Impress, Calc, Writer get
gussied up"> StarOffices answer to Microsofts PowerPoint, Impress, has gotten an interface overhaul in this release. Impress now sports slide and task panes, which made it easier for us to navigate among the slides in our test presentations and to access Impress sample layout, animation and slide transition options. StarOffice 8s Calc spreadsheet application includes improvements to the DataPilot tool, a feature for analyzing spreadsheets in interactive tables that corresponds to the Pivot Tables in Microsofts Excel. DataPilot tables can now include more field types, as well as more sorting, grouping and display options, all of which should make Calc a more palatable alternative for users coming from Excel.Calc also now boasts a doubled row limit, up to the same 65,536-line limit that applies to Excel spreadsheets.StarOffices Writer application appears to have seen the least change since the last version of the suite, but we noticed the addition of a format paintbrush tool, which enabled us to copy formatting information from one chunk of text to another. Also of benefit to Writer users is StarOffice 8s improved Mail Merge wizard, which we found much easier to use than in previous versions, particularly when we didnt already have a data source set up from which to pull merged data. We also noted the addition of a keyboard shortcut for pasting text into Writer documents without formatting, something we found helpful when ferrying pieces of text from Web pages or other word processing documents. Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions. Next page: Evaluation Shortlist: Related Products.