I’ve been using OpenOffice for about five years now. Say what you will, OpenOffice does nearly everything that MS Office can do at a much better $0 price. I’ve even found that document compatibility between OpenOffice and MS Office is not that bad unless you are dealing with macros or super-complex formatting. There are a few features I miss from MS Office and WordPerfect before that (ok, well, mainly from WordPerfect). Fortunately, there are literally thousands of add-ons for OpenOffice, and here are three extensions that will make life with OpenOffice better:
LanguageTool Grammar Checker
Grammar check is one of OpenOffice.org’s most requested missing features. LanguageTool, a free, open source grammar check is easy to install, works well, and can help you improve your writing. LanguageTool is very similar in capabilities to MS Word. You can get LanguageTools here.
One of the features I really miss from WordPerfect (which had an amazing grammar checker called Grammatik built in) is it’s ability to give you feedback on readability. The ReadabilityReport gives you Flesh-Kinkaide, Brain Overload, FOG and SMOG reports that can help you better tune your writing to your audience. Get ReadabilityReport here.
Oracle PDF Import Extension
So, you want to edit that PDF? As long as it’s not a fancy brochure that was created with a desktop publishing application, chances are the Oracle PDF Import Extension can import the PDF and let you edit it in OpenOffice. Get Oracle PDF Import here.
Sometimes there’s no substitute for a Swiss Army Knife. Writer’s Tools enhances OpenOffice Writer with a set of useful utilities ranging for Google Translate, to backup, to retrieving maps from addresses in documents, to formatting your document for Wiki publication and more. Come for the visual word count feature and stay for the online lookup feature that gives you instant access to web-based tools like the Oxford Dictionary. Not bad for free. Get Writer’s Tools here.