March 26, 2007

NeoOffice a great, free Microsoft Office Replacement

I confess it; I've been using Microsoft Word since 1991. I've been cheering on it's replacements. I've bought Mellel, tried out Nisus, and I've especially kept up with Open Source projects, for there is where I've thought the biggest hope lay. But I confess I've never installed Open Office or any of its derivatives. However, we're putting in a computer lab of all iMacs at our church and so have been exploring Open Source solutions for our application needs. And with NeoOffice having a new version this week, I've downloaded it, installed it, and played with it. And I think I may never buy Microsoft Word again.

NeoOffice is a very good, and free open source collection of office applications. It includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and database components. It is the Mac OS X native aqua port of Open Office, and the new version 2.1 is now freely available. It works entirely with Word's .doc format and the new .docx XML format of Word 2007. It includes VBA macro support, so can use those Word Excell macros that the upcoming version of Micro$oft's Mac Office 2008 will lose. Hopefully, support for Writer VBA macros will follow. NeoOffice is completely user-ready. It installs as any commercial app, has a great help system, includes document wizards and templates, runs native on Intel or PPC and has Hebrew right-to-left Unicode support. I think the word-completion system is quite clever.

I'm telling you, I had no idea how well this Office suite had progressed. Here is a Feature Comparison from their web page.

It's not perfect. It has a large RAM requirement, no applescript support and Quicksilver can't grab text selections from it's window, but the VBA support will allow for workarounds for the spreadsheet at least. It may lack some advanced features one may need for book writing... though it contains Indexing functions, Table of Contents, Cross References and more.

Did I mention that this gem is free?

I would say, install it and give it a try, even if you don't need it. It will open your eyes to the incredible possibilities in community-based Open Source model of software development.

Oh, and NeoOffice is a web page creator, including this post.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I just downloaded the latest version of NeoOffice and can't believe how far this app has come. The last time I tried NeoOffice was a couple of years ago, and perhaps because the Java implementation on OS X was so slow at the time, NeoOffice just crawled. Now it's very snappy (in fact, it starts up about 10 times faster than OFfice 2008 for the Mac) and even has support for the Docx format and VBA macros! And it's free!
More and more, I'm realizing the power and potential of open source apps. NeoOffice is a great example of what a community of software developers can accomplish.