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LibreOffice 6.0 released (documentfoundation.org)
266 points by mksaunders 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 156 comments

This is wonderful to see, big fan of LibreOffice.

I am left questioning a few things based upon the feedback in this thread. I'll preface this that I'm trying to be cordial and tactful here.

Why is it so bad that Microsoft charges for their product? I use Office in my professional life and Libre+Office in my personal life. I think if you make a decent product, it's perfectly okay to charge for it. Am I missing something ideological?

I constantly read that Office is clunky and unstable, and I haven't experienced that in years at this point, probably since Office 2007 after they famously had to rip out CustomXML in a hurry. For me, both Office and LibreOffice perform well, and I often only use one over the other when I find support for one or the other is lacking because of some crazy scenario.

P.S. To those barking about "scary" warning for ODF files. It does the same thing for Office 2003-2007 documents too...

It's more the fact that they hold a quasi-monopoly AND have severe interface flaws that are now "standard". If it was just one of the two, I think people would be more forgiving (see Adobe Photoshop/InDesign, which, while flawed, understand user interface).

I have seen people waste hours doing things in MS Office that should take 5 minutes because of how broken its UX is. They got a tiny little bit better but then you try setting the print area for an Excel table again and spend a good 15 minutes and you know they still have the same problems at their core.

The problem with LibreOffice & Co is that they basically just copy Microsoft's mistakes, making UX an afterthought with wobbly, unaligned buttons and illogical grouping and hierarchies of different elements. We'll likely won't escape that office software hell any time soon but projects like LibreOffice at least have the freedom to chisel at its foundation.

This really underestimates the amount of work that goes into UX for such a massively used product. Look no further than the ribbon to see the type of backlash that comes from any interface update. For any sufficiently large and complex project nearly every new UI tweak willl help some and hurt others. Measuring and walking that line is not to be underestimated.

So, I have a relative who worked Microsoft UI, and know a lot about it from that. I understand all the design and user testing that was involved.

This is what I see:

With the ribbon, MS came up with something that was nice and innovative. But it was also incomplete. Unlike the menu, which was consistent across all the functions you might want to apply, the ribbon exists for some things, and then you break into this totally different UI for other things.

Is this ok? My concern is that with Microsoft's monopoly (still) we could argue until we were blue in the face about whether or not the ribbon as implemented was worth it or not, and will never know because there were not really any other options other than "ribbon or not." We can't tell if people just habituated to the ribbon's flaws, or decided that the pros of upgrading outweighed the cons, or were forced to upgrade, directly or indirectly, by the legions of corporate decision makers who were afraid to be lagging behind, or what.

Office has improved a lot since LibreOffice's predecessor, OO, emerged. In some ways I think MS Office is superior. But I still have this nagging feeling that we never know what we could have had if there were more competition, in terms of pricing, options, formats, etc. I also resent being forced to use MS Office for things that absolutely do not require it at all (e.g., by certain publishers, etc.). Because then I have to choose an OS that MS Office is on, and then certain hardware, etc. It's not the cost of MS Cloud or whatever anymore, it's that cost, plus the hardware infrastructure that's required to run it.

At the moment LO, for me, is competitive with MS Office, and meets my needs, and to me that's important.

I don't think there's anything wrong with MS charging for a product. What I do think is wrong is everyone requiring it, explicitly or implicitly, and there being lack of choice. At the moment I'm not even sure that's MS's fault--most of the time I encounter it I attribute it to laziness or inconsiderateness.

Users get used to the flaws, shortcuts, or workarounds. That's with any software I've found. I typically argue that the difference between being 'experienced' with a bit of software vs basic/intermediate knowledge is having a greater depth of understanding of all the flaws and how to get around them.

Makes me think how I've just given up on doing any kind of complicated formatting with word processing software. They give you the tools for it, it seems, but you start adding tables and graphics and equations, the minute you hit enter and go to a new line it somehow displaces itself or some other odd behavior. And it's not exclusive to Microsoft.

