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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 OpenOffice.org is free, “you get what you pay for” is not only disputable, but down there with “the board of directors said the accounting practices were OK” and “hey, let's form an Internet startup.”

OpenOffice.org, the open source product of Sun Microsystems' StarOffice, is a full-featured, remarkably good office suite. It matches Microsoft Office program for program, and goes a giant step further with a great graphics program, Draw. You get applications for working with documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, web sites, graphics, and databases—anywhere from Oracle to a simple text file.

Want to do a holiday newsletter as a mail merge, printing out a copy for each of the 135 people on your address list? It's really easy. Put together a book? You've got all the tools you need. Do complex statistical or mathematical calculations in a spreadsheet? Ditto. Create a Web site start-to-finish (along with graphics, animations, and image maps). Open your old WordStar files from college and your Lotus 1-2-3 files from your first job. Scrape your jaw on the ground when you see how small the file sizes are.

This release of OpenOffice.org also has a bunch of enhancements over StarOffice 5.2. We're satisfied and impressed that the developers incorporated lots of good feedback.

What goes up must come down. Water is wet. OpenOffice.org is free.

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

The CD You Get With This Book

This is the only StarOffice or OpenOffice.org book you can currently get that has the CD along with it. You get the software for every platform, plus a bunch of extras that the OpenOffice.org community has put together—templates, macros, examples, etc.

Plus you get the Mac OS X Developer version, an alpha build of the software that runs on the love child of Steve Jobs and a UNIX kernel, the built-with-UNIX Mac operating system.

For additional extras like templates, created by the authors, come to the authors' web site http://www.getopenoffice.org

Microsoft Office Compatibility

OpenOffice.org 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 converts directories of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files to OpenOffice.org formats.

What It Runs On

OpenOffice.org 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 OpenOffice.org 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 626.

We also indexed the living daylights out of this book, so use the Index, too.

What Now?

You can get more info on OpenOffice.org in Chapter 1, Introduction to OpenOffice.org 1.0, on page 3.

Go through Chapter 5, Setup and Tips, on page 95. It gives you an overview of the work environment and shows you lots of really useful tips that affect the whole program.

Use the Quick Start tutorials. We've included something for those of you who like to plunge in quickly and get your hands dirty.

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, Nicholas Radhuber, 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. Thanks to SolBean for taking it by the horns and hanging on till the buzzer. And of course to Elmer “Godiva” without whom we would have had less to say about the book.

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.

Gargantuan thanks to Louis Suarez-Potts, Chris Herrnberger, Josh Berkus, Justin Clift, Sam Hiser, Scott Carr, and Travis Bauer for their hard work and gracious spirit which enabled us to include their carefully assembled CD with this book. To learn more about OpenOffice.org, see http://www.openoffice.org.

And to everyone else we forgot and owe money to.

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