Jun 132013

Article from Tcat Houser editor-in-chief of TRCBNews.com that recently ignited some fire with 2 articles:
OpenOffice versus LibreOffice versus The World and The Biggest Failure in Open Source Is…

Some of the Linux faithful will look at this and say: “There he goes again, bashing open-source. He’s just a Microsoft shill.” They will use the fact I am an MCSE as ‘proof’ of their opinion.

Version 4.0 of LOO still suffers from the issue of cross file compatibility to Microsoft Office. However, the good news is the pain is less than ever before and we now get the ability to open Visio and Publisher files! Personally, I have not used either of these Microsoft programs in years so I cannot attest to how well they are handled.

Beyond my own daily use of LOO I have read in depth every review I could find on the Internet. My honest summary is they are far more negative than my feelings. Yes I must agree with everyone else that the most lacking area is complex documents not playing nice with MS Office. The second most cited shortcoming is the relatively confusing menus. I cannot really disagree there either. And there is always two sides to the coin. LOO’s brightside is shinier than ever. Less noticed is how much this version has pulled away to lead over Apache Open Office (AOO) formally known as Open Office Organization (OOO).
More about that later.

I’m not going to rehash what you can read in many dozens of other reviews. I will summarize with LLO runs faster than ever and is more compatible to Microsoft Office than ever. Instead let’s take a few minutes and focus on what LOO has done to get here and what it means for us tomorrow.

Java dependencies are being depreciated with either Python or native platform code. Given the security issues with Java, this is a good thing no matter what OS you use. This is one of several important trends for the sweet

The major flaw beyond file conversion has been this week could not handle content management in a large organization. It now adheres to a CMIS standard http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CMIS.

Large organizations have this barrier removed in the latest incarnation. Little noticed is the solution for reducing pagination issues with Microsoft Office easily handled by not using Microsoft specific fonts. Another former no removed is it can now import ink annotations from Word. Comments can now be attached to document text ranges. Another improvement is allowing a different header and footer on the first page without requiring a separate page style.
Perhaps these are really specific things, but if you work with documents every day they are really important for your work and the look of your document.

Some people will like the fact that the PowerPoint work alike called Impress has a Remote Control App for Android.

Through all this there is a point I believe all the reviews have missed. It is my belief that the full measure of time will show that Libre Office Version 4 was the pivot point for this offering to really move into the mainstream. Certainly all the improvements I mentioned (and many more commented on elsewhere) are factors.

What I don’t see it mentioned anywhere is The Document Foundation has registered in Berlin a Stiftung. This is a standard supervised by the German authorities with a history dating back to the year 1509. This gathered immediate support from major industry players showing that they are really in it for the long haul.

Backing this up is the fact that this is the year we see the first group of folks who will be blessed under the Certification Program for LibreOffice.

I know I am going to upset the Linux faithful. While this group wants mass-market acceptance, it also wants everything to be freedom of choice. And this is exactly why Open Source fails to win significant mind share.

Large organizations must have standards. It is the only way humans can handle large numbers without chaos. Senior management in large organizations looked for large organizations that had standards. Beyond knowing this was a requirement for them to get on with business, they also knew they had someone to sue if those standards were not met. And this is where open source has failed them.

Now having an international standards body deeply rooted in history, rapid yet orderly improved interoperability and CMS, LLO has set the stage to move into: The Limelight.

Today AOO/OOO has a larger installed base then LOO. That will change quickly. While both use ODF, not all ODA’s are equal. Monitoring the AOO list as I do, I found a case in point. A user was having an issue they were trying to solve. I cannot say the AOO group was unhelpful. They were in fact very kind and supportive. And it showed yet another way how LOO is pulling ahead.

“ODF has a flat file format without container too. This is implemented in LO but not in AOO. But in the flat format all pictures are stored in base64, because there is no folder to store them in original format.”

It has always been a long-standing feature of both Open Source office platforms that they could resurrect data from long abandoned platforms including Microsoft formats the company did not support in its own programs. And being free certainly did not hurt.

