Open Office viability

"Please leave a message at the beep, we will get back to you when your support contract expires."

Moderators: phlip, Moderators General, Prelates

Noetherlite
Posts: 47
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:32 am UTC

Open Office viability

Postby Noetherlite » Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:33 pm UTC

I was considering purchasing MSWord for a friend who has a (windows) computer sans Office - because they have an endless need to submit Uni essays in .doc format and wordpad isn't saving as .doc.

However, upon discovering that Word raw is £200 pounds and Office for Students is £70 I've decided that Microsoft can fuck off and die...

I'm considering setting up open office on her computer instead, Google-fu suggests that the version 3 is fine at saving in .doc (no forum posts on openoffice sites complaining about it) and I reckon the overall program will be more than adequate for typing essays.

So, people of the forum - is open office a sufficiently solid program and can it save in the .doc format without buggering up your document?

Cheers for any help

Ubik
Posts: 1016
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:43 pm UTC

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Ubik » Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:43 pm UTC

OpenOffice should work fine, but it's a good idea to get the free Word Viewer from Microsoft and to use it to check that the .doc file looks good. Word Viewer is, as the name suggests, a program that lets you open but not edit Word documents.

User avatar
PhoenixEnigma
Posts: 2303
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:11 am UTC
Location: Sasquatchawan, Canada
Contact:

Re: Open Office viability

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:49 pm UTC

OpenOffice Writer is a fine program. It can't export to the Office 2007 file formats (ie, .docx), but it can read them ok. The older MS Office formats aren't a problem, generally. Writer is a decent replacement for Word in pretty much all respects.

If you're doing heavy number crunching, however, I've found Excel vastly better then Calc. Just a heads up on that one.

Also, you could look at MS Works, I guess, if you want an actual MS program with a resonable pricetag, but the OpenOffice suite is much better. I'm not quite sure how they manage to sell Works anymore.

ETA: OpenOffice is free. You may as well try it - if it works for you, great, you have more money for food/tution/pizza/beer! If it doesn't, you're not out anything other then a bit of time, and you buy a copy of MS Office.
Last edited by PhoenixEnigma on Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:03 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
"Optimism, pessimism, fuck that; we're going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I'm hell-bent on making it work." -Elon Musk
Shivahn wrote:I am a motherfucking sorceror.

wellingtonsteve
Posts: 49
Joined: Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:26 am UTC

Re: Open Office viability

Postby wellingtonsteve » Sat Nov 28, 2009 1:54 pm UTC

Slightly off topic, because I can't help with Open Office, but there's an alternative MS student offer here: http://www.microsoft.com/uk/education/studentoffer/default.aspx

This gets you Office Ultimate (i.e. everything) for £38.95. Maybe that's slightly more affordable if £70 isn't and you decide not to go with Open Office?

User avatar
fyrenwater
Posts: 564
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 2:26 am UTC
Location: SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE
Contact:

Re: Open Office viability

Postby fyrenwater » Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:07 am UTC

IIRC, there's a plug-in for OpenOffice that lets you open (and create?) .docx files. I don't remember where I got it, but I figure if you Google it, it'll show up. Don't bother paying for anything from Microsoft. Each time they make exclusive file formats, it'll soon be followed by programs and plug-ins to deal with them.
...It made more sense in my head.

User avatar
Woofsie
Posts: 705
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:11 pm UTC
Location: Ireland
Contact:

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Woofsie » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:28 am UTC

Open Office is fine for essays, but I've found MS Office to be much better for graphing and writing equations. Depends on what your friend needs it for really.

User avatar
Jorpho
Posts: 6290
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:31 am UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Jorpho » Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:24 pm UTC

Noetherlite wrote:However, upon discovering that Word raw is £200 pounds and Office for Students is £70 I've decided that Microsoft can fuck off and die...
Why not buy a used copy of an older version? Office 97 does everything I need, and still has proper toolbars, too.

But then, come to think of it, I've managed to make spreadsheets that can be used to reliably crash Excel 97 when a certain operation is performed on them, so maybe Office 2000 is a slightly better idea. I think some of the oldest versions might not run under Vista or 7, too.

stinch
Posts: 39
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:37 am UTC
Location: Oxford, UK

Re: Open Office viability

Postby stinch » Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:00 am UTC

There is always the trick of renaming a RTF file to a .doc extension. Word will happily open it without complaint. Works well in those situations a .doc file is required for no real reason.

