Category Archives: OpenOffice

Mobile Document Viewer – view ODF format files on Android

One of the most perplexing omissions from Google’s Android OS feature set is native ODF file format support. The Android market has applications up the ass for viewing Microsoft Office format files, but there is a seeming dearth of applications which will allow you to view your LibreOffice (or OpenOffice…) documents. Given Android’s open source nature, the lack of shipping support for ODF is puzzling.

Anyway, after having a sniff around I have found an application which on a basic level seems to work well enough – “Mobile Document Viewer”:

Running it on an ASUS Eee Slider tablet, I loaded up one of my ODT files which I could open with no problems:

Mobile Document Viewer on the ASUS Eee Slider tablet

The application however converts the content to HTML and displays it in a browser window – so the formatting goes somewhat AWOL, but otherwise the content itself loads up fine. As a cute extra there is text-to-speech support, if you fancy having ODF files read aloud to you.

The free version is ad-supported (hence my message from “Elaine”…), but given the paltry fee for the full version this is a no-brainer purchase.

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Problems with fonts embedded in OpenOffice 3.3.0-generated PDFs

Interesting problem encountered after purchasing some fonts from and using them in OpenOffice to generate a PDF. When opening the generated PDF in Adobe Reader 9 and 10 on Windows, Reader would throw up an error saying “Cannot extract the embedded font..some characters may not display or print correctly.”:

Adobe Reader PDF error

In addition, certain sentences would appear as a series of dots (instead of words). Oddly, the same PDF would open and display just fine in Evince.

It turns out this is a problem affecting specifically OpenOffice version 3.3.0 – which was the exact version I was using on my OpenIndiana oi_148 x86 system. You can read the bug report here:

The solution – as outlined in the above bug report – was to upgrade to LibreOffice 3.4.0. As LibreOffice has yet to be ported to OpenIndiana, I installed it in an Ubuntu 10.10 virtual machine, and after importing my .odt file and exporting it as PDF again, the file opened up fine in Adobe Reader.

Looking forward to LibreOffice on OpenIndiana!

Using the Sun PDF Import OpenOffice extension to collaborate on PDF documents

A seldom-promoted feature of OpenOffice is the ability for users to collaborate on PDFs using the Sun PDF Import extension. It’s a fantastic way to seamlessly share and edit PDF documents, which would otherwise leave you having to send the source file and PDF around (clumsy), or rely on an Adobe Acrobat license to retro-actively edit the PDF (clumsy and expensive).

Here’s how it works. When an OpenOffice document is exported as a “hybrid” PDF, a copy of the source ODF file is embedded in the PDF. When the PDF (not the ODF) is then opened in another instance of OpenOffice with the extension installed, the source file is available for editing: a user can conveniently make changes as needed, and then export the file as a hybrid PDF for further sharing, or, as a standard PDF for end-delivery.

First, grab the Sun PDF Import Extension from here:

First thing you’ll note is that it’s a free download. I imagine the reason for this is that it’s open source, which possibly prevented Oracle from restricting it to people with USD9000 burning a hole in their back pocket.

Anyway, download the extension for the platform of your choice (I use two OpenIndiana x86 machines, and the Solaris x86 installer works just fine), and install it in OpenOffice (goto Tools -> Extension Manager):

OpenOffice Extension Manager

Now, using a new or existing OpenOffice Writer document, export a file as a PDF.

Export as a PDF

In the PDF options window that appears, tick “Create hybrid file”:

Setting PDF export options...

This will export a perfectly normal-looking PDF of your source document – no surprises here:

PDF opened in a PDF reader

However, let’s try using another machine running OpenOffice with same Sun PDF Import extension installed to open up the PDF directly, and see what happens. Simply use the standard File -> Open command in OpenOffice to open the PDF – there is no “importing” or whatever involved.

Et voila: With the extension installed, we can freely edit the PDF as an ODF file, adding new content, images…anything you can do natively in OpenOffice:

Editing a PDF file in OpenOffice

Once done, you can export the file as a hybrid PDF for further collaboration, or simply a standard PDF if you like:

Updated PDF opened in a PDF reader

Great feature, and one that’s particularly useful for people and organisations smart enough to use open source productivity applications as alternatives to the paid, proprietary status quo.

Oracle’s “free” $90 (U.S.) Microsoft Office ODF plugin

From The Register:

“Oracle is now charging $90 for the free Sun plug-in that teaches Microsoft Office how to use the latest open document format…The Home and Student edition of Microsoft Office 2007 costs $149.95, and the standard edition is $399.94. So, even if we’re kind, the cost of four plug-ins buys you the entire suite.”


My favourite bit – see if you can figure out what’s wrong with this picture (I’ve GIMPed it to add a little hint):

Oracle's not so free plug-in...