Review of the New OpenOffice 3 beta

Our favorite office app, OpenOffice has just released the OOo 3.0 beta version. My review can be summed up in two words: it rocks! Ok, now you can go back to your other activities.

Just kiddin, let’s dig a bit deeper. First, since this isn’t a stable release you might not want to install this version yet as your main office application. But, so far the tests I’ve done were without crashes.

The first thing you’ll probably notice is their new Start Center which gives you a fast access to all of the different programs inside OOo, and a few other setup options.

OOo 3 beta startup

Second eye candy will be the new icon set, a needed visual improvement to say OpenOffice doesn’t look that ugly anymore.

OOo icon set

In Writer, the text editor application, you can now navigate through your document with a multi-page view:

OOo multiple pages

Setting by zoom level that you select from a bar that sits on the bottom right of the screen.

OOo zoom

What else is new? Still in Writer you can now have a better support for viewing notes. In Calc you now have a limit of 1024 columns (instead of 256), and improvements in chart options. In Draw and Impress finally you have the option to crop images, but I still wanted to see a “set transparent background” option.

Mac users should be really happy as this release can be installed without the complicated X11. I tried to convert a Mac user before without success, now I can finally try again.

Also, with document formatting OOo will now support ODF 1.2, and even import files from Microsoft Office 2007 . Of course, import here isn’t going to be perfect but it is an easy way for you to view those docx and pptx files even older versions of MS Office can’t open.

A feature that is much expected but will come at a later release is PDF import. This feature is promised for the final 3.0 release, we’ll wait to see.

I installed and ran OpenOffice 3.0 beta on my Windows machine. It installed right beside my main OOo installation, didn’t upgrade the earlier version I had installed. But, this is actually smart so you can still have the stable release in case any problems happen.

A very good release with some important changes. I can’t wait for the full stable release.

Cool OpenOffice extensions

While OpenOffice is a pretty handy office suite in itself, you can add even more functionality to it with different plug-ins. Some of my favorites are:

I’ll also keep an eye on Writer to Palm and see how it performs.

Any more tips from our readers?