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factoids 2 icon.svg>48px
caption 2.2 Writer editing a text document
latest_release_version 2.2
latest_release_date March 28 2007
operating_system Cross-platform
genre Office suite
license GNU Lesser General Public License
website weblink is a free office suite of applications available for many different operating systems including Linux, Microsoft Windows, Solaris, OpenVMS, IRIX and Mac OS X. (1) It supports the OpenDocument standard for data interchange. is based on StarOffice, an office suite developed by StarDivision and acquired by Sun Microsystems in August 1999. The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free, open and high-quality alternative. is free software, available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

The project and software are informally referred to as "OpenOffice", but project organizers report that this term is a trademark held by another party, requiring them to adopt "" as its formal name, and abbreviated as OOo or OO.o.(2)


missing image!
- - 2 for Linux editing an HTML document

According to its mission statement, the project aims "To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format."(3) aims to compete with Microsoft Office and emulate its look and feel where suitable. It can read and write most of the file formats found in Microsoft Office, and many other applications; an essential feature of the suite for many users. has been found to be able to open files of older versions of Microsoft Office and damaged files that newer versions of Microsoft Office itself cannot open.(4) However, it cannot open older Word for Macintosh (MCW) files.(5)

The primary development platforms are Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris. There are also ports available or in progress for Mac OS X, OS/2 and many Unix-like operating systems such as FreeBSD.(6)

Federal Computer Week issue listed as one of the "5 stars of open-source products."(7) In contrast, was used by The Guardian newspaper to illustrate what it claims are the limitations of open-source software, although the article does finish by stating that the software is better than MS Word for books.(8) is a collection of different applications that work together closely to provide the features expected from a modern office suite. Many of the components are designed to mirror those available in Microsoft Office. The components available include:

  • Writer — a word processor similar in look and feel to Microsoft Word and offering a comparable range of functions and tools. It also includes the ability to export Portable Document Format (PDF) files with no additional software, and can also function as a WYSIWYG editor for creating and editing web pages. One important difference between Writer and Microsoft Word is that in Writer, many functions and number formats from Calc (below) are available in Writer's tables.

  • Calc — a spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel with a roughly equivalent range of features. Calc provides a number of features not present in Excel, including a system which automatically defines series for graphing, based on the layout of the user's data. Calc is also capable of writing spreadsheets directly as a PDF file.

  • Impress — a presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. It can export presentations to Adobe Flash (SWF) files allowing them to be played on any computer with the Flash player installed. It also includes the ability to create PDF files. Impress suffers from a lack of ready-made presentation designs. However, templates are readily available on the Internet.(9)

  • Base — a database program similar to Microsoft Access. Base allows the creation and manipulation of databases, and the building of forms and reports to provide easy access to data for end-users. As with Access, Base is able to work as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources and MySQL/PostgreSQL. Base became part of the suite starting with version 2.0.

  • Draw — a vector graphics editor comparable in features to CorelDRAW. It features versatile "connectors" between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts.

  • Math — a tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. Formulae can be embedded inside other documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.

  • QuickStarter — a small program for Windows and Linux that runs when the computer starts for the first time. It loads the core files and libraries for during computer startup and allows the suite applications to start more quickly when selected later. The amount of time it takes to open applications was a common complaint in version 1.0 of the suite, and Quickstarter was a solution of sorts. Substantial improvements were made in this area for version 2.0.

  • The macro recorder — is used to record user actions and replay them later to help with automating tasks, using Basic

It is not possible to download these components individually on Windows, though they can be installed separately. Most Linux distributions break the components into individual packages which may be downloaded and installed separately. Basic

