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OOo4Kids: A workable compromise

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I am always of two minds about office suites or applications for children. On the one hand, I can see the value of offering a simplified interface for learning on. On the other hand, I wonder if children shouldn't start with the interface they will be using as adults, so they don't how to learn the interface all over again. OOo4Kids balances these conflicting needs better than any application I've ever seen -- so much so that I think that the main OpenOffice.org project could benefit from adopting its code.

As the name implies, OOo4Kids is a version of OpenOffice.org designed for children between the ages of 7 and 12. Its recently-announced 1.0 release is available in 13 languages, and on all major operating systems, as well as Sugar OS. Source code and .deb packages are available on a web site separate from the main one.

OOo4Kids starts with a splash screen that summarizes many of its differences from OpenOffice.org. It offers only the four main applications -- Writer, Calc, Impress, and Draw -- as choices, leaving out the database and equation editor, as well as any list of recent documents. In fact, unlike the original, all choices are available as icons, with none in the menus. Both fonts and icons are considerably larger than the original as well.

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