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See Top Ten Reasons to Use StarOffice or OpenOffice.org on page 5.

It used to be that the saying “You get what you pay for” ranked up there with such indisputable truths as, “What goes up must come down,” “Water is wet,” and “I had to restart Windows today.” But since StarOffice is a miniscule $75 at the time we write this book, “you get what you pay for” is not only disputable, but just plain false. Plus OpenOffice.org beats that—it's free.

Sun Microsystems' StarOffice is a full-featured, remarkably good office suite that matches Microsoft Word program for program, and goes a giant step further with a great graphics program. StarOffice's applications for working with documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, web sites, graphics, and databases make StarOffice or OpenOffice.org the best office suite choice, hands down.

Create a Web site start-to-finish (along with graphics, animations, and image maps). Open your old WordStar files from college and your WordPerfect files from your first job. Scrape your jaw on the ground when you see how small the file sizes are.

What goes up must come down. Water is wet. StarOffice 6.0 and OpenOffice.org are spectacular (the reviewers on Amazon think so too), and have a bunch of enhancements over StarOffice 5.2. We spent time in a few of Sun's usability sessions, between 5.2 and 6.0, and we're satisfied and impressed that Sun incorporated a lot of crucial feedback.

(And yes, I really did have to restart Windows today.)

Microsoft Office Compatibility

StarOffice is particularly strong in its ability to open Microsoft Office file formats and save the documents back as Microsoft Office files. It even boasts an AutoPilot that automatically converts entire directories of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents and their templates to StarOffice formats.

What It Runs On

StarOffice runs on Windows, Linux, Lindows, and Solaris. The OpenOffice.org group is working on versions for Mac OSX, FreeBSD, and other platforms.

About This Book

This is a book that lets you find what you need quickly and get it done. This isn't a book for “dummies”, with epic-length procedures for cutting and pasting. On the other hand, we don't include extensive details on those sexy technical issues like mime types and LDAP

We wrote the book that we would want: all the important stuff, but nothing too basic or technically impractical for the intermediate user (and with a little humor along the way). We also talked to hundreds of new StarOffice and OpenOffice.org users, so we were able to document what people really need to do.

Reading Is Fundamental

If you're like most intermediate users, you already know enough to be dangerous, which means you'll probably just dive in and try to do things in StarOffice without any help. Sometimes that strategy works, other times it doesn't. If it doesn't, read the relevant sections in this book.

For instance, one of the most frequently asked questions is “How do I print spreadsheet headings on every page?” The answer has been in this book all along. Go read Repeating Spreadsheet Headings (Rows or Columns) on Each Page on page 628.

We also indexed the living daylights out of this book, so use the Index, too, particularly a little entry we like to call “troubleshooting”.

What Now?

You can get more info on StarOffice and OpenOffice.org in Chapter Chapter 1, Introduction to StarOffice 6.0 and OpenOffice.org 1.0, on page 3. You'll find the top ten reasons to use StarOffice and OpenOffice.org, essentials about each program, the new features, and tips for you Microsoft Office users on switching over.

Download and install StarOffice or OpenOffice.org if you haven't already. See Chapter Chapter 2, Installation, on page 19 for more information.

Go through Chapter Chapter 5, Setup and Tips, on page 97. It gives you an overview of the StarOffice work environment and shows you lots of useful things that will help you no matter which StarOffice applications you're using.

Use the tutorials. We've included something for those of you who like to plunge in quickly and get your hands dirty, without reading all the procedures ahead of time. At the beginning of most major parts of the book, there's a section called Quick Start that contains a Guided Tour. The guided tour leads you through specific steps that will help you get to know a lot of the features for each product, including features you probably won't come across while just exploring, as well as few tips that will make using StarOffice and OpenOffice.org a breeze.

Don't panic!


We'd like to thank the friends who donated their time to reading and commenting on drafts of the book, in return for nothing but a t-shirt and chance at fame through appearing in the examples: Caron Newman, Carlene Bratach, Paul Bratach, Barry Fish, Takane Aizeki, Scott Hudson, Bryan Basham, Arnaud Insinger, Patrick Born, Steve “Shewi” Osvold, and Dan “Born in the spring of increased gyration” Batten. May the road rise up to meet you, may your hard drives fragment slowly, and your applications be robust and user friendly.

Thanks to Simon “Dread Pirate” Roberts for his generosity, his technical expertise, his easy-mounting Linux machine, and that he not only helped a whole bunch on the first go-around but came at it full force for the update.

Thanks to Greg Anderson, goat-roper extraordinaire, who Knows All.

Thanks to Erwin Tenhumberg, whose proactive and extraordinary assistance during the update made it possible for Solveig to retain nearly all her hair.

Thanks to Rob Reiner, for being such a darned fine film maker, and to Peter van der Linden, for proving that computer books can be good reading.

Thanks to Patti Guerrieri, Eileen Clark, the team of tireless production and proofing eyes at Prentice Hall, and the technical reviewers, who cranked out the invaluable proofs and technical changes to us as fast as we could type them in.

Thanks to all the folks at OpenOffice.org, who produce and answer questions on such great software.

Thanks to Floyd for daydreaming during that staff meeting and coming up with the idea for writing this book in the first place, and to Greg Doench and Rachel Borden, for shepherding us through the book-writing process. And thanks to SolBean for taking it by the horns and hanging on till the buzzer.

Also big thanks to Dave Landers, Deb Scott, Jari Paukku, Dave Nelson, Bryan Gambrel, Leila Chucri, Sarah Bate, Jimbo Rose, the SES team, eBeth Duran, Mark Leiker, Michael Bohn, John Will, Jeff “Big Daddy” Chacon, Anthony “Duke” Reynoso, the McCulloughs (for all the babysitting and marital intervention), and of course, Ma and Pa. Thanks to Larissa Carroll for being flexible.

And to everyone else we forgot and owe money to.

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