OpenOffice Unimpressed

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Impress

I recently gave a talk at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress in Amsterdam. The conference organizers required presentations in the Microsoft Powerpoint format. I sometimes use office programs for reading spreadsheets and documents. However, I rarely write in them since I tend to use combinations of Emacs and LaTeX, — even to slides. Constructing slides in LaTeX is somewhat of a hassle: I haven’t found an easy way for positioning text and figures on the page and, e.g., make arrows between the components. The “wrapfig” helps a bit but it has its set of strangeness.

Now forced into the Powerpoint format I started using OpenOffice Impress, and here are the votes of the Danish jury:

  1. EPS figure a really nogo. It converts them alright, but then is very slow at handling them. The EPS problem got me really worried: OpenOffice Impress would be close to useless due to slowness. First I thought it was a anti-aliasing problem. I quickly switch of the anti-aliasing (In Danish under: Funktioner – Indstillinger – OpenOffice.org – Vis), – but that didn’t help. After some googling the cause of the problem became apparent. with “convert -density 200×200 input.eps output.png” I got through alright.
  2. I want to write “MeSH”, but it corrects to Mesh. I am not used to “autocorrect”.
  3. Suddenly, some of my links are red, – but not all? There seems to be “autocorrection” on URLs, but not consistent!?
  4. Dragging boxes is a nuisance. It is simply not fast enough. Mouse response is generally bad for boxes. Sometimes I want to write in the box, sometimes moved it, sometimes resize it. It usually requires several mouse clicks before ooimpress gets my right intention.
  5. When you are changing the size of a box where the text is inside the font is autoresized. The font size chosen is often ackward and does not necessarily change the font size back when you change the box size back the the original. Help doesn’t help: If you look under ‘autoformat-funktion’ in the Danish help it erroneously redirects you to autokorrektur.
  6. The autoformat functionality/bug is probably also to blame for poor rendering in Microsoft Powerpoint of the ooimpress-generated PPT file (Thanks to Morten M??rup for helping me on this one). The free automated font size causes unpredictable overlap between components on the page.
  7. Copying text into the ‘notes’ does not seem to work: It constructs a new text box. Copy-paste is generally ackward: Sometimes the middle mouse button copying works at other times not.
  8. Language setting is a minihell. My document seems to want to spell check in Danish, although I want to spell check in English. You have the option of selecting another dictionary for each word, but as most English words are not in the Danish dictionary each word pops up in the spell check. I apparently need to set the default language (Funktioner – Indstillinger – Sprogindstillinger – Sprog), then close ooimpress and start it again. And then it still does not work. In Emacs you go to the menu – Tools – Spell Checking – Select American Dict, and then your there. In ooimpress you have the option of selecting Namibian English: Well, not bloody likely. As explained on a Launchpad page you need to select all text, then go to the menu (formater – tegn – select language).
  9. No apparent Bibtex support. Didn’t dare to waste time on that, but there seems to be a possibility via Bibus.
  10. Editing response is generally slow.
  11. One may congratulate OpenOffice to be able to write in Microsoft Powerpoint format. I was fearing more problems, but the autoresize of text seemed to be the only problem.
  12. It is nice that notes are integrated in the Powerpoint format.

Some of these problem are probably not present in the Microsoft Powerpoint program, but I think I will stick to old silly LaTeX for my slides. The slides from my congress presentation Data mining and Neuroinformatics is available from here.

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