Main article StarOffice Basic Basic is a programming language similar to Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) based on StarOffice Basic. In addition to the macros, the upcoming Novell edition of OpenOffice 2.0 supports running Microsoft VBA macros, a feature expected to be incorporated into the mainstream version soon.(10) Basic is available in the Writer and Calc applications. It is written in functions called subroutines or macros, with each macro performing a different task, such as counting the words in a paragraph. Basic is especially useful in doing repetitive tasks that have not been integrated in the program (11)


|+ versions !style="background: #efefef"|Version !style="background: #efefef"|Release Date !style="background: #efefef"|Description |Build 638c |October 2001 |The first milestone release |1.0 |May 12002 | | |May 22003 |Recommended for Windows 95 users |1.1 |September 22003 | |1.1.1 |March 302004 |Bundled with TheOpenCD |1.1.3 |October 42004 | |1.1.4 |December 222004 | |1.1.5 |September 142005 |Last release for 1.x product line
Is capable of editing OpenOffice 2 files |1.1.5secpatch |July 42006 |2.0 |October 202005 |Milestone |2.0.1 |December 212005 | |2.0.2 |March 82006 | |2.0.3 |June 292006 | |2.0.4 |October 132006 | |2.1.0 |December 122006 | |2.2.0 |March 282007 |Latest stable release
patch (software)>patch (macros)

Originally developed as the proprietary software application suite StarOffice by the German company StarDivision, the code was purchased in 1999 by Sun Microsystems. In August 1999 version 5.2 of StarOffice was made available free of charge.

On July 19 2000, Sun Microsystems announced that it was making the source code of StarOffice available for download under both the LGPL and the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL) with the intention of building an open source development community around the software. The new project was known as, and its website went live on October 13 2000.

Work on version 2.0 began in early 2003 with the following goals: better interoperability with Microsoft Office; better performance, with improved speed and lower memory usage; greater scripting capabilities; better integration, particularly with GNOME; an easier-to-find and use database front-end for creating reports, forms and queries; a new built-in SQL database; and improved usability. A beta version was released on March 4 2005.

On September 2 2005 Sun announced that it was retiring the SISSL.(12) As a consequence, the Community Council announced that it would no longer dual license the office suite, and future versions would use only the LGPL.(13)

On October 20 2005, 2.0 was formally released to the public.(14) Eight weeks after the release of Version 2.0, an update, 2.0.1, was released. It fixed minor bugs and introduced new features.

As of the 2.0.3 release, changed its release cycle from 18-months to releasing updates, feature enhancements and bug fixes every three months.(15)


Sun subsidizes the development of in order to use it as a base for its commercial proprietary StarOffice application software. Releases of StarOffice since version 6.0 have been based on the source code, with some additional proprietary components, including:

  • Additional bundled fonts (especially East Asian language fonts).
  • Adabas D database.
  • Additional document templates.
  • Clip art.
  • Sorting functionality for Asian versions.
  • Additional file filters.
  • Migration assessment tool (Enterprise Edition).
  • Macro migration tool (Enterprise Edition).
  • Configuration management tool (Enterprise Edition)., therefore, inherited many features from the original StarOffice upon which it was based including the XML file format which it retained until version 2, when it was replaced by OpenDocument.



The API is based on a component technology known as Universal Network Objects (UNO). It consists of a wide range of interfaces defined in a CORBA-like interface description language.

The document file format used is based on XML and several export and import filters. All external formats read by are converted back and forth from an internal XML representation. By using compression when saving XML to disk, files are generally smaller than the equivalent binary Microsoft Office documents. The native file format for storing documents in version 1.0 was used as the basis of the OASIS OpenDocument file format standard, which has become the default file format in version 2.0.

Development versions of the suite are released every few weeks on the developer zone of the website. The releases are meant for those who wish to test new features or are simply curious about forthcoming changes; they are not suitable for production use.

