back to article LibreOffice 6.4 nearly done as open-source office software project prepares for 10th anniversary

The LibreOffice team is testing the first release candidate of version 6.4, which is set for release at the end of January. What's new in version 6.4? There are numerous fresh features; most are small, but they do include the ability to insert QR codes into any document. The Generate QR Code feature lets you enter a hyperlink …

  1. Thoguht Silver badge

    LibreOffice is fine as long as you don't find a bug. I (and several other people) have been waiting well over a year for a fix for a regression that affects charts, but (presumably) because it's maintained by volunteers the bug is just sitting there with nothing happening. So yes, I'm sure 6.4 is great, but I'm stuck on 5.4.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It seems unlikely that The Document Foundation can really be classified merely as volunteers. https://www.documentfoundation.org/

      1. Thoguht Silver badge

        If you read to the bottom of that page, it says "If you are one of the volunteers contributing to the LibreOffice or Document Liberation projects...", so I think that makes it pretty clear.

        1. General Purpose

          Yes, volunteers contribute, but the Document Foundation also launches tenders "in several

          strategic areas, where the tasks are beyond the capabilities of independent volunteer developers", listed in the 2018 annual report as including aspects of image handling, HSQLDB import, format validity checks, accessibility, and deprecating SVG in favour of SVGIO.

          1. Thoguht Silver badge

            The "Document Foundation" is not a company that employs developers, it is simply an umbrella structure that seeks to organise the work of volunteers. If you ever looked at their Bugzilla this would be obvious.

            1. General Purpose

              It's possible that looking at Bugzilla doesn't give you the full picture.

              "in 2018 TDF’s Board of Directors decided to invest a significant portion of donation money to improve LibreOffice in some strategic areas which are beyond the capabilities of independent volunteer developers, based on specific tenders" re image handling, HSQLDB import, format validity checks, accessibility, and deprecating SVG in favour of SVGIO. (Annual Report 2018, page 8)

              "Next to contributions by volunteers and ecosystem participants, donations are key for current operations and future developments of The Document Foundation, as they allow to keep the organization alive, to fund specific activities, to support events and other marketing tasks organized by native language projects, and maintain a small team working on various aspects of LibreOffice including documentation, user interface design, quality assurance, release engineering and marketing." (Annual Report 2018, page 40)

    2. coderguy

      Remeber, there's no such thing as a free lunch. So... did you pay for someone to fix it, or the issue not enough of a priority?

      1. juvenihil

        I found myself in a similar situation with 5.0.3 both on Debian 8 and Win 7. I contemplated the idea to pay the developer to fix the bug(s) that were messing with my work.

        Then, I realized that I could buy MS Word/Excel/Powerpoint for a fraction. And without waisting more than 5 minutes, no mail-judo required.

        They eventually fixed that later, but for the time I had already switched completely to Office and use Debian for other tasks (a pity, since it is much more comfortable than Win 10).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fair enough but I had the problem the other way around. I was a MS user who found a bug which MS wouldn't fix. I tried loads of stuff, lost hours on it.... until after six months found that LibreOffice worked perfectly well for my users ans so we swapped over.

    3. Jakester

      While I only use a small subset of features in LO, I haven't found bugs in the things I do. However, the things I need to do, I cannot do in Microsoft Office starting about rel 2010, specifically problems getting pivot tables to work or work properly. When I help users fix problems with Word documents or Excel spreadsheets, often I can only fix by opening in LO, fix the problem, save the document, and then it works properly in Microsoft Office. I also never have problems with Windows 10 borking LO, unlike having to deal with various releases of Microsoft Office getting totally hosed with their Office 365 demo.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bugs in office suits

      @Thoguht

      I am not saying that you not having a bug fixed to your schedule is acceptable but I am saying that other well known office suits also have long lived bugs, the main difference between them is that LO is free to use.

      You haven't included what the bug actually was but if you feel this really needs addressing then you could always code it yourself and contribute, or if the bug is costing you money and you cannot code then you could always pay for someone else to do if for you.

      As ever if you use something for free then you get what you are given, that being said that also seems to apply to paid prodcuts as well.

    5. R2DWhatwasit

      I trust in the Commercial Coding Supremacy Wizard

      Whereas commercial companies are great at fixing bugs?

      I can count on all my fingers and toes and still not reach the number of years that Word has rejected plurals of many words that it accepts in the singular. And that's just a lookup.

      On a number of occasions I've opened a Word document in LibreOffice and saved it in a different version of Word so that a different version of Word could open it without significant formatting errors.

      I had similar experience with IBM 40-ish years ago but at least they replied with a frameable letter thanking me for identifying a specific error (something to do with precision of the results of FP multiplication in PL/1).

      LibreOffice is not perfect but the belief that commercial companies are better at fixing bugs arises from naive inexperience.

      I seem to recall that Bill Gates' The Road Ahead acknowledged that no commercial company could compete with a successful open source project. (Many open source projects aren't successful, but most of the internet and most PC and Mobile OSes are mostly or entirely built on successful open source. Windows is about the only exception, and even that is edging towards more Linux).

      Successful open source projects attract largely people who are good programmers and architects and value kudos from their peers. Commercial companies attract a significant number of programmers and architects who do what they have to to get paid and who are often restricted by quarterly sales and accounting targets.

  2. Philip Storry

    I think you underestimate it...

    "LibreOffice then has not changed the software world, but it has perhaps made it a better place."

    When I first start Office on my work desktop, I'm asked which format I want to save my documents in. That's a pretty significant change for Microsoft. Remember, they're a company that once destroyed Netscape simply because they might be a threat...

    I have far fewer issues opening OOXML documents than I did a decade ago. Interoperability is still best served with a format like PDF, but we're in a much better place than we once were.

    I think LibreOffice's impact is far greater in the personal computing market. I do know people with individual or family O365 subscriptions. But I still remember when Office was around four hundred bucks a CPU. By comparison, when you look at the OneDrive storage and the always up-to-date nature of Office 365, it's quite a bargain.

    And I'm pretty sure it's not just GSuite that's driven that price down. Most folks I know who are casual users have LibreOffice installed by a relative, because it's "good enough" for their light use. That's got to have had some kind of impact at Redmond.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: I think you underestimate it...

      think LibreOffice's impact is far greater in the personal computing market. I do know people with individual or family O365 subscriptions. But I still remember when Office was around four hundred bucks a CPU. By comparison, when you look at the OneDrive storage and the always up-to-date nature of Office 365, it's quite a bargain.

      But MS still has you by the short and curlies don't they. You pay or else poof your stuff in their cloud goes away. Blackmail was never as lucrative as software subscriptions like this.

      1. Philip Storry

        Re: I think you underestimate it...

        Yep, there's a reason I don't rely on O365 for my personal needs.

        I have LibreOffice for the big documents (> 10 pages) and the free tier of Google Drive for convenience. I use a third party tool to download the Google Drive stuff and convert it to ODF, just in case Google have some kind of accident or change of business plan.

        But then, I've learned my lessons from almost 25 years in the industry. I'm hardly a typical customer. ;-)

        1. juvenihil

          Re: I think you underestimate it...

          Why don't just buy a copy of Office 2013/2016/2019?

          No subscription, no cloud, local hard copy at your will. It will do what you need and not what its degelopers think you might, wont mess with references, notes, page numbers, autocorrection...

          Unless you just need to write things down, but for that Kate and some markdown are more than enough. Office is for producing complex documents, not the grocery list or personal notes, that would be like using a bazooka to kill a mosquito.

          1. ChrisBedford
            Alert

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            "Why don't just buy a copy of Office 2013/2016/2019?"

            Ummm because $$$

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            Office is for producing complex documents

            Though not, alas, the document you actually wanted.

            that would be like using a bazooka to shoot yourself in the foot.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I think you underestimate it...

        "But MS still has you by the short and curlies don't they. You pay or else poof your stuff in their cloud goes away. Blackmail was never as lucrative as software subscriptions like this."

        Of course you're an idiot if you don't keep a local copy of anything you keep in The Cloud. I see cloud storage more as an off-site backup with convenient remote access rather than the only place to store anything.

        Granted, I don't really trust it, but unless you write your own operating system and build your own hardware, you can't completely trust your local storage either.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I think you underestimate it...

          Of course you're an idiot if you don't keep a local copy of anything you keep in The Cloud."

          For the general population, I'd say naive, gullible, uneducated (in the ways of remote storage). Most people have not given any thought to what might happen if they can no longer pat their subs or the hosting company shuts down the service, goes bust or gets bought out and T&C's change radically. At least not until it happens to them at least once. The rest of us still remember the likes of Geocities, Tripod, AOL, and even, more recently, Virgin Media who killed off their Personal Web Page service (admittedly with lots of notice)

          1. NetBlackOps

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            As the IT housekeeper, part of the deal is he going up phones and cloud to an 8 TH hard drive, which gets backed up to an array. Less wear and tear on everyone, especially me.

          2. vtcodger Silver badge

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            I think at this point, the most dire threat from cloud storage might be collateral damage from cyberwarfare. And not necessarily between the countries one might expect. It seems unlikely that the malware, bots, and God only knows what else released during a serious conflict between say India and Pakistan or Iran and Saudi Arabia will stop at national boundaries. It seems impossible to predict what digital services will still be running in Europe, North America, or the Far East if such a conflict erupts. I imagine that humanity will survive the event. But it's not clear that all businesses and governmental agencies that don't have solid local backup will survive.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @vtcodger - Re: I think you underestimate it...

              Add to this the the non-negligible possibility of your country falling out of favor with the mighty USA that might suddenly develop a grudge or just want to get a "better" commercial deal.

              Never say never.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: @vtcodger - I think you underestimate it...

                Good points from both of you. Venezual and Adobe subscriptions come to mind due to sanctions.

              2. mdubash

                Re: @vtcodger - I think you underestimate it...

                And then there's the not unlikely possibility tht a cloud vendor decides to change its business model or gets bought, in which case all bets are off: your sub suddenly goes up by 500%, or you lose all your data, or they get hacked... All of which have happened.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: I think you underestimate it...

        "You pay or else poof your stuff in their cloud goes away"

        This, to me, is just the frosting on a huge cake of things Micro-shaft has done starting with Office '97 (the last MS office I purchased, where they first added 'Clippy', because I *HAD* to because $CUSTOMER was using it and I couldn't read the '97 formatted documents they kept using...)

        *ahem*

        So without summarizing ALL of the "features" that CREEPED in since then, it's made a rather horrible cake of excrement-like material that I watch other people struggle with from time to time...

        Meanwhile I'm able to do pretty much any office-like thing on Linux, FreeBSD and EVEN WINDOWS, using Libre Office. And, the 2nd best part, is that Libre comes WITHOUT the "features" that MS *CRAMMED* into THEIR offce, in SPITE of the desires of the customer!

        We can most likely thank ONE SPECIFIC PERSON for MUCH of this, the person that invented "the ribbon" as well as promoting the 2D FLATTY all over the place in Windows "Ape" and Win-10-nic. And yet, people like THIS get "kicked upstairs" by the proverbial Peter Principle... instead of getting fired and left begging for change on street corners with a sign that says "will replace DECENT USER INTERFACES with CRAP USER INTERFACES for food".

        why more people aren't standardizing on Libre Office is beyond me...

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: I think you underestimate it...

          "why more people aren't standardizing on Libre Office is beyond me..."

