John Chamberlain
Developer Diary
 Developer Diary · You Heard It Here First · Thursday 1 January 2004
OpenOffice Writer Shines
Today I was creating a flyer for my product, the OPeNDAP Data Connector, and was just about to fire up Corel Draw when I realized this would be the perfect opportunity to put my foot where my mouth is. Yesterday I was writing how OpenOffice's Writer was superior to Word and how it could output to PDF and so on and now I had the perfect test case. I generally do flyers and things like that in Corel Draw because Word does not have good enough layout functionality. Would Writer be up to the task? If so I would get the added benefit of being able to save directly to PDF instead of doing a multi-step conversion required by the Corel Draw output.

First I had to install it. It's free so getting it was easy. Then during the install it asked for a Java runtime. Instead of feeding it an old one I decided I should upgrade Java on my machine. I have not done this for a year because Sun's installers require service pack 6 on NT and I only had SP 3. Frankly I was scared of installing an OS service pack. I had heard rumors that people who had installed SP6 had not been able to boot their computers afterwards. Also, I was afraid it might have spyware components. When I found out it was released in 1999, well before the spyware craze set in, I decided to risk it and it went ok. Only a couple of printer drivers were blown away. Then I installed the newest Java JRE, yeah, at last. Final step: installing OpenOffice which went without a hitch.

Then I start flyering away. Sure enough it had a snap grid and free-form layout that worked pretty much as well as Corel Draw and the text formatting was better of course. It smoothly loaded all the graphics I wanted to use and was good at cropping and scaling the graphics. There was little or no performance problem other than the help was pokey to come up. Output to PDF and Word formats worked seemlessly and judge for yourself the result:

OPeNDAP Data Connector conference flyer (version 2.34)

After that success I even tried writing this web page in Writer but that effort failed because Writer does not support HTML text editing. It insists on automatically loading and changing the content of the document so you cannot work directly with HTML source. So I had to switch back to HomeSite, my normal HTML editor.

Overall Writer shined with stellar performance and I predict it will become very popular and run shoulder to shoulder with Word in the marketplace.

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Developer Diary · · bio · Revised 1 January 2004 · Pure Content