The project is still essentially run by StarOffice staff, and getting external contributions into the core codebase is generally regarded as being more difficult than with other high-profile free software projects, even for the project's other corporate sponsors.(16)

Native desktop integration 1.0 was criticized for not having the look and feel of applications developed natively for the platforms it runs on. Starting with version 2.0, uses native widget toolkit, icons, and font-rendering libraries across a variety of platforms, to better match native applications and provide a smoother experience for the user. There are projects underway to further improve this integration on both GNOME(17) and KDE.(18)

This issue has been particularly pronounced on Mac OS X, whose standard user interface looks noticeably different from either Windows or X11-based desktop environments and requires the use of programming toolkits unfamiliar to most developers. There are two implementations of available for OS X:

  • Mac OS X (X11). This official implementation requires the installation of or XDarwin, and is a close port of the well-tested Unix version. It is functionally equivalent to the Unix version, and its user interface resembles the look and feel of that version; for example, the application uses it own menu bar instead of the OS X menu at the top of the screen. It also requires system fonts to be converted to X11 format for OpenOffice to use them (which can be done during application installation).

  • NeoOffice. This independent port integrates with OS X's Aqua user interface using Java, Carbon and (increasingly) Cocoa toolkits. NeoOffice adheres fairly closely to OS X UI standards (for example, using native pull-down menus), and has direct access to OS X's installed fonts and printers. Its releases lag behind the official X11 releases, due to its small development team and the concurrent development of the technology used to port the user interface.(19)

An Aqua version is also being developed under the aegis of, but as of February 2007 it is not ready for alpha testing.(20)

Other projects

missing image!
- OpenOffice Hello World save.png - 2 for Windows saving a Hello World document

Other projects run alongside the main project and are easier to contribute to. These include documentation, internationalization and localization and the API. is a set of extension programs to allow the sharing of documents, calendars, address books, e-mails, instant messaging and blackboards, and provide access to other groupware applications.

There is also an effort to create and share assorted document templates and other useful additions at OOExtras.(21)

A set of Perl extensions is available through the CPAN in order to allow document processing by external programs.(22) These libraries do not use the API. They directly read or write the files using Perl standard file compression/uncompression, XML access and UTF-8 encoding modules.

A distribution of called "Portable" is designed to run the suite from a USB flash drive.(23)

OxygenOffice Professionalweblink is an enhancement of, providing:
  • Possibility to run Visual Basic for Application (VBA) macros in Calc (for testing)
  • Multiple monitor support for Impress
  • Improved Calc HTML export
  • Enhanced Access support for Base
  • Security fixes
  • Enhanced performance
  • Enhanced color-palette
  • Enhanced help menu, additional User's Manual, and extended tips for beginners
Optionally it provides, free for personal and professional use:
  • More than 3,200 graphics, both clip art and photos.
  • Several templates and sample documents
  • Over 90 free fonts.
  • Additional tools like OOoWikipedia

Since version 2.0.4, has supported extensions in a similar manner to Mozilla Firefox.(24)

The Bibliographic Project aims to incorporate a powerful reference management software into the suite. The new major addition is slated for inclusion with the standard release on late-2007 to mid-2008, or possibly later depending upon the availability of programmers.weblink


Although does include a security team, as of March 16 2006, the security site Secunia reports no known unpatched security flaws for the software.(25) Kaspersky Lab has shown a proof of concept virus for This shows OOo viruses are possible, but there is no known virus "in the wild".

In a private meeting of the French Ministry of Defense, macro-related security issues were raised.(27) developers have responded and noted that the supposed vulnerability had not been announced through "well defined procedures" for disclosure and that the ministry had revealed nothing specific. However, the developers have been in talks with the researcher concerning the supposed vulnerability.(28)


Market share

Although Microsoft Office retains 95% of the general market, and StarOffice have secured 14% of the large enterprise market as of 2004(29) and 19% of the small to midsize business market in 2005.(30) The web site reports more than 62.5 million downloads.(31) is the office suite used on the British Army's Bowman deployable tactical communications system. Other large scale users of include Singapore's Ministry of Defense, and Bristol City Council in the UK. In France, has attracted the attention of both local and national government administrations who wish to rationalize their software procurement, as well as have stable, standard file formats for archival purposes. It is now the official office suite for the French Gendarmerie.(32) The Supreme Court of India and the Allahabad High Court(33), which use Linux, completely rely on

On October 4 2005, Sun and Google announced a strategic partnership. As part of this agreement, Sun will add a Google search bar to, Sun and Google will engage in joint marketing activities as well as joint research and development, and Google will help distribute

Besides StarOffice, there are still a number of derived commercial products. Most of them are developed under SISSL license (which is valid up to 2.0 Beta 2). In general they are targeted at local or niche market, with proprietary add-ons such as speech recognition module, automatic database connection, or better CJK support.(35)

Java controversy

In the past was criticized for an increasing dependency on the Java Runtime Environment which is not free software. The fact that Sun Microsystems is both the creator of Java and the chief supporter of drew accusations of ulterior motives for this technology choice.

