NeoOffice Impress me not

I was asked to give a talk on an exciting new data warehouse system for use on a new project I am consulting for. Unfortunately the system was still under development by a group half way around the world who were too busy to talk to me. Fortunately my boss decided to send the request around to various supervisors of the developers and they responded with some information reasonably promptly; about 24 hours before I had to present it at the workshop. Initially I was put off because the documentation appeared to be rushed, but reading it all for the third time I was impressed with what they were trying to do.

Basically they are designing a system with money from the very generous Bill Gates to create a lovely open source health system using Linux, PHP, PostgreSQL, PostGIS, and QuantumGIS. Bless you Bill!

I needed to write up a presentation. I use a MacBookPro, and haven't yet purchased Microsoft Office but I do have NeoOffice (ver 2.2.2 patch10 ~ OpenOffice) installed and have used NeoOffice Writer and Calc regularly with great success. So I used Writer to compose my notes. Once I had all the content together I decided to use NeoOffice Impress for the presentation. I could have used KeyNote but I wanted to see how good the presentation software for NeoOffice is.

*** UPDATE : just updated to ver 2.2.2 patch 11, everything works as it should now. Thank OpenOffice people and "anonymous" for the update tip. People should ignore the little rant below.

NeoOffice Impress ... had some problems that appear to be solved in the current patch.

OLD COMMENT NOW OUTDATED: ... sucks hard. Bugs at nearly every turn. Text that can't be formatted until you clear formatting. Text that centres itself after you save, quit, the reload. Bullet markers that suddenly appear after reloading. Terribly aliased fonts on slideshow. It was an embarrassment. Unfortunately, it looked OK on the first run that I did at 11:30pm the night before. I saved. Went to the workshop the next morning, opened the presentation before the workshop started and saw the mess. I quickly went through and reformatted by clearing the old formatting and putting back the new (simple stuff too: left align, font-size 24pt, no bullets). Saved, but did not close the doc for fear of this mess happening again. I went up to the podium to present, plugged in the data projector, told OSX that it was NOT to mirror but to be a second window. NeoOffice didn't pick this change up and wouldn't show the slideshow on the second monitor. Crap. Close NeoOffice, open NeoOffice, yes, there is the second monitor. Load the presentation; crap! There are the bullets, there are some of the slides centred. Butt ugly. No matter. Let me give this presentation on how we are using Open Source in the project, and how good it is, except for NeoOffice Impress, of course.

I would gladly have paid for Microsoft's Powerpoint at that stage. I should have used the Keynote demo ... although it had expired some while back but you know there is always the trick:
sudo rm /Users/simon/Library/Preferences/com.apple.iW*
sudo rm /Library/Preferences/com.apple.iW*
I need to buy iWork.

I haven't tried NeoOffice's Draw or Base yet.

Moral of the story:
a) don't use new software for a presentation the next day
b) NeoOffice 2.2.2 is one third evil - but patch 11 is OK :)


Anonymous said...

I didn't have the problems that you described here: "Text that can't be formatted until you clear formatting. Text that centres itself after you save, quit, the reload. Bullet markers that suddenly appear after reloading."

Found formatting was retained: tried left centre and right also colour change was OK. NeoOffice 2.2.2 patch 11

Opened in Keynote and all OK though it was a basic presentation. Also opened in OO 2.2.3 in Windows.

All on a MacBook Pro

Pietro said...

I'm desperate to escape MS Word for Mac but NeoOffice Writer switches type sizes, suddenly changes lines to bold. What is this? No-one mentions these instabilities.

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