Monday, November 10, 2008

Open Source App Suites: Try the Individual Components

Even if you only favor some of the adjunct applications in them, they may complement your main applications very well.

We’ve written about the open source productivity suite before, which is out in a new version 3.0. It’s not perfect, and not perfectly compatible with Microsoft Office, but has its attractions. If you’ve avoided trying it because you already have core productivity applications such as a word processor and a database that you favor, you may still want to look into the other free applications that come with the suite.

Draw is a Microsoft Visio-like diagram drawing application in OpenOffice, Math is a tool for creating and working with mathematical formulas, and Impress is for building presentations. You can launch any or all of these applications on their own, and you may find they complement your core applications.

Today on the OStatic blog, we covered a fork of OpenOffice called Go-oo, which is for Windows and Linux. It’s a lighter, faster version of the suite, but has the same programs. There are also some attractions to the Go-oo versions that are not found in OpenOffice.

For example, the Calc spreadsheet in Go-oo supports VBA macros very smoothly, so you may find that an Excel spreadsheet macro that chokes in OpenOffice will run smoothly with Go-oo. Go-oo also has under-the-hood extras such as improved support for Microsoft binary files. The best way to get a feel for its compatibility with Microsoft Office files is to simply import a number of them. The biggest benefit to Go-oo over OpenOffice, though, is speed, especially at loading applications.

It’s a mistake to assume that the attraction of a software suite is necessarily the whole suite–the sum of all the parts. For diagrams, math, compatibility with Excel, and more reasons, some of the parts in these open source suites may benefit you.

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