11 New and Improved Features of LibreOffice
LibreOffice has emerged as the successor to OpenOffice, the open source suite of office apps initially sponsored by Sun, but subsequently abandoned by Oracle after it bought Sun. The LibreOffice fork, released by a newly formed community called The Document Foundation, is based on the same code as OpenOffice, but contains several improvements. With many of the original OpenOffice developers now working on LibreOffice, you’ll probably want to use it rather than its predecessor. Here are 11 improvements in LibreOffice that set it apart from OpenOffice.
Improvements to the Word Processor, Writer
LibreOffice’s Writer comes with a dialog box that makes it easier to format the title page of a document. But the best improvement is that it features better support for importing Microsoft Word documents that include revisions and comments. OpenOffice.org’s Writer had trouble properly loading such Word documents, often messing up the revision history, text in comments, and fonts.
Improved Grammar Checker
The grammar checking tool has several new features, including ways to set how measurement conversion, sentence capitalization, and quotation marks are handled; linking to relevant Wikipedia articles; and improved the dialog showing error help.
Improvements to the Spreadsheet, Calc
LibreOffice Calc comes with key bindings for shortcuts that work similarly to those in Excel, which helps if you are more accustomed to working with Microsoft’s spreadsheet tool. It also supports Excel formula syntax, has improved pivot tables, and supports an unlimited number of fields.
Under the LibreOffice presentation application, Impress, the Presenter View -- which is an installed extension -- helps you more easily adjust the timing of slides and add notes to them within a visually appealing UI.
Better Document Compatibility
Chances are, your documents created in other office applications might load more successfully (i.e. preserving their formatting) under LibreOffice than OpenOffice.org. The LibreOffice developers have improved file compatibility with Lotus Word Pro, Microsoft Works and WordPerfect. LibreOffice also includes importing from Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 formats, and saving your documents directly to them. Visio files can be imported, too. You can even import PDF documents.
LibreOffice supports SVG (scalable vector graphic) files. SVG images are line-based drawings that can be re-sized without loss of resolution quality. LibreOffice’s versions of the Draw, Impress and Writer applications can directly import SVG files into them.
LibreOffice lets you save documents in flat XML format for external XSLT processing.
Slimmer Code Base
One of the main goals of the LibreOffice project for its developers has been to slim down the original code of OpenOffice.org, getting rid of antiquated and useless bits within it. Thus far, the LibreOffice developers say they have purged over 5,000 lines of dead code.
Uses Less Memory/Manages Memory Better
Along with cleaning up its code base, another objective of the LibreOffice’s developers is improving the way the suite manages system memory.
Less reliant on Java
This is both a technical and copyright issue. The LibreOffice developers want to reduce the need for their suite to use the Java Runtime Environment installed on your computer. (LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org can be installed and run without JRE on your computer, but some features won’t be available.) Since Java, like OpenOffice.org, is also owned by Oracle, the LibreOffice developers may be working toward excising any need for Java from future versions of their office suite.
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