          An example of a sane reason is a grammar school friend whose major source of income is income from sales of a college textbook. He appreciates a bargain as much as the next person and maybe more than most. He gets no joy from sending money to Microsoft regularly. But he doesn't feel that he can take the risk that his publisher might have trouble with his updates if he doesn't use Word. If he uses the publisher's preferred version of Word and the publisher can't read the file(s) it's (probably) not his problem.

          Hard to argue with that

          1. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            It would cost the publisher much less to install LibreOffice, than it would cost all their clients to install Microsoft Office. And not everybody can do that: some people aren't running Windows, some people are behind procurement policies that forbid caged, proprietary software, and a few people are (un)lucky enough to be barred for life from buying Microsoft.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: I think you underestimate it...

              The cost of authors using Word is an externality for the publisher. And while I think publishers (and journal editors, etc) would do well to ditch Word, except for converting submissions as necessary, publishers tend to be run by non-technical people who are adverse to change and don't want to take on the cognitive-load costs of adopting new software.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            I thought all serious textbooks required submission in something like LaTeX? Even for non-technical fields, the only published author I know had to use something other than Word in order to handle the housekeeping demands of organizing a book during the writing and editing process.

            I've used OpenOffice and LibreOffice for years (>10, apparently). I've never had problems sending OpenOffice docs to someone using Word. Yes, I have had formatting problems opening Word docs in OO/LO. I've also had issues opening Word docs with older versions of Word (like when docx first appeared on the scene, or when Office 97 came on the scene, as Bombastic Bob referenced).

            Biggest reason "people" don't like it, is that it may look different than the version of Word they're used to. Of course, if MS releases a new version that changes where their icons are, changes the colors, and changes the order of the menus, then it's all fine and good.

            Second biggest reason is when you rely on shitty programs that "export in Excel format" (i.e. use a crappy Excel API that requires you to have Excel installed on the same PC and hopefully the API didn't change much since the crappy program was written -- I'm looking at you Sage). At least offer a .csv export you morons.

            1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

              Re: I think you underestimate it...

              > .csv export

              .tsv

              tsv dominates csv profoundly.

            2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: I think you underestimate it...

              I thought all serious textbooks required submission in something like LaTeX?

              Not in much of the humanities, at least in the US. In those fields Word is still by far the dominant format for textbook publishers, academic publishers, and journals.

              In the right circles you'll often hear people with a technical background (computational-humanities researchers, for example) complaining bitterly about this. And when I wrote my DigiRhet MA thesis, I had to scrounge around on the math department's website to find a suitable LaTeX template. (I could have hacked my own together, but theses and dissertations at US universities often have to meet excruciatingly precise rules regarding layout; it's easier if someone else has already done that work for you.)

          3. juvenihil

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            From personal experience, you can't write a proper book in Open/Libre Office. It will stuck on simple things like updating the index or the footnotes numbers, it will mess with page numbers, it will crash with no apparent reason when merging big docs (more than 100 page each). And so on and on.

            Also, there is no reason to pay a monthly fee to MS: tell your friend a copy of Word '16 comes for 80€ here and it is your for life.

          4. dajames Silver badge

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            ... he doesn't feel that he can take the risk that his publisher might have trouble with his updates if he doesn't use Word ...

            They probably wouldn't, though ... and if they did they would let him know soon enough and then he could do something about it.

            Publishers who have asked for an update aren't going to lose interest just because they receive one file they can't use. They probably won't install LO themselves just to work with one author, but they will work with authors to help them produce usable copy (and LO will probably produce that anyway).

          5. kernelpickle

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            Well, despite the fact schools often fail to prepare their graduates for the real-world--the one area where that's not the case, is with the software they require students to learn on.

            Since MS Office has been the gold standard in productivity since the 90's, it makes sense that kids would be taught those applications growing up, and why teachers would be trained on them as well. Just like GIMP will never replace PhotoShop in the professional space, students won't be taught to use GIMP instead.

            This is one of those chicken/egg scenarios, because you could easily argue that if all students were taught GIMP or LibreOffice from a young age, that they'd grow up preferring those applications and businesses would switch to match the preferences of their employees--but we all know that things never work like that from the bottom up. It's always been from the top down. Once Microsoft got their foot in the door of the largest corporations, their suppliers needed to fall in line in order to collaborate and share documents back and forth, and it spread from there.

            Another thing people don't seem to realize is that cost doesn't matter as much when software is used for making money. If it leads to less downtime, or lower costs of retraining employees, or some other business needs being met--and also comes with a support structure that includes professional certifications that can be used to vet the in-house staff they can hire to support it--that is far more valuable than a few dollars per license.

          6. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            his publisher might have trouble with his updates if he doesn't use Word

            Yes, I've been there. I co-wrote a book chapter using OpenOffice, and the publisher's layout editor had problems with it in Word. There were several rounds of emailing (ugh) documents back and forth.

            Of course, Word often has problems with documents created in Word - I see this at work All The Time - and even with formatting in documents created by that same copy of Word. The whole Word document model is a mess, and OOXML's lack of proper specification aggravates the problem.

            Word is a horrible choice for publishers, but unfortunately many, particularly in fiction and in the humanities, refuse to move to something better. (It's not like they couldn't keep one copy of Word to convert from MS formats to something sensible.)

            1. elgarak1

              Re: I think you underestimate it...

              "(It's not like they couldn't keep one copy of Word to convert from MS formats to something sensible.)"

              In fact, that is what's done in the scientific world. The editorial office of a science journal is quite often simply the office of a renowned professor in the field (legally, it's his private company). What they do is hiring a student (sometimes unpaid intern), plonk them in front of a PC, and they would copy and paste (by hand) the submissions from Word to ... whatever. Mostly Adobe InDesign (or other DTP software), or LaTeX (for a handful of Math and Physics journals).

          7. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I think you underestimate it...

            Hard, but not impossible. Case in point is George RR Martin who still writes on the DOS (or CP/M) based WordStar which pretty much everyone else in the world has forgotten about. With PDF and OCR at the disposal of any publisher worth their salt, the argument against using LibreOffice is harder to make.

        2. Wibble

          Re: I think you underestimate it...

          > We can most likely thank ONE SPECIFIC PERSON for MUCH of this, the person that invented "the ribbon"

          Thanks for naming the ribbon-creating Muppet. A UX disaster that succeeds in taking screen space and being hard to use at the same time.

          Interesting that on a Mac -- where the UI/UX is not controlled by people who created the world's worst UI/UX, Windows 8 --- MS Office keeps the traditional menu system allowing the ribbon to be disabled.

        3. R2DWhatwasit

          Re: I think you underestimate it...

          Stopped reading. Kiddie-caps.

          Try grown-up typing.

      4. mmccul

        Re: I think you underestimate it...

        $100/year is considered highly competitive for decent automatic backup tools. O365 has more storage than most of the ones I've evaluated, better accessibility, better agent for doing the backups, etc. Oh, and you get access to the office suite as a part of that same cost.

        I pay for O365 for the Onedrive storage as a remote backup service. Is it the only copy of my files? No, it's the backup, automatically maintained, and now if a family member deletes a file they didn't mean to, they don't need me to come over and show them the arcane methods to restore that one file. I don't get complaints about their computer being too slow to discover that the backup agent is taking 100% CPU, every other week.

        Every remote backup service has similar terms, I just find Microsoft to have the best deal right now.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: I think you underestimate it...

          The execrable OneDrive isn't a backup mechanism by my definition. It's far too restrictive and has minimal configurability and administration features. I've never seen another "backup" product as utterly piss-poor as OneDrive.

          OneDrive can't be configured to filter by file type or directory subtree. Hell, it can't even be configured to back up multiple trees. You can't control the backup schedule or trigger an immediate backup. There's very little in the way of status, progress, or history information. OneDrive can't back up a tree that includes NTFS reparse points. OneDrive is a toy.

      5. Daniel Bower

        Just don’t save on OneDrive

        MD only has you by the balls if you save on OneDrive.

        You can still run all applications locally and save locally and this is what I do with auto back to OneDrive. No short and curlies to grab me by :).

      6. tango_uniform

        Re: I think you underestimate it...

        Anyone who thinks paying for an opt-in service is "blackmail" has been bending an elbow at the Progressive Pub too long. I assume that you also think that your ISP, electric utility and landlord (if you rent) are "blackmailers"?

    2. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: I think you underestimate it...

      Oof the effects Open Office has had on Microsoft is that it has helped diminish the importance of Small Business for MS. That is to say, MS development is now driven by Enterprise customers, and Small Business users have to just take what they are given by OO and MS.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

    Well, it's still alive, so I guess that is a positive. But as a comparison to MS Office, sorry. It's no wonder MS Office has the upper hand in the business world, the options for charts are ten times what LibreOffice has. As far as charts in particular and graphics in general are concerned, LibreOffice is at the Office 95 level. In Excel, you can adjust almost everything in a chart. In LibreOffice, you can change chart type and hide or show the legend and that's just about it.

    Given how management is so attached to their pretty graphics, Office is the winner hands down.

    At home, on the other hand, I use LibreOffice because it does everything I need to do and works well. I just don't need to make charts.

    1. Philip Storry

      Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

      I've never been that impressed by Excel's charting.

      But then, I was spoilt by Quattro Pro's chart engine - which makes Excel look pretty pathetic. Also, my personal experience - just anecdote, of course - is that tweaking graph options is the second easiest way to crash Excel. (The first being to load a very large file.)

      I'm not so sure that options are the answer to why Office is so popular. If so, Quattro Pro would be the default instead of Excel by now.

      Also reporting tools like Crystal Reports, SRSS and so forth would be dead right now. And there'd be little interest in tools like R, Grafana etc.

      Desktop office suites only need to be "good enough", in the wider view of things.

      The answer is much more likely to be a combination of things, including integration with Windows/BackOffice, billing, and so forth.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: I'm not so sure that options are the answer to why Office is so popular

        Of course not. Office is popular because Microsoft gave it away to schools to wean entire generations on its software. That is why businesses are using it today, because everyone is supposed to know how to use Word and Excel.

        But if you just look at the differences between the two products, Office is years ahead of LibreOffice in graphics and that's why LibreOffice is not gaining any traction in the business environment.

        Oh, and there's the fact that, for some reason, people think it's a great idea to put their sensitive data on someone else's server, and Microsoft is all over that in Office.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: I'm not so sure that options are the answer to why Office is so popular

          Well Office and on-premise solutions are now Office 365 and Azure, the same Microsoft you know and never got fired for choosing but outsourced to their servers. What's not to love? Apart from downtime, the lack of privacy, and the lack of local admins, but that doesn't matter. Who can compete with that? Not many.

        2. mmccul

          Re: I'm not so sure that options are the answer to why Office is so popular

          You missed another key problem with LibreOffice. Track changes. Maybe it's improved, I don't know. But I had to give up on using LibreOffice for any usage involving change tracking. The usage model was bi-directional, I created files and sent to them for them to mark up and send back; they created files that I got, marked up, and sent to them. The changes were not reliably marked, and comments were often not coming through. Those using only Word had no issue. Oddly, docx vs odt didn't seem to make a difference on change tracking. (Sometimes I'd accidentally send them odt, which generated a warning for those using Word, but that was about it.)

          I consider Word's change tracking incredibly primitive, but this is a case where it isn't good enough to work with your own product (and I wouldn't consider LibreOffice passing even that low bar on the inserted comments), you have to work with what others around you use.

          1. R2DWhatwasit

            Re: I'm not so sure that options are the answer to why Office is so popular

            Git!

            (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Git - not you!)

        3. juvenihil

          Re: I'm not so sure that options are the answer to why Office is so popular

          I was taught on OpenOffice, that's why I went immediatly on Libre. Then, when I needed to write as a job, I bought what actually works.

