3 is not much of an improvement, it's more like a version 2.5. Even one of the OpenOffice reps said so a couple of weeks ago. And it's still too slow and memory-hungry. There are faster (Gnumeric), more capable (MS Office), and just-as-cheap (Koffice) alternatives available. For me, SoftMaker Office hits the sweet spot. I got hooked on their free SoftMaker Office 2006 release - it's at http://www.softmakeroffice.com When Softmaker sent me a lowball upgrade offer, I made the switch to SoftMaker Office 2008. They have it for Windows and Linux and even for Pocket PCs.

chris
chris

$80.00 per would be tough for me to swallow. I personally got 4 machines.

stef9995
stef9995

If you are thinking of free == gratis (which I think you are, reading your response), Softmaker Office 2006 for Windows is free: http://www.softmakeroffice.com Also, they are reasonable about licensing of their commercial version. You can install it on as many of your computers as you like, as long as you are simultaneously using only the number of copies you purchased. If you personally got 4 machines, then one license suffices.

geoff
geoff

Er, correct me if i'm wrong but isn't Softmaker Office a rebuild of OpenOffice.org. Mind you Open Office isn't OpenOffice.org so I could be barking up the wrong tree completely here.

stef9995
stef9995

Wrong tree indeed. No connection at all with OpenOffice.org. Softmaker have OpenDocument support in the word processor, but that doesn't mean they are using any of the OpenOffice.org source code. I don't think anything based on OpenOffice.org can be as fast as Softmaker Office.