Archive for January 2009

OpenOffice.org3 Impress Guide published

The first edition of the OOo3 Impress Guide is now available. Individual chapters and a compiled book are on the OOoAuthors website (ODT and PDF), the Documentation Project website (PDF), and the Documentation wiki.

Note: This first edition really could use some more reviewing, editing, and indexing. The choice was between publishing a (hopefully not seriously) flawed and incomplete book now, for people to use and comment on, or wait indefinitely for enough assistance to do a better job. I chose to make the info available.

If you can help with reviewing, please hop over to either OOoAuthors or the Documentation wiki. No contribution is too small!

I don’t plan to work on a printed copy any time soon, because (a) I have higher-priority things to do, (b) the OOo2 Impress Guide hasn’t sold many copies (in contrast to the Getting Started and Writer Guides for both OOo2 and OOo3), and (c) it still needs work. 3.0.1 released 3.0.1 fixes a number of minor issues reported with 3.0. Although minor releases normally do not include new features, there are two points of interest: enhanced support for grammar checkers, and an increase in the number of words held in personal word lists to 30,000. 3.0.1 is available now from, or for more languages and platforms check It is the same as Release Candidate 2, so if you already have that, you won’t need to download this one.

At the time I’m writing this post, the Mac OS X versions had not been made available through the OOo download pages, but you can get the RC2 for both Mac OS X Intel and PPC from

The next release of to contain significant new user features will be 3.1, scheduled for general availability at the end of March. As I noted in this post, OOoNinja has a great summary of what’s coming with that release.

Now if we could only get the user guides updated as fast as the programmers update the program itself, all would be truly fine! More help is desperately needed at Documentation.

Where to find templates for OOo

Templates for OOo Writer, Calc, Impress, and Draw are now available through the Template Browser. They are categorized in several ways to help you find what you need.

I have not looked through the collection in detail to see how complete it is, or what I think of the quality of the templates. A quick look shows that the collection includes some or all of the individual templates also available in the Sun Professional Template Packs (available as extensions), as well as templates created by others.

Community members can submit templates through the “Upload your template” link on the Template Browser.

(Previously templates were scattered in various places, including on the Documentation Project’s website, and were often difficult to find and search. This new site is a great improvement—part of a general usability overhaul of the OOo support system.) 3.0 for Mac PowerPC

Owners of older (pre-Intel) Mac PPC computers often wonder why the English version of OOo3.0 is not available through the OOo download page, when a few other languages are available there for OOo3.0. (The latest English version available from that page is OOo 2.4.)

The main reason is that Sun only began officially supporting OOo on Macs after the transition was made by Apple to Intel processors. Their developers only have Intel machines since PPC Macs are no longer made and they can only do official builds for Intel Macs.

In addition, each new version of OOo in each lanquage has to pass the QA process before it is listed on the official download page. Not enough people are doing QA work on the English version for PPC Macs.

QA depends heavily on volunteers, so OOo users with access to a Mac PPC can help; see the Quality Assurance page.

Mac PPC users can download a version for testing (OOo3.0.0 RC4 or OOo3.0.1 RC2) from

Full information on OOo for Macs is available at the project page.

Managing graphics in Writer

Solveig Haugland has another fine tutorial in her blog: How to insert graphics in OpenOffice Writer that are reasonably manageable. It is much more detailed, with more examples, than the corresponding section in the Writer Guide.

Mail Merge in

On the blog is another great article from Solveig Haugland: Mail Merge in Everything You Need to Know. You can read it online or download it in PDF.

If you use, Solveig’s own blog, Training, Tips, and Ideas is well worth following.

New Features in 3.1, an Early Look

Another great blog post from OOoNinja: New Features in 3.1, an Early Look. Clear, easy-to-understand summary with helpful illustrations.

My new role at Co-lead of the Documentation Project

It’s now official: I’ve been elected as Co-Lead of the Documentation Project at

Many of you will recall that in late November 2007, I announced that after 5 years with the project, it was time for me to move on to something else, so I ws winding down my activities by the send of that year. Then in March 2008, I admitted that I was still involved, though not in the (unofficial) role of lead editor at OOoAuthors, the group producing the user guides for

In my new role, I expect to be mainly continuing what I’ve been doing all along: overseeing the production of the user guides. I hope I’ll be a bit more disciplined in tracking and scheduling and other project-management activities—things I know perfectly well how to do, but usually don’t get around to. I also plan to start blogging regularly on OOo-related topics on this website… as well as finishing the book I started writing and publishing here.

What is Apache OpenOffice (

EDIT 2014: I am no longer maintaining this blog and website, because I am no longer using this program for my daily work. I am using LibreOffice, another descendent of the old It is developed by an active and enthusiastic community. I have a blog about it here: Taming LibreOffice.

Apache OpenOffice (AOO) is the new name for (OOo) from version 3.4. It is a suite of programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and drawings. It is free to download, use, and distribute. It is available in many languages and runs on Linux, Mac, Windows, and other operating systems. Its native file formats are OpenDocument (*.ODT, *.ODS, *.ODP, etc.), but it can open and save to many other formats, including Microsoft Office formats (*.DOC, *.XLS, *.PPT, etc.).

To get the program, go to the website. Good introductions are Introducing (PDF).

Scroll down to see recent posts in this blog.

What’s on this site?

Comments, tips, and pointers to articles written by other people about the various components of Click on the links in the navigation bar at the top of any page, or search the blog.

Some of the blog posts on this site are about LibreOffice, a similar program. I have now created a separate website for material about LibreOffice; see Taming LibreOffice.

Note: Some of the material on this site may be out of date. Some of it was originally written for 1.1.3 and has not been updated for OOo 2 or OOo 3. Some details have changed, but the general information is still relevant. I am updating the pages as I find time.

Books on

In addition to the books listed in the sidebar, others may be given on this page; I haven’t updated the book list for some time, other than adding those published by ODFAuthors.