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Open Office - What's the Downside?

Cliff posted about 7 years ago | from the a-dissenting-opinion dept.

Software 312

cclangi asks: "I'm a current Microsoft Office user, and I run a small business as a consultant (mining). I've read about Open Office and all the good things about it, but what about the downside? As a small business owner and semi-literate in things computer-ese (as a user, not as a developer or administrator), what support limitations are there for Open Office. I'm particularly interested in/concerned with compatibility of software for reports, spreadsheets and database apps that I might need to send to/receive from clients. As I've said, I've read the good stuff, and 'how easy it is', but what are things I need to be aware of before considering switching completely to Open Office? Comments and experiences would be welcomed." 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?

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Simple (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472073)

It's Microsoft Office compatability isn't perfect, and the other companies I work with send documents created with MS Office.

Re:Simple (5, Informative)

Fyre2012 (762907) | about 7 years ago | (#18472119)

The Java runtime has to load also, which makes a _significant_ difference in startup time.

As much as I don't like M$, when you click a .doc file and open it with Word, usually it's up within 3-5 seconds.
Oo.o takes upwards of 30 cuz it has to load the Java libraries, etc, displaying the splash screen of doom in the meantime.

Re:Simple (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 years ago | (#18472419)

MS Office also is always running in the background, just incase you open up a document. You could do the same with just about any application. Keep it running in the background, and then poof, it starts. Of course, if you rarely used the application, you'd just be wasting memory, but hey, the app looks like it starts fast.

Re:Simple (1)

abigor (540274) | about 7 years ago | (#18472485)

Word running under Wine starts much more quickly than OpenOffice Write does, so your argument is neither here nor there.

Re:Simple (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | about 7 years ago | (#18472555)

After every install or upgrade of MS Office, I go through and clean out all the dreck like that. Not just MS--Apple Quicktime, Adobe Reader and even frigging print driver/apps usually need cleanups too. Anything that won't let me configure it not to load extra junk will get manually yanked out of the startup and its junk executable renamed/deleted if need be. If it still won't play nice, the whole package gets uninstalled.

That's a non-negotiable.

Re:Simple (4, Informative)

GIL_Dude (850471) | about 7 years ago | (#18472855)

Older versions of office did do that; they were always have a "quick launcher" run, but the last three versions (Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2007) do not do that.

Re:Simple (2, Interesting)

rawtatoor (560209) | about 7 years ago | (#18473293)

It's easy to disable java. I never use it and haven't missed it yet. Startup and load times are very reasonable too.

Re:Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473099)

I entirely agree. To sum it up, I use Debian, Apache and Perl because they're good. I used Open Office because it was free.

When my clients sent me Word documents that weren't rendered properly, and I couldn't open their Publisher files, I had to suck it up and switch back to MS Office.

I haven't used it for a few months so perhaps it's not fair for me to comment on its current stability and reliability, but I wasn't too impressed at the time - the frequent crashes made me glad there was a recovery wizard, but unfortunately there wasn't anything that fixed the (sometimes crippling) bugs.

I do think that Open Office has wonderful potential, but it's just not close enough to MS Office for my needs. If you're just dealing with plain word/excel files, and if you're creating documents from scratch for your own use, then you can use it as a replacement. Anything more and it might be worth getting MS Office simply to avoid compatibility headaches in the future.

Re:Simple (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473387)

Open Office - What's the Downside?


macros (3, Informative)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about 7 years ago | (#18472083)

Microsoft macro support in Open office is far from optimal. However, there are a whole slew of Open Office-centric macros to choose from [ooomacros.org] which could meet your needs.

Re:macros (1)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#18472613)

They're not perfect. There's also OLE automation, which makes it very easy to knock up some code to use bits of Excel and Outlook remotely. Yeah yeah, there are security risks, but we're on this side of the firewall, and frankly I don't give a shit because it's not my network...

Re:macros (1)

KingDaveRa (620784) | about 7 years ago | (#18473511)

Novell have done a pile of work in their own fork of OO (a whole argument in itself) adding support for VBA. Apparently it's getting pretty good now, and most documents with macros will open in OO. The only trouble is, I don't think any of this code has made its way into the mainstream OO codebase, so it probably won't for some time. Novell have released it all though, and it can be downloaded from Novell.

Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1, Flamebait)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 7 years ago | (#18472111)

Then run away now. Both the X11 and the "Aquafied" version totally stink. Terrible usability, horribly slow... unfortunately, there's no good Office alternative for Macintosh right now.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472181)

I don't mind NeoOffice compared to MS Office, on Intel Macs MS Office is pretty slow anyway.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472187)

Are you on an Intel-based Mac?

Btw, I like iWork [apple.com] as a good Office alternative for Macintosh right now, although my needs may be different from yours.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 7 years ago | (#18472327)

If iWork had Excel, I'd be in heaven.

Unfortunately, now I have to get by with a copy of ThinkFree Office and use it's crummy Excel clone. At least it's cheap.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (2, Interesting)

cybereal (621599) | about 7 years ago | (#18472629)

Pages is excellent. It's perfect for just about any word processing needs. Even mail merge is supported. Obviously the super-advanced folks want more, and they can get it fine with MS Office because those dorks are using PC anyway :P Seriously though, I think it hits the nail on the head for a word processor.

However, your point about missing a spreadsheet app is notable. I have an occasional need to view and/or edit a spreadsheet. In fact, I use one each month to handle my bills and so forth. It's simple enough, just giving me an outlook of estimates vs. real values and so forth. The solution I'm using until Apple gets a "Sheets" application, is http://docs.google.com/ [google.com]

The spreadsheet on docs.google.com has a large portion of functionality from OpenOffice (Sharing its expressions, for example) and works shockingly well on all platforms' Firefox. It also works fine in IE6/7. I haven't tried any other browsers with it (that it actually supports). Anyone still wondering what to do with spreadsheets on Mac until a more mac-like spreadsheet app becomes available should seriously consider this option. I think you'll be surprised with how comprehensive the app is, despite being a webapp.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | about 7 years ago | (#18472263)

Other then a long launch time, I have no problems on NeoOffice. Instead of useless 'it sucks' why not say what you have a problem with.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473347)

I have no problems on NeoOffice.