I want to conclude with a thought for my fellow MCSE’s. The IT department budget is always getting squeezed. Prior to LO V4, you just did not have the support to run the size of an operation you do. LO has given you the tools to make a solid business case. Just get away from the MS centric fonts when you’re doing your proof of concept.

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  12 Responses to “Libre Office Version 4 – Tantalizingly Close”

  1. “il PowerPoint, chiamato Impress”
    non è powerpoint chiamato impress, è impress.

  2. I’m not sure where you are getting your acronyms from but LibreOffice is LO not LOO or LLO which you’ve mistakenly written a few times.

    OOO stands for Oracle Open Office which changed from just OO when Oracle bought out Sun, not Open Office Organization.

    Normally I’m not picky about people posting things on the internet, but you seem to have not done any research on the long history that has brought LibreOffice into the hands of the masses regardless of operating system and financial stability.

    • Actually I’ve was a big promoter of Star Office V1 as an alternative to MS Office. Therefore quite aware of the history.

      It appears you are not aware of regional differences.

      Crawdad, crawfish and crayfish are all different words for the same species of fresh water crustacean. I can show you the ‘heat map’ of the words in the USA for this delightful munchie, sold by the bucket in Tx along with a beer.

      By deliberately using the variations seen around the world (to the best I can find), the search engine relevance increases.

      Yes, I had this same issue back in the Corollis Publishing days. It is Novell or is it Netware? The answer is, yes.

      • I guess you’re right then… So what does LOO and LLO in your region mean again? I can only find LibreOffice to have an acronym of LO. …and OOO to mean Oracle Open Office… or crayfish.

    • It appears your question will show up shortly 😉 I have found it to mean Libre Office Org. As opposed to Open Office Org. (OOO).

      In fact it is that list that tends to use LOO.

  3. This is so very wrong.

    It is Microsoft’s “office” that is incompatible with the rest of the world.

    Everyone else is doing fine. OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice, they’re all doing just fine. The whole rest of the world is using standard file formats successfully.

    • Bob, it is called ‘first mover advantage. Word Star had it (C/PM), then Word Perfect (DOS).

      In a logical world, ODT, etc would be a ‘no brainer’.

      It is my hope and dream that the formation of a German Non-Profit foundation will propel us to a saner future. In the meantime, I’m supporting the engineers that have to deal with that ugly concept called reality.

  4. It should be noted that Libre Office does NOT support the old Star Office file formats any longer, so anyone having old Star Office file formats on board will need Open Office in order to successfully open those files. In many ways these two applications are rapidly diverging and one should be able to install and use both of them on the same system. But unfortunately because they still share certain software architecture, that is not possible. Also, although the whole business world seems to worship the concept of a software mono-culture, I am not convinced that is the most brilliant idea either. There is a lot of “quality of life” that gets thrown out the window in the quest for quintessential efficiency.

    • Or you could keep around an old version of LibreOffice 3.6 using portable apps, which is equivalent. If you intend to keep such documents for archival purposes then you probably should go through and convert all such legacy files to ODF, which is the most popular and most widely implemented document standard at the moment, or accessing them in the future could get quite hard.

    • As I was approaching 1,000 words I shut up about the loss or lack of Star Office format support. You are correct. My answer is to use Virtual Box and Ubuntu for keeping Open Office around to handle the differences.

      • Rather than setting up a whole virtualbox for a parallel copy, I tend to run parallel copies of OOo/LO/AOO (I do this for testing) in WINE – the Windows binaries work perfectly on Linux in WINE, and it doesn’t interfere with the locally-installed native copy.

        If you’re on Windows, you can install old versions of OOo in parallel with new versions of AOO/LO quite well. It’s *amazing* how small and fast OOo 1.0.3 is on a modern Windows 7 laptop 😉

        • ” It’s *amazing* how small and fast OOo 1.0.3 is on a modern Windows 7 laptop 😉 ” LOL! Yeah!

          I have avoided the WINE route due to some legal questions… Am I just seeing the NSA lurking everywhere I breathe?

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