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What a lousy program

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:11 am
by Dryden
Of course there is no real way to communicate with the "team" responsible for the program (unless you are a programmer yourself) since open source developers generally do not offer any kind of customer/user communication channel.

Which is the main reason I try to stay away from OSS software unless it is commercial.

That is, when it is being developed for users instead of for developers.

So I install the full OpenOffice package. It asks me to supply a name and initials. Okay, I can do that.

Then it asks me to supply or create a database. Pardon, I do not even intend to use any DB functionality. Why can I not skip this?

So I give up on trying to open "OpenOffice Base" and instead open "Writer" instead. It opens.

[Why did I try to open "Base"? Because that is what appeared in the Win7 start menu of recently installed programs - I assumed it was the 'container' application for the whole suite; nowhere did it inform me that I was running a database application...]

But its default window/toolbar configuration is deeply flawed. Practically ever element is featured twice: once in a toolbar and once in the sidebar. I disable one of the toolbars and immediately there is more harmony. Now I need to get rid of the sidebar. The sidebar itself features no way to disable it. I try and try and try but to no avail. Eventually I discover that there is actually a menu item to do it. I play around just a little longer, and then the program crashes.

The program restarts and then tries to "recover" my empty document. I am forced to suffer meaningless dialogs and steps that never, in all my previous usage of this program, seemed to make any sense anyway. And I have not even typed a single word or letter.

Seriously people... is this the best the "free world" can do? I know I am not speaking to any "developer" here or any other person officially (does such a thing exist?) involved with this application. But anyone who has been around for a while will know that this program has not improved at all in these respects in the last 10 years or so.

And you can pretend that voices of "complaint" have no place on this forum, but where exactly can a disgruntled user go instead? If we cannot reach developers, at least we can reach each other.

At least I hope the program will stop crashing now (it always crashed on me in the past, for instance when right clicking on a spell-checked word). I would use Wordpad if only Microsoft hadn't gone haywire with all their UI "improvements". The old Windows XP Wordpad won't do anymore though. At least the "Writer" I have now looks okay.

But I'm still going to uninstall this bloody mess and just write my letters in HTML again using BlueGriffon and print them using Firefox, no matter how buggy and inconvenient. It beats having to face a program where the user interface is just a random occurrence that has not seen any good thought for a long time....

I seriously hope we will one day see a good community word processor and I seriously don't know what alternative there is nowadays to the Microsoft junk, I bet the only recourse is to go online and use web applications. I hate that. I'd use Evernote but it's not really meant for that and I wonder how it is going to print. So I'll just resort to HTML authoring for now..

Maybe for all time? Don't know.

Any case, I wish you all Godspeed in navigating this application you are using... but I require excellent expression in my use of language and my creation of documents when they are meant to convey a precise message, and I require tools that allow me to feel completely comfortable when I craft these messages. Such inferior user interface design as this program suffers (as well as the convoluted designs of modern corporations such as Microsoft) stand in stark opposition to what is natural and pleasant. By convoluted I mean that they introduce interface design principles that have no basis in real human experience in an effort to improve on things that do not need improvement. Microsoft's "ribbon" design is a horror to me. The basic model of drop-down-menus and popup-context-menus has served computing in a perfect way for a long time. But they thought they needed to change that. The horror. Seriously. And designers still make these huge interface design flaws.

Still yesterday (or was it today?) I was test-driving a replacement for the Windows Explorer. It is called "XYplorer". It features a tree view with a dual pane directory contents listing that also features tabs on each pane. There were so many flaws that I just purchased the program, wrote some improvement suggestions/advice, emailed the developers, and I won't even be using that program. Not for the time being. But I have high hopes for its future development, so I still wanted to contribute some money.

But in terms of word processors? I do not know where to go.

I recently started using the GIMP too. It has a seriously steep learning curve, and very little is intuitive... but at least once you learn the ropes it is an okay program. I do not like the multi-window setup at all - it requires me to minimize all other open applications so they don't clutter the background in between the open space between the windows. But it's doable and workable. I've been trying to improve my application toolset as of late. Will still take a while before everything is really properly functional.

But hey, we still have time.

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:17 am
by thomasjk
Are you sure you downloaded AOO from here

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:20 am
by keme
Thanks, Dryden. Your views do present a perspective on the software which could be useful for a "revamp" of the suite. Such a project is not likely to happen soon, though. The forked projects that I know of seem to build on the same foundation, just adding or fixing small bits at a time. Not sure whether you are following this since you say you are leaving the product, but considering your stated attitude towards other projects, I suspect that you are. In any case, I'll share my thoughts...

I agree that it is a weird choice to put Base, and nothing else, in the upfront menu. Most likely it happened by chance, because Base comes first in an alphabetical sort of the app names. Sloppy job. You can mention that, and your other constructive comment, in the bug tracker. The response is not so lively as it is in this forum, but the bug tracker is the way to get a message through to the developers.
It is intended to handle more than just bugs: [...] Please feel free to submit bugs, feature requests, patches or comments. [ ... ]
Note: If you really want a better product, it is best to be specific when you post in the bug tracker. Make suggestions about how it should be instead of just complaining about how much you don't like the current behavior. (If you are trolling, that place is rather boring so you can just as well just stay here :-) )

As for asking for a user ID: other office suites also do this. Microsoft Office will fetch initial values from the user profile, which is a good thing for most people. OpenOffice requires you to type in everything, but allows you to skip that step, which is good if you would rather that your document does not store the author name. I don't recall the details from other suites that I have used (SmartSuite and Corel/Perfect Office) but I am sure there was a registration phase there too.

