OpenOffice.org, the open-source productivity project sponsored by Sun Microsystems, has moved forward on its long-awaited Mac OS X-native port by releasing “Aqua,” the alpha version of the suite.
The release, which hit the Internet on June 5, comes six years after OpenOffice.org announced a Mac port. Though OS X is Microsoft Windows biggest desktop rival, the platform has lacked equitable support from Microsoft Offices biggest rival, OpenOffice.org.
So far, OpenOffice.org has been available on OS X only through X11, making it somewhat of an orphan on the platform. For instance, the X11 version of OpenOffice.org for OS X does not obey the modal menu bar layout of native Mac applications.
For now, OS X users must stick with the X11 version for production use, but Apple users interested in helping move the port forward should head to the projects Web site to help test the software. The OpenOffice.org alpha release runs on OS X Tiger and supports both Intel and PowerPC Macs.
The OpenOffice.org team is encouraging users who are testing the alpha to head to the projects Issues page to report the bugs they encounter.
One of the warts that remain on this alpha release is an absence of print support. We also noted that the test versions PDF export function is not yet up to speed, and the softwares copy and paste functions are not yet up to snuff, either.
During testing, eWEEK Labs found the native-looking OS X interface elements, especially those found in Writer, impressive. However, as promised on the OpenOffice.org Web site, the application crashed when we attempted to quit the program during testing. We also experienced a crash when we attempted to use spell-checker.
According to the projects road map, theres a beta release scheduled for the end of 2007—we plan to circle back to this port for additional testing at that time.