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Quotes (OOo) (the ".org" inclusion is due to a trademark dispute) is an office applications suite. It is intended to be compatible with, and directly compete with, Microsoft Office. is free software under the LGPL or SISSL and is available for Microsoft Windows, Sun Solaris, other Unix-like systems, and Mac OS X. is based on the code from an older version of StarOffice that was acquired and made open source by Sun Microsystems with the aim of breaking the market dominance of Microsoft Office and allowing Sun access to rapid development at reduced cost. It also allowed the general public a version of StarOffice that was free including the source code.



According to its Mission Statement, the project aims "To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format."

The project aims to compete with Microsoft Office and emulate Microsoft Office's look and feel where suitable (the interface of version 2.0 is reminiscient of Microsoft Office 2003). It also imports from and exports to almost all Microsoft Office file formats and many others. The ability to read and write Microsoft Office file formats is an essential feature of OOo for many users. 1.1 for Windows editing an HTML document
Enlarge 1.1 for Windows editing an HTML document

The primary development platforms for OOo are Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and Solaris, with ports available or in progress for Mac OS X, OS/2, and many Unix-like operating systems.

Components is a collection of different applications that work together closely to provide the features expected from a modern office suite. Many of the components are designed to mirror those available in Microsoft Office. The components available include:

  • Writer — a word processor similar in look and feel to Microsoft Word and offering a roughly equivalent range of functions and tools. It also includes the ability to write documents to Portable Document Format (PDF) files with no additional software, and can also function as an HTML editor for creating web pages.
  • Calc — a spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel with a roughly equivalent range of features. Calc provides a number of features not present in Excel, including a system which automatically defines series for graphing, based on the layout of the user's data. Calc is also capable of writing spreadsheets directly as a PDF file.
  • Impress — a presentation program similar to Microsoft Powerpoint. In addition to common features for preparing presentations, it can export them to Macromedia Flash (SWF) files allowing them to be played on any computer with the Flash player installed. Impress does, however, suffer from a lack of ready-made presentation designs, relying instead on third-party templates. It also suffers from slow performance and poor smoothness of animations.
  • Draw — a vector graphics editor comparable in features to Corel Draw. It features versatile "connectors" between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles, and facilitate building flowcharts.
  • Base — a database program similar to Microsoft Access. Base allows the creation and manipulation of databases, and the building of forms and reports to provide easy access to data for end-users. As with Access, Base is able to work as a front-end to a variety of database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources and MySQL/Postgresql. Base is not available in the 1.x versions of, becoming part of the suite starting with version 2.0.
  • Macro recorder — is used to record user actions and replay them later to help with automating tasks. It is available throughout the office suite and is based on StarOffice BASIC.
  • Math — a tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, which can then be embedded inside other documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.
  • Quickstarter — a small program that runs when the computer starts for the first time. It loads the core files and libraries for during computer startup and allows the suite applications to start more quickly when selected later. The amount of time it takes to open applications was a common complaint in version 1.0 of the suite, and Quickstarter was a solution of sorts. Substantial improvements are expected in this area for version 2.0.


Star Office was originally a competitor of Microsoft Word. In 1996, they made a Linux version of their product available as a free binary-only download. It had some key advantages over the other word processors then available for Linux: EZ Word had a quirky user interface, and both WordPerfect and Applix Word were not available for download free of charge.

In August of 1999, Sun Microsystems purchased Marco Börries 's company StarDivision, which was then producing the commercial office suite known as StarOffice. Sun started giving away StarOffice 5.2 for free as a download and on CD-ROM.

Sun announced on July 19, 2000 and open sourced the StarOffice 5.2 source code. The OOo website went live October 13th 2000 and made the source available for download.

Build 638c — the first milestone release — was released in October 2001. OOo 1.0 was released on May 1, 2002 and OOo 1.1 on September 2, 2003. OOo 1.1.3 was released on October 4, 2004. The current stable release is version 1.1.4.

Development of version 2.0 is at an advanced stage. Work began in early 2003, with the codename "Q". The current development release is 2.0 Beta, which was released on March 4, 2005. A final release candidate is scheduled for completion in April, followed by the final 2.0 release in May/June.

As of 2005, the suite is currently available in 25 different languages. Further translations by the development community are underway.

OOo has become a significant competitor to the dominant Microsoft Office application suite. Microsoft has published a competitive guide for its value-added reseller channel on how to market Microsoft Office over OOo [1] [2]. Although Microsoft Office retains 95% of the general market, OOo and StarOffice have secured 14% of the large enterprise market [3].


