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OpenOffice.org Debuts 1.1 Beta

OpenOffice.org took the OpenOffice.org 1.1 Beta to the Web Tuesday, a few days after its big community confab in Hamburg, Germany, but still meeting its March target.

Conference attendees did receive English-language copies of the beta on CD.

An open source community created by Sun Microsystems , OpenOffice.org is charged with creating an international office productivity suite that will run on all major platforms and "provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format."

Written in C++, OpenOffice.org code initially included the technology which Sun was developing for future versions of its StarOffice software, though that suite will now use the OpenOffice.org source, APIs, file formats and reference implementations.

The new beta builds upon the OpenOffice.org 1.0.x builds (OpenOffice.org 1.0.2, posted in January, is the most recent), and adds a number of features.

The beta includes a progress bar on the splash screen, and has the ability to export PDF documents and to mail a document as a PDF. On the XML front, it adds DocBook XML import/export, support for exporting as a flat XML file, and XHTML export. For Windows users, it offers OpenOffice.org ActiveX Control, additional property pages for OpenOffice.org file types in Windows Explorer, and accessibility support.

Stepping up to its "international" mandate, the beta also adds support for Complex Text Layout (CTL) and vertical writing languages like Thai, Hindi, Arabic and Hebrew. It adds support for various 8-bit Arabic and Hebrew text encodings/code pages, support for the KOI8_U encoding, a new CTL options tab in the language options dialogue, rescue mode support for BiDi/CTL with X11 fonts, Sequence Input Checking (SIC) for languages like Thai and Hindi, initial glyph fallback support, and autodetection of newly installed languages for spellchecker, thesaurus and hyphenator.

Among the other new features are support for mobile device formats like Palm's AportisDoc, Pocket Work and Pocket Excel, command line tools for importing configuration data into the backend, support for recovering slightly damaged files and detection of a misconfigured Java installation.

A full list of new features is available here.

The next stop on OpenOffice.org's roadmap is a second beta release in May, followed by a release candidate in June and the final release in July.