The default configuration is perhaps "window overload", and this has been a strategy from way back: features are enabled, and you need to disable the ones you don't want. I don't like neither the "background tasks" (I want to make my own typing errors and corrections, decide on where to use upper/lower case, etc.) nor the "smart toolbars" (which pop out and make text jump around on your screen whenever the insertion point is near a table or a bullet list). For the average user the set of enabled features may be just right, I don't know. I have learned how to reconfigure.

I find that stability in general is fine. The cases where I see "document recovery" is when the application or a document was not cleanly terminated (e.g. power failure, removed storage media with open document). Some intermediate builds of the software seem to have stability issues, but the current version looks good. You also say that the Writer setup you have now looks OK. You could, then, use that for a while. It does provide extensive support for building document structure. If you don't need that, and/or you need your documents to have good interaction with web content, BlueGriffon may well be a better choice.

I do more technical and administrative writing, and not much creative work. For my uses, the Apache Open Office suite is the best toolset I have found. Not perfect, but it covers my needs a lot better than what the market leading title does. If you choose to stay with it, this community is a good place to ask if there are annoyances you want to get rid of. If you use something else, I am sure you will be fine with that. It's just a tool, so whatever works for you...

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:38 pm
by semicodin
Write your own damn Office Suite if it isn't good enough for you.

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 12:22 am
by RusselB
@semicodin: Did you fail to notice that there's 9 months of non-activity for this topic?

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 5:00 pm
by semicodin
RusselB wrote:@semicodin: Did you fail to notice that there's 9 months of non-activity for this topic?

Please explain then how I saw this thread in Beginners on March 12, 2015.

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2015 6:31 pm
by Bill
Threads are sometimes moved from the Beginners forum to a more appropriate forum. That means that more older threads will appear on the first page of the Beginners forum than on other forums. Currently I see threads on the first page of the Beginners forum as far back as 2013.

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 10:07 pm
by ferren
But what did you expect? It's emulating Word. Nisus on the Mac is the gold standard among word processors, as is Coreldraw among vector graphics (but it doesn't run on the Mac, which is why am here. And like you, grousing.

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 7:12 pm
by winston01
is it really that bad?

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 11:53 pm
by RusselB
IMO, and based on the fact that the SourceForge servers have recorded hundreds of millions of downloads, I'd have to say that it's not that bad.
One of the biggest problems that people have with OpenOffice (and LibreOffice) is that they are used to Microsoft Office and are expecting everything to work exactly as it does in Microsoft Office.

This is not, never has been, and, probably, never will be, the case.

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2016 1:42 am
by keme
winston01 wrote:is it really that bad?

It is really quite good. As RusselB says, most of the complaints do not really point out cases where OpenOffice tools don't work. They just point out cases where OpenOffice doesn't work like MS Office. That can be bad or good, depending on context.

Sure, Nisus has features that you won't find in Writer, and Draw never was a contender in the CorelDraw league. However, the features that make those titles stand out are features you probably don't need on a daily basis. When it comes to portability, universal support and standards compliance, I suspect that there is no product available today with a better spec sheet than OpenOffice or LibreOffice.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I prefer OpenOffice over MS Office. Through my work I have license to use MS Office also at home, always updated to the latest version, so I'm free to choose (except for some collaborative situations where I am forced to use MS Office). Certainly, MS Office has some strong points, but document output (the structure of stored files) is a mess if you need to handle it with non-MS tools. Also, user interface differs significantly when you switch between platforms. OpenOffice is consistent across applications (because they were developed as a suite from the outset) and across platforms (virtually identical user interface in GNU/Linux, Mac OS-X, MS Windows, xBSD and Solaris, and most of those platforms are something I may use through the course of a week).

Bottom line: use whatever works for you. OpenOffice or LibreOffice is worth a try, for the reasons I mentioned above and for the freedom...

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 10:17 pm
by Desiree 224
I feel that Open office 4.1.1 is a lousy program, because I can not even run the chart wizard like I am supposed to be able to do . I am trying to make a Business Start up Costs chart, but I have to manually put everything in, which I should not have to do . Please help me to fix this problem, so I can make my chart for my business plan.

Angela Hayes

Re: What a lousy program

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2016 10:55 pm
by keme
Is this the kind of solution you ask for?

Note that a business plan may require local adaptation to legislation, culture, economy etc. There may be other templates in the repository which suit you better. Scroll to the top of that download page to find the search field.

If you think that someone else should be doing the manual work required, then that someone is probably also the one who should be starting the business ... but I must somehow be misreading your complaint. Perhaps if you provide more detail? (Preferably in a new post somewhere.) The chart wizard has several options, and slightly different steps depending on which options you select. What specifically is it that you have issues with?

If you still feel that the Apache OpenOffice suite is a lousy tool for your task at hand, you are of course free to pick something better.