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.
LibreOffice 4.1 was released with over 3,000 bugs
fixed (400 were completed in conjunction with the Apache developers).
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.
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.
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.).
Importing sequential photos as a slide show.
- 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
- 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)
- Disable Presenter Console
- Importing of more file types
- Font embedding
- 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.
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 jackwallen.com.