The only thing more pathetic than a PC user is a PC user trying to be a Mac user. We have a name for you people: switcheurs.

There's a good reason for your ignorance of the Mac's expected application behavior [apple.com]: You don't speak its language. Remember that the Mac was designed by artists [atspace.com], for artists [atspace.com], be they poets [atspace.com], musicians [atspace.com], or avant-garde mathematicians [atspace.com]. A shiny new Mac can introduce your frathouse hovel to a modicum of good taste, but it can't make Mac users out of dweebs [atspace.com] and squares [atspace.com] like you.

So don't force what doesn't come naturally. You'll be much happier if you stick to an OS that suits your personality. And you'll be doing the rest of us a favor, too; you leave Macs to Mac users, and we'll leave beige to you.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1)

Idaho (12907) | about 7 years ago | (#18472433)

Then run away now. Both the X11 and the "Aquafied" version totally stink. Terrible usability, horribly slow..

How so? NeoOffice works quite well for me, a lot better in fact than the included Microsoft Office 2004 demo, which seems to run in emulation mode on my Intel Mac Mini (don't tell me it runs in native mode, if that's the case MS should really be ashamed about the speed..)

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1)

X-treme-LLama (178013) | about 7 years ago | (#18472527)

If you men, runs in rosetta than yes, you'd be correct. It's not a universal binary.

If you're on an intel mac, OO probably wouldn't be any slower than MS office. However on a PPC machine, MS office smokes the clumsy mac implementations of OO.

I sure hope it gets better tho..

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1)

grahammm (9083) | about 7 years ago | (#18472643)

unfortunately, there's no good Office alternative for Macintosh right now.
Which is a little ironic as the MS office applications were originally written for the MAC and only later ported onto Windows. I think that many people forget (or maybe did not know in the first place) that many of the early MAC applications were written by a software house called Microsoft.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1)

abigor (540274) | about 7 years ago | (#18472983)

Why do you capitalise Mac as though it were an acronym? It's short for "Macintosh".

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1)

acvh (120205) | about 7 years ago | (#18473431)

"Which is a little ironic as the MS office applications were originally written for the MAC and only later ported onto Windows. I think that many people forget (or maybe did not know in the first place) that many of the early MAC applications were written by a software house called Microsoft."

Ah, the memories. I spent a day at Reuters once, installing Excel on their NCR-PC8s (286). Excel came with a runtime version of Windows 2.1, because no one actually had it installed. Excel was the ONLY reason to use Windows back then.

Use NeoOffice (5, Informative)

soullessbastard (596494) | about 7 years ago | (#18472835)

Disclaimer: I am a founder of NeoOffice.org

Due to politics, OpenOffice.org has exorcised all reference that a perfectly functional, native, and Aqua port of OpenOffice.org exists for the Macintosh. It is called NeoOffice [neooffice.org]. If you want to use only software named "OpenOffice" on your Mac, yes, you have few options, but if you like GPL software go check out the real deal.

NeoOffice 2.1 is scheduled for release on March 27th. Not only do we continue to push forward with being the only truly native fully released Aqua-enabled office application suite for Mac OS X, there are several features included that aren't even in OOo on Linux, including:

  • Word OpenXML document import and export
  • Excel VBA macro compatibility
  • Microsoft Works file import/export
  • linear programming extensions for Calc

NeoOffice is a GPL project and incorporates the best everyone has to offer to create the best product we can for our users.

OpenOffice.org is a political machine and to meet its own political goals is willing to restrict its users from compatibility requirements like OpenXML and VBA compatibility, not to mention failing to let users know other open source projects exist and are ready now, unlike their Macintosh vaporware. Their own users are hurt by their own desires for personal and political gain.

NeoOffice is free from all corporate influence, is truly GPL free software, and will always be so. If the lack of Mac support is your only reason preventing you from deploying OOo or its derivatives, it's sad that you didn't take the simple time to run a google search and just assumed the information the OOo website was all the larger OOo community has to offer.


Re:Use NeoOffice (1)

RealSurreal (620564) | about 7 years ago | (#18473057)

I'm using NeoOffice right now to work on documents my colleague created in Microsoft Word on Windows. It's seamless. NeoOffice is by far the best office suite on the Mac. Thanks for all the work guys!

Re:Use NeoOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473297)

"not to mention failing to let users know other open source projects exist and are ready now, unlike their Macintosh vaporware."
Yeah, I've run into this problem a lot. For instance, I called Nintendo customer support and asked them when Halo 3 was coming out and they had no idea. Can you believe that?

Yeah, it's official - you're a fucking moron.

Re:Use NeoOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473361)

suck my dick you stealth cocksucker

Re:Use NeoOffice (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 7 years ago | (#18473697)

Just FYI. I am a OO.org user. I know about Neooffice. I have used Neooffice. I think Neooffice is good software, and the main reason I have not used it is that,for what I do, OO.org is very reliable. Neooffice has not been as reliable. I continue to load it to see if it has become a mature product. It would be useful, on some occasions, to have an integrated MacOS interface, although in some ways X Windows is better.

The other reason that I am not crazy about Neooffice is that every time the discussion come up, the Neooffice people start whining. You have a good product, a good build, and have done something the OO.org people did not do. Whatever battle happened, whatever politics occurred, you have won. Let it go. People who want to use a branch of OO.org in the Mac environment will use Neooffice. Those who don't use Neooffice, like me, probably have a good reason. Most of the time I can live without tight OS integration. When I was growing up I might use four different OS over the course of the day. An integrated product is not a sufficient reason for me to switch anymore than the ability to use a few more website and watch video content is a reason for me to buy a copies of Windows.

Then of course there is the issue of giving credit where credit is due. One of the biggest problems with the OSS community is people taking code, and then pretending that they came up with the code themselves in some hermetically sealed ivory tower. I do believe that the OO.org base, on which the excellent Noeoofice product is built, was donated and is still significantly maintained and supported by Sun. In fact the ability to get service agreements from Sun is one big reason why OO.org is a reasonable competitor to MS Office. I believe Sun is a corporation. Therefore, Noeoffice is quite influenced, and beholden to the corporate culture.