        4. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: I'm not so sure that options are the answer to why Office is so popular

          Office is popular because Microsoft gave it away to schools

          Not like Open Office? That schools would have had to pay for? Or perhaps you are think of 1990, when every school had a MSDOS computer lab that students could use? Obviously I'm missing something, because this doesn't seem to have any historical basis.

      2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

        Office is popular in business because so many business applications integrate into it.

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

        As someone who works with the details I'd say that ODF is by far the better file format but, particularly since Office 2016, MS Office is the better desktop application and the only one for mobile.

        Doing some stuff in charts in MS Office can be a bit tricky, but the results really can be significantly better than LibreOffice. And, Execl is now faster and more stable on large files. In fact, LibreOffice has become known for being unstable, even the versions that are supposed to be stable. I use OpenOffice for most of my private use, and I'm not keen on the SaaS model for MS Office, but credit where credit's due.

    2. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

      Actually you can do all sorts of things in LO charts if you have the time to spend on it. Like bar charts with variable width bars, mixing of different chart types and if you're handy with a font editor you can even do sparklines. Although of course in a commercial environment you'd choose MS every time.

      1. juvenihil

        Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

        >if you have time to spend on it.... it does sparklines!

        My time has a cost, and it is way higher than a single copy of Excel.

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge

          Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

          My time has a cost, and it is way higher than my lifelong Excel subscription.

          #TFTFY

    3. JoeCool

      O365 does not have the upper hand ...

      based on any technical merit or superior useability.

      It's dominance comes from Microsoft's strength as a Enterprise vendor. The fact that they can sell the whole integrated MS catalogue to corps based on a smorgasboard relationship is what makes it so hard for anyone else to get a foot hold. even GSuite's success is based on getting to Google's collaboration/sharing services, and familiarity with the free versions.

      1. nijam

        Re: O365 does not have the upper hand ...

        > The fact that they can sell the whole integrated MS catalogue to corps based on ...

        ... flummoxing the non-techies in Procurement.

      2. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

        Re: O365 does not have the upper hand ...

        "It's dominance comes from Microsoft's strength as a Enterprise vendor. The fact that they can sell the whole integrated MS catalogue to corps based on a smorgasboard relationship is what makes it so hard for anyone else to get a foot hold."

        Which is unfortunate, because having things too tightly integrated is a big thing that causes these businesses (and their poor IT staff!) hell later on. Interdepencies where there logically shouldn't be any, weird bugs and security problems from this, and big problems if you want to upgrade things but NOT in lockstep. Luckily, in fact, newer Microsoft products are NOT so tightly coupled, they install and operate more or less autonomously as they should.

        Honestly, the real reason they are "dominant" (in my opinion!) is simply momentum; they behaved very anticompetitively for decades, just barely avoided being broken up for antitrust reasons, and are now coasting on momentum from this. (I mean, it's easy to coast when, if you buy a PC, it's force-bundled with Windows whether you want it or not.)

    4. nijam

      Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

      > Given how management is so attached to their pretty graphics

      Which indicates they are the kind of people who are impressed by the Beano, I'd suggest.

    5. Palpy

      Re: "Has Excel succeeded?..." at charting?

      Excel is fine for simple charting. So is LO.

      Try trending 30,000 data points in Excel. It does not excel. But neither does LO.

      Use real software for tasks like trending and statistical analysis of large data sets. (Really large, that is.)

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: "Has Excel succeeded?..." at charting?

        The big problem with Excel to my mind is people using it as a database, because it isn’t one. Databases scale properly and the linkages between fields in a record is absolute which is not true in Excel (unless you make it so but how well does that scale?).

        People who let their Excel spreadsheets get too big instead of moving to a database system should be taken out, put against the wall and shot. But instead their products get put on pedestals and just get bigger and bigger and become TOO BIG TO FAIL and everyone gets the vapours about even thinking about exporting the data.

        I’ve seen some horrors but then few people sit down at the start of things and ask ‘how should the data be organised?’ or understand what a relational database is. I have and do and have designed and built the latter for myself and others.

        One system kept track of every mouse used or bred which had to be reported accurately under the Home Office Animal Experimentation Act. Every year we opened the search screen designed for the purpose, put in the new dates and pressed enter and those numbers could be reliably remitted to the HO without issue or legal sanction. And yes, it scaled, modestly. Doing it Excel would have given me the collywobbles and I would not have been confident of the numbers reported.

        I built one which generated barcodes for another lab I was in. It handled the samples for a population level pharmacogenetic trial. I’m a control datapoint on that trial, the needle went through the vein and my lower arm filled with blood. I could do muscle anatomy without removing the skin. It itched.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Has Excel succeeded?..." at charting?

          "People who let their Excel spreadsheets get too big instead of moving to a database system should be taken out, put against the wall and shot."

          Even with lots of simple, raw, flat-form (uncomplicated X vs Y) data where a database at this point is overkill? If people are using Excel as a flat-form database, it's because you're looking at using a hammer to crack an egg open: modern database tools are too much and perhaps too demanding.

        2. Joe Montana

          Re: "Has Excel succeeded?..." at charting?

          It stems from a typical office environment where only the msoffice tools are provided to users, and users only have training in these tools.

          Yes a proper database would be better, but the users aren't provided with one and don't know how to use one anyway.

          It's like those people who strap huge unsafe loads to the back of their motorbike because they don't have access to a truck. They have a bike, and they know how to ride a bike so that's what they use even tho it's a poor tool and ends up being dangerous.

        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: "Has Excel succeeded?..." at charting?

          It's a good point.

          Except where data collection starts small scale the complexity of a relational database is too steep a learning curve for most users.

          Something simpler that could become a relational DB if required would be the tool of dreams.

          In my younger days I used various simple DB programmes and they were all we needed. An awful lot of SOHO data collection starts as a handful of fields- typically Name, contact details (phone number, address fields), nature of query, a note, date of completion. And data searches no more sophisticated than how many had which type of query/ how many queries per month and so on.

          And Access and the like are way too complex for that.

          So people use a spreadsheet.

    6. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

      Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

      Behind Excel 95? This is not true. In quite some aspects LibreOffice is even behind Excel 4.0 from 1992.

      See https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=51670 and specifically this screenshot https://bug-attachments.documentfoundation.org/attachment.cgi?id=142713 which I made last year since I was so annoyed I checked how far away LO chart is. And yes, I had nothing better to do on that day.

      1. R2DWhatwasit

        Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

        >Behind Excel 95? This is not true. In quite some aspects LibreOffice

        >is even behind Excel 4.0 from 1992.

        Shucks! Even Excel from the last 10-ish years is behind Excel 95 for those who think the UI is important.

    7. guyr

      Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

      "In LibreOffice, you can change chart type and hide or show the legend and that's just about it."

      I've only used LO at home, where my needs are not that great. But I did add a chart to my retirement spreadsheet, and tweaked to get what I wanted. The chart capability actually does provide quite a bit of customization, though it might not be as easy to find and apply as you'd wish. As one example I remember off the top of my head, to tailor how individual lines in a data series appear, you can't just right click the line and modify properties. Instead, you need to open the data series editor and change properties there.

    8. small and stupid

      Re: "Has LibreOffice succeeded?"

      Charts are for bullshitters

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    Usability

    My biggest problem with LibreOffice is clutter in the menus and toolbars (esoteric / advanced stuff mixed in with the common), unforgiving actions where Do What I Mean was forgotten, visual glitches (e.g. resizing a splitter or the window makes it flicker / paint damage like crazy), and a million and one little quirks and nuisances that litter the user interface. Some of the tools in the suite suffer more than others but they all do to one degree or another. It's death by a thousand cuts.

    I think LibreOffice should focus on usability for a few releases, overhauling the experience so it is decluttered, task centric and forgiving. New features are always nice but Microsoft gets the usability right too and I suspect that is a primary reason that companies still prefer to pay for it than use a free alternative.

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Usability

      LibreOffice should focus on usability for a few releases ...

      Yes, it would really be nice if they did just that for a few release cycles instead of chasing after being like Office.

      I use it all the time (v. 5.2.7.2) under Linux Devuan and it fits my use well enough, but there are a number of glitches (eg: print settings) that have been carried over from long ago and (as far as I know) they have not been fixed yet.

      O.

    2. Philip Storry

      Re: Usability

      I find LibreOffice far more usable than Office.

      In particular the navigator is a big boon when editing long documents in Writer. Being able to name tables and images is a big boon over how Office handles that.

      Speaking more generally, the side panes are a far better use of space than the Ribbon on modern monitors.

      Also, one person's clutter is another person's invaluable feature. I use some of the recently added (in version 6.3?) typography features occasionally, and am very grateful for them. To many, those features may just be an extraneous button that leads to a confusing dialogue box.

      I guess it comes down to individual use cases and preferences.

      Frankly, I spend about as much time hunting around for infrequently used features on the Ribbon at work as I might spend hunting through the menus at home on LibreOffice.

      Which leads me to suspect that this is one of those hard problems that doesn't have a good solution available. You either have the features and a crap interface, or no features and an easy interface...

      (I haven't experienced the flicker you mention - although I don't doubt it happens.)

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Usability

        @Philip Storry

        "Speaking more generally, the side panes are a far better use of space than the Ribbon on modern monitors."

        One of the reasons I prefer libre over MS is to avoid that ribbon interface. Kudo's to MS for trying something but personally I preferred the MS office 2000 interface which libre seems to be very close to

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Usability

        Navigator demonstrates my point. It shows TWELVE sections including esoteric things like OLE objects. Why can't it show just the things my document actually contains? Do you not see the usability benefit of removing that noise from the UI? It's a trivial example of clutter that serves zero benefit. And Navigator could be redesigned to better serve what people mostly use it for - as an ersatz outline view because Writer has no such mode. I dare someone who hasn't used Navigator before to even figure out what half the buttons in the view even do. It's certainly no substitute for outline view that's for sure.

        Usability issues like this are replete through the tool and as I said, it's death by a thousand cuts.

        What I find odd is the negative reaction to usability. It's as if some people equate this with copying Microsoft's ribbon, or junking features. Usability does not mean that at all. It just means making features easier to find and fit for purpose (taskcentric, forgiving, intuitive etc.). Assuming you actually want open source software to succeed then this has to be taken on board. Or we'll be having this same conversation in a year from now, and a year after that when a new LibreOffice drops without confronting these issues.

        1. Philip Storry

          Re: Usability

          You suggest not showing items not in the document.

          Isn't that throwing out discoverability?

          I'd agree with greying out items not in the document. But just not showing them? How am I supposed to find out that I can navigate by, as you say, OLE objects, if they never show up until I have them?

          Remember, this pane isn't necessarily open all the time. So when it is, it needs to convey a lot of information quickly...

          I fundamentally disagree with your approach because you remove discoverability. It's as bad as, if not worse than, the "hide menus" approach that was discredited when we tried it in Office 97 and 2000.

          1. R2DWhatwasit

            Re: Usability

            >You suggest not showing items not in the document.

            >Isn't that throwing out discoverability?

            Upvote.

            Also a significant impact on productivity if you have always to check the availability / location of a control because it changes depending on the data in the document. Imagine the experience of driving a car which hides a pedal when it detects there is no reason to brake and reveals it when there is.

        2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. juvenihil

        Re: Usability

        >navigator

        >naming tables

        You can do both in Word since like 10 years. 10 years are a good time span to learn the damned Ribbon.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Usability

        I guess it comes down to individual use cases and preferences.

