Saturday, November 04, 2006

Open Office Experiment

I've been playing around with Open Office and I've decided to give it a try full time. Open Office is a free, open source office suit. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, mathematical equation editor, and drawing program.

In order to give Open Office a fair shot I'm going to see if I can drop Microsoft Office for a full month. I'll not use Microsoft Office at all. The only caveat I'll place on this is I won't let my experiment have a negative impact on my teaching. All my old files are in Microsoft format, so we'll see how Open Office (or Neo Office on my Mac) will handle them.

I have a couple of reasons for trying this. The first is the version of MS Office for Mac OSX does not run natively (it runs in Rosetta, an emulator) so is often slow and sluggish. Additionally, I haven't been very pleased with the transition to the Mac version of MS Office. It's not exactly the same, but is close enough to drive me crazy. So, I figure this is the perfect time to switch programs.

A second reason is it's free and if I never have to buy MS Office again I would be very happy. I've been using Google Docs (Writely) a lot lately, but find I still need to have a wordprocessor and spreadsheet on my computer.

The third reason is the size of MS Word files. I was playing around with Open Office today and saved a file in the default format. It was 13kb, when I saved the same file in MS Word format it was 71 kb!!! This is outrageous. I'm tired of lazy programmers telling me memory is cheap. I'd prefer they write more efficient programs and file formats.

At a minimum I'll stop using MS Office for the next month to give Open Office a fair shot. After that I'll review it here and hopefully I'll dicide I'm not going back.

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Ben said...

Way to go Steve! I've been using OpenOffice for the past year and a half at home now on my PC and haven't been too dissappointed. As for my MAC though, I had to get another program to run in tandem with it (some X-application, can't remember the name here at school) as it wouldn't run natively on my older non-pentium MAC :(

The only trouble I have with OpenOffice is missing all of the fine touches that Microsoft has included over the years (simpler menu navigation, slightly more intuitive locations for settings). The biggest difference though is the lack of templates. I really missed all of my nice PowerPoint and Publisher templates, but I've been learning to cope :) Being more self reliant is nice, even if I don't have a quick easy resume template any more.

Unknown said...


I'm doing the same little experiment with a few twists. First, rather than openoffice (which needs X11 on the mac), I'm using NeoOffice (a native OSX derivative). I'm also using as a sort of online hard drive for my presentations. It accepts the openoffice format for all of the different openoffice features.

Unknown said...

I've actually given up on Open Office (and NeoOffice). I tend to use TextEdit or Google Docs for most of my word processing.