Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.
As a matter of fact, I have had Microsoft Office 2004 screw up so bad, I had to reformat the drive to get it working again. Could not uninstall or anything to get it back. NeoOffice filled the gap whilst I was trying to fix office, and it could even open a lot of documents that couldn't be translated or opened with Microsoft Orifice 2004.
Having used OpenOffice to write 2 books using the Windoze and Linux versions, I was real happy to come across NeoOffice for my Mac Mini, as it reads / writes all my OpenOffice files. It alone is a great, full featured product. Extra useful to be able to read / write those file sent to me by those of scope limited to Micro$oft formats. While free is cool, I did send them $20 as I do use the product in my profession.
Thanks for this well-balanced review of NeoOffice. During the few years I have been using it, I have found that most of its output communicates to PC users just as well as does that from Microsoft Office for Mac (which as we all know is decidedly not free.) NeoOffice has been improving steadily (except in its downloads which are still tedious) and I am very much looking forward to its future versions. It's always a treat to see a good Mac program get reviewed in a not-Mac-centered communication.
I've been using NeoOffice ever since it came out. Prior to that OpenOffice under X11. No one has been the wiser at my place of work that docs and spreadsheets have all been created or edited in English or Russian on my computer in NeoOffice. It is kind of slow to first open, but once it's open, it's fine. So, I just leave NeoOffice always running at work. The final reason I love NeoOffice has to do with viruses. I don't think a lot of Mac users realize that MS Office is susceptible to Macro viruses. I've seen one Mac lose documents because they got just such a virus.
I have been using OpenOffice for a long time under Linux but have only recently started using OS X and hadn't come across the NeoOffice port before. I'm very interested to see how it works on a Mac. My main use of OpenOffice is for preparing presentations, but I have the impression that Impress is the "Cinderella" of the OpenOffice suite (by that I mean that other components such Writer and Calc have had a lot of development effort spent on them, but Impress has been neglected). A lot of features don't even work properly when saving and re-opening in OpenOffice's native format (glue points are one example of something that keeps being tinkered with, but never seems to become really robust), and exchange with PowerPoint messes up even relatively simple diagrams so badly that you are often better off drawing them again. I have never had the nerve to try out more advanced features like animation. On the plus side though, once I have got a presentation looking the way I want, the export to PDF works really well.
I have used OpenOffice/NeoOffice since the first available download some time back. It's improved a lot over time & I find it easy, familiar, and useful at home. I do not always find others able to open my "saved-as" files when saving them as Microsoft Office docs, but I suspect that's more of a problem for those with back-revision versions of Windows than anything on the NeoOffice side. I wonder has anyone used it with Office 2007?
so, NeoOffice can open M$Office for Mac documents- what happens when you re-save them in NeoOffice and try opening them in M$Office in both Mac and PC. Does that maintain compatability?
Having tried iWork first with great hope and then with gritted teeth, I was relieved to return to NeoOffice for most word-processing and spreadsheet uses. I use Keynote in iWork because it works for what I need, which isn't elaborate. I use Pages once in a while for letters or newsletters that need to include an already downsized photo that would benefit from Pages' alpha-background treatment. However I know people who are very happy with both Numbers and Pages. So you probably need to try both programs to see what works best for you. Of course if you already have iWork and have room on your computer for NeoOffice, you're not spending anything more than whatever you may choose to donate if you really like a lot of their program. And we can all wait longingly for the Cocoa version!
I tried out iWork out of curiosity and I had 2 major problems with it. 1) As I recall there were problems with Russian. But that's not a definite. 2) Spell checking was only available in English. At least it wasn't available for Russian. The beauty of NeoOffice and OpenOffice is that all spellcheckers are free.
Since the Mac OS X printing system has built-in support for saving any printable document as PDF, it's not too surprising that the export to PDF feature works well. :-)
NeoOffice isn't really "OpenOffice for the Mac." It's a "branch" of OOo that relies heavily on Java to work, and that makes it slow compared to a native Cocoa application. That's not a complaint...until recently, OSX has been the poor stepchild of the OOo world, and NeoOffice has done a magnificent job of keeping the OOo dream alive for Mac users, and speed has improved with every release. A native Cocoa application is currently in the alpha stage. I believe NeoOffice has incorporated Novell's Office 2007 conversion tools, so it should show good compatibility with Office 2007.
Is compatibility really an issue? Sometimes, but far less often than people make out. Documents are created to communicate information to others. Most of the time, the receiver is not intended to alter the document. The document must be stored and sent in a form that the receiver can view. If it can be put into a pdf, Acrobat reader can display it accurately. Even better, you have maintained editorial control of it. Almost everyone has Acorbat reader. When collaboration does occur, it is usually within a group (company) that has control over the tools. If the document is created in MS Office, use MS Office to change it. If it is created in NeoOffice, use NeoOffice. There is no need to switch. One is free and the other costs a lot. It's your choice. Yes, I know that sometimes a customer dictates that you must purchase and use their tools. Howerver, most of the time, it is possible to make your own choices and control your costs as you see fit. This is especially true for home users.
There's options to save as OpenOffice documents or as Microsoft Office documents. And it can remember what format you want to save in, so it doesn't have to remind you every time you save (unlike Office).
I used NeoOffice for 1 semester of University after writing Office for Mac off as far too expensive for my budget. I thought it performed rather well, although I had difficulty with the University assignment cover pages, which were created in a Microsoft Word table and lost all their formatting when opened in NeoOffice (which led to much frustration as I stalked around campus looking for a free Windows PC with a printer and a scanner attached :)) The biggest problem I had with NeoOffice was with the spreadsheet application. In all honesty, it doesn't have half the functionality of Excel. I was doing an assignment that required some pretty tricky graphing and manipulation of the graph. That was the only time I felt that NeoOffice wasn't good enough for the job. My current workplace is considering switching to OpenOffice (all computers here are Windows PCs)and is delaying for the same reason: Excel is still the best spreadsheet program for the job. As a side note, I have purchased iWork 08 but haven't extensively tested it. So far I have had no issues, but when I have the time, I will get stuck into Numbers with the same graphing task I mentioned above and see if it performs better.
The formatting on anything but the most basic documents does not crossover very well at all. If you add graphics into the mix, it's even worse. Practically speaking, if you collaborate extensively with MSOffice users, you need Microsoft's product. NeoOffice just won't cut it.
I don't doubt that you had problems with NeoOffice's spreadsheet app. I call it Calc since that's what it's called in OpenOffice (OOo). However, I have to disagree nonetheless. I think maybe the problem was in how to create the graphs, etc. I work for a company and I track data and produce graphs on a monthly basis. I remember when I started trying it out in Calc I had problems. But I had no Excel experience so it made it easier probably. In fact my spreadsheet constantly use what in Excel are called pivot tables. Upon which data the graphs are created. One other note. I remember one time when we got an excel file at work that included a new function from Excel 2003 that wasn't in Excel 2000 (which the office is on). Therefore, no one could view the expression as it errored out something. I told them to send it to me and it worked. So there's another plus. NeoOffice is free (although should be supported) and your not locked into a specific version.
formatting is fluff that should occur AFTER the information has been created through collaboration. "Track changes" is the functionality that is most critical. Any organisation that wastes time arguing about formatting has fallen into the trap of wysiwyg. Just because you can easily adjust document formatting doesn't mean you have to. Also, remember that you need to use a truely universal document format, eg PDF, to ensure that any reader sees the formatting the way you want it.