Furthermore, because I do not want to beholden to the corporate culture, and do not want to use bad or unsecured software, the last thing I want on my machine is VBA. That is like wishing Safari had ActiveX controls.

Re:Do you use it on a Macintosh? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 7 years ago | (#18473187)

You're right: "snappy" is not a word most people are going to use to describe NeoOffice. However:

The main computer at my workplace is a PowerMac G5 configured by my employer with MS Office. I use NeoOffice 2.1 on it instead. Seems pretty darn usable to me.

In fact, I also have an old beige PowerMac G3 tucked away in the storage room where I often take lunch breaks (so I can work on a story I'm writing, without interruptions). The new version of NeoOffice is pretty sluggish on that machine, to the point that I've decided to stick to the less-Aqua NeoOffice 1.2. But considering that it's a machine they stopped making 8 years ago, that required a hack just to install Panther, NeoOffice seems pretty darn usable to me.

Slow start-up for one... (2, Interesting)

Rellon (28691) | about 7 years ago | (#18472115)

I for one, had issues with what seemed to be glacially slow startup times. The later revisions seemed to have addressed quite a few of these issues and even the NeoOffice port has gotten to a decent, but still not really acceptable, startup speed.

Re:Slow start-up for one... (3, Interesting)

Fyre2012 (762907) | about 7 years ago | (#18472145)

In my experience, NeoOffice is terrible at startup.

The App is great once it loads, but because I'm impatient (as well as my bosses, I have 8, did you get the memo? :p ), I find myself actually using Google Docs for everything.
The sharing features for GDocs are awesome, and it's a quick bookmark click to open up. It's not as smooth as NO once GD is running, but it's great for quick revisions and sharing to whomever else.

A few items.. (5, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | about 7 years ago | (#18472133)

First, and probably foremost, is simply rendering differences between Writer and Word. I've got a parent handbook I just made in Word, and when opened in Writer (all fonts are available) the pagination is totally off. So I'm resigned to printing only from a machine with Word, or goof around with formatting (which will probably then break layout in Word).

Next, there's just a lack of the robustness one expects with Office. Two quick examples:
A couple days ago I needed to blow out a fax cover sheet. Tried creating a New document and there weren't any templates at all preinstalled.
Nada clip art. If you're into searching, evaluating, downloading and installing as many 3rd party clip art galleries as you can find, you might be alright.

Anyway, I'm really trying to give it a shot, and for most things it is fine. However I keep stubbing my toes on stupid little things along the way, and it is starting to aggravate me.

Dan East

Re:A few items.. (1, Insightful)

SaidinUnleashed (797936) | about 7 years ago | (#18472193)

You use /CLIP ART/ on a fax header page?

There is absolutely NO reason to use ANY clip art on any sort of business paperwork. Just a company logo, somewhere out of the way. Anything else just makes the document look unprofessional, or worse, trashy.

Paperwork is not the time to show off the skills you learned in third grade art and drawing class. Fax headers are not a collage. For God's sake, keep them neat and uncluttered so I can figure out why you are faxing me.

Re:A few items.. (1)

D'Sphitz (699604) | about 7 years ago | (#18472443)

so since you don't use clip art nobody should? what does it matter why he wanted clipart? maybe he runs a daycare center or something, where cutesy graphics appear on everything.

Re:A few items.. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473581)

Like most so-called Linux evangelists, you're not listening. He wants to use clip art and templates. He wants to do exactly what he does with Word. He wants to use Open Office. If Linux wants to convert people to their OS, then FIX IT!

Re:A few items.. (2, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | about 7 years ago | (#18472231)

I'm not trying to belittle your opinion here, but there are those of us out here that remember those very same toe stubbing situations with MS Word itself, from version to version, and of course when there were still other word processing packages on the market.

It is inevitable that one software package will work slightly differently from a competing similar package. Add-ins, extras, templates will be different. What I like about OO is that you can make your own, and then share them with the world. - yes, sounded a bit fanboi-ish... meh

Stubbing your toes on office applications would still be a problem if MS hadn't been so successful at getting rid of it's competitors in this space. Currently, people just 'think' they don't know how to use MS Word. The real problem is that people don't know how to use office applications but they don't know there are any others besides MS. This means the don't have a chance to 'stub their toes' as it were.

Fonts, formatting, templates, and other *Standard features* of word processors give people trouble all the time, and if you stub your toes because OO isn't quite like MS Word, be happy because those things can be fixed. Finding them and reporting them is part of the process. Until Wordperfect died, people who used MS Word went through the same thing.

Re:A few items.. (2)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#18473129)

What I like about OO is that you can make your own, and then share them with the world. The problem is that [people ]don't know there are any others besides MS. This means they don't have a chance to 'stub their toes' as it were. Fonts, formatting, templates give people trouble all the time, and if you stub your toes because OO isn't quite like MS Word, be happy because those things can be fixed. Until Wordperfect died, people who used MS Word went through the same thing.

That was then and this is now.

The secretary isn't being paid to re-invent the wheel.

The secretary is being paid to get the monthly employee certificates, good-will posters and office newsletters out the door before the close of business Tuesday.

The one-click download from MS Office Home gets the job done.

Re:A few items.. (2, Informative)

Silver Sloth (770927) | about 7 years ago | (#18472265)

At the risk of a 'me too' posting I second everything you say. I really, really want to be an Oo user. I like the ethos and, where posible, I'm a open source fan, but, like you, I've got used to all the little extras which are missing and importing MS docs is far from 100% successful. But, in reply to the original poster, why not do as we've done, give it a try. After all, it's free, you can experiment all you like and make you're own mind up. I haven't de-installed it, and I sometimes still use it for creating original docs, but I wouldn't give up on MS anytime soon. Mind you, maybe the next time I have to fork out mega-bucks... My office 2000 is getting a little long in the tooth and I flatly refuse to pay MS prices.