        My use case is scripting serial ports, with result display, non-volatile storage, and reports. If I was starting now, I'd probably use Open Office, but when I started, Linux was a project 'not for serious use', and it was decades before OO had useful hardware scripting capability or library import, or shell scripting had useful gui report generating capability.

        Right now we would shift some of our legacy scripts to LO if it didn't require rewriting the scripts. Not that it would be impossible, just that it would be a waste of time and effort.

    3. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: Usability

      My biggest problem with LibreOffice is clutter in the menus and toolbars

      Everything is customisable. If you don't like it, change it.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Usability

        The flipside to that argument is why doesn't it come out of the factory with good settings? You know, like any sane software. If you're such a power user you can turn on stuff which might be hidden by default.

        And the usability issues in LibreOffice are far more than the amount of context-free junk in the menus & toolbars even if those are an obvious example.

        1. Thoguht Silver badge

          Re: Usability

          why doesn't it come out of the factory with good settings

          They're good for me. Context sensitive stuff is a pain precisely because things change according to context. Instead of having to learn one set of menus and toolbars you are forced to learn a large number of them.

          1. Joe Montana

            Re: Usability

            You shouldnt be learning fixed menus anyway, you should be learning how to locate the options you need wherever they may be hidden. Software changes, there are multiple programs capable of doing a single task and there are multiple different versions of each one. If you get too used to the way a particular program/version does things you'll start having problems when its updated and things move.

          2. Mark Dirac

            Re: Usability

            It's completely irrelevant that "They're good for me", because we are discussing why LO has not gained the traction we might have expected.

        2. fobobob

          Re: Usability

          A colleague of mine and I have come to refer to this as the Linux philosophy... Have good depth and breadth of features, but terrible, terrible defaults.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Usability

            But who's to say what's the right set of defaults? One man's clutter is another man's organization. It's kind of a no-win situation.

            1. juvenihil

              Re: Usability

              From the market share, apparently MS does know. Or at least, most of the OSS does not.

        3. R2DWhatwasit

          Re: Usability

          >And the usability issues in LibreOffice are far more than the amount

          >of context-free junk in the menus & toolbars

          And far less than the muddle of menus, ribbon, drop-down lists for some ribbon items, non-trivial-to-discover keyboard shortcuts, etc., etc. usability issues in Word which feel like the product of some visionary who imagined that people would soon all be doing their 'real' word-processing on mobiles and tablets.

    4. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Usability

      The ribbon is a curse to humankind. Microsoft puts it everywhere when it should be nowhere.

      1. Thoguht Silver badge

        Re: Usability

        Yes, yes and yes. And not having it is one of LO's better features.

      2. fobobob

        Re: Usability

        For an example of a piece of computer software with a truly terrible ribbon, look to Articulate Storyline. Totally non-customizable, beyond being able to kind of set up some quick access shortcuts. The whole program is like a post-lobotomy PowerPoint; no VBA, no custom keyboard shortcuts, glitchy drag-drop...

    5. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Usability

      This in spades. I stick with OpenOffice because of the repeated fuck ups in the LO interface. The original StarOffice approach to documents is superior but you can suffer from the Photoshop problem of too many widgets, but the developers really do need to spend some time on real usability and not just switching to theme du jour.

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Usability

      "esoteric / advanced stuff mixed in with the common"

      What's esoteric, advanced or common will depend on your use case.

    7. R2DWhatwasit

      Re: Usability

      >My biggest problem with LibreOffice is clutter in the menus and toolbars... death by a thousand cuts.

      My thought when MS Office first introduced the 'ribbon'. Still my thought.

      >... but Microsoft gets the usability right too

      Not my thought when MS Office first introduced the 'ribbon'.

  5. Tinslave_the_Barelegged
    Thumb Up

    Choice

    A while back, when I had a hand in such things, we'd install LibreOffice on every machine, along with MS Office. This was mostly to aid support. Almost all "I can't open my document. The file is corrupt" problems could be solved by asking the user to try opening in LibreOffice. What surprised me was that, over time, a sizeable proportion of users started preferring LibreOffice. This became clear when the number of odt and ods extensions became significant in backups.

    Libreoffice was also the source of one of the few unsolicited thanks received. At a new startup I was advising, the (serial) entrepreneurs contacted me to say that they had had no problems at all with generating large, complex documents in LibreOffice, compared with earlier attempts to do the same in MS Office.

    I have no doubt that, if it wasn't for the fact that "no-one ever got fired for buying MS Office", LibreOfiice would have far more traction.

    1. Peter Mount
      Thumb Up

      Re: Choice

      I did the same thing back in the 90's when it was the original StarOffice (before Sun bought them & open sourced it as OpenOffice & hence before the fork to Libre).

      I had back then users saying their Excel files were corrupt so I'd load it into my copy of Star, resave, hand it back & it worked for them - it was a life saver

    2. Philip Storry

      Re: Choice

      I agree - Office has hit the IBM stage for decision makers...

      Anecdote time!

      Word has lost me more time and work than any other program I've ever used. But I trust LibreOffice Writer.

      I'm reformatting and editing a long document at the moment. 400 pages in, out of ~2000. (That's an approximation for how many pages will be there when it's finished - it's a document that originated as an OCR job, with all the errors and dodgy formatting that entails. At the moment, I have another 3000+ pages to get through.)

      I wouldn't say that saving or opening the document is fast. But it is reliable. And I'd not want to lose 400 pages of effort.

      I would never - and I mean NEVER - trust Word with this job. Once I get near 100 pages in Word, I start to get twitchy...

      Also, the Navigator pane is awesome for this kind of large document!

    3. Jedipadawan

      Re: Choice

      Yeah, I have rescued a number of Office documents that Office would not read by using Libreoffice under Linux.

      While a business that is already using Office is not going to change direction, I have nudged quite a few users and startups towards Linux and Libreoffice and received much thanks for it.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Choice

      File corruption used to be quite common with the BIFF file format but I've yet to see it with OOXML files. Excel will occasionally complain about files but it can "solve" the problem by ditching the parts it doesn't like. Haven't had a crash with Excel in years, had my most recent one with OpenOffice last week.

      1. juvenihil

        Re: Choice

        This. Fron some comments I'd think we are back in 2009. The truth is MS Office got really better since then, Libre got really worse.

      2. R2DWhatwasit

        Re: Choice

        >Excel will occasionally complain about files but it can "solve" the problem by ditching the parts it doesn't like

        Your idea of a solution defines the sort of audience to which your analysis makes sense.

  6. Al fazed

    Lost for words

    Ie; using Libre Office I have lost several documents which either simply did not Save anything when asked to do so.

    Agravation set in when I discovered Libre Office blocking my attempts to install Open Office on Debian 9.8.

    Other niggles include Libre Office hiding all of the hundreds of hyperlinks I have in my spreadsheets, which are visible in both Microsoft Office and Open Office applications.

    Unfortunately it isn't relaibly ready for business use, unless you like occasional shocks and loss of data.

    ALF

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Lost for words

      TBH i think you might have had a corrupt install or another issue with your computer. As I have been using Libreoffice everyday for work since 2012 and never experienced any of those issues you mentioned of not saving when requested to do so.

      I did have some stability issues of version 5.2 crashing in the Draw program. But these appear to be fixed now in the new releases. And even when it did crash the recovery on restart would always get my data back.

    2. Jedipadawan

      Re: Lost for words

      Sounds like you have a busted installation.

      I've been using Libreoffice for my business for three years now with not a glitch, and, personally, for must be about seven years now.

      One lovely feature LO has is the 'always create a backup.' Yes, I Office has it but it saves the .bak file in with your originals. I can specify another folder and another partition for my backups. That's saved me from my and staff's stupidity a few times.

      I do recall the days when Office would keel over when a file went over 32MB...

    3. nijam

      Re: Lost for words

      > I discovered Libre Office blocking my attempts to install Open Office

      Why would you even do that, since in pretty well every respect OpenOffice is, in effect, an outdated version of LibreOffice?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lost for words

        "Why would you even do that, since in pretty well every respect OpenOffice is, in effect, an outdated version of LibreOffice?"

        Latest OO release was 3 months ago. Since the projects don't share any code (?) post-fork, I expect both to have somewhat differing functionality, like Neanderthals vs Homo Sapiens. :-D

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Lost for words

          OpenOffice did benefit from some of IBM's work.

          There was grants for stuff that should benefit projects but the LO developers deliberately made incompatible because some of them are licence Nazis, who waste time chasing shadows.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Charlie Clark - Re: Lost for words

            Your post is largely passionate but misses the opportunity to make a point. Oracle and IBM wanted to keep some control over the code or else they could have hand it over to The Document Foundation instead of parking it at the Apache Foundation for a slow death. The Libre Office license Nazis would have none of it and in the long run they were right. It is as simple as that, sorry for your feelings being hurt.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lost for words

          Yeah, but the Neanderthal women were really hot!

          1. R2DWhatwasit

            Re: Lost for words

            But that was in 1,000,000 years BC.

    4. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Lost for words

      Agravation set in when I discovered Libre Office blocking my attempts to install Open Office on Debian 9.8.

      The two share names for their applications, which means overlapping binaries, which means they can't coexist. It might be possible to build them such that they don't and therefore can, but it would be such a niche use case there's no reason to go through the effort.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Lost for words

      "Agravation set in when I discovered Libre Office blocking my attempts to install Open Office on Debian 9.8."

      From uname: SMP Debian 4.9.189-3+deb9u2 (actually it's Devuan)

      LibreOffice Version: 6.2.8.2

      Go to OpenOffice, download, expand,

      cd DEBS

      dpkg -i *deb

      cd des*

      dpkg -i *deb

      Yup, OpenOffice installed - no problems at all

      Note the LO is installed from downloads, not from the Debian/Devuan repository.

    6. Milton Silver badge

      Re: Lost for words

      It sounds like you have had some extraordinary bad luck, because the thousands upon thousands of folks who are using LO for some very demanding work (often based on exceptionally large files) are not all wrong. LO has its quirks, but in my lengthy experience it's no less reliable than MS Office.

    7. R2DWhatwasit

      Re: Lost for words

      >Other niggles include Libre Office hiding all of the hundreds of

      >hyperlinks I have in my spreadsheets, which are visible in both

      >Microsoft Office and Open Office applications.

      >Unfortunately it isn't relaibly ready for business use, unless you

      >like occasional shocks and loss of data.

      Anecdote from 2-3 years ago...

      Some users started complaining that a web based application had started deleting records randomly and was not fit for its purpose, which was fundamental and essential to the organisation. Logs showed that administrators had interacted with the affected components shortly before deletions were identified. The administrators swore blind that they had not done anything to delete the record. The situation became quite political.

      It turned out that some administrators were copying and pasting lists from a web page into Excel for ad hoc reporting purposes. Occasionally someone would click on such a copied a cell in Excel. What was not obvious was that the cell contained a hidden link associated with a delete function for the record on the web page and clicking the cell deleted the application if they happened to be logged in to the application in a browser at the time.

      Conclusion: there are situations in which Excel's handling of hidden links is also not 'reliably ready for business use'.

      (A particularly stroppy senior user representative involved in the issue believed that he would make his views very clear to Microsoft and the problem would be fixed, forthwith, because he was more capable of getting action from the vendor than the IT department would be. Good luck to his belief that the world and software vendor would jump because he shouted at them).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Libreoffice, good enough and free.

  8. Jedipadawan

    Ah, but the next generation...

    There was no way Libreoffice was going to knock over whole countries hooked on Microsoft. Once a standard is established it's pretty much established for decades if not forever - see COBOL. Just the issue of in house macros means Microsoft office 'fer eva' in any business with more than twenty staff and business older than ten years old as Office WAS the only real office suite back then.