If I ever need to do something like that I just pull out a text editor and start writing stuff up in TeX now, which while it doesn't really cause me any distress because I've learned TeX, is kind of ridiculous for the many people who've had no reason to learn TeX because they expected word processors to work as advertised.

I love the Office UI/UX. My only complaint is with cloud integrations it defaults the save dialog to onedrive or whatever, which I never use. But otherwise what problems do you have with it? The breadth of tools/options is incredible. The ease of use of many of them is on point. The only reason I prefer MS Office over Libre is because of the UI honestly. I would rather use Libre but I can never find what I'm trying to do.

LibreOffice should shine in customizability but it is not the case for intermediate users.

Anecdotally I was trying to set up a simple keyboard shortcut to change color of a row of the selected cell in a spreadsheet.

Neither Excel nor Calc offer this functionality out-of-box except for user defined macros.

On LibreCalc 5.3 custom keyboard shortcuts are awkwardly defined but once I figured shortcuts out I got stuck on recording a macro. There was a choice of Python,Java and I think VBA lookalike. Very nice, except it was not immediately obvious on how to proceed. I'd love to use Python to script Calc but I did not have time to hunt for the API.

On Excel 2013, within 5 minutes I was able to record a macro then edit the VBA not having used VBA in 5 years. Plus I was able to add a few extra bonus macro commands within 15minutes.

I am sure you can do really nifty stuff when you become a power user in LibreOffice. The problem is that a large proportion of users are casual users like me.

By comparison, I can create and edit nice macros in Photoshop/Illustrator only being a very casual user(maybe once every few months).

Microsoft is moving towards and exclusively rent to own model. This is already causing problems for businesses who built adhoc applications in old versions of Access — they lose downgrade rights when moving to O365 and are often pirating Access 2003 or whatever.

That exacerbates the key issue with proprietary general purpose document formats — as users, citizens or companies we lose sovereignty over our data.

When Microsoft decides to cut out some feature in 2030, data produced with it can be forever lost. This is a big deal when Office is the universal language of modern government and business.

This is not an exclusively Microsoft problem either. Google Docs is far worse, but relatively speaking nobody uses it.

> Google Docs is far worse, but relatively speaking nobody uses it.

How do you mean "nobody"?

In any case, at least for now, it's relatively easy to make automatic backups of your entire Google Docs collection, and all these documents can be exported to different formats, including ODT.

Note the word relatively. Microsoft has over a billion paid office users. There’s probably another billion pirated users. Google is a few hundred million, and has low penetration into institutions. 3-4 US state governments use Google in a paid capacity. 50 states use Microsoft.

Also, generally speaking, it is preferable to preserve original documents for archival purposes. Export to other formats is problematic in those cases, especially as time marches on and you end up making exported copies of copies.

If those companies have no way of updating their software what’s their approach to security?

We simply complete the forms saying that we applied all the patches and upgrades that were necesary... and pray for the best. /s

You could also point out that it mostly consists of not giving untrusted users access to internal stuff, like webapps would.

The problem isn't that they charge for it. It is that the MS Office suites ais proprietary software and uses proprietary file formats that are incompatible with anything else. Microsoft has used this to muscle out the competition and monopolize office software.

and nothing proves that this strtegy was necessary to their success. What would have happened if they had used open file formats ?

Microsoft's Embrace, Extend & Extinguish strategy was instrumental in killing off their competition and achieving a monopoly position.


Where in this thread has anyone said that it's bad that Microsoft charges for their product?

Agreed, I don't see any posts in this thread arguing that MS charging for office is a bad thing. And I don't see any problem with charging money for productivity software either. But since the issue has been raised, I'll bite. I can articulate an ideological opposition to Microsoft Office's proprietary file formats which are a de-facto standard.

