Test Driving OpenOffice.org, the Next Generation
by Jean Hollis Weber
The current developers' build (pre-alpha) of OpenOffice.org can be downloaded from http://download.openoffice.org/680/index.html. (This page is updated when new builds become available.) At the time of writing, the latest build is 1.9.m54.
A guide to new features is here: http://marketing.openoffice.org/2.0/featureguide.html. Changes range from cosmetic (a new icon set and some rearrangement of menus and toolbars) to major (a new file format, called OASIS, and a new database front-end, called Base).
The basic UI freeze (that is, which buttons and menus exist and where they are located) occured with this build. The new icon set hasn't been finalized, but is expected to happen with the next build.
Hundreds of people have been putting the new version through its paces. As expected, comments have ranged from delight (when a new feature has met someone's needs or an old feature has been improved) to dismay (bugs are, of course, present in a pre-alpha release).
In my major interest area (the word processing component, Writer), I've found major bugs related to saving templates and creating master documents. Writer hasn't crashed, but some things simply fail to work as they should. I'm filing issues, and I assume that a future build will include a fix, so I won't detail those problems here.
In future entries in this blog, I will be mentioning some of the new (or changed) features that are working properly.
Those interested in playing with the new version should heed the usual warnings: don't use these builds for anything vital, and (if possible) do use them on a spare computer, so if something catastrophic happens it won't take your working system or data with it.
If you've been testing this pre-alpha version of OpenOffice.org, I'd like to hear about your experiences, good or bad.
Latest build (17 Dec 04) has new icon set
As of 17 December 2004, the latest available build of the forthcoming OOoV2 is 1.9.65. It includes the long-awaiting new icon set, as well as having more features working.