Back in October 2006 the free OpenOffice 2.0.4 was released, and one of the big new features that it shipped with was an extension management system similar to that of Firefox. With it, developers are able to create add-ons that are easily incorporated into the suite of applications.
In the last year, extension development hasn’t really seemed to takeoff like I had expected it to, but that doesn’t mean that there is a shortage of extensions. There are a little over 60 extensions available, many of which are template packages in different languages. We went through all of the extensions, tested over a dozen of them, and picked our favorite five…
The PhotoAlbum extension is extremely straightforward. You must be using OpenOffice Impress (the presentation creator), and you’ll find the gallery option by going to Tools -> Add-Ons -> Create Photo Album. After that you’ll be prompted to browse for the directory where your images have been saved. Once the directory is selected, all of your photos will immediately be put into a presentation with one image per slide, and random transitions will be applied.
–Google Docs (Homepage)–
If you use Google Docs this will be a pretty handy extension. With it you can retrieve your documents from Google, or save a document using the new Google Docs menu item that the extension will add. Unfortunately it still needs a little interaction with the server to get it to work. For example, when importing a document it will actually pull up a download page in your browser that automatically saves the file in the OpenOffice document format. So everything isn’t handled in OpenOffice, but it is still a nice addition.
–Bookmarks Menu (Homepage)–
If bookmarks are useful in a web browser why wouldn’t they be good in a document manager? As it turns out bookmarks are a terrific thing to have in OpenOffice, and using them is as simple as installing the extension. Once you have the extension installed you’ll need to go to Tools -> Add-Ons -> Bookmarks Menu to enable it.
Once setup you’ll see a menu option for creating new bookmarks and editing the ones that you’ve already bookmarked. You can reorder your bookmarks, add separators, and more! Having your most used documents just a single click away has never been so easy.
–Report Builder (Homepage)–
With well over 50,000 downloads, this is the most popular extension on the OpenOffice.org website. It’s only for those who need to create reports in OpenOffice Base (the database application), but the reason it is so popular is because of how easy it is to customize the layout and design of an outputted report.
To get to the Report Builder just select the Reports option along the left side of OpenOffice Base, and then choose the Create Report in Design View option.
–Writer’s Tools (Homepage)–
We’ve written about this extension previously, and the reason why it is so nice is because of the several additional features it adds to OpenOffice. You can do things like translate/lookup text, create remote backups of files, and more!
Extensions are a wonderful aspect of OpenOffice. Looking through all of the extensions that are available I’ve noticed that it’s been within the past month or so that developers have really started to release their creations. The extension system has been available in OpenOffice for well over a year, and that only leaves me to believe that more powerful extensions are on the horizon. We’ll be sure to keep you posted on any new ones we come across!.
Thanks to dtanderson for the idea of doing this article!