OpenOffice v2. Cool.

One of the least pleasant jobs for a software developer is to update documentation. I've just been through an exercise with FirM's Administration document, where most screenshots had to be updated. 400 of them.

Internally, we used a mix of Word Versions, with the result that the person who hadnt upgraded to the latest and greatest version of Word could corrupt the documents. And to be quite honest, Word is a pig at large documents with large images files. Its clunky, the styles do bizaare things, it crashes. And of course you have to use the Acrobat PDF writer and Macro to get PDF files out of it. Which are pretty good, but something between Word and Acrobat meant that the bookmarks didnt get updated. All pretty horrible.

So internally, I started to use Open Office v2 "Writer" for the documentation. And - it rocks. Its simple, clean, fast, and hasnt crashed yet. It readily imported any old bodged version of a word Document, and let us work on it. Its multi-platform, so I wasnt disabled from updating stuff whilst running Linux, and Roy can use it on his Mac desktop. All very cool.

But. Did it work ? yes. Absolutely. Its a joy to use, as oppose to Word. Its reliable. It doesnt crash. It doesnt mysteriously lose images or cross references. And of course it doesnt cost hundreds of pounds to license. In other words, I'd heartily recommend it to anyone.

"But my customers use Word, and I have to interchange documents", etc. Ah. No. Unless your working extremely closely with a company, then you DONT. You should be exchanging locked PDF files with proposals, etc. Because they dont store a vast array of personal stuff in the file, as Word does. And of course I've not seen ANY issues using OO Writer saving as a Word document, and it then being usable in Word.

Go on. Give it a shot. Its free.