...The Following List:
- Page numbering. I defy a single person with no OpenOffice experience to figure out how to add page numbers to a document without consulting documentation. First you have to know how to insert a header--not too hard, but most people aren't going to guess that headers are a prerequisite to page numbering. Then you have to figure out that page numbers are considered a 'field'. And if you wanted your numbering to start on the second page or to use Roman instead of Arabic numerals, good luck with that...
- Default document settings. Changing the default settings of a new document in OpenOffice is similarly unintuitive. It might make sense to programmers to store default settings in a document that users are supposed to edit if they want to change the default template, but non-geeks deserve a more intuitive process.
- Margins. Speaking of default settings, why are the margins so small in the default document template? 0.79 inches? Who made up that number? If it's a common margin size outside of the United States--and those non-Americans out there will please let me know if it is--then why doesn't OpenOffice recognize that my system language is English-U.S. and choose a more appropriate page layout?
- Page refresh. Writer has a tendency to forget to redraw parts of the screen while I'm scrolling through a document. This isn't a serious impediment to productivity, but it's annoying.
- Changing language settings. The Tools>Options menu isn't exactly the most intuitive place to put the utility where you switch between languages. It's also a clunky way to access it if you need to change languages frequently. I would much prefer to have a drop-down box in the panel where I could switch between different spellcheck dictionaries and character sets quickly and with fewer clicks.
- Thesaurus. I abandoned the OpenOffice thesaurus in favor of kthesaurus long ago. kthesaurus proves that there are better language tools available to the free-software community; why doesn't OpenOffice integrate them?
Most of the issues outlined above, moreover, are easy enough to overcome by reading the help files for a few minutes. And that other office suite certainly has its own set of deficiencies, not least of which is a crippling price tag. Even if Microsoft started giving Word away for free, I can't imagine any compelling reason to switch.
But OpenOffice remains a bit raw in some respects, and more attention to the needs of the general public--as opposed to the programmers writing the application--would go a long way in making word processing on Ubuntu even easier.
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