Working with KOffice

The K Desktop Environment, known as KDE, is not the default desktop environment for Ubuntu. KDE comes with its own set of libraries, widgets, and a system of inter-application communication (drag and drop) that is incompatible with the default GNOME desktop environment. This does not mean that the KDE applications are not usable if you choose a GNOME desktop (or vice versa). Although KDE duplicates a lot of the functionality of the GNOME offerings, the KDE applications often present a unique approach to solving familiar problems and might be just what you are looking for.

The KDE office suite KOffice was developed to provide tight integration with the KDE desktop. Integration enables objects in one application to be inserted in other applications via drag and drop, and all the applications can communicate with each other, so a change in an object is instantly communicated to other applications. The application integration provided by KDE is a significant enhancement to productivity. (Some GNOME desktop applications share a similar communication facility with each other.) If you use the KDE desktop rather than the default GNOME desktop, you can enjoy the benefits of this integration, along with the Konqueror web and file browser.

The word processor for KOffice is KWord. KWord is a frames-based word processor, meaning that document pages can be formatted in framesets that hold text, graphics, and objects in enclosed areas. Framesets can be used to format text on a page that includes columnar text and images that the text needs to flow around, making KWord an excellent choice for creating documents other than standard business letters, such as newsletters and brochures.

KWord and other components of KOffice are still under development and lack all the polished features of OpenOffice.org and AbiWord, as well as the necessary Microsoft file format support. If Microsoft compatibility is unimportant to you and you and your associates use KDE rather than GNOME, KOffice is worth considering.

You can access the KOffice components from the More Office Applications submenu under the Office menu. You can also access them from the KOffice shell, which you can launch from the command line, like this:

After you press Enter, you see the main window of KOffice shell, as shown in Figure 9.16. On the left are icons representing all the KOffice applications available to you. Clicking on one starts a dialog to open an existing file or begin work in a new file.

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