Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OpenOffice Aqua vs. NeoOffice vs. OpenOffice X11

What's someone stuck on PPC to do when picking an office suite? I'm currently using OpenOffice 2.3 (an X11 app), but since all external links to OpenOffice 3 told me it was Intel only, I never bothered upgrading. That is, until I found the download link to the PPC version here. It turns out there's a shortage of testers for the PPC version, and they make it a bit harder to find, but it's there. So I wanted to do a comparison between OpenOffice X11 (2.3), OpenOffice Aqua (3.2.1), and NeoOffice (a Mac-only OpenOffice fork).

One of the things I really liked about OpenOffice on X11 was the snappiness of the GUI. Documents scrolled as if I was back on the classic Mac OS. Everything was instantaneous--menus, scrollbars, everything. That wasn't the case with NeoOffice, and when you're scrolling through hundreds-of-pages-long word processing documents, that can be a problem.

Upon opening OpenOffice Aqua, one of the first things I looked at was the scrolling speed, and it's...just okay. Maybe slightly faster than NeoOffice, but still a bit sluggish. Menus have a delay upon first clicking them, too. In fact, everything involving clicking is slightly off--sometimes you have to click twice on buttons 'cause it'll simply ignore your first attempt.

Another problem I experienced early on were a couple too many spinning beach balls while editing toolbars and changing settings. These were not recoverable and each time made me have to force quit. But the biggest problem for me was a subtle one perhaps, but still a deal breaker. And that is the font anti-aliasing. In OpenOffice Aqua, anti-aliasing is slightly blurred and ghosted. It's not a huge difference but just noticeable enough to make me feel like I need glasses. A comparison between OpenOffice Aqua and NeoOffice anti-aliasing below (anti-aliasing in OpenOffice X11 is identical to NeoOffice):

And the slightly sharper NeoOffice:

NeoOffice, though sluggish in the GUI department, is very stable and is up to date with the latest features. So do I update to NeoOffice and give up the snappy GUI of OpenOffice X11? Do I say goodbye to X11 forever and get with the times? Look up at my blog title for a hint. I don't use any of the latest track-changes features or need (yet) any of the new file formats, so until I do I'll stick with what works. Plus, I have a soft spot for X11. It's the ugly kid on the block, but it just works.

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