Open Crap

Preparing a Slide Presentation for a talk tomorrow, I decided to use the OpenOffice slideshow generation tool instead of PowerPoint, which is what I usually use.

Opened it up, went to the outline view, because that's how I like to compose presentations. Text is huge. Why? Because it's the same font as the slide. What's the point of having an outline view if it's the same as the slide?

But I write an outline, then go to prepare the individual slides. I like to have text boxes. 'Insert text', right? No, the command is not there. There's no freaking way to insert text. Moronic! Why remove this feature?

Well, maybe there's some other way. Check the web. Nothing. Oh, maybe check OpenOffice help. Type in the search term. Huh? Oh, it has defaulted to the contents view. Hit the tab for search, type in the term again, hit enter...

And OpenOffice disappears, crashed, taking my outline with it.

Crap. Stuff like this is sooooo frustrating, and so needless.


  1. At the school my wife teaches at they removed Microsoft Office (for which they have valid licences) and replaced it with Open Office. After a semester of experiences like yours they are reinstalling Microsoft Office.

  2. Have you sent this experience to the OpenOffice team? That would be the most productive thing you could do (assuming you are not able to fix the code yourself). Then you help contribute to making this particular piece of free software better.

    The more who do this the sooner we all have the option of moving away from antisocial software like MS Office.

  3. I would send the experience to the team except that I do not think they can have failed to have noticed that there is no 'text insert'. This is a deliberate choice made by the authors.

    In any case, by posting here, I have made sure that they know about my experience. Though after having my software simply fold up and die during a routine search in 'help" (???) I am questioning their interest in reading it.

    Though you imply through the use of the phrase 'free software' that this is some sort of gift, my take is somewhat different. OpenOffice is not some sort of 'gift', it is a part of a wider community effort.

    I am a part of that community, I have certainly contributed my share, and I have certainly *earned* my use of OpenOffice. And therefore the right to say it is 'crap' when it behaves that way.

  4. Stephen. Had you asked, anyone in-the-know would have told you that Open Office is a not a good substitute to PowerPoint.

    I use Open Office as an Excel and Word substitute and it works just fine though I'm migrating to (and I'm mostly having luck).

    But a PowerPoint substitute? No.

    Consider using AJAX-S

    There are other alternatives like S5, Slidy, Vyew, and so on.

    Heck. A web-guy like you ought to prepare slides in an HTML-friendly format. PowerPoint is not Web-friendly.

  5. Stephen says:

    "Though you imply through the use of the phrase 'free software' that this is some sort of gift"

    I'm not implying anything. This is what I mean. Sorry, I shall try to remember to add "(as in speech)" if I use the phrase again on your blog.

    As for your opinion, I don't feel you need earn it or not. Nor do I feel you should express it or not. That's your own perogative. I was simply suggesting that (if you hadn't) you send your concerns to the parties (i.e. the "wider community") who may help. If you have information that negates that suggestion (e.g. "I am an OO developer" or "I have also sent them a note" or "I know they read my blog") then that is fine.

    FWIW, I believe MS Office to be a technically superior product to OpenOffice at this point in time. Anyone who says otherwise is off their rocker.

  6. Hm, I see 'believers' (open source will get better if you give feedback) and 'frustrated ones'.

    Generally I tend to be optimistic, but 'open source' is starting to show its flaws. Programmers are generally geeks who program because that's the way they're trying to keep up with the whole world, constructing their own world. Usability? That's not my world that belongs to the 'user'. Bah.

    My favourite example is GIMP. Try it once for some real work and you instantly switch back to Photoshop - although Paint.NET is not so bad at all.

  7. Daniel says:

    "Generally I tend to be optimistic, but 'open source' is starting to show its flaws. [...] although Paint.NET is not so bad at all."

    This is beautiful. This actual suggestion (Paint.NET, an "open source" program) demonstrates the biggest "flaw" of "open source".

    If freedom is not important to one, Paint.NET is a perfectly reasonable "open source" suggestion. A FLOSS (or free software) supporter however, would never suggest such a thing (or if they did, they would be doing so out of ignorance). Do you see why?

    And more importantly, do you see how a staunch/apolitical "open source" may actually argue that the "flaw" of "open source" is actually a good thing?

  8. And to Alfred Thompson -

    I'm still waiting eagerly for you to answer my question left in the comments of this post.

    That is, what it is "you can't live with as a developer" with regards to the GPL.

    I hope you take the time to offer us your perspective on this as I think it relates well to the topic of "open source" values and FLOSS or free software values.

  9. OpenOffice developers don't seem to listen to feedback. It's always marked down as 'Not a bug'.

    I'm going back to Office (I used to hate Microsoft, but now I hate OpenOffice more!). The developers at Open Office don't seem to know about design... design is VERY VERY hard to get right... anyone who thinks otherwise is either a genius or a fool. I have given feedback to OpenOffice only to have my feedback and bug reports ignored or set as 'not a bug'.

    As long as this very poor attitude remains OpenOffice will not improve in it's design. It is almost certainly improving from a software perspective... but sadly the designers are fools.

  10. Comparing
    Open Office with MS Office
    Is like comparing
    Paint with Photoshop

  11. Twice Openoffice crashed, it would not open files unless I rebooted. I find that frustrating and I will now go back to something better, anything must be better.


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