A Semi-Painless OpenOffice.org 3 Beta Test - InformationWeek

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8/11/2008
11:31 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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A Semi-Painless OpenOffice.org 3 Beta Test

Beta-testing is an inherently messy business, made all the messier if you have to install a beta on a production system. With a new beta of OpenOffice.org 3 in the wild, I wanted to dive in and try it, and found a nearly perfect way to do that without much effort.

Beta-testing is an inherently messy business, made all the messier if you have to install a beta on a production system. With a new beta of OpenOffice.org 3 in the wild, I wanted to dive in and try it, and found a nearly perfect way to do that without much effort.

I speak once again of PortableApps, the no-install open-source free-to-use-and-modify software suite that includes OO.o 2, but now has the most recent beta build of OO.o, too. Since the beta installs without touching anything else in the system -- even another instance of OO.o, PortableApps or not. The two can install side-by-side and run without stomping on each other's toes or changing system settings. When you install the OO.o beta in your instance of PortableApps, it'll be installed in a directory named "OpenOfficePortableTest" by default, where the original is simply "OpenOfficePortable".  My original way to beta-test something like OO.o was to set up a virtual machine and use that, but the PortableApps solution is far less cumbersome.

Since I had the stable release of OO.o as a PortableApps app, I was all the more interested in seeing how the two shaped up against each other.  From the outside, most of the apps seem to have no major differences apart from some new "chrome": e.g., for Writer, newer-looking toolbar icons and a zoom slider / page view selector at the bottom of the window. I was able to successfully open a simple Microsoft Word 2007 document saved in the new XML-based format, but it only really behaved properly after I had re-saved it as .ODF. (For some reason the spellchecking flagged every word in the document when it was a Word 2007 file.) Calc, too, didn't seem outwardly very different; all of my spreadsheets opened up without a hitch.

Two other things are immediately visible: apps launch a tot faster, even without the help of the OO.o application accelerator; and documents saved in OO.o 3's version of .ODF open as read-only in earlier versions due to potential differences between them. I haven't really dug around under the hood yet, but I plan to do so for an upcoming article.

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