Last weekend I found myself in the situation of having to get a document edited and sent off quickly. I hadn’t installed MS Office for Mac on my new computer, so went into my office to find the discs.
No discs. I left them in Canada.
After a brief bit of insanity where I considered buying a new copy, I remembered an old article in Money Sense Magazine about good free software.
OpenOffice from Oracle is a free for download, and seems to be able to do pretty much the same as MS Office. Part one of this review is just a little bit about my initial thoughts of the software after using it for the past few days.
First off, it has all the basic components that you would expect in office software: word processing, a spreadsheet program, presentation software and a database. Since I had to edit documents I had previously created in Word, that was the first test.
It opened my English Word file with zero difficulty, and all the formatting, layout and spacing was identical to the original version. I was able to add to the document without any problems, and OpenOffice allows you to save as a Word document.
Opening a document that was written in Japanese, however, there was a slight shifting of a column of text, where the main problem was that the tab key moved the text at a different spacing than MS Office did.
I was able to get around the problem within 3 minutes by making a two-column table, dropping the text inside, and then making the table invisible.
I had a moment of fear when I went to print (I wasn’t really going to print, but in MS Office, you can create a pdf file from the print screen) and there was no option to save as a pdf. A little bit of searching through the menu bar, however, and I was able to find the option to “export to pdf”, which saved it perfectly.
I was really happy to see that there was no problem reading Japanese characters, but I think that has more to do with my OS than OpenOffice.
With all that out of the way, I thought I would test out an Excel document. I was a little disappointed with the way it imported a graph, but it was just a matter of size more than anything.
More important that the size of the graph, however, I should say that the most important thing was that all cells and formulas were imported perfectly.
I’ll be honest with you; I have no idea when “Part 2″ of this review will be written. The above is a synopsis of my initial thoughts, and after I use the software for a while I will continue the review.
I will say this, though: I see no need to install MS Office.