OpenOffice

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Open source "office suite" of loosely integrated office application programs, including Writer a word processor, the Calc spreadsheet, the Base database program, the Impress presentation graphics, Draw line oriented graphics software and Math formula generator. The package is also known as "Apache Open Office" and "OpenOffice.org", and commonlly shortened as OOo rather than OO to minimise confusion with the common shortenting for the term object-oriented.

History

The software traces its roots to the StarWriter and StarOffice packages developed from the mid 80's and up until 2000 by the German company StarDivision, and there exist a number of forks of the OpenOffice system, but none of them run under OS/2.

Use as a development tool

With its standardised and published file formats, reasonably well documented API and interfaces, a freely available SDK and open source code that is available for all to see and use, large number of supported platforms and lack of licensing costs, you would think that OpenOffice and its derivatives such as LibreOffice and Neooffice would have taken the world of customised and integrated office automation by storm. However a search for integrated or custom solutions based on OpenOffice and/or its derivatives yields zero results, with the applications being primarily used as a personal tools with a limited uptake with companies and organisations as a budget alternative to suites such as Microsoft Office and WordPerfect Office.

There appear to be a number of reasons for this in addition to the usual inertia:

  • Rapid and incoherent changes in API and integration features.
  • Large scale removal of features during the last decade.
  • Complete removal of the Java API and features by open source zealots.
  • The database program Base not viewed as ready for serious use, and options for using external databases removed or degraded.

There is also the perception amongst developers that the file compatibility of the OOo based suites with common office file formats such as those used by Microsoft's applications is considerably lower than what StarOffice offered some two decades earlier, to the point where SO file compatibility, while not perfect, was considered good enough to allow SO users to interact with Microsoft Office application on a day to day basis while the consensus seems to be that the same does not apply to OOo and derivatives. This is slightly lopsided since the formats used by MS Office of the StarOffice v3 to 5 era were closed formats while the current MSO docx format is an open standard.

Conversely while Microsoft Office does not only import and exports files in ODF formats (native OOo format) but can actually work with them natively in a somewhat unprecedented move by Microsoft, but in that case that means both a loss of formatting and other features that MS has either not implemented in their filters or simply that some MS Office features do not exist in OpenOffice and therefore it is not possible to save them in the OOo format.

Versions

  • Apache OpenOffice 4.1 (2016)

Authors

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