    But all big businesses were start ups once.

    I set up my tuition business here in SE Asia three years ago and I using Libreoffice. Zero Microsoft here! Now, I would not describe myself as an in depth user - I am not using macros, for instance. But do I LOT!!! The range of software I have to use is quite wide actually as you are always producing materials for students in one form or another including video editing (thank you Kdenlive!)

    And, I need wad loads of cheap, rather disposable laptops for students - especially during exam season rush when I can end up trying to run five classes at once with ten students!! (OK, that was a particularly bad day...) Linux, Libreoffice and open source have saved me a fortune! Now I have other people using Linux and Libreoffice in their start ups saving them a fortune and I have a student ***begging*** me to put Linux KDE on his old Apple Mac because even he knows MacOS is next to useless thans to Apples "death by a thousand cuts."

    Soooo... think; "The Next Generation" in terms of business and users.

    "Libre factor 5 Ensign!" [Look, I can't afford high powered hardware here!]

  9. izntmac

    LIbreOffice Turns 10

    LibreOffice is a great product and you can't beat the price. I find LibreOffice very usable with its menus and toolbars vs. Microsoft and the ribbon. LibreOffice has import filters that can open documents from old programs such as Appleworks and other really old ones. This is a nice feature.

    LibreOffice perhaps has too many updates with new versions every few months or so where the entire program must be reinstalled. They do have their stable (slightly older) and fresh (Latest and Greatest) version for download. Maybe just updating the current version would be a better idea such as downloading Version 6.3 and downloading updates for that version. LibreOffice has had a few unstable features or versions over the years but overall has worked fairly well. Love some features like saving documents as a picture.

    I don't think LibreOffice will ever completely take over for MS Office but it is good to have as an alternative. I also believe that a lot of LIbreOffice code contributors come from companies that sell support to businesses that use the program commercially. It may not have taken over the world after ten years but it gives a pretty good free alternative to those who have have 90% or less of the functions of office. LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and SoftMaker Office are good alternatives to MS Office and at a much better price. Also it is nice not having all your info in the cloud.

    1. prinz

      Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

      >> Also it is nice not having all your info in the cloud.

      But, isn't that the new trendy thing now? "Everything in the Cloud"?

      My observation is that non-technicals, Millennials and Gen Z folks flock to "the Cloud" like moths to a flame.

      The idea of "trapping" their files on a computer in an office somewhere - and not having them available "when and where they want them" is abhorrent to them.

      So, although there are those of us that prefer to keep things under our control on our devices, I fear that is a losing battle.

      A battle that also affects LibreOffice. Unless it has native "Cloud" capabilities - file storage, security and live collaboration, it will not survive the fight.

      1. nijam

        Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

        "Everything in the Cloud"?

        There is no cloud, it's just somebody else's computer.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

          That's like saying "There are no clouds, they're just ice crystals". Cloud is what the customer wants it to be (remember: the customer is always right, or they take their business--and money--elsewhere): in this case, turnkey always-available files. Deliver without requiring extra setup...or else.

          1. R2DWhatwasit

            Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

            Lovely fantasy.

            I dropped Google docs 10+ years ago when they removed a facility that I used heavily (and so did many others, based on the user forum 'Please don't' discussions).

            I watched Lotus Magellan arrive, perform miracles, and die, like C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

            A friend once asked me whether there was anything she could do to recover all her iTunes music after her husband had made a slip when trying to restore her music after replacing a broken iPhone and now iTunes was empty on all her devices.

            My days of trying the latest-greatest software trends are, thankfully, past. Experience has led me to use emacs, org mode and git on laptop, desktop and mobile for more and more purposes.

            (termux on Android does a good job with this setup).

      2. katrinab Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

        NextCloud + Collabora Office is what you need.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

        Everything? Would you want your testicles in the cloud?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

          Everything? Would you want your testicles in the cloud?

          Only if the cloud looks and sounds like Megurine Luka.

        2. R2DWhatwasit

          Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

          >Everything? Would you want your testicles in the cloud?

          I expect there are Applistas who believe their bitten god would take the Bigly Best possible care of their iBalls. One day access will be cut off and they will learn the truth.

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

        Unless it has native "Cloud" capabilities

        File > Open remote

        File > Save remote

        You rang, sir?

      5. R2DWhatwasit

        Re: LIbreOffice Turns 10

        > non-technicals, Millennials and Gen Z folks flock to "the Cloud" like moths to a flame.

        Upvote!

  10. David Austin

    PIM

    In the business world, outlook, both as an email and PIM tool has been Microsoft Office's killer app.

    LibreOffice doesn't have that, and recommend using Mozilla Thunderbird.

    https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Feature_Comparison:_Mozilla_Thunderbird_-_Microsoft_Outlook

    For a big chunk of business customers, Outlook IS office. Gmail has made inroads into breaking that chokehold, but I think Libre/Open Office could get a big boost with a full PIM Application.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: PIM

      > I think Libre/Open Office could get a big boost with a full PIM Application

      I second that. And Linux doesn't have a PIM as powerful and versatile as Outlook (forget about the mail feature, I'm talking about the PIM part). If you have to manage contacts and collaborative calendars in Linux, you're stuck with a couple quite primitive and mutually incompatible programs, and let's not even consider wanting to export your calendar and contacts to your phone - As a Linux user you'll have to jump through a lot of fairly narrow hoops, which might be fine for the computer wizards out there, but is definitely a problem for the standard business or scientist user who just wants to get work done.

      Actually the only ecosystem which does that fairly well besides Outlook is Google, but what if you don't really want to give Google all your information?

      LibreOffice getting a PIM module would make it a de facto standard, and one could hope the file format would be adopted by all the other programs/apps out there, creating a strong and valid alternative to Outlook and Google Calendar/Contacts.

      1. nijam

        Re: PIM

        > but what if you don't really want to give Google all your information?

        Rather them, than Microsoft, in my (no doubt minority) opinion.

        1. R2DWhatwasit

          Re: PIM

          >Rather them, than Microsoft, in my (no doubt minority) opinion.

          Gouging every possible detail about your life is the foundation of Google's income.

          It is not Microsoft's, though they are heading that way.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: PIM

        I think that Apple also owns a part of this, with a few people I know addicted to the simplicity model. But the interesting thing is that it has spawned some improved competitors (I switched to Busy Calendar when Apple dumbed the calendar down too much).

        There are two problems for anything that targets Linux primarily: the age old problem of which particular GUI toolkit they should use and who the feck is prepared to pay for it?

        i work on some open source software and use loads of free software but in the Linux sphere there are simply too many people who think paying for software is morally wrong. If only they could get out of their bubble chamber, they'd see people desperate to pay money for usability and reliability.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: PIM

      It took me a long time to leave Outlook behind and rely on Thunderbird with Lightning, allowing me to stop using MS Office. And I can only do that because my life is much simpler now. Outlook's Email conditional filtering is just so much more sophisticated - (and I still miss it sometimes). Whereas TB's filters are fairly basic, quirky, difficult to apply and frequently don't run when expected, leaving stuff in the inbox folder that should have moved to a specified folder.

    3. Tony W

      Re: PIM

      Oh yes, Outlook the "standard". That's the PIM that had a non-standard system for attachments, incompatible even with other MS products. And that caused me huge problems when I moved from Outlook Express to Outlook and imported all my old emails. Too late I discovered that Outlook had thrown away all the From: addresses keeping only the names - a bit like the office junior saving space when filing letters by cutting off all the letterheadings. And it was a MS program - not sure if it was Outlook or Outlook Express - that had a very long-standing bug whereby certain attached PDFs would become completely invisible on the receiving machine (although still extractable from the raw email by devious means) because the number of bytes was incorrect.

      MS Office isn't even compatible with itself because it has a habit of changing the way things display between releases. Word Art became crippled so any document that used it did not display properly after an update. (I admit, I used it when I was young and foolish.) More important, my carefully formatted spreadsheet charts also looked completely different depending on which version of Excel you used to open them. Even the colours changed. How hard is it to preserve RGB values?

      Despite this it's inevitable that if appearance is vital you are better off sticking with the majority. But if you are mainly interested in the content, or prepared to convert everthing to PDF before sending to clients, then LibreOffice is fine.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: PIM

        > That's the PIM that had a non-standard system for attachments

        Forget about email, Outlook isn't just about email: "PIM" means "Personal Information Manager" and includes the calendar and contact management parts - only. That's what we're talking about here.

        While most people don't really need these, for some it's the foundation of their job (salespersons), and many others have enough events, meetings and business trips to manage that they hugely profit from having a clear view of what's coming, who's who, and where the heck is he today.

        That is this part of Outlook that doesn't exist in Linux; Email clients are plentiful and while one could discuss their respective advantages and shortcomings all day, PIMs are simply non-existent. Evolution is what comes the closest, but gets quickly messy when you ask simple questions like "how can I synchronize my calendar/contacts with the others in our (underfunded) team" and "how can I synchronize my laptop and smartphone calendars". As a result I have kept an old license of Outlook 2003 on a VM, so I can do all these things without losing too much time. Once again, it doesn't do mail, only PIM stuff. (I would never use Outlook for mail anyway.)

        So yes, I would definitely pay money for a professional solution that allows me to synchronize my Linux laptop with the most prevalent Outlook versions out there, and with my phone's calendar and contacts, all this using a couple simple filters so I can separate private, professional or simply project-specific stuff as needed. All this with the usual features of a professional calendar program and, most of all, without the need to donate my data to Google & Co.

        Which means it should, on demand, be able to synchronize on its own on the LAN with other (strongly authenticated!) copies of itself, and using a simple rule set ("Synchronize everything with A, only synchronize contacts with B, synchronize only data tagged "Project XYZ" with C" and so on).

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: PIM

          Precisely. See previous post.When I was moving between up to 30 appointments and meetings a week, across up to 15 sites using two PCs and a phone to track my appointments and manage my messages Outlook was the only option.

          TB with Lightning is fine for me now.

    4. Adelio

      Re: PIM

      I have been using outlook for many years, at work and at home.

      Although we have "google" mail at work I refuse to use ANY web e-mail client I find the web interfaces rubbish and near to useless and since I can import the mail into Outlook I do.

      In fact I feel the same about MOST web interfaces. Give me a good thick client that actually does what I want and does not treat me like an idiot.

      I Know I am an old fuddy duddy (developer of > 30 years) and I know that web UI interfaces have got better but I am appalled at the lack of quality of most of them. And that fact the Web developers seem to need MANY different toolsets and languages to do sothing that I could do with just Visual Basic (thick client) code and a third part tool provider. It all seems to point to the fact that Web applications are still VERY imature and have a LONG way to go.

      And whoever thought that I was a good idea to load "code", not binaries from random URL's and allow that code to run anywhere WITHOUT knowing it the code even worked. O.M.G how insecure can you get.

      I like everyone else use and used third party tools. But these we always compiled and downloaded from the tool supplier. Even if we got regular updates for these types of tools changing to a newer version was always done infrequently with LOTS of testing, You cannot risk a customer getting a version that does not work!. and we have Hundreds of customers!

  11. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Succeeded - Yes

    For the goals of the project it has succeeded. It is a viable alternative to Orifice for many both in business, academia, and consumer. Being a viable alternative means LO users are not beholden to the antics of Slurp or whatever imbecilic shakedown scheme the marketing failures cook up this month. So the issue is why to organizations insist on being vulnerable to Slurp's next shakedown scheme.

