The third major release of the OpenOffice.org office productivity suite made its appearance on Monday — meeting with such apparent demand that the OpenOffice.org servers promptly crashed. At the time of writing on the following day, the organisation still has only a cut-down homepage, listing mirror sites from which the suite can be downloaded.
One major reason for the significance of OpenOffice 3 is the fact that it can run natively on the Mac — previously, it needed to be run within a windowed X11 session. But the suite has had many other enhancements, one of which is the welcome screen shown in this screenshot.
OpenOffice 3 is the first version of the suite with some compatibility with the Office Open XML (OOXML) document format that is created in the latest version of Microsoft Office, a paid-for alternative to OpenOffice. These documents are identifiable by their extension having an added 'x', as with the .docx format shown above.
While OpenOffice 3 can read OOXML documents, however, it cannot create or save to them.
Another upgrade to the new version of OpenOffice is its integration of extensions, or add-ons.
It is now possible to search for updates to extensions from within OpenOffice, and the extension functionality is now presented as an integral part of the main suite. The objective in taking this approach, according to OpenOffice.org, is to keep the core suite as lightweight as possible, while making it easy for functionality to be added by those who need it.
The PDF export facility that has been integrated into the last few incremental releases of OpenOffice has now been upgraded. The tool now gives the user more control in choosing how they want the resulting PDF file to be presented — for example, opening on a specific page, or opening in thumbnail view.
In the Calc spreadsheet application, a new 'Solver' tool has been added that can help users deal with complex equations.
In the picture above, the tool is shown running on the native Mac OS X version of OpenOffice.org.
As with much of the new version of OpenOffice, the chart function — used across several of the applications within the suite — has been given a visual revamp.
Icons across the suite have been overhauled to give them a fresher look.