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Chapter 9. Working with Documents

Red Hat Linux includes several tools for managing all of your documents. Whether you are preparing for a business or school presentation, writing a formal letter, or opening a document from an email attachment, Red Hat Linux has a tool that suits your needs.

9.1. The OpenOffice.org Suite

Productivity suites are collections of applications designed to save time and assist users at work, at school, and at home. Usually, productivity suites are graphical and include such applications as word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation utilities. The applications that comprise a productivity suite are integrated — which means that you can, for example, write a document with an embedded chart created by the spreadsheet application as well as a slide from a graphical presentation application. Integration of the software that make up a productivity suite helps you to give impact to your presentations, lectures, or printed collateral.

Red Hat Linux includes a powerful business productivity suite called OpenOffice.org, which incorporates several complementary applications into one integrated package. Using OpenOffice.org is much faster and easier than learning complex tags and code to format your documents and presentations. It allows you complete control over the layout and content of your documents and lets you see the results as you edit it. This real-time, visual form of document formatting is called what you see is what you get (or WYSIWYG) editing.

9.1.1. OpenOffice.org Features

The OpenOffice.org suite contains several applications for creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, business presentations, and artwork. It includes templates, forms, and wizards for creating basic professional documents and presentations quickly. If you have ever worked with or received .doc or .xls files, you know they are commonly associated with the Microsoft Office suite. The OpenOffice.org suite is able to read, edit, and create files in several formats, including files which are commonly associated with Microsoft Office. Table 9-1 shows the many different types of files you can use and tasks you can accomplish with the OpenOffice.org suite.

ApplicationFile CompatibilityDocument Types
OpenOffice.org Writer .sxw, .sdw, .doc, .rtf, .txt, .htm/.html Formal letters, business forms, school papers, resumes, newsletters, reports
OpenOffice.org Calc .sxc, .dbf, .xls, .sdc, .slk, .csv, .htm/.html Spreadsheets, charts, tables, graphs, personnel directories, address books, budgets, simple databases
OpenOffice.org Impress .sxi, .ppt, .sxd, .sdd Business and academic presentations, Web presentations, lectures, slide shows
OpenOffice.org Draw .sxd, .sda; export files to several image formats, including .jpg, .bmp, .gif, and .png Illustrations, line drawings, clip art, organizational charts

Table 9-1. OpenOffice.org Features

As you can see, the OpenOffice.org suite has many file compatibility features, and allows you to accomplish several tasks for academic, business, or home use. The following sections shows you how to use the OpenOffice.org suite.

9.1.2. OpenOffice.org Writer

Writing documents using OpenOffice.org is similar to other word processing applications you may have used before. A word processor is like a text editor but has several additional features that allow you to format, design, and print your documents without the need to memorize complex formatting tags or codes. OpenOffice.org Writer is a powerful word processor that features WYSIWYG formatting — what you see in the OpenOffice.org Writer window is exactly what you get if you printed the document or if you gave the document file to someone else for them to view. Figure 9-1 shows OpenOffice.org Writer in action:

Figure 9-1. OpenOffice.org Writer

To start OpenOffice.org Writer from your desktop panel, choose Main Menu => Office => OpenOffice.org Writer; to start it from a shell prompt, type oowriter.

The main interface is the document editing area (the white space in the middle of the window) where you can add and edit text. At the top of the window are various functions collected into toolbars that let you choose your fonts, letter sizes, justification (aligning the text of your document to the left, center, or right margins), and more. There is also a text box that enables you to specify the exact location of a document on your machine and load the document into the editing area. There are also buttons for opening, saving, and printing documents, as well as buttons for creating new documents (which will open up a new window with a blank document for you to add content).

Along the left side of the window, there is a toolbar with buttons for checking your spelling, toggling the automatic highlighting of misspelled words, keyword and phrase searching, and other convenient editing functions. If you hover the mouse cursor over a toolbar button, a pop-up Tip is displayed with a brief explanation of the button's functionality. You can display more detailed Tips by clicking the Help menu and choosing Extended Tips.

You can immediately begin typing text into the document editing area at any time using the default settings. To save your text, click the Save button , which opens the pop-up file browser. You can choose the file format from the File type drop down menu at the bottom of the browser window. The default file type is appropriate for files that you are working on exclusively with OpenOffice.org applications. However, for files that you need to distribute to Microsoft Office users, or if you are editing a file that was sent as an email attachment with the .doc extension, you can save the file as a Microsoft Word file type that others will be able to open it in Microsoft Word.

While OpenOffice.org Writer is useful for general document editing, you can also add objects such as images, illustrations, charts, and tables to your document to complement your text or give impact to your documents. To add an image to the document, select Insert => Graphics => From File, and choose the image from the pop-up file browser. The image will appear where you placed your cursor and can be made larger or smaller by clicking on the resizing borders around the image. Figure 9-2 shows an image added to a document.

Figure 9-2. Adding an Image to Your Document

Once you have created your document, you can save it in any format that you wish. Consult Table 9-1 for available file formats. Note that you can also export your document to HTML or PDF format, formats which can be read by almost every computer with a Web browser (such as Mozilla) or PDF viewer application (such as xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader).

9.1.3. OpenOffice.org Calc

From large enterprises to home offices, professionals in every industry use spreadsheets for keeping records, creating business charts, and manipulating data. OpenOffice.org Calc is a software spreadsheet application that allows you to enter and manipulate data cells organized in columns and rows. A cell is a container for individual pieces of data, such as a quantity, label, or mathematical formula. You can perform calculations on groups of cells (such as adding or subtracting a column of cells) or create charts based on the quantities contained in a group of cells. You can even incorporate spreadsheet data into your documents for a professional touch.

