OpenOffice

January 22nd, 2006

Sorry, but this thing is way too confusing for me. Trust me, I want OpenOffice to work. If it’s a good alternative to MS Office, then by all means I want it to work. I don’t know, maybe in Windows or Linux it’s easier, but frankly I doubt it. Sure, I can open it up and do stuff, and yes, a lot of the difficulty is related to my being used to other apps like Pages or Word. Yes, it’s worse quality, but it’s free and I can deal with that just fine. Yes, it breaks the Mac rules and demands Control-key command shortcuts instead of Apple’s “Command” key shortcuts, but again, I can deal with that. However, there are times when, trying my best, I attempt to do something that should be basic and simple, and I hit a brick wall.

Here’s a case in point: the suite does not directly access my fonts–instead, it has its own collection of special fonts, most of which I’ve never heard of. I want others. Not too much to ask, right? But I can’t figure out how. I go to the “Help” window, and find that I am instructed to follow a series of steps to add a font. It begins:

To integrate additional fonts in the OpenOffice.org software, proceed as follows:
1. Go to the {install_path}/program directory.

And wham, I’m stuck. Right there on the first step. “Go to the {install_path}/program directory”? Where? Under what menu and command? In the Finder? In a terminal app? And what the hell is the install path? Starting where? How should I type it? With what syntax? I’m no hacker, but I’m hardly a newbie either, and I cannot understand what I am supposed to do.

This is something I whined righteously complained about before: poorly-written documentation. Documentation is supposed to assist the reader in the most understandable way the authors can manage. But as with most documentation for non-mainstream software, it is written by programmers, who apparently are under the impression that everyone else in the world is a programmer too. Thus the instructions which I’m sure programmers can follow without problem, but the other 98% of us trying to use the software are hopelessly confused by.

So if you’re OK with partial functionality, or if you know what the hell an “install path” is and know where and how to type it, then OpenOffice might be good for you. But frankly, I’d rather spend the eighty bucks on iWork than deal with that kind of frustration.

Categories: Computers and the Internet Tags: by
  1. ykw
    January 23rd, 2006 at 02:11 | #1

    I installed OpenOffice on Xp 2yrs ago and found it buggy. Bugs waste time, time is money (if one is on the clock), free OpenOffice is expensive.

  2. January 24th, 2006 at 05:58 | #2

    Where did you install OpenOffice, Luis?

    The path to wherever OO is installed, leading up to the /program directory, is the install path. So, for example, if it is installed at /foo/bar/program, /foo/bar would be your install path.

  3. Luis
    January 24th, 2006 at 09:12 | #3

    Sako:

    Thanks for the advice, but even with that, I’m still way in the dark. Where should my path begin? At the Desktop? The volume? The applications folder? And where should I enter it? Using what app? Using what syntax?

    You probably should not take the time to answer, because I’m not going to be using it. After all, that’s only step one, and I’ll probably have other questions on the other steps… and that’s just one of many functions… For me, it’s just not worth it.

    I appreciate the help, though–thanks.

  4. Ryan
    May 19th, 2006 at 01:01 | #4

    This isn’t open offices fault…get a computer savvy person to help you out…

  5. Will
    June 2nd, 2007 at 05:17 | #5

    It IS Open Office’s fault. That assumption that everyone is a computer programming expert or IT wizard is not UNIQUE to Open Office, but there is a difference between “computer savvy” and “full-time, life-long computer nerd.”

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