OpenOffice is a popular open source office suite, that other than being excellent office suite, lets you extend its functionality through extensions. Made popular by tools like Firefox as addons or by WordPress as plugins, these extensions let you add more. Unfortunately the OpenOffice extensions are not as popular, but they are all the same effective.
There were a series of articles recently which explored this aspect of OpenOffice.
Dmitri Popov presented a small tutorial of writing extension to package templates and AutoText entries as extensions so that adding a template or autotext entries is automated via the extension installation. Companies can use this effectively to make the templates and vocabularies available to a wider userbase. This can also be used to create templates for projects like authoring a book.
He then showed how OpenOffice Impress presentations can be made self-running by using the IndeView extension. IndeView is an independent presentation viewer that can package your Impress presentation so that they can run off CD/DVD or any media.
LanguageTool, an open source language checker, can be used effectively with OpenOffice for checking grammar. Along with this Dmitri Popov listed must-have OpenOffice extensions, which includes the multi-tab extension borrowed from Firefox.
Vivek shows a way to use the OpenOffice Database to store and retrieve your personal data, in this case, a movie database. Note there is no code involved in this, a good example to see how you can effectively employ OpenOffice Database.
Finally, if you want to create your own extensions Dmitri Popov gives you the basics of writing extensions of OpenOffice. A good tutorial to start with if you want to write your own extensions or vertical functionalities.
It is important to note that OpenOffice, inspite of being able to replace other office suites, is different from them. There are certain functions unique to it and certain that it does in its own way. It might be beneficial to read the basics of OpenOffice applications while using them in the beginning. One of the biggest advantages I find with OpenOffice is that not only it is open source and supports extensions, but also that it is cross-platform giving me the freedom to choose it.
Office documents are part of our everyday work. OpenOffice can help you be more productive. Try it out for its unique values, especially if you are using pirated copies of other office suites.