OpenOffice 2.0 Beta ready to be tested
The open source office applications suite claims to offer most of the functions of Microsoft's Office product. It includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing software.
End of December, a preview of the OpenOffice 2.0 suite was released, major improvements being better MS-Office loading and parsing, strict XML compliant output, a new database program that mimics Microsoft's Access.
The new release is available for 32-bit Windows, Linux (x86), Sun Solaris x86, and the traditional Solaris for Sparc.
One noteworthy addition to this upcoming 2.0 OO.o release is the HSQL Embedded database engine a fast Java-based embedded database engine that once surprised everyone by beating IBM's Cloudscape (now also open sourced) and even C++ databases.
Also included is a user friendly database application dubbed "OpenOffice Base" which allows you to effortlessly create databases, queries and reports using helpful "wizards". Earlier 1.x versions of OpenOffice lack an embedded database and only the commercial StarOffice product includes one in the form of the bundled "Adabas D" licensed from Software AG, but even then such a friendly database front-end is missing from SO7.
The beta has a new user interface - designed to make refugees from Microsoft Office feel at home. However, since this is a beta version, the software needs further testing and is offered with "no guarantees".
The most obvious change in the OpenOffice.org editing window is in the treatment of toolbars. The Main toolbar, formerly on the left side of the window, has been exorcised entirely. So, too, have the sliding toolbars for lists and tables, and the long-click icon trays. Instead, toolbars pop open as required.