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Keywords: Office suite, OpenOffice.org 2.0, open source
Title: Point and Click OpenOffice.org
Author: Robin 'Roblimo' Miller
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Media: Book, CD
Verdict: A good intro to OpenOffice.org for the techno-shy
This colourful, friendly and decidedly non-technical book is pitched at the reader making that big switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org 2.0. To that end, it's as more about making the reader comfortable with the new office suite than it is about providing detailed tutorials for power users.
The book covers all of the main components of OpenOffice.org (OOo), starting with Writer (for word processing), to Impress (for presentations), Calc (for spreadsheets) and Base (for databases). In addition, just to round out the open source message, the book also covers a replacement for Internet Explorer in the form of Mozilla Firefox and a replacement for Outlook/Outlook Express by way of Mozilla Thunderbird.
There are lots of books that provide high-level introductions to OpenOffice.org, but this one takes a slightly different approach. Aside from the excellent use of colour, screenshots and good page design, this book also comes with a CD of twenty Flash movies. Not only can the reader follow the text on the page, it's also possible to just load one of the movies and follow the instructions on screen.
In addition there's also a CD containing the full install of OOo, along with Firefox and Thunderbird. It means that all of the software covered in the text is also available for installation.
Common tasks, such as inserting graphics into documents, or creating mail-merges are tackled in addition to the absolute basics of creating, editing and saving documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc. Most of the common office tasks are covered so that MS Office users can quickly become comfortable with the way things are done in OOo. This means highlighting both the differences and also the similarities, of which there are plenty.
One of the big concerns when switching office suite is file compatibility. The topic isn't neglected here, and right from the start the book makes plain the issues involved and shows how OOo can make use of Microsoft formats to maximise document sharing with MS Office users.
As previously mentioned, this isn't a developer guide and it doesn't really cover power-user territory, but as a fast and easy to use introduction the combination of clear text explanations and videos makes this ideally suited to the non-technical user.