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iApprove: OpenOffice.

February 9, 2009

While writing NaNoWriMo last year, I ended up switching from Wordpad to OpenOffice for my noveling needs.  And while the reason I tried it in the first place was because I wanted to use the word counter, I ended up staying for some other reasons.

Firstly: This computer does not have a traditional printer.  It is hooked up to a 4×6″ Kodak printer dock.  This causes WordPad – and several other programs – to read that printer for information on what size it should make the pages.  Long story short, WordPad documents now only come in 4″ or 6″ wide, and I have to manually adjust it to 6″ every time I turn it on or I don’t have enough room to work.  OpenOffice does not insist on taking its dimensions from the printer; instead, the pages remain in standard paper size.

Secondly: It paginates. Despite its ancient origins, this is a feature that continues to elude most modern word processors.  And while it is a little bit annoying to see every page as a seperate individual (much like a PDF document), it does look very official and I love seeing how many pages of stuff I’ve racked up.

Thirdly: The spell check, autocorrect, and autofill.  Spell check and autocorrect are invaluable for catching typos as soon as they happen, rather than having them crop up later in embarassing places.  (There’ll still be proofreading to do, but at least I can skip all the times I accidentally wrote “teh”.)  Autofill checks out the letters you’re writing, then suggests a longer word that starts with those letters based on the times you’ve used the same word earlier in the document.  It’s easy to cancel out (just finish typing your word and hit the space bar), and it saves a lot of time when you have to use words like “paleological” and “professor”.

That pretty much covers the sweeping differences between OpenOffice Writer and WordPad – at least in the features I use.  It’s not a lot, but they add up in the long run and make it way cooler to operate.

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