Using StarOffice 6.0 (Special Edition) Paperback – 20 Dec 2002
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From the Back Cover
StarOffice is a full-featured, fully integrated suite of office productivity tools with a strong international following. Developed by Sun Microsystems, it is pitched as a cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Office. It's a favorite among the "Stop-throwing-your-hard-earned-dollars-at-Bill-Gates" crowd on both the Windows, Linux, and Solaris platforms. Special Edition Using StarOffice 6.0 addresses the core StarOffice suite, which comes with a word processor (StarOffice Writer), spreadsheet application (Calc), drawing and presentation program (Draw/Impress). In addition it addresses the formula editor (StarOffice Math) and a third-party database module that is installed with the software. The book is suited for beginning/intermediate to advanced office productivity tool users in general and users familiar with the Microsoft Office suite in particular who may want to make the switch to StarOffice. The book takes a task-oriented approach to show the users how to make the most of the StarOffice suite - from basic tasks to advanced features and uses. Also included in this edition, a section on "living and working in a Microsoft World" with insight on using StarOffice in an office/work environment with Microsoft Office users.
About the Author
Michael Koch is a technical writer, editor, and independent publishing and documentation consultant specializing in information design and development for print and online projects. His years of experience with StarOffice software have been enriched by the close collaboration with key members of the StarOffice product management and customer support teams for whom he has written StarOffice and Sun Webtop-related developer and administrator documentation.
Top customer reviews
As for its usefulness as a StarOffice guide, it is good for that as well. :) It is obviously a very well researched, highly technical book with a great deal of detail about how StarOffice works. There is also a rather useful chapter aimed at former Word users. However there is a bit too much vearing off into the author's opinions and too much extraneous information interrupting each task's steps. So it is somewhat difficult to find information. But I usually find what I need in the end, and with the satisfaction of a job well done.
I would prefer to give this book 3.5 stars but have erred on the side of having faith that I will get to like it better as we become more familiar with each other.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
An an aside, let me compliment Que editions for the legibility and usability of layout. (Que also produced the excellent Ed Bott's Special Edition Using Microsoft Office XP). Nice readable texts, lots of boxes, tips and cautions. Every chapter finishes with a helpful troubleshooting section.
Two immediate reactions: 1) Gosh, I didn't know OpenOffice/StarOffice could do all that! I was pleasantly surprised, for example, to learn the number of graphic capabilities the program has. 2) This book covers functionality in considerable depth, with enough content to satisfy the newbie as well as the advanced user. In addition to documenting the office software, the book also includes reference sections on StarOffice Basic, using data sources, building forms and macros. It also includes a chapter on Adabas, the database that comes as part of the StarOffice package (but not with OpenOffice.org).
Koch benefits from the fact that users already start with a good conceptual framework of what MS Office products are supposed to do. The biggest conceptual challenge in moving from MS Office to Star/OpenOffice is getting used to the idea of applying styles to text instead of just clicking on an icon for formatting. MS Office actually has terrific styling capabilities (and a usable interface for managing styles),but Microsoft's friendly GUI discourages users from thinking about document structure. Contrast that to OpenOffice.org, which nudges the user more firmly towards styles. Managing the different layers of styles in OpenOffice.org can be tricky and confusing, so Koch spends a considerable amount of time and space on that. Another chapter on sharing and exchanging information with MS Office users goes into exquisite detail about compatibility and formatting losses when converting documents, as well as the StarOffice XML file format.
Generally, the book had the most reliable and in-depth information. That was especially helpful when trying to perform a complex action (like creating a table of contents). But the majority of my inquiries had to do with using the interface, not functionality. Often the sheer size of the book made daunting the simple task of finding a function on a dialog or a keyboard shortcut. This book was perfectly clear most of the time and provided generous explanations (unlike the online help, which generally was inadequate). Still, the kaaredyret and oodocs websites have been growing more helpful.
The book is a little behind on what's new in openoffice. Also, it's a bit heavy and sometimes it's hard to find things in the index. For the overwhelming number of users, this will probably be the only book about star/openoffice that you'll ever need.
There's some good coverage of StarBasic, how to get down and dirty with it, and apparently it was given a tech review by someone on the StarOffice team, so one would assume that it's all accurate. I was also impressed by the depth of coverage of how to have forms and form fields interact with databases.
He gets reasonably down and dirty with spreadsheets, too, how to do some good stuff with all the functions.
One thing made me snort, though. Koch actually defines cutting and pasting. (If you don't know what cutting and pasting is when you open this book, you're in trouble!) Talks about how it's a process by which you take data and put it into a holding area called a "clipboard" on Windows, or some kind of buffer, on Linux and Solaris. I think the only place anyone might call it a buffer is in the Ph.D program at MIT.
I never knew StarOffice could do so much!
I've used Microsoft Office for years and have grown accustomed to it but Chapter 1 detailed all I needed to know to switch to StarOffice, including such details as file format differences. I'm also used to customizing MS Office to suit my tastes, and Chapter 5 did a great job of explaining how to customize StarOffice in similar fashion.
Throughout, Koch's writing is really informative and friendly. It seems like there's a tip on every page, as well as helpful cross-references to other pages that cover related material. I often find computer books of this size way too intimidating, but this one is actually a pleasure to read.
I think I'll be referring to "Special Edition Using StarOffice 6.0" for some time to come.
I'm not a Dummy or beginner, I've used StarOffice for a while, and this book is a bit too much for me. It might be good for system administrators and geeks.
For the user interested in writing macros, this book is a must. It offers a good start in the StarOne API, the open StarOffice API, with examples written in StarBasic.
In short, this book was written by experts having a big experience in StarOffice.
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