Re:A few items.. (2, Informative)

rbochan (827946) | about 7 years ago | (#18472371)

I would also include lack of integrated mail/calendar/scheduling software. Yes you could go to another third party for that, but it would be nice for everything to be integrated and consistent for an "office suite". I use OOo under Linux, but I supplement it with Kmail/Kontact.

Re:A few items.. (1)

Nasarius (593729) | about 7 years ago | (#18472929)

Well...why? What kind of integration are you looking for? Kontact/KOrganizer is pretty nifty already (and should be available for Windows later this year). What information would they share?

Re:A few items.. (1)

nietsch (112711) | about 7 years ago | (#18472441)

You wrote a book in word? Man are you masogist or something? And then complain that the typesetting and layout are off in OOo? Word is a word processor, good for writing things in, but for layout and dtp it just sucks. You should not be suprised if your layout only works on the computer you made it on.
I bet you also did not use styles for formatting too. Try it, prefeably in OOo, but MSword knows the concept too (but chooses to pull out your nails for entertainment instead).

Re:A few items.. (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 7 years ago | (#18473377)

You wrote a book in word? Man are you masogist or something?
No, he's a "writer". Anyone who writes in a layout program is, well, swatting a fly with bottle of bug spray.

I bet you also did not use styles for formatting too. Try it, prefeably in OOo, but MSword knows the concept too (but chooses to pull out your nails for entertainment instead).
Styles have LONG been the hallmark of good word processing -- and OOo's styles are just as bad as Word's.

The only thing I don't like about Word '07 is how they drank the cool-aid and made styles something fundamentally different from fonts in the UI... although they did give them a nice area all of their own, and added "style-sets" to make the concept work even better.

As to the topic at hand -- anyone who wants to use OOo is getting most of a six-year-old MS UI, with a few improvements that made it through an ego-driven committee meeting. There are still a good dozen things I do in Word or Excel routinely that are either impossible or inordinately difficult in OOo, and only really one thing I can do in OOo that I can't in Word.

Re:A few items.. (1)

jakosc (649857) | about 7 years ago | (#18473035)

I'd love to use openoffice, but for me the killer is lack of full Endnote support.

In much academia at the moment, unless you're in Math/Physics and use LaTeX, Endnote is pretty much essential. [There's a clunky workaround using rich-text export to get it to work somewhat with openoffice, but the 'Cite While You Write' feature that works with MS Word is the real key to Endnote. And yes, there are alternative bibliographies (including built-in) but it's no use if you have to share a database with people who are using Endnote with word.]

You can argue that people should use the alternatives, but the fact is they won't. Endnote is the de-facto standard and for openoffice to be welcomed for paper writing, it needs either Endnote integration or an open-source alternative bibliography that is both compatible with existing Endnote databases and offers the same 'Cite While You Write' functionality.

It's a pity, because I know a lot of people in academia who be very happy to switch to openoffice if they could.

Line numbering and complex documents (2, Interesting)

ahbi (796025) | about 7 years ago | (#18473209)

Yeah, I stopped trying to use OO when I ran into its poor support for line numbering and more complex documents.
Now I like the OO ethos and idea, but I have invested too much time into learning how to get Word to do what I want to throw all that away (why I fear Office Vista).

All day long at work I need to create documents like this:
Section 1: no line numbers, special header/footer
Sections 2-6: line numbers every 5 lines, restarting at each page. And paragraph numbers (I use numbered lists), numbering continuing from the previous section. Basically I use a style for the paragraph numbering as some paragraphs (section titles) aren't numbered and don't count.
Section 5+n+2 (i.e. section 7 and odd until section 40): line numbers each line, restarting each section. No paragraph numbers.
Section 6+n+2 (i.e. section 8 and even until section 40): no line or paragraph numbers
Section 40: same as sections 2-6
Section 41: no line or paragraph numbers, different header/footers

I have no clue how to create this with OO, and i tried. Importing it in from Word results in OO picking one sections line numbering scheme and using that throughout the document. I guess I could use 41 documents with different line numbering schemes, but ... come on.

There are also documents that I have to create a Table of Contents using 2 of Word's 3 methods of making a TOC (bookmarks & styles). I have yet to try that in OO, but have little hope for it.

I think OO is fine as long as you don't get too fancy. After that it starts to fall apart or operate in a way that is totally different from Word, which I have invested 18 years (Christ I am old) learning.

Now granted Word is far from perfect, but I have learned to get around most of its problems. I never trust a new feature until it has been in 3-4 Word versions. I try to stick with what I learned for Word 4 for Macintosh. For example, I would love to use the TaskPane to create a dynamic template where I checked off boxes and sections magically appeared or disappeared. But I have no faith that the TaskPane survived the Office UI restart. Plus, while cool and involving coding, the time I save would probably never equal the time I sunk into making the dynamic template.

So, OO good for normal document usage. Not so good for complex documents. Especially if you have invested heavily in using Word.

Re:A few items.. (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 7 years ago | (#18473257)

I get really tired of people who complain about pagination. If you need your pages to flow exactly in a certain way you need to put page breaks and other controls in there. Someone sometimes is doing to change the font slightly or add a few words. Neither should throw your entire document out of wack and make you redo the whole thing. Page breaks, especially odd and even breaks are there for you..

Bloated (4, Informative)

KermodeBear (738243) | about 7 years ago | (#18472137)

Open Office is SLOW. Starting up, opening document, typing, saving, etc., it's all SLOW. Yes, even compared to MS Office, OO is a resource hog. If you don't have more than 512MB of RAM or so, you are asking for trouble.

Re:Bloated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473267)

Open Office is SLOW. Starting up, opening document, typing, saving, etc., it's all SLOW. Yes, even compared to MS Office, OO is a resource hog. If you don't have more than 512MB of RAM or so, you are asking for trouble.

Why? (see below)


What's the Downside?


