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OpenOffice.org 3.1: Better, Stronger, Faster

If you tried OpenOffice.org 3.0 and liked what you saw, stay tuned: The project's developers intend to have a major bug-fix release available soon, perhaps before the end of March.
If you tried OpenOffice.org 3.0 and liked what you saw, stay tuned: The project's developers intend to have a major bug-fix release available soon, perhaps before the end of March.According to Andrew Ziem, an open-source developer who maintains the OpenOffice.org Ninja blog, OpenOffice.org 3.1 will include around 800 bug fixes. It will also, however, add around 200 new or improved features, including:
  • Antialiasing for drawing objects (such as lines, circles, and charts) in OpenOffice.org Draw, Calc, Impress, and Writer.
  • Support for dragging drawing objects as semi-transparent solid copies, rather than wireframes.
  • New options for placing chart axes and labels.
  • Greater flexibility creating outline levels and numbering style for each paragraph in a document, allowing authors to create more sophisticated tables of contents.
  • The ability to reply to notes placed in document margins, allowing collaborators to engage in running discussions about their work.
  • Enhancements for Hebrew, Arabic, and other international users.
Ziem's blog post has details on these and quite a few other updates planned for OOo 3.1, including a number of screen shots and illustrations showing exactly how the changes will improve the OpenOffice.org user experience.

Taken individually, none of the planned changes or updates are earth-shaking news. All of them, however, are likely to matter to at least a few OpenOffice.org users, and some of them (such as the improved anti-aliasing support) will make the suite look better even to users who don't quite know why. As a result, the cumulative impact of these updates is what really matters here: Taken together, they make OpenOffice.org an even more compelling alternative to Microsoft Office for small-business users.

If you're an early adopter or want to contribute QA time to the OpenOffice.org project, you can download the latest release candidates here. Everyone else should wait for the final release to arrive this spring; it should be well worth the wait.

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