What Are the Components of OpenOffice and How Do They Compare to Microsoft Office?

OpenOffice, the open source Office suite that competes with Microsoft Office, includes the following three major applications:

  • Writer: A full-featured word processor that also includes an HTML editor for designing Web pages
  • Calc: An extremely capable spreadsheet program that also allows you to link to corporate databases
  • Impress: A very capable presentation program for creating electronic slide shows

What is Writer?

Writer is the Open Office equivalent of Microsoft Word. If offers all the standard word processing tools that you have probably come to expect, but also includes advanced features such as:

  • Designing and creating your own Web pages.
  • Creating forms for automatically inputting data into databases.
  • Creating personalized documents with Mail Merge, and link to your e-mail address book or external database.
  • Automatically generating standard documents such as letters, faxes, agendas, minutes, or importing or creating your own templates.
  • Creating your own Style Sheets
  • Importing seventeen different types of text documents with ease, including “doc”, and “dot”; and export nineteen different file formats, including “pdf”, “html” and three kinds of “doc”s.
  • Automatic indexing, tables of contents, bibliographical references; plus such details as custom headers, footers, footnotes, and endnotes.
  • Automatic outlining, Spellchecking, and Thesaurus.
  • Automatically correct words, or automatically complete words as you type.
  • Create and use macros.

What is Calc?

Calc is the Open Office equivalent of Microsoft Excel. If you’ve ever used Excel or another spreadsheet program you will find Calc familiar. It can calculate anything you hand it. It’s a full-featured spreadsheet program with all the great bells and whistles you’d expect from the best. While Calc is great at doing all the basic spreadsheet things, such as adding, sorting and manipulating rows and columns, it also letsy you do the following:

  • Link to external databases, such as dBase and MySQL (or even your email address book) and view, query, sort, filter, generate automatic reports and more, without affecting your original database.
  • Use an intuitive graphical interface to organize your data from your spreadsheets or database.
  • Filter your spreadsheet or database data to locate information quickly.
  • Use automatic subtotaling with outlining capabilities to give you instant information of the big picture, whenever you need it.
  • Use any and all of 364 built-in functions for financial, mathematical, statistical, database and other purposes.
  • Create your own formulas.

What is Impress?

Impress creates presentations (also known as slide shows) that you display from your computer, often with a projector, so that people can see what is on your screen. It is the equivalent of Microsoft’s PowerPoint program that comes with Office and works in a similar way. As well as the usual functions Impress allows you to do the following:

  • Create a presentation quickly with AutoPilot or a template.
  • Add notes to each slide that are just for the presenter.
  • View your presentation in several ways using the Drawing, Outline, Slide, Notes, Handout, and Slide Show views.
  • Save, print, and export and import in several formats.
  • Format text characters and paragraphs.
  • Create bulleted and numbered lists.
  • Control the look of the presentation with a master slide.
  • Insert graphics and control them using layers.
  • Create your own graphics, including 3-D graphics.
  • Add text animation and slide transitions.

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