Art Alexion on 27 Nov 2009 06:42:01 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] Netbooks for High school

On Tuesday 24 November 2009 17:18:23 Edmond Rodriguez wrote:
> Open Office is amazing, and I use it all the time,  but it's not absolutely
>  perfect (unless the newer ones are).  These comments are focused on Word
>  documents.
> Though I have not updated in some time, my experience with Open Office is
>  it is not always perfect.  It does a great job opening MS documents and
>  can save created or modified documents in MS formats, but again, it's not
>  perfect.  Fonts will change slightly (unless you do lots of font work in
>  the configuration), pagination changes, bullets have had issues (though I
>  think some are corrected).

Update.  The compatibility improvements are significant.

Install the msttcorefonts.  Only use them in your documents.  For bullets, 
only use the MS wingdings, etc.

MS created documents are not identical from one computer to another. even in 
the same version of Office/Windows.  Options, such as font spacing, printer 
drivers, resolution, etc., all affect spacing, line breaks, object placement, 
page breaks, etc.

> I am almost an exclusive OpenOffice user, but if I submit something I
>  created in OO for Word that needs to be virtually identical in every way,
>  when viewed in MS, such that the person receiving it and opening it with
>  MS gets exactly what I saw in OO, I have to verify my document with MS
>  word (free read only mode after trial period ends) to verify it's
>  identical appearance (it is always very close to what I want, and usually
>  good enough).   I have learned how to run MS Word (trial and read only
>  after trial) using Wine, though I've set it up some time ago and perhaps
>  had to do some work linking in my XP fonts.

When you need identical, share as PDF.  When you need collaboration, share as 
MS format.  As I said, native MS stuff differs machine to machine, anyway.

> Perhaps things have improved in the past year or more.  Since what I have
>  now is working well, I have held on to it (OO 3.0.0).   OO is great and I
>  use it, but it's not perfect.   Rarely, but sometimes, I have experienced
>  OO documents saved in MS formats, to not be acceptable to automatic
>  parsers such as those used in job search web sites, though they were
>  always compatible with MS Word.  I managed to get around that by updating
>  and/or trying different save formats (95 , 97).  One other person in this
>  list verified off line the problem I was having.

That may have been me.  I haven't tried it since 3.1 was released.

> I think the main issue is with font usage, so there must be "safe" fonts
>  one can use to switch back and forth between OO and MS.  I also read
>  something once about being able to store the font data in the document
>  (though making it larger), so as to always have it there.  I've never
>  tried that if possible.


> Documents exported to PDF from OO of course are wonderful, if the person
>  receiving it does not need to edit and will accept a PDF.

I don't ask if the document I am sending is in final form and not submitted for 
collaboration.  People more often don't even know they can open a PDF.

This fall I am teaching a class.  I am using OOo.  My students are using 
various versions of MS Office.  Homework is submitted online.  This has not been 
a problem.  I have had a few students who initially used MS Works which came 
with their computers.  MS Office will not open Works documents, though OOo does.  
I explained to them that, for this reason, they should not be using Works, and 
showed them how to set OOo to save in MS formats by default, instead.

OOo does not have 100% compatibility with MS Office, but then again, neither do 
other installations of MSO, itself.  There is no Access compatibility.  I 
don't use Impress/Powerpoint so I can't comment on that.  But Word 
compatibility is tremendous, and Excel is very good. (Excel and Calc can have 
incompatibility with OLE and embeded database calls, but for standard sheets 
are quite compatible.)

Art Alexion
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