The original Office file formats were entirely proprietary and MS explicitly used this to lock out competition. The OOXML formats in use since 2007 are technically an open spec, but one that is difficult to implement reliably. The only software product that is reliably compatible with MS Office is MS Office.

For much of the HN crowd, Office documents isn't a big part of our job, but we're in the minority here. Most people are far more likely to open Word than any code editor. In my experience outside of the tech industry, document collaboration is primarily done through SharePoint, if not emailing Word and Excel docs. Scheduling is managed via Outlook/Exchange with their proprietary protocols.

This isn't a problem as long as people are being productive on their own using MS Office. The problem is that files are widely distributed with the expectation that anyone can view and edit them. For example, my kids' school teachers regularly post homework assignments .doc or .docx format. I've also seen MS Office files from doctors' office and municipal governments.

So there's free stuff like LibreOffice and Google Docs, which are mostly compatible with MS Office, and mostly sufficient for home or personal use. Usually .doc or .docx files open fine. Sometimes they come out looking like garbage.

A typical business will want to be able to exchange documents with their customers and suppliers, to say nothing of years of legacy documents that they already have. Compatibility is important, and it is worth paying for. The notion that they're paying for software to make their employees more productive isn't a problem. The fact that they have no alternatives where to spend their money if they want to be compatible with their legacy docs and the rest of the world, that's a problem.

> Why is it so bad that Microsoft charges for their product? I use Office in my professional life and Libre+Office in my personal life. I think if you make a decent product, it's perfectly okay to charge for it. Am I missing something ideological?

Well, it's not bad at all. The fees can be quite prohibitive for some companies, but that is just business.

I might trigger some flamewar here, but as a casual LibreOffice user, as an individual, I "bill" myself the price MS Office would cost me (70€ a year here in western Europe).

I find I'd rather pay for something that produces code which I consider to be "public interest", but I agree use cases can make one chose MS Office instead of LibreOffice.

You bill yourself? Where do you send the money?

I think they mean they sent the equivalent cost of an Office licence to the Document Foundation.

I was at a conference today and watched Office's presentation thingie lock up. :)

For one, they don't make it for Linux. If they did then I would buy it.

I like LibreOffice, but I really wish they would put more effort into their UI, even just basic things like standardisation of controls and simple text spacing and positioning. This is taken from their video summary of 6.0:


Those are two different Gtk themes...

So is your issue that the dropdown sizes and associated font sizes are different?

No, I'm referring to the UI in general. The images just basic examples of poor and inconsistent text spacing and positioning. I didn't even mention the more important issues like the crowded dropdowns, poor layouts and use of space in general.

As I said, I like LibreOffice, but the UI needs work.

My only issue is that it's hard sometimes to find how to do something I'm trying to do. But that's also a problem in MS Office.

It is rather unfortunate that MS Office sets the bar for office suite of programs and so many people (not necessarily in CS/IT/Tech) can only think Office == MS Office.

The only way for an Open Source equivalent to dethrone MS Office is to beat MS Office at its own game WHILE retaining compatibility to it. Perhaps, retain a MS Office compatible core, and invest mindshare in making an absurdly fast, intuitive, and productive UI that is not necessarily the same as MS Office. Show people why one would want to use LibreOffice instead of the only factor being that it's free (as in beer and as in speech).

The day the suite of Libre Office impresses me enough to use it on my laptop inspite of having MS Office installed is when the tide changes..

Sort of like the Mozilla of Office programs.

You mean Google Docs / Sheets?

(Which incidentally I use 90% of the time despite having an Office 365 subscription)

Honestly, I really like Google docs. I use it for drafting my blog posts which will be public anyway on my website. But, Google is the reason I can't use it for private/ personal documents.

Not a bad start.

I use the draw program alot, so there's that.

Same. I've always found the Draw program the most useful.

And still it has a UI like in the nineties. Thousands of buttons, adding more and more, without thinking about it, making it harder and harder with every version for new users to learn using it.

