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back to article LibreOffice 4.0 ships with new features, better looks

The Document Foundation has announced LibreOffice 4.0, the latest version of the free software competitor to Microsoft Office that spun off from the OpenOffice.org effort in 2010, describing it as nothing less than "the free office suite the community has been dreaming of since 2001." "LibreOffice 4.0 is the first release that …

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Holmes

Re: Would love to switch to Libre Office

But if you rewrite the macros, you only have to do that once. You would have to keep paying out for a new Office licence every time Microsoft brought out a new version. In a really pathological case, Microsoft could deprecate or remove a feature you were relying on; and then you'd have to do some rewriting anyway. (Open Source can't do that so easily, since removed features can usually be hacked back in when necessary. This can lead to patch wars and eventually forking, as one party storms off in a huff or gets banned -- vide OpenBSD. The users will eventually decide which one they prefer. Occasionally, there is even room for both versions to co-exist.)

In the end, it's a trade-off. At some point, the cost of keeping legacy VBA code outweighs the cost of getting rid. When that happens, rewriting to use LibreOffice becomes "doing it properly", and keeping Microsoft becomes the bodge.

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Silver badge

Re: Would love to switch to Libre Office

Unless you leverage software assurance. At less than 30 per pc per year for windows, cals, office pro it works out cheaper than employing a Linux chap to keep the non windows systems running (the apprentice can keep windows stuff running)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Would love to switch to Libre Office

But a local school here switched to Ubuntu several years ago and have been saving on support costs, and now don't use any Microsoft licenses either, Perhaps you're a troll!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Would love to switch to Libre Office

Yes and none of their pupils have any jobs from stating 'Libre Office skills' on their CV either...

Glad that's not where my kids go.

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Alien

I personally hope it doesnt...

"close the gap" with MSOffice.

MSOffice sucks donkey balls.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I personally hope it doesnt... @Carl

"MSOffice sucks donkey balls."

After such a cogent point, I hope the Internet can take the strain of the mass downloads that will follow. What reasonable person wouldn't be swayed by such an argument?

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Gold badge

Re: I personally hope it doesnt... @Carl

Now, now, there's no place for sarcasm.

Oh, wait ..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I personally hope it doesnt... @Carl

"MSOffice sucks donkey balls." actually I think it' s "MSOffice sucks blows goats."

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IT Angle

Compare it with Calligra Suite first

It is of course reassuring to in effect announce that Libre Office is now where Open Office should have been a few years ago and work has been done to make dialog boxes look nicer and more consistent, and the CMIS integration is good. Most probably there has been a lot of tidy-ups and recoding under the hood.

Rather than comparing Libre Office with MS Office, I would compare it with Calligra Suite, which is technically the more impressive project and which has just announced version 2.6: It is extensively coded in Qt/C++; it outguns LO with 10 components (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program, visual database, project management, mindmapping, flowchart drawing program, Vector graphics editor, digital painting, e-book); automating tasks and extending the suite with custom functionality can be done with D-Bus or with scripting languages like Python and JavaScript.

Calligra has already tidied up their attributes and dialog boxes and really allows high productive work. I cannot say each component has the same polish as LO, but it is catching up fast, some components are already eligible for production use, e.g. Krita.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calligra

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Thumb Up

Re: Compare it with Calligra Suite first

Linux Format did an article 2 issues ago that did a comparison of the office suites, calligra was quite highly rated but in the end they chose Libre Office overall(version 3.6 not 4). Might be worth a buy for anyone who is interested in this. I certainly enjoyed it anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Better looks?

I just downloaded it and I'm struggling to see much of any difference in the looks department, to be honest.

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Bronze badge

Or just split it up into separate apps rather than a complete suite.

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Pint

OpenOffice vs LibreOffice

So what's the considered opinion of the community now? How do our two favourite free suites compare now that this new Libre version is out?

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Holmes

Says it all, really

The previous code was just really horrendous," Meeks said. "Dialogs were constructed and drawn by hand – in fact, not even by hand. Programmers just sort of entered random numbers to lay them out, and it really looked awful.

