25. März 2007

Open Office - What's the Downside?

"A couple of months ago, OpenOffice advocates had space to sound of on the reasons to switch to OpenOffice. Now, it only seems fair to give the dissenters a place to voice their own reasons. What are the reasons keeping you away from OpenOffice and on your current office suite?"

Read more on Slashdot

19. März 2007

Two OpenXML translators compared

"If you need to convert word processor documents to and from Microsoft's OpenXML format, you have at least two choices. A new utility from Novell work as an OpenOffice.org extension, while a separate project makes an add-in for Microsoft Word. One is clearly better than the other."

Source: Linux.com

18. März 2007

Use SVG graphics in OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org (still) doesn't offer native support for vector graphics in the SVG format. The SVG Import Filter for OpenOffice.org solves this problem. It installs as a regular OpenOffice.org extension and allows you to open SVG files by converting them into the OpenDocument format. Although the SVG Import Filter generally does a good job of handling SVG graphics, there are some features that have not yet been implemented. This includes color and transparency gradients "due to deficiencies in the current OpenOffice.org implementation of OpenDocument".

13. März 2007

Email Backup extension for OpenOffice.org

You can use any email account (e.g. Gmail) to quickly backup the Writer document your are currently working on. Simply install the Email Backup extension, and you can email the active document with a single mouse click. To install the extension:
  1. Download the EmailBackup.zip package. Do not unzip it.
  2. Choose Tools -> Extension Manager.
  3. Select My Extensions and press the Add button.
  4. Select the EmailBackup.zip package and press Open.
Once the extension is installed, restart OpenOffice.org. To backup the current document, choose Tools -> Add-Ons -> Email Backup (see figure), enter the email address you want to use, and you are done.

If you want to know more about how the extension works, take a look at the OOoBasic crash course: One-click email backup of OpenOffice.org documents article by yours truly.

Download: Email Backup Extension

The Email Backup extension is released under GPL.

12. März 2007

Tabs in Writer

The Tabbed Windows Extension allows you to manage multiple documents using tabs, and it works in the pretty much same way as the Tabs feature in Firefox. The current version of the extension offers only limited functionality, and it's still rather buggy. In fact, the author considers it a working demo rather that a ready-to-use extension. Nevertheless, it offers a pretty good idea what a tabbed interface may look like in OpenOffice.org.

Figure: Tabbed Windows Extension

Blogging with Writer

Want to blog directly from within Writer? Sun Weblog Publisher (SWP) allows you to do just that. The SWP supports a number of blog platforms, including Roller, WordPress, Generic ATOM and Generic MetaWeblog (support for the new Blogger.com is coming). SWP is not free, but at $9.95 it's not that expensive either.

10. März 2007

Desktop Wikipedia with JaLingo

There are situations when having Wikipedia right on your computer can come in quite handy. One way to install Wikipedia on your machine is to download the MediaWiki software, then fetch a humongous database file and make everything work together. There is an easier way, though. You can use the JaLingo dictionary tool as a front-end to the Wikipedia database in the SDictionary format. To make your own desktop version of Wikipedia, download and install the JaLingo dictionary tool. Next, point your browser to the Wikipedia page of the SDictionary Community website and download the Wikipedia you need. The website carries Wikipedia in many different languages, so you are not limited to the English one. If you want to download the English version of Wikipedia keep in mind three things: a) the Wikipedia database is divided into three files called volumes, b) each volume is between 500 and 900MB in size, and c) the website is not particularly fast, so prepare to spend a couple of evenings pulling the files down.

Once you have all the files, launch JaLingo and press on the Settings button. Under the Dictionaries tab, press the Add button and select the first Wikipedia volume. Press Continue, wait till JaLingo processes the file (which can take some time as well), then repeat these steps for other two volumes. Close the Settings window, and you're done.

Figure: JaLingo with Wikipedia in Danish

The JaLingo-based Wikipedia does have two drawbacks, though: it contains no pictures, and there are no active links to the related topics. While you can't do anything about the former, there is a workaround for the latter. Simply select a related topic (all related topics articles are in italics), right-click on it, and select Translate.

Libertine: An open-source font

Need a nice open-source font? You might want to take a look at Libertine, a TrueType font designed as an alternative to the good old Times New Roman font. Libertine is still a work in progress, so not all features has been yet implemented.

JaLingo: A nifty dictionary tool

Even if you are not dealing with foreign languages on a daily basis, a good dictionary application can come in quite handy in many situations. JaLingo is a nifty cross-platform dictionary tool that supports different dictionary formats, such as DSL, Mova, and SDictionary. JaLingo sports an easy-to-use interface and a few clever features like the ability to save dictionary entries as HTML pages, support for multiple dictionaries, and history. JaLingo's website contains also an impressive list of freely available dictionaries.

Publishing Writer documents on the Web

"Although OpenOffice.org has an HTML/XHTML export feature, it is not up to the snuff when it comes to turning Writer documents into clean HTML files. Instead, this feature turns even the simplest Writer documents into HTML gobbledygook, and while it attempts to preserve the original formatting, the results are often far from perfect. Moreover, publishing static HTML pages is so '90s: today, blogs and wikis rule the Web. So what options do you have if you want to convert your Writer documents into tidy HTML pages or wiki-formatted text files? Quite a few, actually." Source: Linux.com

6. März 2007

Novell ships translator for OpenXML

''Amid the simmering debate over open file formats, Novell has released a translator that lets users open and save Microsoft’s OpenXML files in versions of the OpenOffice.org word processing program.'' Source: Network World

The translator is available for download from Novell's website.

5. März 2007

Tweaking a new OpenOffice.org installation

Here is a list of things you might want to tweak once you've installed OpenOffice.org.
  • If you use multiple languages, install additional dictionaries (File -> Wizards -> Install new dictionaries).
  • Set Locale settings.
  • Set all measurements to mm.
  • Disable the help agent. It's not obtrusive in the same way as Clippy but it's not necessary.
  • Activate AutoCaption feature (Tools > Options -> OpenOffice.org Writer -> AutoCaption).
  • Configure the AutoCorrect options as follows:
  • Options: Disable the Correct TWo INitial CApitals, Capitalize first letter of every sentence, and URL Recognition options.
  • Custom Quotes: the Replace check box (both Single Quotes and Double Quotes) is ticked so Writer uses curly quote marks.
  • Word Completion: Usually activated, but there are users that find this feature confusing.
  • Dock the Navigator and Stylist windows (double-click somewhere on the grey area while holding the Ctrl key down).
  • Install custom macros.
  • Install favorite extensions (for example, OOoWikipedia, Annotation tool, LanguageTool). Check the OpenOffice.org extension repository for more extensions.
  • Set a custom default template.
  • Replace the default dummy text with "Lorem ipsum" (see how).
  • Set new default template.
  • Import additional styles.

Regular expression search in Writer

Say, you need to find and highlight all occurrences of words "potato", "carrot", and "cucumber" in the current Writer document. You can do this using the following search technique (Source: OpenOffice.org Forum).
  1. Choose Edit -> Find & Replace.
  2. Press the More Options button.
  3. Tick the Regular Expressions.
  4. In the Search for box, enter each search word separated by pipe (|), for example, potato|carrot|cucumber.
  5. Press Find All.