    To me the biggest issues holding back larger scale adoption is the overuse of macros in Orifice (an idea whose time has long passed for security if nothing else) and inertia. Macros create security holes in programs for numerous reasons that are difficult to protect if you are using macro enabled files, this is true of macros in any program. Inertia is the major reason LO is not being adopt more. Most have never evaluated it (or any other option) properly to see if it fits their needs. So they have no idea if LO is viable. They assume it is not viable or that conversion would be too difficult. Most of the scenarios that people claim are killers are not those that regular users do. Typically with any application conversion it is not the regular users but the power users who have the most trouble as power users are using more of the obscure features of the application than regular users

  12. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Sadly

    People do seem to trust a product they pay for more than a free one.

    Despite several decades of the industry making it clear that users are there to be milked with a license to use software, people believe they've bought something when they pay for it.

  13. karlkarl Bronze badge

    "That said, Microsoft Office remains the business standard and today's battle is more between Office 365 and Google's G Suite, than between Microsoft Office and LibreOffice."

    This could be the turning point. When Microsoft nukes the standalone office suite and once the cloud fails; there will be too much catchup for any office software to compete with LibreOffice. Then I don't think the world will go proprietary office ever again.

    Potentially this could be very interesting.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      > once the cloud fails

      Optimist...

      The cloud can fail (it has already, repeatedly), but people will keep using it because "that's life", and "whatcha gonna do". It's easier and less frightening to endure blackouts and lost work than change your habits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "It's easier and less frightening to endure blackouts and lost work than change your habits."

        Even if that blackout makes you breach contract or cost you a big deal? For some, availability is make-or-break.

  14. MarkSitkowski

    Which is the best version?

    I'm thinking of switching to LibreOffice from MSOffice 2010, but I don't want to constantly update/reinstall everything.

    Which version has fewest bugs/most stable features?

    1. Goobertee

      Re: Which is the best version?

      I don't know the answer to your specific question. I've been using the version, 5.1.x.x, packaged with Linux Mint, a version or so (of Mint) back in time. It gets all the updates, apparently. A long while ago it told me it was the end of the line for the version of LO I was using, so I needed to update. That may be the only time I actually had to reinstall, rather than just upgrade in place, at least in my memory. Been working for me.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Which is the best version?

        Indeed, you get current updates (no reboot needed) for the version you have (5.x for instance). You only have to do some manual work when changing major version (from 5.x to 6.x for instance). That doesn't happen too often though, so it's no big deal.

        (Note that is for Linux, I don't know how this is handled in Windows.)

  15. Blackjack

    It does have way better luck with home users.

    A lot of people who couldn't or wanted to cough the dough for Microsoft Office did switch to LibreOffice, myself included.

    And now that Microsoft switched to a suscription model... well... I don't keep paying forever for games, why I would do so for Microsoft Office?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: It does have way better luck with home users.

      "I don't keep paying forever for games..."

      You don't, but millions still pay each month for WoW...

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: It does have way better luck with home users.

      You can buy a standalone version of Office 2019. If you update every three years when a new version comes out, then it will work out more expensive, but if you skip versions as I generally do, then it is cheaper. The only reason I upgraded from 2013 to 2019 was to get better high DPI monitor support. There are some new functions in Excel that are nice to have, and if you want to access Gmail accounts from next year, you will need Outlook 2019, other than that, there isn't really much more that Microsoft can do with Office.

      1. Blackjack

        Re: It does have way better luck with home users.

        Microsoft have said many times they are moving away from the "pay once" model.

        I use Thunderbird, if Google gives a fuss about it then I am sure some work around will be found.

  16. Frank Oz

    I love its ability to open and export to ...

    ... pretty well any esoteric format that has ever existed.

    I was surprised by the fact that it would open 20 and 30 year old word processing and spreadsheet files, created by long dead applications, using their own native file formats.

    For that capability alone I paid some moolah to the developers.

    And, as an Office package, it's not half bad.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I like and don't like about LibreOffice

    An erstwhile advanced user of Word and Excel, I switched from MS Office to LibreOffice around four years ago in anticipation of switching to Linux as my primary (and possibly sole) OS.

    What I like about LibreOffice:

    * It's free -- I can install it on any computer I want without payment or licensing hassles.

    * Although it has recently begun offering an optional Ribbon-like "Notebookbar," its default interface is a classic menu. I never cottoned to the Ribbon and suspect it was intended to serve as a vendor lock-in tool.

    * Almost all of the features I've tried work as advertised (although some of the more advanced ones come with a distinct learning curve).

    * It offers excellent forward and backward compatibility.

    * It recovers old and partially corrupted/damaged MS Office documents far better than MS Office itself.

    * Whenever something has gone wrong (which hasn't happened very often), the document-in-progress recovery feature has worked flawlessly every time.

    * Its native file formats are genuinely open, unlike MS Office's pseudo-open .*x formats.

    * When bugs are assigned to paid "volunteers" from outfits like Red Hat, they tend to get fixed competently and in a reasonable amount of time.

    What I don't like about LibreOffice:

    * It takes a fair amount of sophistication, attentiveness, and work on the user's part to file an actionable bug report. Bug screeners tend not to meet less technically literate bug filers halfway.

    * To increase the odds of a bug being confirmed and worked on, the user must sometimes install multiple parallel (~portable) versions of LibreOffice to determine whether the bug is a regression. This can take a significant amount of time as well as a significant amount of drive space.

    * It takes far too long for a bug to be confirmed and assigned, even after multiple users have reported it over multiple releases. The reluctance of moderators to confirm can sometimes appear like a deliberate temporizing strategy to reduce the official number of outstanding bugs.

    * It can take far too long -- years -- for some confirmed bugs to get fixed, even if they are rated "important" by affected users.

    * Writer doesn't have anything comparable to Word's envelope wizard, and getting it to support postal bar codes is a technical nightmare for non-expert users.

    * Writer doesn't have Word's collapsible/cuttable/movable outline feature, although the sidebar Navigator does help with document navigation.

    * Doing advanced search and replace operations that aren't covered by Writer's AltSearch extension (which should probably have been integrated into Writer itself many releases ago) requires knowing regular expressions.

    * Useful third-party extensions are not always updated to remain compatible with current LibreOffice releases.

    * LibreOffice's macro recorder is still experimental, buggy, and unreliable. Moreover, last I checked, macro documentation was spread over multiple sources (including the OpenOffice site). This makes creating macros in LibreOffice a serious challenge for ordinary (non-coder) users.

    * In Windows and Mac, it's necessary to download the entire updated suite installer in order to update a subset of installed LibreOffice apps ... and it's a really big download. That may not be an issue for users with fast, unmetered, uncapped Internet and plenty of drive space -- it's not currently an issue for me -- but it can be for users who don't meet that profile.

    Overall, I'm happy with LibreOffice and wouldn't want to go back. I used OpenOffice for a year ca. 2007/2008, and I can say without reservation that it was not in the same class as MS Office was back then. Today, LibreOffice may be less polished and buggier than MS Office in places, but it's a very serviceable substitute for many, many users.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What I like and don't like about LibreOffice

      First of all, tell us how was your experience when you as an end-user had to file an actionable bug report with Microsoft for any of their products. Was it better or worse ?

      Second, are you trying to tell us the suite installer is a big download ? The full installer for portable version 6.3.3 is about 203MB. I recently downloaded the Windows driver for an entry level video card and it was 567MB so I will let you judge which one is really big.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What I like and don't like about LibreOffice

        I did my bug reporting on Microsoft Office by phone. (I don't even know whether that's an option anymore.) It was fast and easy, but it didn't always get results. One bug I reported went on from version to version for nearly ten years. For another, I eventually got a workaround that was a lifesaver. Anyway, I'm not saying that The Document Foundation is less responsive than Microsoft, just that filing an actionable bug report can take a fair amount of skill and effort and that waiting on fixes can require a fair amount of patience.

        I see that the full suite installer for Windows is only around 310MB, but even something that "small" can take a while to download on a pokey Internet connection, and the LibreOffice servers weren't always as fast as they are now. I can personally recall some p-r-e-t-t-y slow downloads ... sometimes followed by file hashes not matching. A somewhat bigger pain is how long the suite can take to install on older computers. I maintain 32-bit LibreOffice "Fresh" on my dad's backup laptop -- a ~ten-year-old Dell Latitude E6500 running Windows 7 Pro x64 -- and it takes me a good 15 minutes to update the suite and the offline help. (To be fair, performance on that particular computer took a noticeable hit from Meltdown mitigations.)

        One thing I forgot to mention is that proper character spacing in LibreOffice depends on having OpenGL x.x or higher. (Sorry; I no longer remember the specific version number.) If your hardware is too old to support that minimum version of OpenGL, your output is going to look pretty bad, even to an untrained eye. To someone with a background in typography, it's almost painful. This problem will go away as older computers die and are replaced with new ones, but if you're stuck using an old computer and need reasonably professional-looking character spacing and kerning, Microsoft Office would be a better choice.

        Anyway, I'm not dumping on LibreOffice. I like it. I'm just pointing out some of the annoyances, and it's not like Microsoft Office doesn't have annoyances of its own. (When the spell checker in LibreOffice crashes because you've jumped in and out of it too many times to do direct edits, you have to restart the spell checker. When the spell checker in Word 2010 crashes for the same reason, the entire document freezes and you lose your unsaved work. And that's, like, really bad, m'kay?)

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: What I like and don't like about LibreOffice

          "I can personally recall some p-r-e-t-t-y slow downloads ... sometimes followed by file hashes not matching."

          That's why they also offer torrents, which also offers the advantage of its built-in hash checking.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What I like and don't like about LibreOffice

            And I'm thinking back to the time my ISP (a national oligopolist with a local broadband monopoly) injected "no one is here; please hang up" responses into BitTorrent transfers -- the egregious overreach that prompted the Tom Wheeler FCC to mandate Net Neutrality, followed by the Ajit Pai FCC's repealing Net Neutrality (because "freedom" and "the power of the market" or something). During that time, my BitTorrent downloads of Linux distros routinely took 24 hours to complete, on a broadband connection. I'm guessing a BitTorrent download of LibreOffice would have taken just shy of five hours.

            In the aftermath of the FCC's repeal, my state has adopted its own comprehensive Net Neutrality law, but most of the US (all but four states?) is not so lucky. I don't know how well ISPs in unregulated states are behaving themselves, but the US broadband industry just lobbied itself out of a new federal bill ending surprise fees in cable-TV bills, so I wouldn't necessarily trust them to keep their hands off BitTorrent out of "good corporate citizenship" or "public relations," any more than my own ISP did before the threat and then the reality of Net Neutrality regulation forced them to.

            Look, it's not a huge deal, and I'm reluctant to pile additional packaging work on LibreOffice's developers when they have much bigger fish to fry. I'm just saying that at least some Windows and Mac users would probably appreciate smaller individual-application updaters for the subset of LibreOffice applications they happen to use. Again, I use LibreOffice, and I like it. I just want it to get better, and that's the only reason I've been pointing out its shortcomings here.

  18. xanadu42

    LibreOffice is "good enough" for an educated "Home User"

    As a "computer support & maintenance" small business I find that the majority of my clients use MS Office because they have not even heard that alternatives exist - and where they have heard about alternatives are of the opinion that "Free" equals "Poor Quality"...

    Over the 15+ years I have been running my business I have converted around 200-300 "home users" from MS Office to OpenOffice and then LibreOffice. Most of these conversions occurring when the client upgrades their computer and are looking at buying a new copy of MS Office...