Version 1 depended on a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) being present on the user's computer for some auxiliary functions, but version 2 increased the suite's use of Java requiring a JRE. In response, Red Hat increased their efforts to improve free Java implementations. Red Hat's Fedora Core 4 (released on June 13 2005) included a beta version of version 2, running on GCJ and GNU Classpath.

The issue of's use of Java came to the fore in May 2005, when Richard Stallman appeared to call for a fork of the application in a posting on the Free Software Foundation website.(36) This led to discussions within the community and between Sun staff and developers involved in GNU Classpath, a free replacement for Sun's Java implementation. Later that year, the developers also placed into their development guidelines various requirements to ensure that future versions of could be run on free implementations of Java and fixed the issues which previously prevented 2.0 from using free software Java implementations.(37)

In an attempt at ending the issue, on November 13 2006, Sun committed to releasing Java under the GNU General Public License in the near future.(38)

The following areas of 2.0 depend on a JRE being present:

  • The media player on Unix-like systems
  • All document wizards in Writer
  • Accessibility tools
  • Report Autopilot
  • JDBC driver support
  • HSQL database engine, which is used in base
  • XSLT filters
  • BeanShell, the NetBeans scripting language and the Java UNO bridge
  • Export filters to the Aportis.doc (.pdb) format for the Palm OS or Pocket Word (.psw) format for the Pocket PC
  • Export filter to LaTeX

A common point of confusion is that mail merge to generate emails requires the Java API JavaMail in StarOffice; however, as of version 2.0.1, uses a Python-component instead.(39)

See also


  1. WEB, porting: The Porting Project: home,weblink 31 March 2007,
  3. WEB, porting: The Porting Project: home,weblink March 17 2007,
  4. Presentation templates at, URL access on 20 April, 2006 and here
  5. Novell announces VBA macro support
  6. WEB, Bain, Mark Alexander, NewsForge , An introduction to Basic,weblink 2007-03-03,
  7. 2.0 Is Here ( 2.0 Announcement), by, October 20, 2005
  8. OpenOffice aims to boost lagging performance, URL accessed on 20 April, 2006.
  9. Ooo-build: non-responsiveness, lack of leadership (OOo wiki, revision as of 05:51, 26 May 2006)
  10. GNOME/ integration
  11. KDE Integration Project
  12. Information about NeoOffice
  13. weblink Native (without X11)
  14. The OOExtras site, URL accessed on 20 April 2006.
  15. CPAN OpenOffice Perl extensions
  16. the Portable Office site, URL accessed on 20 April 2006.
  17. weblink
  18. Desktop apps ripe turf for open source Jack Loftus, October 4 2004, URL accessed on September 4 2005.
  19. 2.0 Release Delayed Jay Wrolstad, October 13 2005, Top Tech News. URL accessed on February 23, 2007
  20. The statistics page, URL accessed on 20 April 2006
  21. Market Share Analysis, URL accessed on 20 April 2006.
  22. FAQ: Why are Linux, Firefox, Thunderbird and softwares selected for use by the High Court?
  23. FAQ: The Sun-Google partnership by Stephen Shankland, Staff Writer, CNET, October 4 2005.
  24. derived work
  25. weblink
  26. WEB,weblink Sun Opens Java, 2006-11-25,
  27. How To Email Mailmerge using

Further reading

External links

{{commons|}} {{wikinews}}

{{}} {{Sun Microsystems}}

Some content adapted from the Pseudopedia article "" under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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