OOo Off the Wall: What New Users Need to Know About OpenOffice.org
Several tools in OpenOffice.org create a virtual directory in their file managers. In other words, the view you have in the tool does not correspond to any actual system of folders on your hard drive. You can move around the virtual directory from within the tool, but you cannot move outside it. Tools that have virtual directories include File > Templates > Organize and Tools > Gallery.
The main reason for virtual directories is to give a unified view of the templates available from both the main installation and your own customized user account. Instead of forcing you to navigate through a series of directories that are useless for your purpose, OpenOffice.org creates an artificial view.
Think of a virtual directory as something similar to the placement of My Documents at the top of the folder hierarchy in the Windows Explorer. Both are artificial views created for convenience.
In most cases, you should not need to look at the hard drive directories that make up the virtual directories. However, in case you ever need to, you can find them by looking at Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Paths.
Styles, graphics, tables and other objects always have names in OpenOffice.org. These names help you to manage your documents. They also extend the functionality of the Navigator, which works better when objects are given meaningful names.
Names are assigned when an element is created or added to the document. Default names consist of the element and the first available number, for example, Graphic1 for the first unnamed graphic in a Writer document.
In a simple document that won't be revised, the default names are usually good enough. But in a longer document with a long shelf life, they can slow you down. For example, what is the name of the file used by Graphic1? You can open the Graphics tab to find out, but you won't be able to tell from the Navigator. By using descriptive names, you can save yourself the trouble of drilling down to find the source file.
The best naming convention depends on your work habits and the elements, but some useful ones are:
By functionality: for example, Chapter Title for a style for chapter titles
By format: for example, Graphic - No Border for a frame
By file: for example, portrait.png for a graphic. How useful this convention is depends partly on how descriptive the file names are.
By caption: for example, Unemployment Figures, 1999-2001. If the caption is numbered, you might want to include that but not alone. Otherwise, you are back to the problem of undescriptive names.
There is no correct naming convention for everybody, simply one that suits your thinking and work habits.
Whatever conventions you choose, decide them at the start and stick to them. You can rename objects by selecting them and opening the right-click window, but the easiest time to name an element is when you make or add it.
Like Adobe's proprietary products, OpenOffice.org always has made heavy use of floating windows. Floating windows are small windows that sit on top the main editing window. They can be moved to whatever position is convenient or docked to one side of the editing window.
OpenOffice.org uses four main floating windows:
The Navigator (F5): a tool for moving around in a document, outlining and managing master documents. It is most powerful when you name objects in a meaningful way.
Styles and Formatting (formerly the Stylist) (F11): a tool for applying and managing styles.
The Data Source Window(F4): a tool for managing registered databases and adding the information in them to documents.
The Gallery (Tools > Gallery): OpenOffice.org's built-in expandable clipart collection
In addition, applications may have other floating windows, such as the Task and Slide Sorter panes in Impress.
With version 2.0, the concept of floating windows has been augmented by floating toolbars. These toolbars open automatically, depending on the cursor position. They replace the sliding menus and the menus opened by a long-click in earlier versions. The only problem with them is they open in the center of the editing window, which usually is precisely where you are working, and have to be moved to one side.
-- Bruce Byfield (nanday)
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