Originally Published: Saturday, 23 September 2000 Author: Scott Miga
Published to: enhance_articles_desktops/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Word Processor Series Part 2: StarOffice

It would be wrong to refer to Sun Microsystems' StarOffice application as a word processor. While it includes one, it is also the home of several other applications, such as an event scheduler, drawing utility, Web page editor, e-mail application, presentation manager, spreadsheet program, and Web browser. In this review we'll leave all of the other features aside and focus on the word processing tool, the part of StarOffice which most interests users.

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It would be wrong to refer to Sun Microsystems' StarOffice application as a word processor. While it includes one, it is also the home of several other applications, such as an event scheduler, drawing utility, Web page editor, e-mail application, presentation manager, spreadsheet program, and Web browser. In this review we'll leave all of the other features aside and focus on the word processing tool, the part of StarOffice which most interests users.

Start your engines!

Double clicking on the 'New Text Document' icon in the desktop area of StarOffice brings up a normal looking word processing screen. The usual toolbars are displayed at the top of the screen, and buttons representing features going vertical on the left side of the document. The thing about StarOffice is that it integrates all of its features into each program, enabling the user, for example, to do tasks in the spreadsheet, while being in the word processor. This allows for very good productivity and nicely fits all the pieces of the puzzle together.

On the top toolbar, there is a box displaying the full filename and path, followed by buttons representing navigation, open file, save, print, cut & paste, and even some help options. Each have small tooltip bubbles pop up when the mouse is placed over them, and are grayed out when not able to be activated. Below the top toolbar is the formatting bar, which has the style and name of the the font, size, bold, italicize, underline, centering, indenting, and coloring options. Finally, on the left hand side going vertical is another row of buttons which include insert, form, autotext, spell checking, and search tools. The majority of the important tools have their own buttons in this word processor, and nothing is hidden in trees of pull-down menus.

Quickness A huge factor which I am concerned about with any software, is how fast it moves. I will not use something that is sluggish and slow, resulting in less work done and more time spent watching the screen. The whole point of productivity software is to get things done. StarOffice handles speed in an okay manner. The word processor runs pretty fast. The anticipated, but slight, slowdown occurs when it is doing a large task such as formatting an article or spell-checking 5 pages. This slowdown can be expected from any word processor.

The way you want it The formatting features of StarOffice size up pretty well. Besides doing font changing and sizes, you can bold, italicize, underline, align, indent, and change the color of your text. StarOffice 5.1a lists 19 fonts, with sizes from 6 to 96, and includes a full color palette as choices for the ackground color. Spell-checking is also available, along with Auto Spell-check which underlines words the program thinks is spelled wrong with a underlined, squiggled red line. A full thesaurus is also available, and a hyphenation tool as well.

Talking with those Window users

Sharing files between Microsoft Word and other software is something all word processors try to manage, allowing Word documents to be opened and edited. StarOffice allows full access to this by having support for Word, and Sun makes a smart move by doing so. I recently opened a complex Word document with over 20 text boxes in it, and StarOffice managed to format it correctly for the most part. A couple boxes were slightly off center, but for the most part it displayed correctly.

Conclusion

StarOffice's word processor is a great example of productivity software. Among having too many features to explain, StarOffice handles speed, compatibility, and formatting with the best of them. Besides having the backing of an established company such as Sun Microsystems, its office suite is up there with Microsoft Office, and if development continues at the current pace, it should start be looked at as a major player in the office field. I have used StarOffice for a while now and have nothing except good things to say about it, and this goes for the same with several other users I have introduced StarOffice to.

Further information StarOffice is freely available at Sun, and besides some annoying registration hassles, is essentially free. New versions released every so often so it is not a dead product, and new features are always being added.





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