Re:Bloated (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | about 7 years ago | (#18473861)

Hmmmm, I used OpenOffice 2.0 on a P-III 600MHz with 512Meg Ram on Windows XP Pro and it worked just fine. A bit long on the startup, but then I didn't install the Quickstarter. I also had Microsoft Office 2003 on that machine. Not exactly a speed demon either. Oh, that was mainly because I always remove OSA.EXE. Fair is fair... Office without OSA.EXE is slow at startup too.

formatting on complex documents (4, Informative)

radarjd (931774) | about 7 years ago | (#18472199)

I agree with many of the other posters -- formatting simply isn't spot on perfect when you open a document started in Word (or excel or powerpoint) with more complicated layouts. OO.org 2.1 is the best version yet as far as that goes, but I still open some documents, and have the formatting be off. I haven't tried any database work, so I can't comment on that.

Also, before sending something out to a customer that I've written in OO, I check it on a machine that has Word or Excel or Powerpoint (whatever is appropriate) to ensure the formatting remains the same.

In prior versions, I noticed an issue with tracking changes, but I haven't looked at that recently, so I don't know if it still exists.

Re:formatting on complex documents (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | about 7 years ago | (#18473759)

before sending something out to a customer that I've written in OO, I check it on a machine that has Word or Excel or Powerpoint (whatever is appropriate) to ensure the formatting remains the same.

Why bother? Just convert it to PDF or print it to postscript. OO can render to both on any platform other than Windows. For Windows you need to install a generic PS printer driver for PS support. If you're sending documents to customers they generally don't need edit support. PDF allows for markup support if you want them to add comments or fill in fields. There should be no need to give MS formatted documents to people.

Re:formatting on complex documents (1)

radarjd (931774) | about 7 years ago | (#18473973)

If you're sending documents to customers they generally don't need edit support. PDF allows for markup support if you want them to add comments or fill in fields. There should be no need to give MS formatted documents to people.

Don't I wish -- I'm an attorney and there are always alterations by the other side. The other attorney has to earn his or her cash, too.

spreadsheets (4, Informative)

alphamugwump (918799) | about 7 years ago | (#18472205)

Openoffice writer is mostly good, and works at least as well as word, if a bit slower.

On the other hand, openoffice calc, the spreadsheet, has serious problems. It has nowhere near the functionality of excel for doing charts. As I recall, it doesn't have the ability to select arbitrary rows for your dataset. This is a killer for me. Sure, I could use a real plotting package, but that's more work than I want to go to.

I've also heard reports that calc is missing functions that are present in excel. This isn't really a big deal -- mainly because excel doesn't have all that many functions either. But I suppose for an excel "pro" it could be irritating.

Re:spreadsheets (2, Insightful)

SECProto (790283) | about 7 years ago | (#18472289)

Exactly the issue I was going to bring up. When graphing data, it has difficulty/it is impossible to display the equation of a line of best fit, place several sets of data on the same graph, etc.

Re:spreadsheets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472357)

Actually, I recently discovered it is possible to use independent rows and colums to make your chart, which both pleased and suprised me. In the past, I've always done my rough work in OOo Calc and then added charts in Excel. Now, I found i can create complex charts in OOo. Try just selected the rows and columns you think will be nessecary to make your chart, and it should automagically do what you want. It did it for me, anyway!

Re:spreadsheets (1)

alphamugwump (918799) | about 7 years ago | (#18472759)

That doesn't cut it. I need to be able to select exactly which cells make up my domain, and exactly which cells go into each range. "data in rows", and "data in columns" doesn't do that, it just tries to figure out which is the domain and which is the range automatically.

And OO doesn't do 3D charts either. And before you ask, yes, some people actually use them.

Re:spreadsheets (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about 7 years ago | (#18473213)

One problem I've encountered with Calc is that the curve fitting stuff is nowhere near as full-functioned or easy to use as Excel's. I teach physics, and in the lab classes, the students are often using Excel to make graphs. I have OOo installed on all the machines as well, but most of them are pretty reluctant to try it. The main barrier just seems to be "I know Excel, and I just want to get the job done," but it also doesn't help when I have to tell them the contortions they have to go through to fit a line to data in OOo Calc and get it to tell them the slope and y-intercept. When I've mentioned this before on Slashdot, I've often gotten responses like, "Dude, why are you even using a spreadsheet for curve fitting?" Well, I've got a simple answer: because most of the students are already familiar with how a spreadsheet works. OOo's only reason for existing is to be a monkey-copy of office, and if it can't do that job well, then it's not useful --- there are literally dozens of other open-source choices for doing wordprocessing and number crunching, and some of them are very good, but they don't copy Office's GUI slavishly. You can complain all you want about how Office's GUI isn't even that good, but for people with low computer skills, seemingly minor differences get really confusing really fast. It's perfectly reasonable to make an open-source Office clone, but if it's a second-rate clone, then people are going to get the impression from it that OSS is always second-rate.

Re:spreadsheets (1)

alphamugwump (918799) | about 7 years ago | (#18473295)

That problem held me up for a while too, but I figured out that you can use linest to do curve fitting. It's the "real" way to do it anyway. See my other post [slashdot.org]

The other graphing limitations are much worse, IMHO.

Re:spreadsheets (1)

bcrowell (177657) | about 7 years ago | (#18473635)

That problem held me up for a while too, but I figured out that you can use linest to do curve fitting. It's the "real" way to do it anyway. See my other post
Thanks for the link. It's an interesting idea, but I'm talking about college freshmen who are majoring in biology at a community college. For them, the issue isn't that they need to do a fancy curve fit, the issue is that they expect to be able to do a simple linear fit by clicking on the gui.

If OOo fails, "OSS is always second-rate"? (1)

jbn-o (555068) | about 7 years ago | (#18473971)

It's perfectly reasonable to make an open-source Office clone, but if it's a second-rate clone, then people are going to get the impression from it that OSS is always second-rate.

Microsoft Word doesn't handle large documents well. I find Gnumeric does many things better than Microsoft Excel. For years I've seen Microsoft Windows users needing to reboot their machines a lot for things I don't think they should have to. In Microsoft Windows 2000, I saw an app running with non-admin privileges crash the OS. Shall I conclude that proprietary software is always second-rate?

