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Archive for the ‘June 2007’ Category

You’ve made the switch to Open Office.org . You downloaded the software, installed it, and started using Open Office.org Writer. Then your boss sends you a report that you’re supposed to study, update and format. It’s in MS Word ( .doc ) format. Since OOo can open .doc files, there shouldn’t be any problem. (Writer can open, import , and save files in multiple formats.(.doc, .dot , .wpd, .xml, .wps, sdw, .sgl, .vor , .jtd, .jtt, .pdb, .hwp, .psw, .rtf, .txt, .csv, .htm and .html).

However, you notice that the text formatting and paragraph styes are very much different from the boss’ original document. The objects and images have gone missing. What do you do? First , don’t panic! Put the mouse down and read on. Second, be prepared. With a few mouse clicks , you can rid yourself of the troubles that come with sharing files with users of proprietary software . Here are some steps you can follow:

Step 1: Adjust the conversion settings within OpenOffice.org itself.
On the menu bar, select Tools > Options > Load/Save > Microsoft Office. Select all the options. When you open a Word document that contains an embedded object, this step ensures that OLE objects can be loaded , converted and saved from MS Office format to OOo formats and vice versa. This allows converted Microsoft Office OLE objects to be edited in Open Office.org. For example, when opening a Word document that contains an embedded equation editor object, selecting the [L] checkbox for MathType to OpenOffice.org Math/OpenOffice.org Math to MathType in the Tools > Options > Load/Save > Microsoft Office box automatically converts the MathType object into to an OpenOffice.org Math object.
This step improves the way OLE objects are handled. However, this only works if you are using OpenOffice.org in an operating system that supports OLE Objects, such as Windows . OLE objects that are saved on a Windows application but are not in MS Office format will not be editable in OpenOffice.org on a Linux machine. although the object will still be displayed correctly and can still be resized.

Step 2: Adjust the VBA Properties
On the menu bar, select Tools > Options > Load/Save >VBA Properties). Check all the options in this box. The option, “Load Basic code to edit ” loads and saves the Basic code from a Microsoft document as a special Open Office.org Basic module with the document. OpenOffice.org doesn’t run Visual Basic scripts. However, it saves them anyway so that they are still there when you send the document to MS Office users. When you open an MS Office file in OO format, the MS Basic Code is not saved unless the Save original Basic code again option is selected.

Step 3: Adjust the compatibility settings for the document.
Launch Open Office.org Writer. Then choose File>New> Text Document. Once the document is open, select Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org Writer > Compatibility. Check all the available options . These options make OpenOffice.org Writer work a little more like Microsoft Office Word.

Step 4: Set the default file format
OpenOffice.org saves files in the OpenDocument format by default . To change the default settings for the file format , go to Tools > Options > Load/Save > General. In the Standard File Format section of this page, choose a document type (for example, “Text document”) and a file format from the Always save as list.
If you save text files using the .rtf format , you are likely to experience loss of formatting and images when the file is opened by Microsoft Office. The best way to transfer a file created in Open Office.org Writer to a Microsoft Word user is to save it as Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP (.doc).

Step 5: Apply good practices for wordprocessing
Once the settings have been fixed, you can start importing files. Now the only problems that could possibly occur are concerned with the text itself. To avoid these problems, apply some good practices for wordprocessing.
• Use character and paragraph styles instead of direct formatting.
• Use paragraph formatting for space before and after instead of hard returns. This is specially important when using numbered or bulleted lists.
• Use paragraph text flow properties (for example, keep with next) rather than using
manual page breaks.
• Set specific tab stops or use a table instead of pressing the space key multiple times at the start of paragraphs.
• Use common font styles. However, you must be aware that even if font names in different applications may be similar, it may actually render different font styles. Thus, it is better to select common font styles rather than font names.

Exporting to PDF
One way to make files easily transferable to non-OpenOffice.org users is by exporting the file to Portable Document Format (PDF) and XHTML. Files using the PDF format are compressed and can be read across different platforms using Acrobat Reader . To export directly to PDF , click on the “export to PDF” button on the standard toolbar or select file > Export as PDF, which allows you to select some detailed options. To export as XHTML, use File > Export and for File format choose XHTML In the dropdown box.

There are some features in OOo that are not supported, or partly supported in Microsoft Office. When a file is converted into .doc format and MS Office opens the file, it simply drops these features .