This says it all. I believe this is the design philosophy behind all F/OSS and, indeed, all *nix GUI-oriented software.

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Anonymous Coward

I wish they'd STOP closing the gap with MS Office!

I can see why they won't. Word and excel are what people are used to, and they want to stay comfortable. It's the same for me. The only time in the past six months that I've booted Windows was to do a mail merge for the Christmas-card list. Nothing to think about with MS Office, just update a few addresses and press go.

However, even though I'm still a member of the MS Office (2000 --- easily enough for most of us) Comfort Club, I have also been hating it over all those years. Why, MS, When I want to do this, do you insist on doing that? I want to change the format of this word, that line, not the paragraph and certainly not the page. I want to be in control, not you.

I wish that Open/Libre Office had taken a different path. Not the path of imitating MS Office, but the path of developing powerful software in which the user can easily choose everything from default layout to micro-management, per-character control. I've been there: I used Linotype phototypsetting machines before I even touched a computer. I could use it like a typewriter, or I could control everything about every character. I could measure out a page layout, and then produce it exactly. That there are secretaries that can do almost the same with MS Word is a tribute to them, not to the software. You have to fight MS Word to get exactly what you want out of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wish they'd STOP closing the gap with MS Office!

In other words, WYSIWYBWG... What you see is what you bloody well get.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: for beautiful control there is LATEX.

Yes, there is. The trouble is, MS has deaded my brain cells. I doubt if I could cope with all the in-line codes (no wysiwyg, of course) that I used with the phototypesetter all these decades later.

Actually, Wordperfect had a good balance, and it was very useful being able to display codes. This may be why, when the company "officially" switched to MS, our underwriters refused to. They wanted their small print exactly, but exactly how they liked it, so they stuck with WP.

A simple example: When I type a letter, I want to put, on the same line, my phone number on the left, and the date on the right. WP had no difficulty with that (Nor, of course, did my typesetter) but with Word I have to create a bloody table to do it.

At least, for page layout work, I recently discovered Scribus. No need to ever touch Publisher again. And much better. (of course)

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Anonymous Coward

Updates...

People are complaining they have to download 180MB for each 0.00x release...

Have you seen how big normal office updates are with their service packs and security updates.

On the MAC at least I've seen upwards of 400MB updates that take 10 mins to install, where as libre office is 180MB in total and takes about 3 mins to install perhaps less.

Lets not even talk about how bloated office is and how long that takes to install in the first place. I'm sure the crappy Windows installer wastes time on purpose not doing anything.

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Silver badge

Re: Updates...

WSUS is a single install. Libre office is a complete remove reinstall via script per pc. Then a potential rewrite of login scripts (version 3 pulled thus trick, not seen 4 yet)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Updates...

@Danny, Actually a single line GP startup script installs LibO on any machine/s you like, for updates just read the release notes and download it into the right folder. There that's not difficult is it. Perhaps you're just spouting crap. Or for you you could get really really clever and make it 2 or more lines long to do other things as well.

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Re: LibreOffice is extremely good!

I was until recently an IT director looking after lots of schools- you make a good point. The problem lies not with the kids, who are actually very flexible and will use anything, but with some of the (older) teachers and most of the admin staff.

As an example, we took one primary school and used Google Apps exclusively as the office suite. Most teachers and all the kids loved it and "got it" straight away. A number of teachers and practically all the admin staff moaned a lot.

The thing is we are creatures of habit and once you get into your late teens, you start becoming less flexible. We should learn more from the kids!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LibreOffice is extremely good!

The "Admin staff" being those who actually have to use Office properly of course...

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Re: LibreOffice is extremely good!

Yes admin staff do have to use more of the functions, but there is nothing that your average school admin person would need that LibreOffice can't do.

With Google Apps there are more limitations, but then Office 365 is similarly constrained currently.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LibreOffice is extremely good!

