Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A new office productivity tool: update

Not long ago, I hailed the release of OpenOffice.org 2.0, and I still think it looks to be a great tool.

However, I've been using it more extensively this month as an experiment, and I think I've noticed my computer running more slowly. When I did a bit of checking, I noticed I was using more memory than I had in physical RAM, thus requiring more use of disk.

Admittedly, I come from an X Window System on *nix background, where I didn't find it unusual to have 15-20 windows open at once (much to the dismay of the friendly Windows IT support people at my last company). I looked for what had changed recently, and I could only find OO.o.

A bit of Googling turned up a blog by George Ou indicating that I might have discovered the problem.

I still hope OO.o promises good things for the future. I do want anyone who reads this blog to know all the data I think pertinent (and perhaps, on occasion, some I'm not so sure about), even if they go against a position I've taken. I think that's part of the ethics of writing or speaking.

I suspect OO.o will get better and faster, but I don't know that. I hope OO.o Writer will continue to stress some of the contributions it makes: more emphasis on structured text (e.g., the OO.o 1.x Stylist) rather than direct formatting of text, seemingly fewer problems with list numbering and master documents, and easier generation of PDF files.

MS Office is still an alternative, of course. For people searching for spreadsheets other than Excel, I've heard good things about Gnumeric, although I've never used it. Those looking for a faster, cross-platform, and free word processor may want to investigate AbiWord (another program I've heard about but not used).

Until this gets resolved, I'll likely still use OO.o for some things. I'll also go back to my standbyes: LaTeX, DocBook, and related tools for all things textual (including presentations), J for calculations, and likely Excel for most spreadsheet work. All of those (except Excel) offer native storage of the work in readable text files, are excellent at what they do, and tend to be fast.

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