What's Neo Under The Sun? NeoOffice: OpenOffice For Aqua

Anyone looking to use a full-featured office product in OS X, sadly, has little to choose from. To date, Microsoft makes the only all-bases-covered set of office apps that take full advantage of OS X and Aqua with its Office v.X suite. A fact that has many Observers scratching their head due to Appleis poor support, in comparison, of AppleWorks for Mac OS X.

For the those of you whose livelihood does not depend on the type of office application you use, there are a few alternatives: the aforementioned AppleWorks, while not the best example of an OS X app, is still very usable for students and casual home use. If you must have more Microsoft compatibility in your office application, you can use the Java-based ThinkFree Office, or you can always try the Darwin version of OpenOffice, which requires an X Window System to run. (Note: XFree86, an X Window System, is included in the OpenOffice installation package.)

Both have drawbacks that the serious productivity app user may find to be problematic, such as a reduced feature set in the case of ThinkFree Office, or some minor compatibility issues in the case of OpenOffice, but both are still very usable for most of your casual office needs.

For those who may be even more adventurous, there is now NeoOffice for OS X. What is NeoOffice, you ask? That question is best answered by the "Welcome" message at the NeoOffice Web site.

Welcome to the online home of "Neolithic Office," or NeoOffice for short. NeoOffice is a prototyping project that was used to explore different methods and problems that will be encountered when porting OpenOffice.org to run natively on Mac OS X. It uses a mixture of Carbon and Cocoa to run OpenOffice.org directly on top of Mac OS X with an Aqua look and provide the foundation upon which the user interface can be redesigned to utilize sheets, drawers, and other conventions of the Aqua Human Interface Guidelines. That "feel" has yet to be engineered and designed...so if you have suggestions let us know!

As this is a prototyping project, it is merely a proof of concept intended for software engineers to examine the methods used and hopefully provide a springboard for focusing our discussions and thoughts on the final, and arguably most complex, stages of this port.

As the message says, NeoOffice is a prototype, which usually means that is slightly less robust than an early alpha-release. As such, only the curious and the truly geeky should seriously consider downloading it, still, getting a first peek at an Aqua version of OpenOffice is well worth the price of admission. So stop by NeoOffice.org and check it out, if you dare.