The free cross-platform and open source office application suite, OpenOffice, has chalked up an amazing and unexpected result when the latest 3.0 was launched a couple of weeks ago. More than 3 million users have downloaded this key rival of Microsoft Office within a week. OpenOffice 3.0 has shown superb performance and there are various enhancements and improvements to this latest release. Read out more from our previous post. OpenOffice has gained more and more popularity and posted a great challenge to Microsoft Office. Of course the free cost is one of the main reasons that attracts users to try it.

Besides, another reason is this open source application features a lot of useful plug-ins or extensions that can be be customized to cater to users’ needs. These extensions complement and enhance the OpenOffice tremendously. If you used to be a Microsoft Office supporter but plan to give the OpenOffice 3.0 a try, you can probably consider the following extensions to your new OpenOffice suite. Perhaps it can change your perception towards this application suite.

Sun PDF Import is a rather useful extension in handling office document. It allows users to modify the existing PDF files, e.g. add comments, change dates, change number or change small portions of texts. Unlike those PDF to text converters, Sun PDF Import does not convert PDF files to text formats. It imports PDF documents into the Draw application and captures the content as a Draw object. Every single line of text will be recognized as a draw object. Users could just do some basic editing to these objects or rearrange them.

If your work requires you to do a lot of writing, Writer’s Tools is an important extension that you should not ignore. Writer’s Tool is a set of utilities designed to help OpenOffice users perform a wide range of tasks. With this extension, users can back up documents into various formats; look up currently selected word in several online references, e.g Cambridge Dictionaries, WordNet, and Google Define; translate words and phrases; perform quick conversion between the metric and imperial system; do word counting; keep tabs on document statistics, and many more.

Having problems to prepare a budget or write a project plan? Or scratching your head to design new invoices or business cards for your newly formed company? Professional Template Pack II provides a handful of professionally designed document templates to help you to create high quality and professional documents. There are more than 120 templates including business correspondence, budgets and project plans, formal and personal letters, event posters, business cards, invoices, minutes, press release formats, presentation formats and so on. Besides, Professional Template Pack II, users who frequently do presentations can get some fancy presentation templates from Modern Impress Template extension to make their presentation more interesting. This plug-in features more than 30 beautiful templates for users to choose from.

Language checker is a vital ingredient in all office suite application. To get a language teacher to assist you, you can download and install LanguageTool. LanguageTool is an Open Source language checker for English, German, Polish, Dutch, and other languages. This language checker doesn’t do spell checking that a normal spell checker do. However, it detects some grammar mistakes and more complicated language errors e.g. mixing up there/their, no/now etc.

Creative Commons Licensing extension is a handy tool for people especially those who want to create open source project with the Creative Common License. This extension provides the ability to select and embed a Creative Commons license in Writer, Calc and Impress documents. In addition to embedding the license in the document metadata it provides a visible notice in your document.

Users who are familiar with Microsoft Excel should have found the form features provided very useful. Users can use the form (under Data -> Form) in Microsoft Excel to enter data in ranges, lists, or other databases. The same feature also can be found in OpenOffice via Data Form Extension. The Data Form extension generates a data input form for tables in the Calc application that you can use to enter values.

Sun Presenter Console extension is a useful tool especially for those who regularly do presentations. It gives presenters more flexibility and control over their slide show presentation. For instance, presenters can view the upcoming slide, the slide note and a presentation timer while the audience only sees the current slide. This feature will assist presenters to give more effective presentations. The Sun Presenter Console displays the elements on three different easily changeable views. The first view displays the current slide, including the effects embedded and the upcoming slide; the second view shows the speaker’s notes in large, clear and scalable type plus the current and upcoming slide; the third highlights a slide sorter view with the slide thumbnails.

With useful extensions added to the OpenOffice office application suite, the free office suite’s functions have been enhanced with more practical and useful features. Want to give it a try? To have a feel of OpenOffice, of course first of all you need to install it. Grab the latest one via the link here. Once you have installed your latest OpenOffice, you can start adding some useful extensions. How to install the extensions into your OpenOffice suite? Download the extensions, go to Tools >Extension Manager, just click “Add” to install the downloaded extensions.