User avatar
psychosomaticism
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:01 am UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Open Office viability

Postby psychosomaticism » Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:08 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:If you're doing heavy number crunching, however, I've found Excel vastly better then Calc. Just a heads up on that one.


What did you find bad about Calc? Personally, I had a lot of grief with it while trying to graph scatterplots and the like with error bars because the 2nd edition had little to no ability to show them on the graph, but the 3rd edition came out as I was about to give up hope with full error bar graphing capability. I can't say I've had too much experience with OO (I converted to MS Office after we found a good deal on price), but I never found it a problem for undergrad stuff, especially if MS isn't an option price-wise.

User avatar
1337geek
Posts: 551
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:21 am UTC

Re: Open Office viability

Postby 1337geek » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:29 am UTC

I ditched MS Office for OpenOffice a little over 3 years ago and haven't looked back. If your main use is word processing, it works great.
"Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together." --Carl Zwanzig

User avatar
eviloatmeal
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:39 am UTC
Location: Upside down in space!
Contact:

Re: Open Office viability

Postby eviloatmeal » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:39 am UTC

Not sure exactly how vast capabilities your friend needs, but Google docs is completely free, and completely internet'd, so you can access it from virtually anywhere, and it happily exports .doc files and a number of other formats.

I know I've hit a few little annoyances here and there while using Google docs, but since I can't remember off the top of my head exactly what they were, I have to conclude that it was trivial and obscure. Something along the lines of trying to nest sub and superscripts, but as far as I know I haven't come across any other application that does that either.
*** FREE SHIPPING ENABLED ***
Image
Riddles are abound tonightImage

User avatar
Arancaytar
Posts: 1642
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:54 am UTC
Location: 52.44°N, 13.55°E
Contact:

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Arancaytar » Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:00 pm UTC

If you are creating a document that requires nested subscripts, you've reached the level where it makes sense to use TeX, anyway.
"You cannot dual-wield the sharks. One is enough." -Our DM.
Image

LikwidCirkel
Posts: 169
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:56 pm UTC
Location: on this forum (duh)
Contact:

Re: Open Office viability

Postby LikwidCirkel » Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:25 pm UTC

I find that OpenOffice works great as a standalone app, but trying to share stuff with MS users will cause pain in a few cases.

Don't expect a doc to look the same with the same word/line per page count across OO.o and MSO... it usually won't be the same. I suspect that this has more to do with underlying fonts of the OS than anything that OpenOffice.org should be blamed for.

Since this is a Windows install (and in my case, I'm virtually always sharing between OO.o on Linux), the font set should be consistent across programs, so you should be fine in most cases, but eventually you're bound to run into a time when the pages just don't line up the same. Just hope that it won't happen at a time when it's really important.

Kaldra
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:28 am UTC

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Kaldra » Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:33 am UTC

The other option is the Office 2010 Beta. That's free and will work until October 2010. Which gives you time to try OpenOffice or save up money for a licensed copy of MSOffice. You can find the beta here

achilleas.k
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:21 pm UTC

Re: Open Office viability

Postby achilleas.k » Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:51 am UTC

Noetherlite wrote:... because they have an endless need to submit Uni essays in .doc format and wordpad isn't saving as .doc.

What kind of half-assed professor/teacher takes submissions in .doc format? (I know, a lot of them. And some of them are really good, but this needs to be said) It should be illegal! All submissions should always be made in .pdf or .ps everywhere. It's really sad that .doc is an acceptable format for exchanging files. Even though it's supported by free and open software, it's not rare for a file to look VERY different when opened in another program than what it was written in.

Sorry, just had to say it. Sorry for not contributing anything useful to the thread (this is my second useless post of the day. I should stop now)
The most exciting phrase to hear in science -the one that heralds new discoveries- is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny...". - Isaac Asimov

User avatar
Jorpho
Posts: 6290
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:31 am UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Jorpho » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:19 pm UTC

achilleas.k wrote:Even though it's supported by free and open software, it's not rare for a file to look VERY different when opened in another program than what it was written in.
Even having a different default printer used to wreak havoc with layouts. Not sure if that's as true now as it used to be, though.

achilleas.k
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:21 pm UTC

Re: Open Office viability

Postby achilleas.k » Tue Dec 01, 2009 3:34 pm UTC

Still does. On my Windows machine at home, MS Office would hang because my default printer was shared through the network from another PC and for some reason it took a while to figure out the margins. So I'm guessing based on your default printer, the layouts change which could mess up images and graphs when reading someone else's work. It's just... so... MEH!
The most exciting phrase to hear in science -the one that heralds new discoveries- is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny...". - Isaac Asimov

User avatar
1337geek
Posts: 551
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:21 am UTC

Re: Open Office viability

Postby 1337geek » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:06 pm UTC

achilleas.k wrote:
Noetherlite wrote:... because they have an endless need to submit Uni essays in .doc format and wordpad isn't saving as .doc.