Overgeneralization is used against minorities to keep them down. It's sad to see that coming from a teacher. Better and more accurate to recognize that some proprietary software is reliable and powerful and some is not, and the same is true for FLOSS. For me, what separates OpenOffice.org from Microsoft Office is that OpenOffice.org gives me software freedom so it can be improved by anyone willing to take the time to do the work. Microsoft Office is proprietary and puts me into a monopoly for support. A long time ago I posted on /. about Microsoft's reaction to fixing bugs I spotted.

I like OO's equation editor (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472219)

I think MS makes you pay extra for it, or it's in a premium edition or something. And I found LaTex to be an installation nightmare... the usual "to install this, you have to go to site X and download that" and good luck getting the versions and filepaths lined up.

Re:I like OO's equation editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472925)

Equation editor comes with Office; you just need to install it - it is under the "custom" install.

Nothing bad I can think of (4, Insightful)

disturbedite (979015) | about 7 years ago | (#18472241)

i made the switch over 2 years ago and i have to say... i have not found a single drawback. the java thing as a dependency is about the only thing i can think. i made the switch to linux permanently on the desktop (kubuntu) from winxp and i noticed that ooo wasn't that slow on windows (on a relatively older pc [2004]) and i've found that it is MEGA fast on linux. it loads up way faster than m$ office on windows or even, as i said before, ooo on windows. i have only once or twice ran into m$ --> ooo incompatibility afa formatting is concerned. i'm not trying to sound like an ooo fanboy, but i can't think of anything negative in regards to ooo.

Free (1)

Ramble (940291) | about 7 years ago | (#18472259)

The only reason I can think of to actually use OOo is that fact that it's free. MS Office 2007 is simply too kick arse.

Re:Free (1)

Marcion (876801) | about 7 years ago | (#18472451)

It is a word processor, it cannot be "kick arse".

I personally do everything in plain text, so you can all fsck off!

Re:Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472569)

I am a human, I cannot "fskc off" :)

I personally do everything in plain text too...

Apps designed around Office (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 7 years ago | (#18472271)

In my office there's this AIA thing that people use to generate documents. It requires and integrates with MS Office. Not likely I could get the people behind that to switch over to OpenOffice... and the worst part still is the likelihood that its use will eventually push us into using Office 2007. I'm not happy about this.

How about OOo bugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472283)

How about those wonderful OOo bugs that cause it to totally screw your formatting? Randomly deleting document files? Missing pasted images? This is an aspect of OOo that nobody mentions. Everyone assumes the real problem is just "We need MSOffice people to convert!" when it should be "We should actually get our shit working first before we make other people eat it".

If I wanted crap like that I'd use Wordperfect.

Good enough for me but (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 7 years ago | (#18472317)

I noticed when I do curve fitting, in a spreadsheet, that Open Office does the curve fitting, but does not bother to give the equation of the line it uses to fit onto the data which is braindead.

Has this been fixed in the meantime?

Re:Good enough for me but (1)

alphamugwump (918799) | about 7 years ago | (#18472937)

You can work around this using the LINEST function. And it is good for much more than lines -- you can fit any linear combination of functions. For example, suppose this is your data:

x y
1 4
2 5
3 6

and you want to fit it to y = A e^x + B e^-x

then, you just fit a plane to the data:

e^x e^-x y
e^1 e^-1 4
e^2 e^-2 5
e^3 e^-3 6

LINEST is much more powerful than reading the equation off the chart, even if it is harder to set up. You can also use your estimated values in equations, so that if you change your data, you don't need to plug in your estimated values again. The only thing is that LINEST returns an array, which requires a bit of reading to learn how to extract values from.

And if your function isn't a linear combination of functions, sometimes you can play with logarithms until it is. But that's way beyond what excel's curve fitting does anyway.

lousy .doc support (1)

CiderJack (961987) | about 7 years ago | (#18472343)

I use OOo for everything here at home. However, when I use it to create a .doc, it doesn't seem to be able to save anything more than the usual font formatting. I mean things like colors in headers, footers, that kind of thing just don't seem to save, even if I open it in OOo again. So if I write a report for school I can't use any of the fancy stuff.

Not major, but this semester I have been writing a report for my Systems Analysis class with all kinds of spreadsheets, diagrams, etc. I can print it out here at home for all the nice effects, but I just learned that for the final the instructor wants the whole report (all the files) on CDR. I know for a fact she doesn't even know about Open Office (or she didn't, but she has at least heard of it as of last week). :\

State University, but third-rate instructors. Diploma-mill mentality. MicroSoft products or nothing. But that's a rant for another time...

Re:lousy .doc support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472723)

suggest you print it to .pdf format for the handin and include that on the cdr with the .odf file itself, just incase.

Re:lousy .doc support (1)

AntiNazi (844331) | about 7 years ago | (#18472977)

Surely she knows about .pdf. I have had professors require that everything be turned in as a .pdf specifically because he didn't want to hear about how xyz was different on your machine or software suite. Then again I have had others who won't deal with anything but a .doc and specifically state that if it is an OOo .doc that doesn't work when he opens it with office he is going to crush your soul.

Re:lousy .doc support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473987)

You should never hand anything in as a .doc. Export/print to .pdf. The whole point of PDF files is that they provide a perfectly consistent layout on any reader or operating system.

Excel and the ribbon (1)

Kuciwalker (891651) | about 7 years ago | (#18472457)

Excel is far more powerful than Calc, and the ribbon interface in Office 2007 (if you've moved to that) knocks the socks off of anything in OOo or 2003. And of course 2003 or 2007 will give you much better compatibility with the rest of the world than OOo as long as you save in .doc. OOo has save to pdf, but you can get that in 2007 too.

