Major gaps of Open Office Impress versus Microsoft Power Point, what do you think?

Yesterday Sergio, a user of OpenOffice Impress, sent to the discussion list his list of the “Major Gaps of OpenOffice Impress 3.3 vs. Microsoft Office PowerPoint”.

Sergio compiled the list because, as much as he likes OpenOffice, “after struggling for over 1 year, sadly he had to stop using Open Office Impress and go back to Microsoft Power Point”.

Personally, I have experienced and can confirm most of what Sergio lists as “File Processing issues”. I haven’t encountered the other problems, but that may be because I use Impress very little these days, and I only need it for very simple slideshows. I don’t even know yet, for lack of personal experience, if and how the current LibreOffice version of Impress would be different. However, I am very curious to know if such differences exists. Above all, since I strongly support the OpenDocument format used by OpenOffice, LibreOffice and many other software programs, I want these issues to be solved.
Therefore, after speaking with Sergio, I’ve reformatted his report and put it here where it’s easier to find it than as a mailing list attachment, and easier to comment without subscribing to a mailing list. Your feedback is welcome!

Impress File Processing issues

  • Slow speed of processing even with high efficiency PCs (major problem !): Many tasks are performed very very slow !
  • Cutting slides: very, very slow
  • Copying and pasting slides from one impress file to another: very, very slow
  • Acquiring a slide change, even in the text: quite slow
  • Saving files: very slow
  • Opening files: very slow

Copy and past slides from one impress file to another

When a graphic is present in the slide layout, it gets deleted when the slide is pasted and copied in the destination file (major problem).
the color format of the slide in the source file gets changed when the slides gets pasted in the destination file (In PowerPoint, when you paste the slide in the destination file you are asked whether to retain the original format, including colours, layout graphic, etc.)

Changing page (slide) (to the following or to the previous one) in normal view

In “normal” view, it is not possible to shift easily to one page to the following or the previous one, using for instance the side scroll bar or the mouse scroll wheel. This is possible only when the zoom size of the page/slide very small, not with operative size. You have to necessarily click on the new slide into the left frame with the miniatures slides. This is very cumbersome.

Icons view

It is not possible to view all the icons of the formatting toolbar, unless you set a very large window size. Please allow to arrange the toolbar in 2 lines, even when it is integrated in the menu bar.
Please allow to change the order of icons within a toolbar.

Formatting in Impress

Bulleted list: I can’t set easily and automatically a space or a tab between each bullet and the first character of the paragraph (this option is present in “Open Office ” Word)

Increase or decrease indent of a paragraph or a bulletted list: I can’t let the icon left-to-right or right-to-left appear in the Formatting Toolbar, and therefore it is difficult to increase or decrease the indent (this option is present in OpenOffice Word)

Multiple selection of non-consecutive text: it is not possible, within the text in a same text cell, to select multiple, non-consecutive words or sentences or different non-consecutive sentences of a bulletted list (these options are possible in Open Office Word using “CTRL”),
Similarly, within a table, it is not possible to select multiple, non consecutive words, or sentences or cells (this is possible in Open Office Word using “CTRL”).

Formatting multiple text cells at the same time: after you select multiple text cells, the tool bar “Formatting” disappears. Therefore, you have to go to the Edit toolbar or right click and make one change at a time in the text format, which is very time-consuming.

Formatting tables: there is no way to select a column or a line just putting the cursor at the top of the column or before the line.

Changing the column width: putting the cursor onto one column border (starting from the second column from the left), clicking and dragging it in order to enlarge or reduce the column width: there is no way to retain the original width of the side columns (this is partly possible in Open Office Word by clicking at the same time the CTRL).

When the file is saved and re-opened, especially when an Impress file is saved as Microsoft PowerPoint and then re-opened as Impress file, tables gets often increased in line-spacing (very difficult to reduce back) and, consequently, in the overall height, so that they often get outside the slide (major problem!)

How to quickly apply color schemes to a spreadsheet with OpenOffice or LibreOffice

How do you quickly create a spreadsheet where, for example, every other line has a background of a different color? Here are a couple of methods.

The first one is faster (and works even in controlled environments where you can’t install extensions) if you want white rows alternated with colored ones: define a cell style and apply it only to cells in even (or odd) rows. Here is the detailed procedure:

  1. Remove any already existing background formatting.
  2. Create an appropriate cell style with the color that you want as background:
    1. Select Format=>Style and Formatting, or press F11
    2. Click on the Cell Styles button
    3. Click the New Style from Selection button
    4. The Create Style pop-up window will appear. Type in it the name you want to give to your style and click OK
    5. Now the new style name will appear in the Styles list. Right-click on it name and select Modify
    6. Go to the Background tab and select the appropriate color
  3. Now close the Styles window and apply the new cell style where needed:
    1. Select the required region of the spreadsheet
    2. Select Format=>Conditional Formatting
    3. Select “Formula is” from the drop-down menu under the “Condition 1″ label.
    4. Type “MOD(ROW();2)”, without the quotes, into the formula box
    5. Select your new cell style from the Cell Style drop-down menu.

ooocalc_color_every_other_row1 Here is the result. The MOD operator, when used as in the formula in step 3.4 returns true only on odd row numbers: to select even rows you should use “MOD(ROW()+1;2)”. A formula like “MOD(ROW();3)”, instead, would select every third row.

An extension to quickly color spreadsheet table rows with OpenOffice Calc

If you can install extensions on the OpenOffice copy that you use, you can also use the Color2Rows extension. Go to its home page, download it (it’s a file called Color2Rows-{Version-Number}.oxt and then open it with OpenOffice. This action will start the OpenOffice Extension Manager. openoffice_extension_manager

color2rows_button After you accept to install the extension, it will appear as a button in the toolbar:

When you need to color a section of the spreadsheet, select it with the mouse then click on the Color2Rows button. Choose the colors for the lines inside the listing fields and click on the “Performing” button. Color2Rows will do the rest:

table_colored_Color2rows Unfortunately, unlike the first method, the coloring scheme will be messed up when you add or delete rows, but it may be faster to get more sophisticated coloring schemes than the first method.

(source: suggestion from B. Barker on the OOo users list)

How to import multiple pictures into a text document with OpenOffice or LibreOffice Writer

This is a way to import multiple pictures into an empty text with OpenOffice Writer, one picture per page, with a database report.

  • install the Sun Report Builder extension
  • create a database in the same directory as the pictures
  • enter or import in the database the file names of the pictures
  • in the database form, bind a picture control to that field.

This is a synthesis of a discussion on the OpenOffice users list. If you know more efficient methods, please let me know (mfioretti, at nexaima; dot net).