XML News from Monday, October 13, 2008

The OpenOffice Project has released OpenOffice 3.0, an open source office suite for Linux, Solaris, and Windows that saves all its files as zipped XML and uses XForms.

The Writer word processor has a cool new slider control for zooming, allows multi-page display while editing, has powerful new multilingual support, and boasts improved notes capabilities. As well as conventional office documents, Writer can now edit wiki documents for the web.

The Calc spreadsheet has been given another increase in capacity - now up to 1024 columns per sheet. It also has a powerful new equation solver, and a great new collaboration feature for multiple users.

Draw can now cope with poster-size graphics (up to 3sq metres), and Impress supports multiple monitors for presentations. Chart now produces much more clean looking graphics by default, and has a range of additional features requested by power users.

The popular built-in PDF export facility has been further enhanced with PDF/A support and a range of new user-selectable options.

OpenOffice.org 3 is now also available for the first time as a full Mac OS X application, bringing the power of the world's leading open-source office suite to a whole new group of users. And it's even easier than ever to persuade MS-Office users to upgrade to OpenOffice.org, with new support for MS-Access 2007 'accdb' files, improved support for VBA macros, and a new ability to read MS-Office Open XML files (Microsoft Office 2007 and Office 2008 documents)

OpenOffice.org's support for extensions is really coming of age with OpenOffice.org 3. A rapidly expanding number of additional features are available from different developers to add great features such as an Impress presenter console, support for business analytics, PDF import, and a whole new way of supporting additional languages.

Version 3.0 seems to do a pretty decent job of handing simple business documents and heavily formatted Microsoft Word templates and forms and what not. However it still fails as a professional writer's tool relative to Word. There's no plausible outliner, and the lack of a normal view is a deal breaker. I deinstalled Microsoft Office form my system a few months ago, but if I were writing another book I'd have to reinstall it.