To start OpenOffice.org Calc from the desktop panel, select Main Menu => Office => OpenOffice.org Calc. To start OpenOffice.org Calc from a shell prompt, type oocalc.

Figure 9-3 shows OpenOffice.org Calc in action.

Figure 9-3. OpenOffice.org Calc

OpenOffice.org Calc allows you to enter and manipulate personal or business data. For example, you can create a personal budget by entering data descriptions (such as rent, groceries, and utilities) into column A and the quantities of those data descriptions in column B. OpenOffice.org Calc allows you to enter the data either in the cell itself by double clicking the cell and typing your information or by using the Input Line (the text box on the toolbar). Then you can run a formula on column B to come up with a total. OpenOffice.org Calc has several preset functions and calculations (such as =SUM() for addition/multiplication, =quotient() for division, and =subtotal()for preparing receipts). For detailed information about creating functions for calculating your numerical data in OpenOffice.org Calc, refer to the documentation by selecting Help => Contents.

If you need to create charts or graphs for class or business presentations, OpenOffice.org has several chart and graph templates available. Highlight the areas you would like to chart, then click Insert => Chart.... In the Chart window, the data ranges you chose will be shown in the text box for you to customize further if desired. Click Next to display the many different charts and graphs you can create using your data. Choose the style you want, and click Create. The graph will be displayed anchored within the spreadsheet window. You can move it anywhere on the screen for printing, or you can save the graph as an object that you can then embed in OpenOffice.org Writer documents or OpenOffice.org Impress presentations.

Figure 9-4. Creating Charts with OpenOffice.org Calc

You can save spreadsheets created with OpenOffice.org Calc in several file formats, including the native .sxc as well as Microsoft Office compatible .xls formats. Additionally, you can export rendered charts and graphs to several image file formats and integrate them with document files, webpages, and presentations.

For more information about using OpenOffice.org Calc, refer to the help page located in Help => Contents from the file menus.

9.1.4. OpenOffice.org Impress

Visual aids can give your presentations an added impact that catches your audience's attention and keeps them interested. OpenOffice.org Impress is a graphical tool that can help you make a more convincing presentation.

To start OpenOffice.org Impress from the graphical desktop, select Main Menu => Office => OpenOffice.org Impress. To start OpenOffice.org Impress from a shell prompt, type ooimpress.

OpenOffice.org Impress features a step-by-step automated presentation wizard called AutoPilot that allows you to create presentations from a collection of default style templates. You can make slides with itemized lists, outlines, or images. You can even import charts and graphs created by OpenOffice.org Calc into a slide.

Figure 9-5 shows OpenOffice.org Impress in action.

Figure 9-5. OpenOffice.org Impress

When you first start OpenOffice.org Impress, you will be presented with the AutoPilot. You can choose the style of your slides, the medium with which you will present your slides (plain paper, transparent paper for overhead projectors, slides, or a display monitor), and any animated visual effects you want to apply to the slides if you run presentations from your computer.

Figure 9-6. OpenOffice.org Impress AutoPilot Wizard

Once you have chosen your preferences with AutoPilot tool, you can choose the type of slide you want to create. You can select a pre-formatted slide from the list or start with a blank slide and customize the layout yourself. To add new slides to your presentation, click Insert Slide... in the floating toolbar, and a pop-up window will appear allowing you to choose the layout of the new slide. You can have as many slides in your presentation as you need.

You can also preview your presentation at any point by selecting Slide Show => Slide Show from the file menus. The presentation will be presented in full screen, which you can exit by cycling through every slide until you reach the end or by pressing the [Esc] key at any point in the slide show.

Your presentation can be saved in several file formats. You can save in the native OpenOffice.org Impress format (for example, mypresentation.sxi), the Microsoft PowerPoint format (mypresentation.ppt), or StarImpress format (mypresentation.sdd). You can also print your presentation to plain or transparent paper formats by clicking File => Print from the file menu.

To learn more about OpenOffice.org Impress, click Help => Contents from the file menus.

9.1.5. OpenOffice.org Draw

If you want to create graphics for your documents and presentations, you can use OpenOffice.org Draw. Using your mouse as a you would a pen or a paintbrush, OpenOffice.org Draw allows you to make illustrations and save them in several formats that you can add to printed documents, place on websites, or attach to emails.

To start OpenOffice.org Draw from the desktop panel, click Main Menu => Office => OpenOffice.org Draw. To start OpenOffice.org Draw from a shell prompt, type oodraw.

Figure 9-7 Shows OpenOffice.org Draw in action.

Figure 9-7. OpenOffice.org Draw

If you are familiar with illustration and graphics applications such as The GIMP (refer to Chapter 11 Working with Images for more information), you will find that OpenOffice.org Draw has some of the same basic functions. There are toolbars for creating straight and curved lines, basic shapes such as squares and circles, 3D objects such as cones and cubes, and more. You can create images and fill them with the color of your choice using the Area Style/Filling drop-down menu on the main toolbar. You can additionally insert text into your illustrations. OpenOffice.org Draw also allows you to open and import images and modify them with the tools provided.

When you complete your illustration or image modifications, you can save the file in one of several native file formats or export your work to several popular formats such as .jpg or .png. Refer to Table 9-1 for the complete list of compatible image file formats.

For more information on using OpenOffice.org Draw, refer to the documentation located at Help => Contents from the file menus.

 
 
  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire