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One of the perqs of being a journalist is that I often hear about software and events before most people. A case in point is Writer's Tools, an extension for Writer being developed by my fellow journalist Dimitri Popov, whose articles about macros have taught me most of what I know on the subject. As the name suggests, Writer's Tools is a collection of various utilities that might be useful for writers. It's a little rough in places, being only at version 0.9.27, and possibly a little idiosyncratic, but like Emacs, Writer's Tools is so varied that it undoubtedly has something for everyone, regardless of their writing habits.

Writer's Tools consists of three parts: The basic extension, a couple of templates, and a Java database for some of the included tools. You can install the extension and templates using Tools -> Extension Manager, accessing the tools from a new top-level menu and the extensions from File -> New -> Templates and Documents -> Templates. To install the database, you need to open Tools -> Options -> Base -> Databases -> New. After installation, the database is largely transparent to the user, except for the dialogs that open to display the information stored in it.

Optionally, you can edit some Writer's Tools features -- for instance, adding new links to the Lookup Tools. The extensive help that accompanies Writer's Tools gives you detailed instructions about how to modify the macros so that you can customize.

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