Open Source

Fact sheet: LibreOffice 4.1

Here is a quick fact sheet about the changes and improvements you can see in LibreOffice 4.1.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is the flagship office suite from the open source community. It offers the best work flow between MS Office and any other office suite on the market. With the latest releases, LibreOffice has made even more strides to bridge the gap between business users and open source. And with the nightmare of licensing that is become of MS Office 2013, users are starting to seriously look for alternatives.

But what does LibreOffice have to offer that might make you finally make that leap from what could be a sinking ship to a solid life boat called LibreOffice 4.1? Let's take a look at the facts.

Bug fixes

LibreOffice 4.1 was released with over 3,000 bugs fixed (400 were completed in conjunction with the Apache developers).

Interoperability

LibreOffice 4.1 marks a major step forward for LibreOffice/MS Office interoperability. One of the primary focuses in this area has been to improve the support for Microsoft OOXML import and export, plus the legacy MS Office formats (including RTF). One of the areas that saw major improvement was the addition of font embedding in Writer, Calc, Impress, and Draw. With font embedding, it's much easier to retain the original document formatting when the fonts used to produce the document are not installed on the target PC.

UI Change

With 4.1, LibreOffice borrows a feature from Apache OpenOffice called the Symphony Sidebar (Figure A). The Symphony Sidebar was actually a borrow from IBM Lotous Symphony. This feature is considered “experimental,” but it offers immediate access to formatting tools, the Gallery, the Navigator, and more. The standard menu-driven interface remains intact and will not disappear for the foreseeable future.

Figure A

libreoffice_fact_sheet_1_082613.png

The Symphony Sidebar at work.

Other changes in the UI include: Added “Match Case” option to search bar and a Close Search button.

Photo Album for Impress

With this new feature you can create an Impress slide show with a series of photos (Figure B). This cuts a significant amount of time from the creation of such slide shows. The images must be in the same folder and need to have successive file names (such as IMG_1, IMG_2, IMG_3, etc.).

Figure B

libreoffice_fact_sheet_2_082613.png

Importing sequential photos as a slide show.

Writer improvements

  • Rotate images in 90 degree increments
  • Text frames now support gradients
  • Import/export of graphical bullets in DOC, DOCX, and RTF
  • Comments to text ranges can span over multiple paragraphs
  • Font embedding

Calc improvements

  • Stepped Lines line type
  • Font embedding
  • Ability to count number of selected cells
  • Import large number of HTML documents with over 64K table cells
  • New functions (such as NUMBERVALUE and SKEWP)
  • Large number of new Excel formulas supported (ACOT, ACOTH, ARABIC, BASE, BINOM.DIST.RANGE (B) [BINOM.DIST.RANGE], BITAND, BITLSHIFT, BITOR, BITRSHIFT, BITXOR, COMBINA, COT, COTH, CSC, CSCH, DAYS, DECIMAL, FORMULATEXT (FORMULA) [FORMULA], GAMMA, GAUSS, IFNA, IMCOSH, IMCOT, IMCSC, IMCSCH, IMSEC, IMSECH, IMSINH, IMTAN, ISFORMULA, MUNIT, NUMBERVALUE, PDURATION (DURATION) [PDURATION], PERMUTATIONA, PHI, RRI, SEC, SECH, SHEET, SHEETS, SKEW.P (SKEWP) [SKEWP], UNICHAR, UNICODE, XOR)

Impress improvements

  • Disable Presenter Console
  • Importing of more file types
  • Font embedding

Base/math/chart/core improvements

  • Limit the results of a query using the Limit combobox
  • New Query Properties Dialog in Query Design View
  • Export charts as vector graphics
  • New Elements docking windows in Math
  • Better text layout on Linux and Mac OS X
  • SVG export now includes hyperlinks
  • Media types: Windows Media Audio (WMA), Windows Media Video (WMV), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), Flash Video (FLV), Multiplexed OGG Video (OGX), RMI MIDI Audio and SND can now be imported

The office suite is, by far, one of the most important end-user tools in the business toolkit. LibreOffice has jumped so far ahead of where it once was. With the release of 4.1, LibreOffice continues to shrink the divide between Microsoft Office.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
treibs
treibs

I have not used LibreOffice as much as I would like because it still does not have a good "show codes" feature.  Yes, there is the option to show non-printing characters, but that does only a small part of what I want.  I often use Corel WordPerfect, because it does a good job of showing formatting codes when I turn on the Reveal Codes.  That feature might have helped cquirke with his problem of knowing where to put the next character to be included in a particular font.  Several years ago when OpenOffice.org was asking users what features that users wanted, I replied that I wanted a good "show codes" function.  I received a reply that it was already available as "show non-printing characters."  Evidently they did not take my suggestion to take a good look at WordPerfect for an example.  I will keep thinking about how to compose a respectful note to LibreOffice, encouraging them to look again into providing a good show codes function.  I feel sort of lost without it.  Reveal Codes is one reason that I continue to use WordPerfect, and one of the reasons why I do not use Word.  Unfortunately, WordPerfect isn't available for Linux.  They tried, but did not get it all together.

DAS01
DAS01

Useful article. 

How Jack Wallen think LO compares with the Apache Office fork?  The latest version is supposed to be very good.  One review I read recently has them level-pegging, both with signifcant conversion or compatibility problems with MS Office or Google Docs.
DAS01
DAS01

Useful article. 

How Jack Wallen think LO compares with the Apache Office fork?  The latest version is supposed to be very good.  One review I read recently has them level-pegging, both with signifcant conversion or compatibility problems with MS Office or Google Docs.
cquirke
cquirke

I avoided rolling out 4.1 due to an unsettling reported bug, where text swims around and the character insertion point is some characters off from where it is UI'd to be.  Bugs like that, one needs like a hole in the head; if the basics of text navigation fail, it's a credibility-killer.

I use Calc more than Writer, and find the latter still rather buggy as at 3.6.0.4, with unexpected text formatting popping up when entering text miles away from where that font was applied.  Efforts to past correct formatting over the offending mess don't "take"; the workaround is to insert text earlier, where formatting is OK, then clean up the character content. 

For example, I have a standard do that uses France font one, for a large bold and italic heading.  If I add text at the end of a tabbed line, the new text is in bold italic France, though at the correct point size.  If I type text a character back before end of line it's OK.

I should roll myself up to 4.0.x, I thought I'd done so, but now I see not!

michael.w.newman
michael.w.newman

Is it possible to put the individual icons such as Text Document and Spreadsheet on your desktop as one can do with MS Office?  I have not been able to find a way to do so.

IndianArt
IndianArt

So many features, so little time ...

I feel LO should stress on the features & promote its documentation more ( http://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/documentation ) otherwise what is the point when they make so many features & users may not even know about it. 

I feel their free 'Guides' are much better than learning from the built-in help. Spending an hour with it can be a big benefit. 

cquirke
cquirke

@michael.w.newman That's always possible; hold down Ctl I think it is (to Copy not Move) and drag from menu to desktop, else rt-click the icon, Copy, rt-click desktop, Paste.

What's nice is that (unlike MS Office) updates/upgrades don't break old shortcuts, as long as the target code is in the same location.  MS Office, Skype, iTunes, QuickTime and other installers (leveraging certain .MSI features?) create CLSID-dependent shortcuts that break when code is updated - plus you cannot inspect or edit many Properties of these shortcuts.

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