LibreOffice for Android Is in the Works

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We've known for some time already that an Android version of LibreOffice was on the way sooner or later, and earlier this week Michael Meeks, a Linux desktop architect at SUSE who coordinates LibreOffice development work, provided an update.

Even as the software's developers work on the desktop version of LibreOffice 3.6.0, the Android version of the popular open source productivity suite is apparently coming along nicely as well, Meeks reports.

In fact, Google Summer of Code participant Iain Billet is “working hard to make a nice viewer out of LibreOffice for Android,” Meeks wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

Specifically, Billet is apparently working on a Java viewer interface for LibreOffice that will “integrate nicely into the platform and provide fast pan/zoom/page-flip browsing and all that good stuff you expect,” he explained.

A number of other advancements have been made on the software as well, Meeks says. Here are some of the highlights to date.

1. Cross-Compilation

Cross-compilation to both Android and iOS works “rather acceptably,” Meeks said. “Almost the entire code-base cross-compiles out of the box,” in fact.

2. Basic System Functions

Basic system functions and bootstrapping work for the new LibreOffice for Android, Meeks said. Packaging, signing, installing, and running “works reasonably reliably,” and the software can now pass a number of LibreOffice unit tests.

All in all, however, the current state is still “a fairly horrific, bolts and all, barely usable (even with keyboard and mouse) office suite on your tablet,” admitted Meeks, who offered the picture below.

LibreOffice for Android's user interface is still "utterly horrible for a tablet device," developer Michael Meeks says. (Click image to enlarge.)
3. Tiled Page Rendering

Meanwhile, though, work is also being done on tiled page rendering to textures. “That will allow us to quickly render portions of document content at any scale, asynchronously in a background thread, to suit the viewer,” he added.

A viewer/file-manager shell is already in place to allow managing and selecting documents on the SD card.

4. Ongoing Work

Included among the ongoing work on the software's new viewer is a move to a new linker for faster startup as well as expanded page rendering abstractions for spreadsheets and presentations, and a new focus on Android/x86, Meeks wrote.

Also on the way are “tons of UI/viewer improvements, 3D transitions, pretty page flips, and more,” he added.

For the future, the project team plans to add editing functionality, Meeks concluded. “That brings plenty of challenges, particularly around re-using existing code and widgets in a tasteful way.”

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