Main article: StarOffice

Sun subsidises OOo development in order to produce the next version of StarOffice. Releases of StarOffice since StarOffice 6.0 have been based on the OOo codebase, with some proprietary components included:

  • Certain fonts (especially Asian language fonts)
  • Adabas D database
  • Some templates
  • Clip art gallery
  • Some sorting functionality for Asian versions
  • Some file filters.

The current version (early 2005) of StarOffice is 8 Beta.


As of March 31 2005, the security site Secunia counts zero security flaws not yet fixed for



The OOo API is based on Universal Network Objects (UNO), the OOo component technology, and consists of a wide range of interfaces defined in a CORBA-like interface description language.

The document file format used by OOo is based on XML and several export and import filters. All external formats read and written by OOo are converted back and forth from the internal XML representation. By using compression when saving the XML to disk, OOo's files are generally smaller than the equivalent binary Microsoft Office files. The OOo file format is also the basis of the OASIS Open Office XML file format standard.

The upcoming OOo version 2.0 has the following goals: better interoperability with Microsoft Office; better performance, with improved speed and lower memory usage; greater scripting capabilities; better integration, particularly with GNOME; an easier-to-find user-friendly database front end (OpenOffice Base) for database access with easy-to-use report, form and query creation wizards that allows users to access existing dBASE, Microsoft Access and MySQL databases, a new built-in SQL database, and improved usability. [4] Snapshots of development in progress are released every few weeks in the developers' zone of

The OOo project is still essentially run by StarOffice staff, and getting non-Sun contributions into the core codebase is notoriously difficult, even for the project's other corporate sponsors. [5]

GNOME and KDE integration uses its own widget toolkit and typeface-rendering libraries to ensure cross-platform portability. However, this comes at the expense of full native look and feel.

Sun and Novell are working on full integration of OOo with GNOME. Novell includes OOo in their Ximian Desktop product and Sun in their Java Desktop System.

Work is also in progress on better integration with KDE — Cuckooo (OOo as a KPart and hence fully integratable with KDE), KDE vclplug (using the Qt toolkit rather than OOo's own toolkit) and KDE NWF (Native Widget Framework, to give OOo the look of the host platform). This work was started by Jan Holesovsky and is currently sponsored by SuSE.

Recently, a version of was released with KDE-style icons and dialogue boxes, known as 1.1.3-kde [6].

Mac OS X

The Mac OS X version is a port of the Unix version. Although a version which would natively use the Aqua interface was planned for OpenOffice version 2, due to a variety of issues (including technical challenges, licensing complications, and limited development resources), that project was abandoned. Instead OpenOffice is available in two varieties which run on OS X:

  • Mac OS X (X11), which requires the installation of Apple X11 or XDarwin. This version is a close port of the well-tested Unix version, but does not integrate smoothly with OS X services such as fonts and printing, and its user interface is that of an X11 application.
  • NeoOffice/J, which integrates with OS X using Java. NeoOffice is easier to install, adheres fairly closely to OS X GUI standards (e.g. using native pull-down menus), and has full access to OS X's font and printing subsystems, but is less stable and lags behind development of official OpenOffice releases.

Other projects

Other projects run alongside the main project and are easier to contribute to. These include documentation, localisation and the API.

There is a scripting project which aims to be a repository for distributing macros. (OGo) is a set of OOo extension programs to share OOo files, calendars, address books, e-mails, instant messaging and blackboards, browse the web and access other groupware applications.

There is also an effort to create and share templates and other goodies at OOExtras [7].


Version 1 made use of Java for some auxiliary functions, but version 2 increases the suite's use of the programming platform. The following areas depend on a Java Runtime Environment being present on the user's computer:

  • Some parts of the Base application
  • The media player
  • Mail merge to e-mail, which also needs Java Mail
  • All document wizards in Writer
  • Accessibility tools
  • Report Autopilot
  • JDBC driver support for databased based on Java-based
  • XSLT filters
  • BeanShell, the Netbeans scripting language, and the Java UNO bridge
  • Export filters to the Aportis.doc (.pdb) format for the Palm or Pocket Word (.psw) format for the Pocket PC

This has drawn criticism from advocates of Free software, since the Java Runtime Environment needed to enable these features is proprietary software, thereby undermining the "free-ness" of The fact that Sun is both the developer of Java and the chief supporter of has drawn accusations of ulterior motives for this technology choice. Also, a number of operating systems distributions either do not include a complete JRE (due to licensing terms, e.g. Debian GNU/Linux) or cannot (because one is not available, e.g. FreeBSD, Yellow Dog Linux). Users of such operating systems would have to implement a "work around" of some kind, or not have access to the Java-dependent features.

See also

External links

Last updated: 06-02-2005 12:54:24
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