Known issues (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 7 years ago | (#18472475)

  • Microsoft Word import is still iffy. Some documents import fine, some import badly, and some don't import at all. It's better than it was in older versions of OpenOffice, but if formatting matters, you still can't freely interchange documents between OpenOffice and Word. I know, this really is a problem with Microsoft's obscure format. It's the biggest obstacle to widespread OpenOffice adoption, though.
  • The help system is terrible. Each help box needs to stand alone. Instead, help text often assumes context from previous help text. For example, search help for "print envelope" and you get "Letter Wizard, Page 3", which isn't helpful. In general, finding answers with the help system is hard, and when you've found them, there's a good chance they will be out of context. A bad help system is a significant barrier to adoption.
  • OpenOffice's answer to Clippy, the diamond-shaped popup thing, is even less useful than Microsoft's version.
  • Auto-completion of words is badly designed. In Word, if you don't accept what it's doing, auto-completion doesn't try again for a while. In Open Office, it gets in your face and keeps trying. This is obnoxious. In typical open-source style, there's some obscure configuration parameter you can change to fix this. Wrong answer.
  • "Draw" is reasonably good, better than what Microsoft Office used to have. But then Microsoft bought Visio and integrated it into Office, and Visio is better than Draw.
  • "Calc" is about as good as everybody else's spreadsheet.
  • "Impress" is OK for producing dumb presentations, but PowerPoint presentations tend to look better.

Re:Known issues (2, Interesting)

R.Mo_Robert (737913) | about 7 years ago | (#18473315)

With regards to the look of OpenOffice.org Impress presentations, they do tend to look quite bad with the default templates. (Maybe including some good-looking ones would be a nice thing to do for the future.)

However, you can download PowerPoint templates from Microsoft's site [microsoft.com] or even the program itself if you have it (even templates designed for PowerPoint 2007 if you use the Microsoft Office 2007 file format converter [microsoft.com] to convert to the older format) and import them into OpenOffice.org, then save them as templates. It's a little more work, but it works, and you get good-looking presentations. Of course, some people think it's icky to use stuff from MS, but it works. :)

One other thing I like about Impress is that you can export your presentation to a variety of formats, including PowerPoint, Flash, and PDF. That last one is the best for me--it even captures your slide transitions and everything. Put Adobe Reader (or FoxIt Reader--it works too) in Full Screen mode and nobody will know the difference. Plus you don't have to worry about having PowerPoint or Impress on your target computer, just a sufficiently recent version of Adobe Reader (version 6.0 worked for me, earlier ones might too). Or to virtually guarantee compatibility, download FoxIt Reader [foxitsoftware.com] and place the executable on your flash drive or whatever (no need to install)--and then there's even less to worry about, at least if you're on Windows. But if you were thinking about using PowerPoint in the first place, you probably are. :)

I exported my Impress presentation as PDF the other week for a class and it worked great. Nobody knew the difference, although I'm sure some technically inclined people were curious when they saw me starting a PDF reader. (Not that I really needed to, since I'm lucky enough that my school actually includes OpenOffice.org standard on lab computers. But I just couldn't resist.)

Lighter office suites? (1)

javacowboy (222023) | about 7 years ago | (#18472499)

Yeah, openoffice is a bloated monstrosity, especially if all you need it for is simple tasks, like composing a reasonably well-formatted document or a simple spreadsheet.

I'd try KOffice or the GNOME office apps, but they don't run natively on OS X yet. GTK+ and Qt apps are supposed to run natively (not X11) on OS X, but they're not there yet.

In the meantime, I have to fire up OpenOffice or NeoOffice just to use a very basic spreadsheet. ARRRGH!

Component compatibility (1)

homesteader (585925) | about 7 years ago | (#18472559)

If you have a 3rd party piece of software that uses office components, you will still need MS office. A perfect example is Quickbooks. You can export reports to excel from quickbooks, but if you don't have excel installed you can't export(no csv options).

Grammar (1)

jma05 (897351) | about 7 years ago | (#18472591)

Lack of an integrated Grammar checker. Startup speed does not both me when I use the QuickStart.

Re:Grammar (1)

lavid (1020121) | about 7 years ago | (#18472725)

Not only that but all the linguistics tools I've found for OOo are terrible. Linguistics is something that OOo should really invest their time in, esp since the OpenSource movement stands to grab a lot of marketshare in non-English speaking countries. In MS Word it generally figures out what language I'm writing in.

Oh, yeah, they should also make a workalike version for most of the world that's accustomed to the Word/Excel etc interfaces... and make the load time not suck OOTB.

Complicated presentations (1)

RR (64484) | about 7 years ago | (#18472599)

There's always the rendering issue, especially when you do stuff like multiple character sets, rotations, embedded Word objects... The presentations I run are from other people, so the rendering is really important.

Spanned displays. If you want to specify the secondary monitor for your presentation, you have to use PowerPoint. Apparently, there has been a lot [openoffice.org] of [openoffice.org] discussion [openoffice.org] about this, and rudimentary multi-monitor support might make it to the next release.

It's also unbelievably slow and bloated.

Open Office on a Mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18472699)

I use OO on a Mac Book Pro. In general, it works well. It opens most (99%) M$ Word and Excel docs provided they are not burdened with macros.

On the down side, OO is a bit slow, it incorporates the same auto format stupidity that make Word such a PAIN!!!, Calc isn't as polished as Excel and the charting feature in Calc is not easy to use. I haven't tried master documents with OO yet, but since this feature doesn't really work on Word, I don't think that OO can be any worse.

Formatting is a bit of a problem when moving an OO document to Word. In general, Word has this problem when moving documents from one version of Word to another or when moving a document from one computer to another with the same version of Word. I think this relates to Word's tendency to replace a document's formatting with the local user formatting template when it opens a document.

Overall, OO is about 1 1/2 generation behind M$ Office. For most users OO is more than capable for anything they wanted to do.

OpenOffice Calc (1)

EricBoyd (532608) | about 7 years ago | (#18472769)

Writer works OK for me - it's a little slow, and sometimes image formatting differs from Word, but in general it works.

Calc on the other hand is absolutely impossible to use for my job. Anything more than a few hundred rows of data and it becomes literally seconds to do anything, like scroll. I typically work with thousands of rows of data (once per second baby) and tens of thousands isn't unusual. Excel handles this fine. And others have already mentioned how poor the charting is. Finally, The Save and autosave are horrendously slow, which is especially bad for the autosave - it will literally interrupt your work, and you've have to sit there for 20+ seconds while it "saves"...

So, the main reason I don't use Open Office at work is it can't handle the bulk of my work, which is large data set in a spread sheet.