What kind of half-assed professor/teacher takes submissions in .doc format? (I know, a lot of them. And some of them are really good, but this needs to be said) It should be illegal!

Agreed. They should only accept international open standards like ODF and PDF. It'd eliminate a lot of hassle.
"Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together." --Carl Zwanzig

achilleas.k
Posts: 75
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:21 pm UTC

Re: Open Office viability

Postby achilleas.k » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:19 pm UTC

And it's so hard to "educate" people on these things. Say you have a professor or teacher friend and you try to explain the problem with .doc submissions, they'll just regard it as a crusade against Microsoft or something. They'll probably say something like:
Yeah I'm sure you're right but in the real world and everyday life it doesn't really matter does it? Everyone does it and I can't be bothered explaining to the students how to export to PDF. There's no time for your open-standard ideologies right now.

... and the problem can only get worse.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science -the one that heralds new discoveries- is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny...". - Isaac Asimov

User avatar
Jorpho
Posts: 6290
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:31 am UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Jorpho » Thu Dec 03, 2009 4:43 pm UTC

Well, if the professor told his students to "just use some free PDF creator", there would undoubtedly be more than a few students who would promptly install the first horrible spyware-laden piece of scumware that turns up in a Google search, and then sue the school for breaking his computer. You can't even get away with telling students to use the Microsoft XPS writer, given that not everyone would have that yet.

It'll get better someday.

User avatar
headprogrammingczar
Posts: 3072
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2007 5:28 pm UTC
Location: Beaming you up

Re: Open Office viability

Postby headprogrammingczar » Thu Dec 03, 2009 7:15 pm UTC

You could tell people to send work in plaintext, or html, or in a tarball/zip. Windows can do all of those except tarball, and all of them (except for maybe zip) are open standards.
<quintopia> You're not crazy. you're the goddamn headprogrammingspock!
<Weeks> You're the goddamn headprogrammingspock!
<Cheese> I love you

User avatar
Jorpho
Posts: 6290
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:31 am UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Jorpho » Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:21 pm UTC

headprogrammingczar wrote:You could tell people to send work in plaintext, or html, or in a tarball/zip. Windows can do all of those except tarball, and all of them (except for maybe zip) are open standards.
Plaintext does not have anywhere near the formatting capabilities required for many scholarly works.

HTML is still too difficult for people to figure out, and different programs are likely to produce vastly different output when exporting to HTML automatically.

tarball/zip are just containers.

User avatar
headprogrammingczar
Posts: 3072
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2007 5:28 pm UTC
Location: Beaming you up

Re: Open Office viability

Postby headprogrammingczar » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:17 pm UTC

I'm referring to multi-file submissions.
<quintopia> You're not crazy. you're the goddamn headprogrammingspock!
<Weeks> You're the goddamn headprogrammingspock!
<Cheese> I love you

User avatar
Amnesiasoft
Posts: 2573
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 4:28 am UTC
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Amnesiasoft » Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:56 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:You can't even get away with telling students to use the Microsoft XPS writer, given that not everyone would have that yet.

My experience with XPS is that if you change the default web browser, you can no longer view them. It will attempt to open it in your browser, and the browser will bring up the browser's download prompt.

User avatar
Jorpho
Posts: 6290
Joined: Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:31 am UTC
Location: Canada

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Jorpho » Sat Dec 05, 2009 5:37 pm UTC

Amnesiasoft wrote:My experience with XPS is that if you change the default web browser, you can no longer view them. It will attempt to open it in your browser, and the browser will bring up the browser's download prompt.
Yeah, someone really needs to fix that. Without a separate download, they absolutely have to be viewed in IE.

User avatar
Amnesiasoft
Posts: 2573
Joined: Tue May 15, 2007 4:28 am UTC
Location: Colorado
Contact:

Re: Open Office viability

Postby Amnesiasoft » Sun Dec 06, 2009 12:16 am UTC

Even if I attempt opening it in IE, it still has that behavior.


Return to “The Help Desk”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests