updated 06:40 pm EDT, Fri May 9, 2008
OpenOffice.org 3.0 beta
The OpenOffice.org Community this week released a public beta release of OpenOffice.org 3.0, the open-source productivity suite for Mac OS X as well as Windows and Linux. The beta release will be the first to run on Mac OS X without X11, but is primarily designed to allow a broad user base to test and evaluate the next major version of OpenOffice.org: it is not recommended for production use, according to notes on the project. Version 3.0b brings a new "Start Centre", fresh-looking icons, and a new zoom control in the status bar. Updated spreadsheet features include improved calculations with a new solver component; support for spreadsheet collaboration through workbook sharing; and an increase to 1024 columns per sheet.
The word-processing module, dubbed Writer, has an improved notes feature and displays of multiple pages while editing. The project also claims numerous Chart enhancements, and an improved crop feature in the drawing module.
Version 3.0 will also support the upcoming OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.2 standard and can open files created with MS-Office 2007 or MS-Office 2008 for Mac OS X (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc.). The software already offers read and write support for the MS-Office binary file formats (.doc, .xls, .ppt, etc.).
OpenOffice.org 3.0, the first version to run on Mac OS X without X11 windowing system, will offer the look and feel of familiar "Aqua" applications and introduces partial VBA support. Microsoft removed support for Visual Basic for Application (VBA) with the latest release of Office 2008.
In addition, OpenOffice.org 3.0 integrates well with the Mac OS X accessibility APIs, and "thus offers better accessibility support than many other Mac OS X applications," the project said.
OpenOffice.org 3 beta is immediately available in US English for MS-Windows, GNU/Linux, Mac OS X and OpenSolaris platforms. The final release is due in September and users are encourage to submit bug reports and feedback.