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LibreOffice 6.0 is coming (medium.com)
89 points by rbanffy 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 36 comments

> LibreOffice is considered to be more actively developed than OpenOffice

This is such an understatement that it borders on the absurd. OpenOffice is mostly abandoned and has had issues even marshaling the resources to get security fixes out as shown by a previous exploit that took 6 months for a patch. A quick glance at the source trees shows LibreOffice has somewhere between 40x and 100x the activity as OpenOffice.

The "pulse" for the last 30 days:

OpenOffice: Excluding merges, 3 authors have pushed 14 commits to trunk and 14 commits to all branches. On trunk, 42 files have changed and there have been 207 additions and 240 deletions.

LibreOffice: Excluding merges, 97 authors have pushed 1,509 commits to master and 2,042 commits to all branches. On master, 5,583 files have changed and there have been 60,123 additions and 519,150 deletions.

Serious question: why didn't they merge their efforts?

Apache OpenOffice devs consider themselves to be at war with LO (but that's fantasy, the project is dead, only its bureaucracy survives). One is copyleft and the other copyright. One is owned by Apache while the other is the result of the cooperation of many entities.

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice/Oracle_OOo/IBM_Symphony/Apache-OO have probably more users (despite being dead) because of brand recognition. Keeping these users hostage until none remains is the biggest FU they can do to the document foundation to have forked, so they did.

edit: Added the other brands OOo is known by

> because of brand recognition.

I assume long-term corporate support contracts play a large part, too.

I don't think so. When LO forked, Oracle disbanded the whole OOo team (AFAIK). When they did, IBM was furious and that ended up causing the move to Apache. In return, IBM merged their commercial fork into Apache OO to save the project.

But then something unexpected happened, LO rebased thousand of commits (a huge effort) on top of the IBM code dump. That allowed them to resolve copyright issues. But it also killed IBM attempt to revive OpenOffice. I think most support contracts went to SuSE(?) or Collabora, the entities that actually make money from those contracts as a business model instead of sponsoring OOo to save themselves money on MS Office licenses.

It’s more than that though. There are countless improvements, but the option of a more ribbon-like interface is more polished than its ever been, and in many ways more usable than the Office Ribbon. And I do emphasise that’s an option - we retain the old UI and will always do so for users. We haven’t forced a radical change on them because we actually value our power users.

Aside from way better compatibility improvements with Office interfaces, there are stability fixes, we’ve done extensive document fuzzing, improvements to mail merge, updated our table styles, a huge improvement to our grammar checker, way better OpenPGP integration, a complete rewrite of the EMF+ filters (that has been a huge effort, and a much bigger impact in handling Office docs than you might realise)... the list is huge!

edit: I’ve been rate limited, no idea why (check my history for the last month if you don’t believe me...) so if you want info about the project from a contributor I sadly can’t provide info on HN till someone lifts the rate-limit.

You know why we rate-limited you, since I've explained it to you in numerous email threads going back more than two years. But for anyone reading this who doesn't know: we rate-limit accounts that post too many low-quality and/or get involved in flamewars. On Hacker News, "low quality" means uncivil or unsubstantive. The standards are described in more detail at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

It's true that your recent comment history has gotten better overall (although this thread itself is pretty borderline). We'll try taking the rate limit off your account for now. To avoid it kicking in again, please stick to civil and substantive comments only.

I don't actually. I can publish the emails if you'd like. Not sure what sort of "low quality" comments you have been referring to for the past two years, I'd be happy for you to point them out over email.

And how is this thread "borderline"? I explained some info on LibreOffice, as I'm a contributor!

Incidentally, this was on the front page only about an hour ago, and now it's on the third page. Curious how this came about?

Ah, I mistook which thread I was posting to. The borderline thread was https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16267301 which you were also commenting in.

I'll try to give you more of a response later when I have time. In the meantime, though, aggressively barraging us with emails is not helping.

Which, uh, isn't a thread I started.

> We haven’t forced a radical change on them because we actually value our power users.

