Restore File-type association of your office documents

Like I said on my last post this is something that torment users all the time. Either because they uninstall OpenOffice, or update it, and something goes not exactly as planned and they loose of of these associations.

Bare in mind this really doesn’t depend on OpenOffice, but is handled by your operating system and could happen with any program, whenever is video or documents. So for that reason is usually on those places where you need to find answers. Here is one for Microsoft and one for Apple, and another for Gnome, Unity and KDE.

That said here is the general explanation in a nutshell. You have 6 different filetypes (for the most part) all ending in the following manner: docx, odt, pptx, odp, xlsx, ods or doc, ppt, xls. These files most be associated wtih an office suite that can run it. You might have more than one office suite in your computer, so you will need to tell the computer which application should be the default.

Fortunately most modern environments give you a context menu (the one you see when you right click) and see more options, including opening the document with alternative programs. This means that you can have a default application and also a secondary and other options. These menu however is managed by the file browser located in your sistem, so is logical that the configuration for such file management is either on the settings of your file manager (File explorer on windows, Finder for OSX, Nautilus and Dolphin for Gnome and KDE). So you will see a list of file types (you will be surprised how many they are) and their application right next to it. So here are some screenshot to get you familiarized with how it looks like:

OSX File association manager.
OSX File association manager.

Like many things in a desktop environment there are many ways to do the same thing, and this is also the case for file association edition. Just hope this guide clears how file association works and what to do to configure it.

How to never loose work in Apache OpenOffice

I don’t usually write tutorials in this blog, but since being on the Apache OpenOffice mailing list I think this is something that is commonly addressed. This and file-type configuration. So I think that doing a couple of tutorials on these topics could be a good personal refference for the mailing list.

So here is the tip on how to never loose work in Apache OpenOffice:

  1. Configure auto-Recovery, this will set the option to handle a timer in which the file would be saved periodically.
  2. Enable backup copies.
  3. Enable document properties without saving.

Is important to understand that our biggest enemy on loosing information is ourselves, so we need to fight to future self from ruining our job. Our somewhat lazy practices like forgetting to do regular saves or never save on startup or even, never worry about insertring properties on documents might be some of the reasons to loose work.

So here is some configuration tips that your OpenOffice will need to enable to force future self to deal with.

Go to the Load/Save configuration options located on Tools -> Options. This will give you a dialog that will hold some check boxes, most of them enabled, but not all of them. You can see the save options present some interesting options such as:

  • Edit document properties before saving
  • Always create backup copies
  • Save AutoRecovery information every …. [15] Minutes
Go to Tools -> Options and Load/Save to view this dialog.
Go to Tools -> Options and Load/Save to view this dialog.

The image is pretty self explanatory, I enable this options to be able to a) annoy me, but is a good annoyance. b) save everything.

What this will do is, pop up dialogs asking me to save the document, even new ones. And then it will ask me to insert properties for the document. These conditions will make it so even new documents that have no name will require me to save them. No more blank Untitled documents. After that it will constantly save at a 5 minute threshold instead of the regular 15 minutes. And on top of that, it will save a backup image on your backup folder.

However here is a great Bonus, if you own some cloud service like Dropbox. You might want to edit the backup path (located under General -> Paths) and change the path from the original Backup Path to a directory inside your Dropbox folder (or google drive if thats what you use). This will make your work be saved not only on your desktop but also on the Cloud service, without you thinking about it.

Edit path to a cloud provider.
Edit path to a cloud provider.

OpenOffice Development Documentation

Soon I will be doing some training about OpenOffice development. This gave me a chance to understand the way the office suite is configured and it’s documentation and support. The development of large communities like OpenOffice means that it’s pretty wide spread and there are bits and pieces from different  areas.

Since Sun was the original sponsor of the Suite most of the efforts went to their own language, which was Java, but there was also a strong community of Python developers as well as even Microsoft VBA developers that build bridges for C# and VBA through COM sockets.

One thing that I have been thinking about for a while is about the way documentation specially of things like the API should be treated like a live document. Not a wiki exactly but something that could be annotated.

So I made a petition to enhance the documentation with an annotation system that allow users to contribute with snippets. Here is an example of the comment posts showing on the documentation.


Conference in Colombia

So here are my slides that I did for the conference in Colombia about Free Software communities. I blog about this in the past, but I think this should evolve into a whole new conference, and this is what I did. I had a conference specifically targeted at motivating students to get on their buts and start typing code, release it, and type some more.

In escense is simple:

  • You are prepared
  • Get coding
  • Put it on a forge
  • Approach developers

Then it get more interesting:

  • Learn how to coo-mpete
  • Fork as a way of life
  • How to govern your community
  • Setting the project free

Some questions however were more on the lines of doing code for money, but in reality you build code cuz you are that good. And code could make money if you are smart enough. Code will at least get you a job, or push you form a company.

Getting more universities and talent

So this week could become a big one for my objectives, signing a framework contract that will allow me to access more than 60 universities around the country to funnel their students to our community. If this goes as planned, greeat things could come to fruition.

Imagine around 40 to 50 students each semester joining the Apache OpenOffice forces to localize, develop and raise the overal status of Apache OpenOffice.

Right now the project does need that help as it ramp its QA, l10n and Marketing effort to put this community back on a normal developing cycle.