    I ask the client how they use MS Office and if they email their Word/Excel files to others - the biggest "selling point" is that they can save a few dollars and try LibreOffice for zero cost - if it doesn't work for them they can then buy MS Office.

    I do the install and where the client emails others their Word/Excel documents set the default file-save options to the "Office 97-2003" formats. I also provide a quick course on the differences between MS Office and LibreOffice...

    Less than 10% of these clients have changed back to MS Office - which is a good indicator to me that, for the "home user", LibreOffice is more than good enough...

    More interesting: a few of these "converts" have convinced their employer (granted all small/micro businesses) to make the change!!!

    So for me: Yes LibreOffice has made a difference...

  19. Binraider666

    Saving the bacon

    LibreOffice has saved us literally hundreds of hours in rework where corrupted excel files were otherwise unrecoverable. It happens to be a rather competent office suite too, and doesn't fall over at the slightest hint of network disruption, unlike a certain other suite which crashes every 15 mins as a matter of routine. Yes our corp mandated IT sucks. And yes the more barriers are put in the way to doing work the more we will work around them.

  20. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Bronze badge

    My most loved funktion of LO Calc is...

    you can set it to use English function names. Those weird German or Spanish translations of functions is irritating beyond believe. In German LO is it simply Extras-Optionen-Libreoffice Calc-Formel-"Englische Funktionsnamen verwenden". And then those functions suddenly have a meaning, and google search offers better results and examples.

    The same is possible in Excel, but either you install the whole program in English right from the start or you have to mess around with Language packs - just to get the English function names!

  21. Andrew Williams

    This will be year of TeX

    Make it so...

    1. Spamfast Bronze badge
      Coat

      Re: This will be year of TeX

      What's wrong with nroff?

      1. Ken Shabby Bronze badge
        Angel

        Re: This will be year of TeX

        It RUNOFF

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Libre Office still has a future

    If you're one of the countries currently (or in the future) place on the naughty-list of the US government, LO worth being considered. And even if you're not on the list, let's say that national security, military and foreign affairs might benefit slightly from having an office suit un-wired from US intelligence offices. You know, just in case. I'm not saying this will offer 100% effective protection but using MS services when you're a country like India, Russia and others is insane.

  23. doug_bostrom

    I never have to use Office. Success.

  24. Dave Bell

    Different use cases.

    I know of one use-case which still needs the MS Word part of MS Office. Book publishers strongly prefer it for the to-and-fro data exchange of the editing process because of the excellent change tracking. I don't know just what survived from around twenty years ago that could be an alternative, but MS seems to have an effective monopoly.

    There are certainly better programs for writing the book in the first place, but that is a different sort of problem. I have also seem MS Word produce some pretty horrible output files, it turned out some bloated HTML, and that suggests to me a potential weakness of any do-everything program. They can work, but they don't have to work well.

    1. elgarak1

      Re: Different use cases.

      I do not think book publishers use it because of the "excellent change tracking". They use it because they slid into it being "the standard" (like the rest of industries), alternatives kept vanishing (and, for a while, were non-existent), it is cost prohibitive to switch "the standard", and, most importantly, they do not know if their finely-tuned production process will accept an alternative (or for how much, and how long, a switch will disrupt said process.)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black squares

    Microsoft Word has had a bug for decades where paragraph numbers suddenly get replaced by black squares. Libreoffice works to recover the file.

    Anyone who uses Word for publishing is crazy, display the same file on different versions of Word or even different computer and the output formatting will be significantly different. Inadequate format control is why Wordperfect hung on in the legal niche

    1. Adair

      Re: Black squares

      Although why anyone in their right mind would choose Word for output formatting for professional commercial publication is anyone's guess (or LO for that matter).

      Where content is only words plain text is more than adequate and keeps things mercifully simple and focussed (saves writers faffing around with formatting as a form of procrastination).

      Once graphics are involved there are other professional packages far more suited to producing professional output than Word/LO - which are really just glorified letter compositors.

  26. holmegm Bronze badge

    "Succeeded"? It has succeeded at being an excellent free and open source office suite.

    I assume the market share thing has to do with it being more lucrative to sell things that cost money. Hence people try much harder to sell MS Office.

  27. nautica
    FAIL

    ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

    "Succeeded" at what?

    Eleven years, all that verbiage, all that money, and they STILL have not been able to come up with a program which is compatible with Microsoft, and at which two or three good developers would have been successful.

    If you think they've succeeded, then you need to send all your really important documents (résumés; especially résumés) to all your really important clients and business associates; and make absolutely certain that they've been generated by absolutely the latest version of LibreOffice, so you'll have no excuses. You also need to have your head examined.

    Perhaps all those high-salaried Document Foundation "managers" need to be replaced by people who know how to write software.

    It's quite obvious that the Document Foundation's money is NOT, nor has it ever been going into the writing of a competitor to Office.

    Wait...ALL these years...ABSOLUTELY NO RESULTS. As the old saying goes, something really stinks on ice.

    Perhaps upper-management ties to Microsoft...

    1. Adair

      Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

      On the other hand we could all just recognise that when it comes to the business of creating and managing documents, especially long ones, Word is basically crap. So, also, although in slightly different ways, is LO.

      Given the above reality, and the relatively negligible differences between the two suites (although LO is significantly 'better' with its inclusion of the surprisingly useful 'Draw'), one would have to say that LO is easily the better choice - simply because in the light of what it offers 'free' is very hard to beat.

      The fact that Word continues to be the dominant package by a significant margin illustrates the time honoured truth that 'quality' is no guarantee of success. Word 'succeeds' not on the basis of its 'quality' - which is barely 'good enough' - but on the fact that MS has done a sterling job of grabbing 'market share' by fair means and foul. Now we all get to enjoy the fruits of that dominance - whether we like it or not.

      It is therefore much to be applauded that LO (and other alternatives to Word) continue to exist at all, and in many cases to offer highly usable packages within the sad limits of a wretched 'wordprocessor'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

        @ Adair

        FTR what alternatives to the wretched 'wordprocessor' are their for the masses that are significantly better?

        1. Adair

          Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

          That is indeed a good question, and unfortunately there is no panacea out there that I know of, except that a vast quantity of documents could stand to be written in plain text and then imported into the relevant corporate template, and many outfits operate some equivalent sort of scheme.

          As for graphics, one can only weep! Proper training across a range of tools would be good, but then I also want the Moon on a stick.

          As for home users, well who knows what people get up to behind closed doors, although the resulting mutations do regularly break free and get to be seen in public.

          The reality is that Office/LO/etc. attempt to be all things to all people, and of course end up being at best barely adequate and at worst horribly unhelpful. Not to say there aren't flashes of brilliance - people have tried really hard, but your average user is really up against it when trying to produce effective, consistent and timely documents in any of the suite tools.

          It pays to keep a sense of humour; even so I stand by my assertion that 'office' tools, starting with Word and Writer, are basically crap - they try to do too much, and either infantilise the user or leave them swimming in a swamp of options and expectations. Such is life.

        2. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

          A bunch of Python scripts that read directly from an SQL database, and spit out well-formed PostScript documents, based on regex substitutions into previously-designed templates; that then can either be sent directly to a laser printer and posted in an envelope, or run through GhostScript to turn into PDF and attached to an e-mail which gets automatically sent.

          You can create LibreOffice XML documents from scripting languages, although there's really no need if you don't need to edit them. Mind, there's one tie-wearer who still thinks I spend the whole of every Monday morning manually compiling him a spreadsheet of the previous week's sales figures.....

        3. nautica
          Boffin

          Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

          A very elegant (read that as 'small'--as in 25 MB! ; 'very powerful for its size'; 'highly capable'; 'gets very good reviews') alternative to the wretched wordprocessor under discussion here is named "AbiWord", and is NOT available for Windows. When it comes to compatibility with Word, it is PRECISELY as compatible with Word as is LibreOffice: it is NOT, just as LibreOffice Writer, at ten (or more) times the size, is NOT.

          AbiWord 3.0.4

          https://www.abisource.com/

          *************************

          AbiWord v3.0.4 Release notes

          (27 November 2019)

          https://www.abisource.com/release-notes/3.0.4.phtml

          ********************************************

          AbiWord v3.0.3 Release notes

          (24 November, 2019)

          https://www.abisource.com/release-notes/3.0.3.phtml

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

            Whilst your worlds appear to revolve around you, both of you appear to have missed the stated requirement: "alternatives ... for the masses".

    2. stuartnz

      Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

      "If you think they've succeeded, then you need to send all your really important documents (résumés; especially résumés) to all your really important clients and business associates; and make absolutely certain that they've been generated by absolutely the latest version of LibreOffice"

      The last time I did this, six months ago, I made a short list of 4, and missed the job only because I was outside the preferred location. Since that was the best "near-miss" I've had, I have no complaints about my LO-generated resumé

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

        All the suites give options for reading and writing numerous formats.

        And in the real world ( i.e. not the techie one) no one cares, or indeed notices, what the saved format is, as long as the bloody thing opens.

        In fact an older format that is universally supported may well be a safer bet than something newer, because it's unlikely that it won't be readable by the recipient. And if it's a resume it shouldn't be requiring some highly sophisticated formatting, anyway.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

      As Microsoft have failed to make new versions of Office truly backward compatible and the Mac version is nowhere near compatible, maybe the problem is that even MS don't fully understand how.

      Office is not a standalone application and actually makes use of a lot of internal Windows functions, depending too much on display and printer drivers.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

        The last version of MS Office before Windows 95 was released could be persuaded to install on W95, but all file requesters used 8.3 filenames and looked exactly like Windows 3 requesters -- they were clearly being generated by Office, not Windows. You couldn't even type in a long filename by hand; it was checking them itself, as opposed to using the OS function to validate a filename. So at least for awhile, Office was reimplementing core OS functionality instead of using official Windows APIs.

    4. holmegm Bronze badge

      Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

      You send resumes and important documents out in Word format? Why? Why not PDF?

      But OK, let's say that a client or partner insists upon it for some asinine reason. You do realize that Word documents get corrupted all the time, right? That Word documents are often incompatible and differ in display and behavior between different versions of Word, right? That until competitors like LibreOffice basically forced them to change, that a Word file was basically a big ol binary memory dump, right?

      1. nautica
        Go

        Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

        ...because the résumés received by the HR-Department get fed into automated readers which do NOT read PDF documents.

        Industry does what's easy; having a reader to accommodate the MS-Office-generated-résumés, which is what 99++ percent will be--as well as having a PDF reader to handle the rest--does NOT qualify as "easy".

        'NOTHING' qualifies as "easy" if manual intervention (sorting, in this case) is ever required.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: ELEVEN YEARS to "succeede"?

          This is presumably applicable to large corps' HR depts. and possible techie applicants too.

          As opposed to the vast number of smaller organisations actually reading CVs from a smaller pool of applicants for specific jobs.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have office at work

    but I still don' t like the ribbon, so most of the time I try to use libreoffice.

    Writer behaves better with old documents than Word does.

  29. nautica
    Holmes

    You are absolutely correct; the only question is, "What's taken so long?"

    "LibreOffice 6.4 Nearly Done..."

  30. Douglas Wardle

    Back in my day, we used the new Ronald and Nancy Reagan Typewriter

    It had no colon, memory, or period.

    What I have found, however, is that the use of office applications is becoming less utilized each year. Back in the stone age we used word processing because it replaced things called "memos" and "letters", which were the standard fare of office work. Email kicked the memo off the cliff, and I haven't crafted many documents recently. I think of the components of MS Office Pro Plus, and I probably use Excel the most. Seems that the dialogue over the better office suite is becoming dated.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But can it do box (and whisker) plots yet?

