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Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 8

Open Documents

One of the first things I noticed is version 8 uses a new file format: OpenDocument. ODT is an XML format specified by the OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) OpenDocument 1.0 schema. It facilitates file sharing and reduces file sizes. Word documents requiring 2,307 KB and 13,204 KB of disk, for instance, used just 1,542 KB and 6,063 KB, respectively, in StarOffice as ODT text files.

The OpenDocument schema defines a common XML structure for text documents, spreadsheets, charts, drawings and presentations. That makes ODT files easy to transform using XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation) or any other XML tool. I could easily import, read and save text documents whether they originated in versions of StarOffice 6/7 or various versions of Word. Excel and PowerPoint files were just as easy to convert into StarOffice Calc and Impress files.

Importing documents into StarOffice and its ODT format takes a bit of time. That 13,204-KB doc file took Writer 28 seconds to import and open--long enough time to refill my coffee but not long enough to add cream and sugar. Once I saved the file in ODT format, Writer could open it as fast as Microsoft Word opened its corresponding doc file (in about 7 seconds). The Enterprise version even has a utility to estimate how long the migration from Office to StarOffice will take.

Text Painter

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