Apache just a minute ago has released the final version of OpenOffice 4 to the public. The new version marks a new milestone project and a major update of OpenOffice 3.4.
The new Office program boasts an impressive amount of changes, new features and bug fixes that have found their way into the final version. This includes support for additional interface languages, better Microsoft Office interoperability, enhancements to the various programs of the suite, and a new extensions website that launches alongside it.
You can download the latest version directly from the official website where it is available for all supported operating systems and languages. If you are new to OpenOffice, you may want to download the full installer as it ships with all components that you need.
The new OpenOffice 4.0 sidebar
The first thing that you will notice is a new sidebar that the programs display on the right. It is open by default but you can close it so that it does not take up any screen estate.
The basic idea behind the sidebar is to make additional controls available on widescreen monitors. Here you find access to a document's properties, style and formatting, gallery or navigational options that you can go activate with the click of the button.
Some are replicated in the top menu though and will automatically show the status change when activated in the top menu as well.
You can adjust the width of the panel easily via drag and drop, and will notice that the controls will change their size accordingly up to a point. It is furthermore possible to undock the sidebar from the window so that you can move it around freely on the screen without interfering with the actual OpenOffice window underneath.
A second big change are interoperability improvements that the developers made in OpenOffice 4.0. The release notes highlight those changes in detail and with screenshots that show how something looked in OpenOffice 3.4.1 and how it looks now in OpenOffice 4.0.
- Support for Graphic Bullets in MS Word 2003
- Table of content improvements (tabs, attributes and jump)
- Bookmark reference to normal numbering
- Numbering and bullets attributes determined by the paragraph end mark in MS Word.
- Keep special numbering when saving or opening ppt presentations.
- Support for special tiled fill backgrounds.
- The fill attribute of graphic backgrounds in tables are now displayed correctly.
- Support for PPT table connectors.
- Fit shape to text properties for right notched arrows now imports correctly.
- 3D effects are kept on import.
- Pie chart height is kept when Excel spreadsheets are opened.
- The range specified by a reference formular or name range is now supported.
- Chart names are now shown through VBA API by clicking a button.
- Data filter function on merged cells is now supported.
- Use-defined format code in XLS cells is now supported if the value is true or false.
- GetPIVOTDATA in Excel is now supported.
- Format Code "0_;.00" is now supported.
- Docx outline level is now supported.
- Table background color from table style in docx files is now supported.
- Additional numbering and bullet types in Docx.
- Font color in tables in pptx is now supported.
Additional improvements / additions
Additional changes and features have been made to OpenOffice 4.0. Find the most important ones below:
- New color palette that is arranged in a new scheme, offers more colors by default and makes selecting colors a simple process.
- The gradient tablet has been improved. It is now larger, and better sorted for easier access. Gradients have been all kept but new ones have been added as well.
- Various enhancements to gallery themes and existing galleries.
- The selection visualization and user interface has been refined.
- Improved print preview.
- Enhanced conversion to bitmap graphics and enhanced filltype bitmap.
- Enhanced Copy and Paste, for instance to copy an object from OpenOffice into an external image editor, manipulate it there, and copy it back to OpenOffice without quality loss.
- Enhanced Drag and Drop when dragging and dropping graphics and elements.
- The picture crop mode now lets you preview the change.
- Speedup of graphic rendering and fixing of resource leaks.
The extensions website has finally received an update. You can head right over to OpenOffice Extensions to download additional tools for Open Office.
The left side of the page displays various filters, for instance for application or operating system, while the main content area the filtered extensions for OpenOffice.
To download an extension simply select it on the website and click the download button afterwards. You can download it to your system or select to open it directly in OpenOffice 4.0 to install it right away in the program.
This opens the extensions manager displaying a prompt to you that details the name of the extension that you are about to install.
You can still cancel the operation at this point in time, or go ahead with it. An Extension Software License Agreement may be displayed that you need to accept before the extension is installed on the system.
Especially the interoperability improvements are a big step forward for OpenOffice, and the resurrection of the extensions feature is certainly a step in the right direction as well.
The sidebar on the other hand does not have that much of an appeal yet, but since it can be hidden easily enough, it should not be of concern to users of the application.