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Open source software is ideal for use in the education sector. It teaches the value of sharing, a sense of community, citizenship and collaboration. It typifies what learning should be about – the free exchange of ideas and the discovery of new ones.

Collaboration
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Our best thought come from others”. Educators have long recognized the importance of the open exchange of ideas and information within the classroom. This process opens the mind, ignites creative thoughts, sparks curiosity over things undiscovered, which ultimately leads to the advancement of human knowledge. It is thus the responsibility of the educator to ensure that information exchange is free, open and uncensored across verbal and non-verbal communication channels. Open source software makes this easier across varied platforms and applications due to open file formats.

Learning
Open source software shows users what lies beneath. Students can discover the technological principles of the software through analysis of its structure, function and operation. It’s reverse engineering made easy. Learning is not only concerned with acquiring a skill for use today. It requires acquiring the fundamental skills that will benefit students in the long term. Thus, skills taught should be generic rather than tied to one vendor’s product.
Because Open Office.org is free, the student can even take a copy home , thus allowing the student to continue learning after school. This ripples to other member of the family, who get the value of a computer education without the need to spend money on software.

Values
Open source software is ideal for use in education because of the values that it teaches the children. We are often told, “It is better to give than to receive”. The very existence of open source software is based on this idea- – giving something away to total strangers and not expecting anything in return.

The OpenOffice.org Education Project embodies this ideal. This education initiative aims to help teachers , students or anybody involved in education to enter the OpenOffice.org project .

One particular school , Wilmslow High School , located in the United Kingdom, took up the task. As part of this project, 11 students were challenged to create and distribute 50 copies of OpenOffice.org 1.1 CDs to schools and students in countries where commercial software is considered too expensive and/or where Internet access is limited. One group of students downloaded the OpenOffice.org ISO from a mirror site. Another group of students created customised CD labels and wallets using the resources from the OpenOffice.org website.

Based on the teacher, students learned more than just how to download, copy , label and distribute open source software. They learned about citizenship, co-operation and time management skills.

Because OpenOffice.org is an international community which encourages user participation in marketing, documentation, programming, and other aspects of the software, students are able to build co-operative skills across the internet .

Steal or share?

Would you rather steal or share? Open source software eradicates the ethical dilemma faced by students who are forced to buy pirated software because their teacher requires them to use MS Office for reports, projects, etc. Five to nine thousand pesos (P5T-P9T) for a genuine copy of MS Office vs. a bootlegged copy for P50- the temptation is great to go for the pirated copy. But why steal when you can share? Educators should be open as well. Open Office.org can save to .doc, .xls, .ppt formats so students can use Open Office.org at home and continue working on the document elsewhere using MS Office . Educators who have existing files in MS Office file formats can still open their files in OpenOffice.org.
Even support is shared . Support for OpenOffice.org is provided by the OpenOffice.org community for free. Comprehensive online support is provided through newsgroups, forums or mailing lists that consist of hundreds of experienced users.

The OOo Help Outline contains FAQ’s, HowTo’s and per-application help documentation. It can be accessed at http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/OOoHelpOutline
User Help – FAQ Project FAQs are accessible at http://user-faq.openoffice.org/new-faq/index.html

Free training materials can be accessed from Bytebot.net (http://training.bytebot.net/). These materials are free to download and use. However, permission is required if the material will be used commercially .

The OpenOffice.org website (http://www.openoffice.org) shows a list of websites that offer free cliparts, templates, samples and macros

In Good Company

Many schools all over the world are already using open source software. Since 2003, the University of the Philippines advocates employees and faculty to use open source software, Linux and OpenOffice.org. The University of the Philippines Open University is currently using Moodle, a free, open source software package course management system popularly used by educators to create effective online learning communities. A large number of open universities worldwide are already using Moodle.

To see the list of schools and government agencies using OpenOffice.org , visit the OOo Market Share Analysis website, (http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Market_Share_Analysis)

Your school can use it too. On top of the non-monetary benefits of using open source software, there’s also one enticing aspect-its cost. Zero. As school budgets become tighter and tighter , inevitably, the education sector will look towards adopting OpenOffice.org to meet its software needs.

A preacher once said: “There is no greater crime than to stand between a man and his development; to take any law or institution and put it around him like a collar, and fasten it there, so that as he grows and enlarges, he presses against it till he suffocates and dies”

Send your email to: openofficetips@feria.name

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