Article by Carol Shetler
When I started my home-based professional editing business in 2008, I did not have the funds to install the Microsoft Office (TM) suite on my computer, so I went looking around the Internet to find low-cost or free alternatives. I quickly discovered Open Office (TM), created by Oracle, with the active participation of users, who provide ideas for upgrades and improvements.
Open Office includes six software programs: Writer, for text creation; Calc, a spreadsheet; Impress, a presentation creator; Draw, for illustrations of all kinds; Base, a database creator and coordinator; and Math, to help produce complex mathematical formulae. File extensions are .odf (word processing), .ods (spreadsheets), and .odp (presentation). It is available in many languages, with these ‘native language’ versions being created entirely by volunteers.
I use Open Office Writer for preparing and editing documents, and to format both e-books and print books for pre-publication. Open Office Calc makes my accounting records neat and easy to update. I also use Calc as a base for creating and editing test materials for my students. It is much easier to line up multiple choice and “fill in the blank” questions in a spreadsheet than in a word processor – correct alignment of questions and answer choices is guaranteed.
First created twenty years ago by Oracle Corporation, Open Office joined the Apache Software Foundation in 2011, to help improve maintenance and upgrades and to provide legal protection to Open Office’s volunteer users, coders and developers.
Apache Open Office’s latest upgrade, Version 4.11, was released in August of 2014.
The advantages of Apache Open Office over proprietary software are wide-ranging compatibility and convertibility with other software; minimal “auto style” features, letting you create your own style pages easily and effectively; and sharing of software among many computers, whether in your home or workplace. It is also compatible with PDF software such as Adobe Acrobat (TM), for file conversion. Apache Open Office is easy to learn, use and upgrade. It is the first software, based on OASIS Open Document Format, to meet the ISO / IEC 26300 standard for software.
If you are working with authors and editors around the world, consider switching your computer’s working software over to Apache Open Office. This open source software prevents “file gobbledygook” when file conversion is attempted between incompatible software programs, enhancing collaboration on projects of all sizes.