Friday, September 30, 2005

OpenOffice 2.0 ... Microsoft Office Replacement

I'm a big fan of open source. I use a lot of open source products in my work (Inkscape, Blender, Perl, JGraphPad, etc.). Yesterday, I needed to do some SQL queries on some customer data (to email the problematic message I blogged about yesterday). I needed to create a distinct set of customer email addresses for this mailing. I could have worked up a Perl script to read in this file, parse it, and then use a hash (associative array) to find the distinct items. That being said, I had heard that OpenOffice 2.0 had a database included with it called Base. I decided to try it. If I liked the experience I thought I might take Microsoft Office off my system and stop paying them the lucre.

OpenOffice 2.0 is currently a release cantidate (not complete ready for its first point release). I must tell you not to hold that against it though. I was up and running in a few minutes and had my distinct list in Base before I knew it. For most operations (word processing, spreadsheeting, etc.) there is no appreciable difference in features. Things are however in different places than Microsoft Office and it takes some getting used to. I think the learning curve is reasonable however and I suggest this product whole heartedly. After all, why pay for something when you can have it for free.

I let you know about my "switch" experience in later entries ...

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