I switched ... (1)

Ralconte (599174) | about 7 years ago | (#18472781)

to AbiWord for all my document needs. I don't care for MS Office's feature bloat, and OpenOffice wasn't much better. I tried to use OO's spreadsheet to make a chart, but it's controls were too counterintuitive -- I simply couldn't find them. A couple of versions back, the help file was adequate -- before they were all but useless -- and now we're back to useless again. I may get better. I personally don't make presentations or use macros, so I don't care about those either way. But a small, tight, spreadsheet program, with good sci and statistical functions, and a clean charting ability, would come in handy. Any options?

Filesize (1)

whobutdrew (889171) | about 7 years ago | (#18473061)

When saving files as XLS or DOC, the filesize is bigger than if Excel or Word actually saves it, and by a significant amount. A 20kb Excel file is an 80kb OO.o file. And that's basically straight data. Compound this on the Mac side with OpenOffice and NeoOffice. Also, I don't think even the newer versions of OO.o are quite up to speed with Office 2K3 yet, though I haven't really played around with that intensively.

Everything (1)

Aliencow (653119) | about 7 years ago | (#18473105)

The interface doesn't feel fast. You click and it's slow to react...both on Windows and Linux. Plus it messes up formatting and is slow as hell. I use gnumeric for simple sheets, and thank god I rarely have to use a Word processing program. I'd use Abiword. If it's not going to be 100% compatible with Office anyways, might as well use something fast.

Complex documents a problem (1)

sesquipedalian_one (639698) | about 7 years ago | (#18473175)

In addition to what others have mentioned, I have had serious problems with complex documents that contain many sections. Opening such a document and doing certain kinds of reformatting cause Writer to blink furiously as it redraws the screen over and over; the more sections you have, the more times it blinks. When you have a lot of sections, it can take minutes for the blinking to subside. I've also found certain things in such documents, e.g., lines between columns, can disappear with no user intervention. (I've never been able to figure out the conditions under which it happens, but I've been bit by this repeatedly.)

Upgrading/Uninstalling (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 7 years ago | (#18473217)

Uninstalling Open Office on Windows requires you to keep the temporary files it creates when you install it. Unfortunately, it puts these files on the installing user (Administrator)'s desktop by default... so of course, being a person who hates a cluttered desktop, I deleted them.

So, I can't use the OO.o uninstaller. Since I can't download OO.o 2.0.x from the official site any more, I now have to find somewhere to download it.

Did I mention that this also prevents me from installing OO.o 2.1.0 because it tries to uninstall the current version before installing the new one, cancelling the installation when the uninstaller fails to uninstall because it can't find the old installation files I've since deleted?

Printing envelopes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473521)

I have never been able to figure out how to get envelopes to print properly with OO.org. It always either uses the wrong paper size, or the wrong envelope position and orientation.

the downside? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473525)

i'm asking myself what the upside of this steaming pile of crap is. i see no real value except for that it's free but beyond that it's about on par with the windows mobile office applications.
avoid this crap, it's just another failure of open source.

I don't get why people ask stuff like this (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | about 7 years ago | (#18473551)

If you're worried if OpenOffice can fit yoru needs then just DOWNLOAD the thing and try it for awhile.

It's not like it costs anything, or you have to uninstall MS Office to install OpenOffice or some other nonsense.

Download it, keep MS Office around for awhile as a backup, and start using OpenOffice. Try using it exclusively for a week, or month, or however long until you feel comfortable that it can do all you need it to do. Them, and only then, should you give MS the boot.

It would be absolutely retarded from a business perspective to proceed any other way - based on anyones advice, no matter how much of an "expert" they claim to be. Just try for yourself - if it fits your needs, great. If it doesn't, you still have MS Office installed, so there is no risk of it hurting your business.

No one knows your business better than you do. Maybe you have special needs OpenOffice can't meet. Maybe you don't. You won't know until you try it out.

why calc for statistics? (4, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | about 7 years ago | (#18473615)

I'm curious why so many people are concerned with the ability of calc to do statistics. Is this just a carryover from the MS Windows world where Excel seems to be used for all sorts of things it isn't well suited for? Why not do your stats in R [r-project.org], which is much more powerful than Calc or Excel?

Minor compatibility issues especially with macros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18473625)

I'm a writer and love Open Office except when I have to deal with one particular publisher. Most common Word and Excel and Power Point files open up without any problems, but this one publisher uses a certain specially written macro and these do not work well in Open Office. I can open the file, read it and edit it, but for the formatting I have to boot into Windoze and do a final check.

On the whole, Open Office is a very robust substitute for Word. Were it not for that one publisher's specific requirements, I'd be able to say that I've been using it -- in an intensive, Word-oriented career -- for at least 4 years.

Hope that's useful. :-)

My openoffice grievances (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | about 7 years ago | (#18473939)

I mostly use openoffice to generate PDFs from formats that I don't have better tools for (like doc and ppt). I call openoffice on the commandline thusly: ooffice2 -p foo.ppt and, since I've set the default printer to be a PDF converter in the same directory, it creates a PDF in the current directory for me.

Here are my complaints:

1. openoffice won't start, even in this filter mode, unless it has an X display that it's allowed to use. This is retarded since as a filter, it should never even start the GUI. To get around this, I have to start X and then call openoffice with the display option set (-display localhost:0).

This means I can't use openoffice as a filter on headless machines that don't have X installed unless I'm allowed to set the display to some remote X server. Completely retarded.

2. openoffice won't let me specify the name of the output file that I want. Instead, it guesses the name based on the first text it finds in the file, and I have to look for the most recently created pdf in the current directory and rename it to something sensible.

3. openoffice always exits with a status of 0, even when it had problems. If there's a problem (unknown file format, for example), it should exit with a non-zero status so that I can detect the problem immediately.

4. openoffice won't allow you to run multiple instances concurrently. If you start four filters, only the last one started will generate a result. The rest will quietly not do anything (and, of course, won't set status to a value that would tell you anything went wrong). As a result, you have to serialize all your calls to openoffice.

If anyone knows how to deal with these issues, I'd love to hear the solution.
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