Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lotus Symphony

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Well we all know that the good ole folks at IBM bought out Lotus in the mid 90's. And if you have half a brain and can remember even what Lotus was, you know that they made some quality office based programs. Their recent iteration which, is definitely still in its beta form (REALLY still in Beta (bird flipping air in defiance of Java)) seems to hold up to Lotus' old sweet suites.

The beta comes with a Document, Spreadsheet, and Presentation tool which all actually integrate into one large kind of backdrop. This allows you to use tabs to work on three different items rather then work with 3 different windows which can get fairly cluttering on a normal screen screen. This, with the weird bluish tones make it look semi-familiar with Microsoft's Office suite ribbon setup. This allows the user to have almost everything that they need (Cut, paste, sorting, saving, opening, font, color, columns, tables and...AUTO COMPLETION (for the lazy one)) within a one click reach which is a must need when working around a useless document for your boss or colleague who can not get their minds around a full day without some type of spreadsheet. In addition all of your useless functions at the moment (depending what you have highlighted / clicked on) are either grayed out.

A really simple, and obviously nice feature is the ability to show a thumbnail version of every tab that you are working on and their respective names. This means a visual representation when working with a huge amount of papers and or spreadsheets. Speaking of spreadsheets, it appears that there is a lot going on in that area when it comes to technicalities. Office 2007 let us down fairly heavily, and us meaning the end user that knows something. By oversimplifying their program Microsoft left a lot of techyies (SP, what?!), who enjoyed their complicated spreadsheet schemes in the dust..because they never had a chance to get them moving.

Besides the overextended need of Java, this looks like a nice suite that easily has replaced Open Office for now. It can be downloaded from if you go through the pain of making an account and actively looking for it. As an alternative to Microsoft Office I am not completely sold. But if they do release this as open or free software then I think it can give Microsoft a really good run for its money due to the hefty need for users to re-adapt to Office 2007. Viva la free! Ciao all.