I do not consider myself a power user, but I thank you nevertheless. I despise the ribbon bar. Okay, I have gotten used to it, but still. Thank you!

How do you enable this ribbon-like interface?

Try the following article - it’s already available as an experimental feature, but it’s very much going into the main release:


One thing I keep hoping for is improvements in the UI side of LibreOffice. I presume under Windows and Linux the UI feels more fluid and natural, but under macOS it is definitely inferior to that of MS Office or Apple’s iWork apps.

On Linux, I still miss MS Office. Not just because of the UI, much as I prefer the MS Office one, but also because of compatibility issues. This is for LibreOffice Writer. Simply opening a file and saving it on LibreOffice or OpenOffice gets it distorted on MS Office. I've resulted to using Google Docs more often that I would like.

Agreed. All other improvements LO makes are futile until compatibility is 100%. LO works very well in a closed environment with only LO users, but it doesn't work to share documents with Office users.

MSO works very well in a closed environment with only MSO users, but it doesn't work to share documents with Office users.

That is because LO actively uses a standardized and well documented document format while MSO created it's own that has dependencies that only MSO resolves.

It will never get there. Not just because the OOXML spec is a behemoth but because MS has every incentive to not let it get there. They have the most popular document format in the world which is open enough to avoid legal trouble but unwieldy enough to ensure that people have to buy MS if they want to use it.

Here's the actual release notes instead of medium.com blogspam: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/6.0

Thanks! This should be the canonical URL posted here.

If LibreOffice's "Online" frontend can get traction, I think this suite can become a true competitor to Google Apps, etc - without the vendor lock in, and crucially, with the ability to self-host or have it hosted for you.

I had no idea that it was a thing. I really hope that it will be released sooner than later!

It's been under development for a long time. Not sure there's a better URL for it than https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Development/LibreOffice_... which might be out of date.

I saw this advertised years ago. Surely something as heavy as LO isn't really suited to a webapp.

No less so than google docs or the msoffice equivalent?

I for one am very grateful for the continuing efforts of the open source community to develop this. Thanks.

I used to love this project when it was OpenOffice and supported by Sun. At that point in time it was a pretty good MS Office alternative and it was getting better all the time.

Don't get me wrong, it's great that there is some open source alternative to MS Office. That being said, it felt like they gave up on improving MS Office compatibility at some point. I'm not talking about MS Publisher but the major three: Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Their support of key features from those three hasn't noticeably improved in the last 10 years.

I've tried to use OpenOffice multiple times over the years. I always give up because files I receive from colleagues end up looking really bad.

> I've tried to use OpenOffice multiple times over the years. I always give up because files I receive from colleagues end up looking really bad.

Try LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice. There have been several MS Office compatibility enhancements in LibreOffice which are not present in OpenOffice.

Sorry, I meant LibreOffice and OpenOffice. I've tried both.

It's pretty good lately. By no means are all the imcompatibilities resolved. What's happened for me though, is that I'm using Google Docs/Sheets more and more. They have also improved, and are pretty good now. And for collaboration, hands down better than emailing document files around or even trying to share them on Dropbox or similar.

I'll still use LibreOffice to open the odd attachment I get, but that's about it.

10 years ago was around the time Microsoft switched to entirely new, XML-based file formats. So it might have something to do with that, i.e. the compatibility work being diluted by now having to aim for a new target in addition to the old one.

Perhaps a "fire and motion" strategy[1] on Microsoft's part?

[1] https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2002/01/06/fire-and-motion/

In theory, at least the XML based format should be easier to maintain compatibility with than the old "dump whatever is in memory" binary formats.

At this point, it's been long enough that the old formats aren't seen anywhere near as often as the x formats they replaced. Wonder if it'd be cost-effective to just drop support for doc and xsl and double down on docx and xlsx?

Can you specify margins in centimeters yet?

Works for me in version 5.3. Maybe it depends on your locale? Check Options -> Language Settings -> Languages.

Never mind, the locale settings work just fine. Turns out they just don't update the dropdown with commonly used margins (0.5", 1.75" and so on) to centimeters.

It has always had metric options. First thing I change in settings.

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