Apr 27 2009
Remember the good old days when Office and Photoshop/Illustrator were the kings of software? In some ways they still are, but one thing
has changed. Thanks to the powerful underpinnings of OS X and the hard work of open source programmers, office suites and creative
applications are capable and free. This week we’ll look at some of the
OpenOffice has been available on the Mac for years – if you didn’t mind
installing X11. And it was slow and ugly.
With version 3 OpenOffice has gone native, in addition to the
introduction of the solver in Calc (spreadsheets), new views for
Writer and other new features. And this version of OpenOffice makes itself right at home on the Mac.
I found it launching and opening files even faster than the Windows version
on a comparable machine.
It still does not take advantage of all of the fluidity of the OS X
interface, but for many previous users who were turned off but the
ugly x-windows interface it will be more than good enough. What’s
more, it even sports a few features not present in the
Mac version of Office (which Ballmer will tell you in junk anyway).
While we are getting rid of ugly X11 interfaces, users of the powerful
but not-so-pretty Inkscape have another SVG-based vector design app to
DrawBerry is free, and sports the expected toolset and some very iApp
looking palettes. You’ll find a shape library, text formatting, align
tools and more. Unfortunately, I found DrawBerry a little crashy -
particularly when messing with text. Hopefully that will get worked
out in future versions.
Innovations in OS X open the door for advanced and fast graphics
interaction. ChocoFlop takes advantage of CoreImage (and even points
you to some extra Core Image filters to add even more image effects).
ChocoFlop also has an export to web tool to prep images for web use
(powered by ImageMagick). Its tiny footprint, native code and
non-destructive effects editing make it a great choice. Right now, you
can grab a pre-release license for free (or donate). Once this tool
hits 1.0 it will go shareware.
Free tools are great, but fee tools that actually feel at home in OS X
are even better.