When the Document Foundation released LibreOffice 3.4.2 earlier this month, the big news wasn't so much that a new version was out. Rather, the big news was that LibreOffice had officially become enterprise-ready, according to its developers.
I downloaded the new LibreOffice not long afterwards, replacing version 3.3, which I had been using for several months. I've been using version 3.4.2 for my daily writing ever since, and while I can't say I've noticed a big difference over version 3.3, the software does indeed feel very solid.
I've also been experimenting with some of LibreOffice's many extensions, which--much like Firefox add-ons--can enrich the software's capabilities considerably. Here are a few I think help make the free and open source LibreOffice productivity suite a business powerhouse.
1. Presenter Console
Those who give frequent presentations with Impress will appreciate the Presenter Console extension, which is designed to give you more control over your slideshow presentations. Using the extension--which now comes bundled within LibreOffice and so is accessible under “Tools” in “Extension Manager”--you can see the upcoming slide, your slide notes and a presentation timer, for example, while the audience sees only the main slide. Three different views of your presentation are also available.
2. Report Builder
If you need to build database reports on a regular basis, Report Builder can be a useful tool. Using it with Base, you can design reports for HSQL, Oracle and virtually any other database out there. Also accessible via LibreOffice's Extension Manager, the tool allows you to define group and page headers and footers as well as pulling in calculated fields.
3. PDF Import
Though it used to require a download, PDF Import is now included in the main LibreOffice software as well via Extension Manager. This extension lets you import and then edit PDF documents in LibreOffice Draw--a handy capability when you want to reuse content from old PDF files, for example.
Along similar lines, MyTXTcleaner is a simple extension that removes extra carriage returns from any text file, including content copied from a PDF file or a fixed-width TXT file. To use it, all you need to do is select its yellow “broom” icon on the toolbar.
Those who work frequently with text documents in Writer--including writers like me--can sometimes find its native find and replace capabilities a bit limited. This add-on remedies that with features including the ability to perform multiple search and replace operations in one step, for example. Searched or replaced text can also contain one or more paragraphs.
6. Text Effects
For producing newsletters, catalogs and other materials with an engaging look, the Text Effects extension can be a great help. It can make text colorful, inversed or uneven, for example, as well as drawing shapes, making anagrams and changing text brightness.
7. Wiki Publisher
Finally, the Wiki Publisher extension--now available within LibreOffice via its Extension Manager--lets you create Wiki articles on MediaWiki servers without having to learn MediaWiki markup language. All you need to do is load the existing document you have in mind and invoke Wiki Publisher via the "Send–MediaWiki Server" command. A dialog box then guides you through the publication process.
Following Oracle's effective abandonment of OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice keeps getting better every day. Now that it's officially enterprise-ready, these extensions can help make LibreOffice a winning productivity software option for any business.