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Introduction to OpenOffice.orgBox of software is both a product and project. The product is a cross-platform, open source office productivity suite, whilst the project is a worldwide community of contributors and users.

About the Product, unlike the vast majority of proprietary software, can be freely used, copied and shared by all. The project encourages you to do this by obtaining a copy and sharing it amongst your friends, family, colleagues and anyone else. is an open source office productivity suite available across multiple operating system platforms including:
  • Microsoft Windows (98/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003)
  • GNU/Linux
  • Apple Mac OS X
  • Sun Solaris
  • and several others.
As of writing, is available in 43 different languages including Afrikaans, Northern Sotho and Zulu, and provides full functionality with a consistent user experience across all supported platforms.

What Can It Do? is a fully fledged office productivity suite which offers word processing (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation (Impress), drawing / diagramming (Draw), equation authoring (Math) and database functionality. Unlike many other office suites, which bundle several separate programs to provide the various functions, is a single program which changes it's tool-set and user interface to accommodate the needs of the document in use, providing unparallelled integration between the various functions.

PDF IconYou can create dynamic documents, analyse data, design eye-catching presentations, produce dramatic illustrations, and work with your databases. You can publish your work in Portable Document Format (.pdf), and release your graphics in Flash (.swf) format, without needing any additional software. International users are not forgotten, with support for complex text layout (CTL) languages (such as Thai, Hindi, Arabic, and Hebrew) and vertical writing languages.

If you're used to using other office suites, such as Microsoft Office, you'll be completely at home with As you become used to 1.1, you'll start to appreciate the extras that make your life easier. You can of course continue to use your old Microsoft Office files without any problems and, if you need to exchange files with people still using Microsoft Office, that's no problem either.

The default file format is an open and published XML based file format which is fully documented allowing anyone to develop filters or components for any application. There are also advanced accessibility features based on Java Assistive Technology which include high contrast modes as well as full keyboard navigation and control. The customisable XML Filer Tool which allows for the creation of new import and export filters for XML based file formats using XSL technologies. The BASIC scripting language is available on all supported platforms and applications with functions or macros developed in this scripting language being fully cross platform capable. In addition to the BASIC scripting language included in, it is possible to develop Java based plug-ins.

For additional information on each of the components of, please select the relevant tab at the top of the page.

What does this "Open Source" mean?

Open Source is released under two licences, the Lesser Gnu Public Licence (LGPL) and Sun Industry Standards Source Licence (SISSL), both of which are Open Source Initiative approved. The Open Source Initiative is an organisation which certifies licences as Open Source according the criteria contained in the Open Source Definition.

In simple terms, the licences require that the source code of must be made freely available to all users of the suite and that the users may copy, share, distribute and modify this source code. Whilst the licences do not require that the program be made available in usable (binary) format, the practical effect is to do so. Actually, obtaining may incur some cost in terms of the time taken to download or the price of a CD-ROM. Businesses and individuals can, and do, make money selling on CD-ROM or by adding extra components, but there are a number of people and organisations which will happily give you an CD-ROM for free.

If you are a developer and wish to make changes to the, it is important that you understand the implications of the two licences and comply with the redistribution requirements. Flash Introduction ( 1.1)
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About the Project

The project is a community of people and organisations who participate in the development of the product. Individual users of can also be considered to be part of the community. It is important to realise that is not a company or legal entity, but a community of interested and contributing parties.

The International Project

The international project consists of over 160,000 members of which over 25,000 are subscribed to the mailing lists. In addition, there are currently 469 individuals and organisations which are able to submit code to the over 62 sub-projects with, including 30 official localisation projects. has been downloaded from the official mirrors over 30,000,000 times since October, 2000. This figure does not take into consideration downloads from unofficial mirrors or those official mirrors which do not provide statistics. There are no available statistics on how many copies of have been distributed on CD-ROM or other media.

The Southern African Project Southern Africa was formed by Craig Adams in 2002, initially to address some of the specific needs of the South African market and users. This project has grown to essentially provide representation for in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Additional information on the initiatives of the Southern African Project can be found under the "Local Projects" section.
  • Information on the Southern African distribution programme can also be found under the "Get It!" section of this site.
  • You can also find information and links to local support, consulting and training providers in the relevant sections. is an initiative of the Zuza Software Foundation, who focus their activities on the translation of open source software into South African languages. To this date, have provided Afrikaans, Northern Sotho and Zulu translations of, due to their approach and methods, have not created official South African localisation projects within the greater project.

For additional information on the translation of into South African languages and, please visit the Local Projects section.

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