What is Apache OpenOffice (OpenOffice.org)?

EDIT July 2022: Well, as you can see, now and then I drop in here with some news.

EDIT December 2018: Most of the material formerly on this site has been removed, because it is obsolete.

EDIT September 2016: If you are using, or considering using, Apache OpenOffice, please see this article for some information on why you should consider LibreOffice instead.

EDIT 2014: I am no longer maintaining this blog and website, because I am no longer using this program for my daily work. I am using LibreOffice, a descendent of the old OpenOffice.org. It is developed by an active and enthusiastic community. I have a blog about it here: Taming LibreOffice.

Apache OpenOffice (AOO) is another descendent of OpenOffice.org (OOo), starting with version 3.4. It’s now at version 4.1.12.

Second edition of Designing with LibreOffice available for free download

Designing with LibreOffice coverBruce Byfield and Jean Hollis Weber announce the second edition of Designing with LibreOffice. The book is available as an .ODT or .PDF file under the Creative Commons Attribution/Sharealike License version 4.0 or later from https://designingwithlibreoffice.com/

The first edition was published in 2016, and was downloaded over thirty-five thousand times. Michael Meeks, one of the co-founders of LibreOffice, described the first edition as “an outstanding contribution to help people bring the full power of LibreOffice into their document.” Similarly, free software author and journalist Carla Schroder wrote, “Designing With LibreOffice teaches everything you need to know about document production…. suitable for beginners to wizened old pros, who will probably discover things about LibreOffice that they didn’t know.”

The second edition updates the original, removing outdated information and adding updated screenshots and new information about topics such as Harfbuzz font shaping codes, export to EPUB formats for ereaders, the Zotero extension for bibliographies, and Angry Reviewer, a Grammarly-like extension for editing diction. In the future, the writers plan to release other editions as necessary to keep Designing with LibreOffice current.

Although LibreOffice has more advanced features and some menu differences compared to Apache OpenOffice, much of the information in this book will be useful to users of AOO. The differences might even convince you to finally switch from AOO to LibreOffice.

For more information or interviews, contact Bruce Byfield at bbyfield@axion.net.

New book: Taming AOO 4.1 Writer

Cover of Taming AOO 4.1 WriterTaming Apache OpenOffice 4.1 Writer is a reformatted and rebranded version of an update to an old OOo 3.x Writer Guide by members of the AOO Documentation Team.

A free download of the PDF is available here.

Low-cost printed copies are available from Lulu.com.

New book: Taming AOO 4.1 Getting Started

Cover of Taming AOO 4.1If you’re still using AOO (instead of switching to LibreOffice), you probably don’t need a book, but I’ve done one anyway. Taming Apache OpenOffice 4.1: Getting Started has been updated (from my book of the same name for v3.4) by me and members of the AOO Documentation Team, and reformatted and rebranded by me.

A free download of the PDF is available here.

Low-cost printed copies are available from Lulu.com.

Time to upgrade to LibreOffice?

Are you still using Apache OpenOffice? Have you recently tried to open a .odt, .ods or .odp file and received this error message? “This document was created by a newer version of OpenOffice. It may contain features not supported by your current version.

AOO error message

The notice (pictured) that pops up in Apache OpenOffice doesn’t say so, but even the latest version of AOO (4.1.8, which was released earlier this month) does NOT support features like ODF 1.3, so updating to it won’t help. AOO users would need to “update” to LibreOffice. (LibreOffice users can avoid the problem for OO users by continuing to save files in ODF 1.2.)

Note: other features are lacking in AOO, for example the ability to save files in DOCX format, even though AOO can open DOCX files. LibreOffice can do both. Wouldn’t it be nice (helpful) if the “Update Now” button in AOO took a user to the LO download page?

See also this blog post at LibreOffice.

Here’s why to choose LibreOffice, not OpenOffice

Bruce Byfield summarizes the main reasons to choose, or switch to, LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice, in his article OpenOffice: A Project in Search of an Exit Strategy.

Bruce writes, “I keep asking myself what OpenOffice can do that LibreOffice cannot do better, and I keep coming up blank… LibreOffice has always held every advantage. Whatever the ins and out of the LibreOffice fork in 2010, the majority of OpenOffice.org contributors forked with it, including many of the most ambitious and thoughtful developers.

For more details, see this article in Ars Technica: OpenOffice, after years of neglect, could shut down.

Also, Contemplating the possible retirement of Apache OpenOffice.

New book: Designing with LibreOffice

Designing with LibreOfficeBruce Byfield’s much-anticipated book, Designing with LibreOffice has been published by Friends of OpenDocument, Inc. Read about it here or jump straight to the download/buy page to get a free PDF or buy a printed copy.

Most of the information in this book applies to Apache OpenOffice as well as to LibreOffice. Major differences are noted in the text.

Carla Schroder, Author of The Linux Cookbook, The Linux Network Cookbook, and The Book of Audacity, says this about the book:
“Designing With LibreOffice” teaches everything you need to know about document production: chapters, footnotes, citations, indexes, outlines, cross-references, incorporating images and spreadsheets, and controlling the appearance of your documents. It is well-organized and contains abundant examples, and is suitable for beginners to wizened old pros, who will probably discover things about LibreOffice that they didn’t know.

I have resigned from the AOO project

I just posted the following note to the Apache OpenOffice project management committee and the project’s public mailing list.

“I hereby resign from the Apache OpenOffice PPMC. I intend no further involvement with this project and will unsubscribe from all project lists after posting this note.

For me, contributing to a volunteer project must be enjoyable. I do not enjoy working with this group, because of the behaviour of some of the key people, primarily Rob Weir.

I remain available in my role with Friends of OpenDocument to process funding proposals for AOO marketing or other purposes. I also remain available to help anyone who wishes to get started using the AOO section of the ODFAuthors website.

Goodbye and good luck.”

EDIT 6 May: More information: my resignation is not primarily due to the few direct interactions I’ve had with Rob, although those are obviously part of it. It is due as much, if not more, to the tone of Rob’s (and a few others’) interactions with some other members of the community, and comments on the private list about those other members. These interactions and comments add up to an overall pattern of behaviour that I find unacceptable.