The LibreOffice project was announced with great fanfare in September 2010. Nearly one year later, the OpenOffice.org project (from which LibreOffice was forked) was cut loose from Oracle and found a new home as an Apache project. It is fair to say that the rivalry between the two projects in the time since then has been strong. Predictions that one project or the other would fail have not been borne out, but that does not mean that the two projects are equally successful. A look at the two projects' development communities reveals some interesting differences.
Ordinarily, I'm all for diversity in free software projects. However, I make an exception in the case of LibreOffice and OpenOffice. The sooner they become a single project, the better.
In other cases, I'm slow to accept arguments against duplication of projects. Combining projects does not automatically make for greater efficiency or quicker development; especially in the beginning, personalities can sabotage or even reverse any gains.
The announcement of LibreOffice Online this week came as welcome news to many people concerned about the paucity of online options for those who want software freedom with their online document solutions. But can open source SaaS succeed?
The open source community needs a truly open alternative to current mainstream online document collaboration solutions, all of which are compromised by lock-in. LibreOffice Online will offer the full flexibility to deploy in-house or hosted cloud instances while using true open standards for its documents.
Today is Document Freedom Day. As of November 2012, all government bodies have had to adhere to Open Standards Principles; an agreed set of standards to make IT more open, cheaper and better connected.
These were developed following the public consultation ‘Open Standards: Open Opportunities – flexibility and efficiency in government IT,’ to help government to deliver more innovative IT services and further drive savings, encouraging more open competition for government contracts.
It was a major initiative and went a long way to making government documents more accessible and available. Today, as the globe celebrates International Document Freedom Day, it’s time to take this initiative even further.
Development of LibreOffice Online was first revealed in late 2011, but the software was never released, despite progress improving the desktop versions of the open source competitor to Microsoft Office and Google Docs.
But now two companies have joined the effort to develop a Web-based version of the productivity software, bringing hope that a release will really happen. IceWarp and Collabora said today they "will work alongside over a thousand existing LibreOffice contributors to implement the whole online editing portion of the software, including the server-side provided by LibreOffice, and the client front-end based on HTML5 technology. The result will be a fully mature server solution, which any other provider, individual, or project in the community can utilize for their applications and services."
A new development version for the next maintenance release of the acclaimed LibreOffice 4.4 office suite has been announced today, bringing a wide range of enhancements and bugfixes that improve the overall stability of the software on all supported operating systems, including GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows.
The developers behind LibreOffice, the free and open source productivity suite forked from OpenOffice, have sweated and bled to advance the toolkit over the past couple of years. The effort has paid off: It’s a no-brainer to recommend LibreOffice over OpenOffice, thanks to Libre’s consistent release schedule and the increasingly polished quality of the product.
Now for the bigger question: Can you recommend LibreOffice in the same breath as Microsoft Office? The short answer: Maybe. To its credit, LibreOffice 4.4 handles old- and new-school Microsoft Office documents better than ever before -- no small feat considering how prohibitively complex such documents can be. If you plan on using LibreOffice as a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office, know that document compatibility is still a roll of the dice -- but with each revision LibreOffice is improving the odds.