OpenOffice 3.0 in beta test
The OpenOffice.org community has released a beta of version 3.0 of the cross-platform office suite, scheduled for release next September. A native version for Intel Macs is planned, with better integration into the Aqua interface than the previous X11 ports. A first beta version for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X – Intel only – which already offers the complete range of features is now available to download.
The user interface design in the beta represents the final version and no major changes are expected. Modifications will be limited to fine-tuning, which is likely to meet the approval of most users. Among other improvements, symbols now look more appealing and can be replaced by alternative sets of icons.
Support Microsoft's Office Open XML document format means the word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs can now read, but not write, Office 2007 files. According to the developers, OpenOffice 3.0 supports extensions to the ODF 1.2 OpenDocument standard including a new mark-up language for mathematical formulas.
Other major improvements in version 3.0 include a new document view in Writer, for displaying two adjacent document pages and an updated memo feature offering clearer notes in different colours for each user on the right-hand side of documents. Zoom factors can be adjusted smoothly, via a slider in the status bar. In Calc worksheets, different sizes are now available for individual spreadsheet pages and the maximum number of columns per page has been increased from 256 to 1024. The new solver component allows users to optimise their spreadsheets by defining target variables and restricting independent variables. In presentations, new animations based on OpenGL provide more spectacular page changes than in previous versions. While it is still based on HSQLDB, the final version of the Base database is to include native drivers for directly accessing the MySQL databases.
The developers of OpenOffice hope that user participation in the present beta test will be high to avoid the need to fix any late problems in the release candidates, as required in previous versions.