Thursday, August 25, 2016

Opuscula

Slowly saying
Goodbye to Office

ALTHOUGH STILL “STUCK” WITH MS Windows, I am slowly migrating to Open Office. This post was created using LibreOffice 5.2.

LibreOffice and Apache are “OpenOffice” programs that are FREE. Compare “free” to MS Office 2010 prices (see Snapshot screen capture below.)

I installed LibreOffice under MS Windows 7. The download, from https://www.libreoffice.org, and installation were simple enough. No disks to damage, no key codes to fat finger. I attempted to download Apache from the Apache Software Foundation to a USB thumb drive, but apparently “pilot error” prevented successful installation.

At one time I had Ubuntu installed as an alternative operating system (OS). I was able to switch between Windows and Ubuntu easily and all my MS Office files translated politely – and correctly – into whatever MS Office equivalent came with Ubuntu. The FREE Ubuntu was removed when an update download failed, but given the price of MS Windows perhaps I was too hasty.

Why abandon MS Windows and MS Office?

Aside from the cost factor – and that IS an important factor, especially in an office environment - I lost patience with Microsoft’s constant mucking about with the User Interface (UI). Mind, I have been using MS Word since it was released on a single, 5 ¼-inch floppy back in the early 1980s. It was the first “What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) word processor and a great boon to writers who used typeface enhancements (e.g., bold, italics, super and sub-script).

On the other hand there are benefits to MS Office; primarily in the inclusion of some “associated” applications, notably mail consolidators such as MS Mail and Outlook in its various renditions. Ubuntu forces (forced?) the user to download some individual applications such as a browser (I use Chrome and Firefox for 99.99% of all my browser needs; only a very few people write browser-specific documents anymore); there are many mail consolidators.

With LibreOffice, my MS Office files open looking as if they opened in MS Office. I am able to save LibreOffice files in multiple formats. The LO Writer options are shown below.

OpenOffice programs have come a long way since the time when a user had to mess with BAT files and integrate supporting applications (browsers, etc.)

Both LibreOffice and Apache have all the office features of MS Office (sans browser and consolidator, easily downloaded – generally free – from the WWW).

LibreOffice, for example, comes with all the functional applications of MS Office; only the nsames are changed to protect the innocent.

The learning curve is fairly low. For example, the common shortcut keys in Word work exactly the same in LibreOffice Writer. If the user prefers using the ribbon options, these too are available. The Writer ribbon appears below.

One major functional loss?

So far my only serious complaint is the inability to set up an alternate (Hebrew) character set and to have it enter text right-to-left. Interestingly, it seems that with LibreOffice open (this is composed in LO Writer), Hebrew is disabled/unavailable to MS Office and Outlook applications.

Unlike MS Office, non-Latin (“English”) character sets are not part of the basic package.

Still, with a little help from LibreOffice users on the ‘Net, I’m confident that the Hebrew issue will be resolved. (If anyone reading this can resolve the Hebrew fonts quesiton please contact me at BCPlanner@gmail.com.)