    Like Excel 2016.

    Or are they still 10 years away?!?

    1. Binraider666

      Re: But can it do box (and whisker) plots yet?

      Although I can't stand it myself; MiniTab had that feature an awful long time ago compared to Office...!

  32. Alan Hope

    Can Writer handle typefaces yet?

    Ach, I'm always tempted to have a go. But LibreOffice Writer is still unable to render and kern fonts to anywhere near the quality of MS Word and I hate having my eyes jarred by every document I load or create. So I uninstall yet again and wait for the next version. Anybody know if font rendering and kerning has been fixed in v 6.4?

    1. Peter in Seattle

      Re: Can Writer handle typefaces yet?

      This seems to be a moderately complicated question, and good luck finding a succinct, comprehensive, and accurate answer anywhere. So far as I can make out -- and I can't vouch for this personally, because my computers are too old and I haven't printed out any hard copies from LibreOffice on my Linux machine -- to get proper font rendering and kerning in LibreOffice, you have to:

      (1) Use a computer whose hardware supports OpenGL 3.3 or higher, at least for proper onscreen rendering.

      (2) Use OpenType fonts that have advanced typographical layout features. These fonts' advanced features are automatically supported by LibreOffice's "new" HarfBuzz text-rendering engine (introduced in LibreOffice 5.3). Postscript Type 1 fonts, TrueType fonts, and OpenType fonts lacking advanced layout features are not supported. (Formerly -- and still, I suppose -- you could get acceptable results using SIL Graphite-technology fonts, of which there are only a handful, in conjunction with the Typography Toolbar extension. Graphite is not yet an orphaned technology, but it has indisputably lost out to OpenType in "the market.")

      (3) Run LibreOffice in Linux, or (maybe) in a Linux virtual machine. This is over my head technically, but apparently LibreOffice's Visual Class Library expresses glyph characteristics in integers rather than using floating-point arithmetic, and this can defeat HarfBuzz's ability to do finely tuned font positioning. According to real-world reports, the problem is limited to (or at least more glaringly obvious in) Windows and Mac. Why that would be, I don't know. Windows and Mac users say they have a serious problem; Linux users say they don't.

      NOTE: Again, LibreOffice switched to HarfBuzz in LibreOffice 5.3. Before HarfBuzz, it apparently used a font-rendering engine based on macOS's -- an engine that side-stepped the "coarsening effect" of LibreOffice's Visual Class Library. Windows and Mac users can reportedly get better font rendering by using a pre-5.3 LibreOffice release. (By doing this, they obviously forgo subsequent bug fixes and features, and they forgo support for advanced typographic features unless they limit themselves to SIL Graphite fonts and use the Typography Toolbar. But one nice thing about LibreOffice is that user profiles have been back- and forward-compatible since LibreOffice 4.x -- releases 4.x, 5.x, and 6.x all use the LibreOffice 4 profile folder. This greatly reduces the hassle of doing a post-3.x, pre-5.3 downgrade or "parallel" install, and of doing a subsequent re-upgrade.)

      Long story short, Linux users whose computers aren't too old and who stick to modern, well-designed, fully realized OpenType fonts should -- supposedly -- automatically get near-typesetting-caliber font rendering and positioning, both onscreen and in printouts. For now, at least, everyone else has to settle for less, and the results can be very conspicuously amateurish and ugly. If The Document Foundation is committed to maintaining LibreOffice as a bona fide cross-platform app, they should make fixing this problem a much higher priority. It's one of the first and most annoying shortcomings Windows users notice about the program, and for users who need professional-looking output, it can be a showstopper. (Seriously: in some circumstances it can look like you've been typing on a typewriter with bent keys. That may have been good enough for small businesses in the 1920s; in the 2020s, it is not.)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Via employer I can get full MS Office suite for $10 for home use

    No catches.

    No incentive to look outside the MS bubble.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Via employer I can get full MS Office suite for $10 for home use

      Meanwhile, everyone else who doesn't inhabit the world that revolves around you, can't. But thanks for your contribution, hopefully someone found it useful.

      Regardless, I think that MS has killed that opportunity now in favour of a rental at around £60 / year (instead of £99 / year).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Via employer I can get full MS Office suite for $10 for home use

        Whoooooooosh!

        Missed the point by a mile.

      2. kmedcalf

        Re: Via employer I can get full MS Office suite for $10 for home use

        No, if you cannot get the HUP then you have to pay full price. The full price for the Office 2016 and later Pro Plus suites is about $30.00

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Via employer I can get full MS Office suite for $10 for home use

          It was, but Office 365 (effectively Office 2019) is now rental only at around £60 / year for the HUP equivalent.

          From https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/home-use-program/resources:

          "The Home Use Program offers a 30% discount on Office 365 Home or Personal annual subscription for use at home. The savings rate is locked in for one’s annual subscription until the subscriber cancels it."

  34. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    LIbreOffice Turns 10 and still does not have an email client

    I like LibreOffice and use it a lot (and donate to them) but everyone is still using Office because of OutLook. If LibreOffice had an email client that worked as well as Outlook 2010 then I'd switch all my users away from Office. But without a decent email client that allows everyone to use a common address book and shared emails we're stuck with Office.

  35. Glen Turner 666

    LibreOffice made corporate use of Linux possible

    Thanks mostly to LibreOffice, but also to the Evolution email and calendar client, it is possible to use Linux as a client operating system within a large organisation. I think that's a win the article could have mentioned.

    The other notable achievement of LibreOffice is it's dedication to reading a wide variety of superseded file formats.

    But I'll agree with the article that the main effect has been to keep Microsoft honest with Office pricing and features (such as an easy PDF export).

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another vote for Outlook

    Outlook is the kingpin of the MS Office suite. It will be the first installed component, most used, and most familiar to most users.

    If you really wanted to provide an MS Office alternative you start with Outlook.

    The fact the LibreOffice not only doesn't bother, but has no intentions of bothering is why we will never see any MegaCorp using it.

    Something I said 15 years ago when "Desktop Linux" was touted as "a thing".

    1. Andronnicus Block

      Re: Another vote for Outlook

      ... and therein lies the problem. It would (I assume) take an awful lot of effort to make a PIM that matches everything Outlook currently does and to what gain?

      - there will be those who will never move away from Outlook (and Office) for any number of reasons including inertia, lack of desire to learn something new and for quite a few, fanatical devotion to Microsoft.

      - since Microsoft can so easily change the way Outlook works any and every time they choose, we will finish up with a product that is almost, but never sufficiently compatible with it, to convince people to make the change.

      I think that the PIM issue is one that open source software can never take on and succeed with.

      Oh, and for me Desktop Linux succeeded nearly 10 years ago and I will never go back to MS Windows. I had to use Win 10 a few months ago (to help a friend) and was driven to distraction by it. YMMV.

  37. fraunthall

    I used to like LibreOffice, but it has severe problems

    LibreOffice is lousy at capturing images from websites. This has not changed in years. Many tutorials contain images - screen captures which illustrate items which make tutorials much more helpful. OpenOffice on the other hand, is much better in that regard. If it doesn't actually capture such images, it allows a user to copy the image from the website and insert it into the OO document. The writers of these tutorials cannot wish to prevent such captures, as I am sure they realize people copy the tutorial for future offline reference, which makes the tutorial really valuable. Consequently LO is really annoying and I use it as little as possible.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Word 2010 can't read "Pocket Word" documents created in Windows Mobile 6.1

    This is a cautionary tale about using file formats that aren't 100% open, and a follow-up to everyone who pointed out that LibreOffice recovers "obsolete" and damaged MS Office files a lot better than MS Office itself does.

    I've been reviewing, culling, and reorganizing nearly two decades of data, and I came across a few "Pocket Word" *.PWI files that I had created in an old Windows Mobile 6.1 smartphone. The phone died unexpectedly, and I salvaged the files from its microSD card. (They contained useful info that would be fair amount of work to reconstitute from scratch.) LibreOffice couldn't open them, which wasn't necessarily a huge surprise, given that PWI isn't exactly a major player in the world of file formats. What was surprising was that Word 2010, a roughly contemporaneous product to Windows Mobile 6.1, was also unable to open them. And guess what? The final version of Microsoft Works (9.0), which is touted as being able to open PWI files, couldn't open them either.

    That's not just vendor lock-in -- that's vendor f*ck-you. And it's one of the big reasons I try to steer clear of proprietary applications and proprietary file formats. You're just asking for trouble down the road if you don't.

    (In the end, I just opened the PWI files in Notepad++, pruned away the extraneous, inoperative formatting code from the actual text, and saved them as as plain text files. It was a little tedious and required care in spots, but it worked.)

  39. nautica
    Boffin

    LibreOffice: a review.

    "LibreOffice 6.2 – de oppresso liber officium"

    February 28, 2019

    OCS-Mag

    Open Content & Software Magazine

    http://www.ocsmag.com/2019/02/28/libreoffice-6-2-de-oppresso-liber-officium/

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3rd party vendor lock in

    Many of my business customers are locked into MS Office due to 3rd party apps relying on it for exporting data. Mostly accounting software.

    When I have asked why not develop LibreOffice export alternative, they say not enough demand. Kind of chicken and egg really, as I'm sure may SMB would appreciate a cheaper alternative to MS Office.

    Also agree with the comments that many have MS Office for the Outlook email & calendar component, where Libre fails too.

  41. Stuart Halliday

    Most people have no idea there is an alternative to MSOffice.

    What we want is to open an MSOffice document and see it look exactly the same in LibreOffice.

    A lot of Users know nothing about 'filetypes' and really don't care.

    LibreOffice needs to advertise.

  42. TheVogon Silver badge

    Its like using Microsoft Office from over a decade ago. You get what you pay for.

  43. osxtra

    What's Not To Liike

    I use Libre most every day, mostly calc. Then again, the main machine is a Mac.

    It's also on our main Windoze RDS server at work, and chugs along happily with many users.

    With regards to scripting, it's nice they've kept Basic, though they also support Python, Javascript, and even Beanshell. The scripting IDE could use a little polish though. At least bookmarks would be a great start.

    All in all, it's a great office suite, and has matured nicely since being forked from Sun. (The same can be said for Maria, and OpenJDK is starting to grow up, too. Seems King Ellison just can't keep good code around.)

    One thing which I believe would encourage migration from M$ would be for Intuit to stop their discriminatory practice of only allowing QB reports exporting to Excel.

    So far as email goes, have been on Thunderbird since the early days, around 15 years now, so am used to it. It can be quirky, but is a great platform, especially now as it supports maildir storage (no more bloated mbox files, easier backups, etc.). IMHO, if Mozilla ever lets go of the project, it would be a good fit for Libre.

  44. osxtra

    What's Not To Like

    I use Libre most every day, mostly calc. Then again, the main machine is a Mac.

    It's also on our main Windoze RDS server, and chugs along happily with many users.

    With regards to scripting, it's nice they've kept Basic, though they also support Python, Javascript, and even Beanshell.

    All in all, it's a great office suite, and has matured nicely since being forked from Sun. (The same can be said for Maria, and OpenJDK is coming along as well. Guess King Ellison just can't keep good code around.)

    One thing which I believe would encourage migration from M$ would be for Intuit to stop their discriminating practice of only allowing QB reports exporting to Excel.

    So far as email goes, have been on Thunderbird since the early days, around 15 years now, so am used to it. It can be quirky, but is a great platform, especially now as it supports maildir storage (no more bloated mbox files, easier backups, etc.). IMHO, if Mozilla ever lets go of the project, it would be a good fit for Libre.

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