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Well, I have to say, I’m very encouraged. I had given up hope that running OpenOffice on my Mac would be a viable option in the near future. Yes, you can run it under X11, and it’s reliable, but it’s ugly, it’s a version behind everybody else and it doesn’t integrate well with the rest of the Mac system. Plans for a version that runs natively under the Mac’s Aqua graphics system have been shelved until OpenOffice 2.0 comes out, meaning it’ll be at least a year and a half away. All of which is a pity, because I’ve come to really rather like OpenOffice.

So what’s cheered me up? A project called NeoOffice/J, which is using the graphics facilities of Java in place of those provided by X11. If you look at the web site you are greeted with all sorts of warnings about how this is a prototype and not for regular daily use, which may be the case, but I have successfully opened both OpenOffice and Microsoft documents, edited them, print-previewed and printed them without any problems. What’s more, the on-screen appearance is lovely. The font handling is much better than OO under X11 or, indeed, Microsoft Word on my machine.

Best of all is the fact that, despite all the disclaimers, there seems to be ongoing development. A new version was released three days ago, and I’m downloading it now. A big round of applause for those involved, particularly Edward Peterlin and Patrick Luby. This is great work.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser