Most of the migrations from one office suite to another tend to happen without any coherent document management policy. Many organizations moving from, say, Microsoft Office to LibreOffice do not necessarily adopt ODF as their default format and will carry on supporting whatever version of the MS Office file format internally. This usually leads to frustrations and compatibility problems. This time, the UK Government decision takes a different approach. By deciding about the formats first, the UK creates the conditions necessary to have real choices for its government and its citizens, thus setting a level playing field for everyone. Many people have understood this decision as being a move against Microsoft. It is not or at least it should not be. Microsoft Office implements ODF files and its latest editions, as I’m being told are actually quite good at it. What this move does, however, is to ensure no other solution will be at a competitive disadvantage because of a technical or legal (aka patents) lock-in. Of course, it remains to be seen what concrete actions the UK Government will take in order to ensure a smooth transition between proprietary formats and open standards; and it remains to be seen how well it will ensure a proper change management across all of its departments so that its agents feel comfortable with ODF documents and whatever new office suites that may be adopted as a result of the decision. Much could be lost at that stage, but much could be gained as well. And of course, just like with the Netherlands, the decision itself might end up being toned down or take a somewhat different meaning.
The U.K. Cabinet Office accomplished today what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts set out (unsuccessfully) to achieve ten years ago: it formally required compliance with the Open Document Format (ODF) by software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant. The announcement was made today by The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude.
The Kerala Legislative Assembly (Niyamsabha) has shifted to free and open software, following the expiry of support period to Windows XP.
It has also started producing all its documentation, both digital and printed materials, using the free and open source office suite LibreOffice from yesterday (July 17, 2014).
BREAKING NEWS: MICROSOFT RELEASES ITS OFFICE SUITE FOR LINUX
Take a few seconds to consider how you would feel, then maybe be kind enough to hear my view.
So it’s great? Microsoft’s flagship product now available to those who in the past had only LO, Abiword etc to chose from. Now you can run natively on your Linux box that which Windows users have been for years.
When it comes to Free Software projects, there’s a profound, deep misunderstanding about who does what and how it’s being done. Using the now overused quote, developers write a code “because they have an itch to scratch”, means that there can be twenty different motivations to contribute to Free Software. No one needs to explain or justify his or her contribution. In the real world, one of the most common motivation is money, be it in the form of a salary, a fee, or a transaction involving the developers to fix whatever bug or develop a new feature. Most of the FOSS projects I know -excluding Firefox- do not pay developers directly for fixing bugs except in very specific circumstances and by definition not on a regular basis. The LibreOffice project is no different. The Document Foundation serves the LibreOffice project by financing its infrastructure, protecting its assets and improving LibreOffice in almost every way except paying for development on a regular basis. What this means, in other terms, is that the Document Foundation does not provide support; nor does it provide service to customers. In this sense, it is not a software vendor like Microsoft or Adobe. This is also one of the reasons why there is no “LTS” version of LibreOffice; because the Document Foundation will not provide a more or less mythical “bug-free version” of LibreOffice without ensuring the developers get paid for this. The healthiest way to do this is to grow an ecosystem of developers and service providers who are certified by the Document Foundation and are able to provide professionals with support, development, training and assistance.
Back in May, I wrote about my less-than-happy experience in putting in a Freedom of Information request to the UK Cabinet Office on the subject of ODF formats: I am writing in connection with Francis Maude's speech on 29 January 2014 in which he announced that the UK government would be adopting ODF as one of its preferred formats. I would be grateful if you could please supply me with the following information: What meetings, telephone or email exchanges were held with representatives of Microsoft or the Business Software Alliance at any time during the last six months that discussed document formats and/or the UK government's new policy on open document formats.
It is hard enough for people to understand what protocols such as TCP/IP do. These open standards however are invisible to most of them, even if they’re using them on a daily basis. Other open standards, such as OpenDocument Format, are probably not conceivable by some people, who think that an office document is “an extension of Microsoft Office”. I have even heard of teachers, here in France, who refused to even mention ODF because such a thing “could not possibly exist”. The conceptual distinction between a file and an application has not permeated much, even in the twenty first century.
The mixing of outdated and incompatible versions of OOXML, an XML document format, is hindering implementation in open source office alternatives, according to a study published on the Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR) today. The different OOXML versions also pose difficulties for public administrations that use different proprietary office suite versions, and the inconsistencies are causing problems with older documents. The OOXML document format is hindering the interoperability of suites of office productivity tools.
The Document Foundation has announced that the final version for LibreOffice 4.2.5 has been released for all the available platforms, including Linux.
This is just a maintenance release for the 4.2.x branch, but users of this particular version should consider upgrading nonetheless. The developers have squashed numerous bugs for this release and that can be easily observed from the changelog,
LibreOffice 4.2.5 is now the most advanced build available from The Document Foundation, but the developers maintain a number of other branches as well. Users will be able to find the 4.1.6, 4.2.3, and 4.2.4 downloads on the official website...
The developers from The Document Foundation have launched the second Release Candidate for the 4.2.5 branch. It's not as big as the previous version in the series and the final build should be just around the corner.
According to the changelog, the text position in grouped list is now correct, the translated frame styles have been fixed, the RTF color table export has been fixed, the show can now be started at a selected slide, a heuristic algorithm has been added to ignore the mangled crop values, different XML attribute names for Asian and complex fonts are now used, the correct way to determine the end position for matrix check is now used, and various other fixes have been implemented.
The developers from The Document Foundation have released a new build in the LibreOffice 4.3 Beta branch, bringing even more changes than the latest update in the series. It looks like 4.3 will be quite interesting, but it's going to take a while until it's released.
According to the changelog, the upper margin of the multi-page floating table for WW8 import has been fixed, the wrong text position in grouped list has been corrected, the direct formatting for numbering in .DOCX is now handled correctly, the paste preference is now image, then HTML and text, the hyphenation has been fixed, a more relaxed clipping region has been implemented, the RTF color table export has been fixed, and LibreOffice no longer crashes if clearWarnings throws an SQLException.
The developers from The Document Foundation have launched the first Release Candidate for 4.2.5 branch and it comes with numerous changes and improvements.
According to the changelog, the text rotation has been fixed, the upper margin of multi-page floating table has been fixed, the set-all language menu has been added, output file extension is now adjusted when exporting, accepting and rejecting changes in a selection is now allowed, the strange brightness and contrast adjustment from Microsoft Office has been corrected, and the mapping between ATK and UNO roles has been improved.
The beta release of LibreOffice 4.3 is available this week with many new features being under development for this popular open-source office suite.
Among the features being worked on for LibreOffice 4.3 is going from a 16-bit character limitation of Writer paragraphs to now 32-bit, changes to navigation buttons and other UI elements, DrawingML import/export support, proportional image scaling support, support for printing comments in margins, improved formula engine support within the Calc spreadsheet, auto detection of fax4CUPS printers, improved PDF importing, improved OOXML support, and many other changes.
The developers from The Document Foundation are making some progress in the new 4.3 branch, which promises to bring some very interesting changes, not only under the hood of the software, but also in the visual department.
There are no particular details about this branch of the application, but the devs have made public some of their goals for the 4.3 release.
The autonomous region of Galicia will this year migrate at least one-thousand government workstations to exclusively use the LibreOffice open source suite of office solutions, it announced on 30 April. The government also said it would start raising awareness among the region's public administrations about the advantages of sharing, and promoting the reuse of ICT solutions. The government has reserved a 147,000 euro budget for this year's free software actions.
Today I would like to discuss a boring subject: Spreadsheets. Actually it’s not that boring when you come to think of it. At least I’m going to try not to make it boring. Let me set something straight first: Spreadsheets are not just about numbers; they are about data. You may have already read Michael Meeks’ article on LibreOffice’s major rewrite of its spreadsheet engine (the much famed Ixion engine that was alluded to first in 2010) and indeed this is a major development for LibreOffice and ultimately for office suites in general – I’ll come back to that later- but this post is not an appreciation article for Michael and Kohei, it’s about how we think of spreadsheets, why we tend to think of them in a very limited way, and how we could redefine the uses of LibreOffice Calc. 256px-LibreOffice_4.0_Calc_Icon.svg