You mean your Admin staff never need to exchange documents with others? I find that unlikely...

nb - in what way is 'Office 365' constrained? You can very quickly stream a full desktop version in 'on demand' mode if you prefer it.

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Re: LibreOffice is extremely good!

We tried to do a full 365 implementation with plenty of support from various parties and ran into issues, largely around authentication (I'll spare you the gory details) - something which Google Apps does much better currently. Once you can host a domain controller in the cloud (coming soon, I hear) then it will be on a similar footing.

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WTF?

In my experience most teachers can barely drive Office to any reasonable degree. Making them cross train to LO just for the sake of pennies will dramatically decrease their productivity. Trust me, Teachers have enough to do as it is without wrestling with a new package.

Eeejit making sweeping assumptions!

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@Stuart Ball

In my real life experience where a school switched to OO later LO they haven't looked back! That was years ago. Teachers have open minds and do accomodate change. It's how you go about it. You're actually making sweeping assumptions.

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Meh

Separate+ anyone?

I read the earlier (well off-topic) discussion about CMYK and Gimp a few pages ago - has anyone tried Separate+ as a plug-in:

http://cue.yellowmagic.info/softwares/separate-plus/index.html

Seems to offer at least basic CMYK capabilities, though for some reason the only binaries available are for Windows!

As for MS Office and its ribbon, am I the only one who couldn't find the basic File functions? It took me an age to realise that the ribbon itself didn't have any! The round Windows logo in the top left - that looks neither like the ribbon nor a menu - is actually clickable (I had no idea - there is no visual clue for this) and contains the File operations in there. Massively unintuitive and I defy anyone to claim it's obvious for a first-time user.

One thing that perplexes me is why people/organisations can't install both (LO and MS Office) and use whichever one works the best for them (which might vary between document types or even individual documents). The only argument I can see is support - having to handle issues from two Office suites rather than one. However, if either can be used to fix issues with documents, wouldn't the combination work correctly more often and result in *less* overall problems?

It's like Web browsers - one browser doesn't work with *all* sites...you usually have to have one or two backup browsers (plus it's nice for multiple sessions to the same site to run 2 or 3 different browsers at once).

I think one problem LO has is that it existed in many old versions (both OO and LO) that were not stellar at handling the common MS file formats. It's only since LibreOffice has picked up the dev pace and improved compatibility in the last 1-2 years that you can now be reasonably confident (not 100% yet sadly) that you can load in an MS Office document and it'll pretty true to the original.

Sadly, there's massive resistance from MS Office "lovers" until LO is 100% compatible with every MS Office document format produced from any version of MS Office since it existed. The likelihood of that being the case is very slim even 5 years from now - of course, such MS Office fans won't even acknowledge that compatibility between MS Office releases themselves falls short of 100% in quite a few cases, so any pleases to install LO alongside MS Office tend to fall on deaf ears :-(

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Gimp has CMYK.

"I use GIMP and Photoshop extensively, predominantly GIMP. And the only thing I really need Photoshop for is CMYK image support. If GIMP had that then my entire design workflow could be completed with GIMP/Inkscape."

AFAIK, Gimp has CMYK now. I was as surprised as anyone to see it (and, I personally don't have a need for it.) It went from no color support to supporting normal, CMYK, s-RGB, and several other color spaces.

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Re: Gimp has CMYK.

"Gimp has CMYK now"

It certainly has had the ability to generate a range of color separations ( including CMPK) for a while, whether this is sufficient for the OP I don't know as my knowledge in this area is limited.

For info the menu option is Colours - Components - Decompose - Choose 1 of~12 options (GIMP 2.6.11).

I don't actually use GIMP a lot as my main interest is processing RAW digital photo files and there are much better programs in Linux to process in 48-bit etc

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Holmes

Draw program

actually, the Libre-Office Draw program is bay far far far away superior to anything M$-Office. It does actually basic 2D scale drawing, when the 3D CAD is too long to launch.

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I love it, it reminds me of the good old days before we had to be upsold and upsold bloated upgrades every 2-3 years.

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