Although OpenOffice.org comes with a decent online help, it can only get you that far. But there is a plethora of Web resources, support forums, and books that can help you to get the most out of the productivity suite and solve any problems you might have. And often, you don’t have to pay a dime to get the help you need.
For starters, the OpenOffice.org project maintains a number of mailing lists. The most popular one is firstname.lastname@example.org, a list for questions relating to the use of OpenOffice.org. You can subscribe to it by sending a request to email@example.com. Before you post a question, though, check the list’s archive to make sure that this question hasn’t already been answered. If you don’t fancy subscribing to a mailing list, you can seek support at the official OpenOffice.org community forum. This forum is a meeting place for many OpenOffice.org power users and professionals, so you can always tap on their expertise. Better yet, the forum is also available in other languages than English (http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/listforums.php), including French, Hungarian, Japanese, and Spanish.
If you are looking for electronic or printed documentation, you might want to check the OOoAuthors Web site which offers an impressive selection of OpenOffice.org-related documentation. All manuals and user guides at the site are available for download free of charge, and some of them are available in printed form via the documentation repository containing an assortment of how-tos, guides, and manuals.
But what about real books? Here are a few excellent books which I can highly recommend. Some of these books cover older versions of OpenOffice.org, but most of the material in them is still applicable to the latest releases of the productivity suite.
- OpenOffice.org Writer: The Free Alternative to Microsoft Word by Jean Weber. This is a must-have book for anyone who wants to master OpenOffice.org Writer. The book provides clear explanations of how to work with styles, create tables of contents, manage complex documents, and much more.
- Getting Started with Open Office .org 3.0 by OOoAuthors. The book provides a general introduction to OpenOffice.org’s applications. If you are completely new to OpenOffice.org, this book is for you.
- OOoSwitch: 501 Things You Want to Know About Switching To OpenOffice.org from Microsoft Office by Tamar E. Granor. Written with Microsoft Office users in mind, this book describes how to accomplish specific tasks using OpenOffice.org. If you know your way around Microsoft Office, this book will show you how to use your skills with OpenOffice.org.
- OpenOffice.org Macros Explained by Andrew Pitonyak. OpenOffice.org features its own Basic-based programming language which you can use to expand the suite’s functionality and even create new applications. This book provides a thorough introduction to OpenOffice.org Basic. If you can read French, you can opt for an excellent book by Bernard Marcelly and Laurent Godard Programmation OpenOffice.org 2 : Macros OOoBasic et API. For a more gentle task-oriented introduction to OpenOffice.org, you might want to check the OpenOffice.org Basic Crash Course book written by yours truly.
Finally, if you are running a business and looking for a company that offers OpenOffice.org support in your area, take a look at the directory of independent consultants on the OpenOffice.org Web site.