Instead of adding more fonts by default, they should start thinking how they can improve their UI, make it clean, discoverable and easy to use.

Microsoft has done it, and while initially it was hard for everyone familiar with the old concept, I know nobody who prefers that now, after familiarizing themselves with ribbons.

Raises hand As a power user of Office before and after that change - the menu bar was massively better. Now you know someone.

Seriously, who apart from utter novices would ever want to use a UI where the keyboard shortcuts are non-obvious, the buttons take up half the screen, and discoverability is non-existent (and not even Google can help half the time because things jump around from version to version).

> the menu bar was massively better. Now you know someone.

And someone else here too. We moved about a year ago to the 'the ribbon' and I detest it. They have hidden much of the functionality and it's a more laborious process to get to any feature which isn't immediately available.

Another little annoyance I have is in Outlook. Pre Ribbon you could right click on your mailbox root and select Advanced Search. This control was set up to search everything in your mailbox. The Advanced Search option has gone from the right click, I've added an icon on the Quick Access toolbar and it's also available as Ctrl-Shift-F.

What's wrong with that you think! The problem is it's no longer configured to search your entire mailbox (presumably as it's not got the context of the right-click), just your Inbox. I now need to do Browse, tick the Root using the mouse, then tick "search subfolders" using the mouse, and then OK back to the Advanced Find control. A complete PITA and step backwards in functionality.

If there was an option to switch back from ribbons, I'd do it every time.

Office for Mac has the original menus _and_ ribbon. Just the old toolbars disappeared.

Best of both worlds.

Me too.

> who apart from utter novices would ever want to use a UI where the keyboard shortcuts are non-obvious

How are keyboard shortcuts worse than in old Office? I still have the common shortcuts and everything is accessible vie accessible Alt+... access keys (easily discoverable if you press Alt once). True, you cannot add custom shortcuts. Is that it?

> the buttons take up half the screen

On a decent-sized screen that extra size doesn't matter much, and not just novices benefit from applying Fitt's law.

> discoverability is non-existent

Could you elaborate? I don't have data but I would guess that making common options larger and/or putting them on the home tab makes them more discoverable.

> I don't have data but I would guess that making common options larger and/or putting them on the home tab makes them more discoverable.

At the expense of non common options, which become undiscoverable.

When I open a software for the first time I'll often scan all the menus once, to get an idea of supported features and their categorization. I'll randomly rescan the menu from time to time when I feel like learning something new/want to further my expertise.

That's an interesting approach but it seems invalid for Office. The have thousands (!) of features. Going through the old menus wasn't much help. More than that, they're actually exposing more functionality through the Ribbon. For the truly hidden commands, they have the Options menu, under the Office icon.

Add me to that list too. I hate the ribbons, they just eat so much real estate and as I age, it's slower for me to scan, differentiate and spot the icons for the commands I want to perform.

Not age, just harder. A list of text is far easier to interpret than a zillion icons.

Jesus add me to this list too.

Trying to find a little used feature is a minefield of hovering for tooltips and clicking endless drop down button menus...

If you are a power user, does the graphical UI even matter to you? Aren't you all keyboard, all the time?

I didn't like the ribbon interface for a long time. Then I watched a video of Joel Spolsky doing some stuff in Excel and it was the first time I really saw somebody that knew what they were doing using the ribbon. That converted me.

> Aren't you all keyboard, all the time?

No. Keyboard for the things i know by heart and use every few seconds, mouse for the things that happen from time to time, and explorability for everything else.

Also, link to that video?

Edit: I think you mean this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nbkaYsR94c

Very first thing i notice is he rides hard on the "Paste as Values" option being the one you want to use most of the time. However since he has the ribbon on top he has a gigantic paste button and needs to use the drop down every time to call it.

With normal toolbars you'd just add a "Paste as Values" button next to the normal paste button and skip the error-prone, slow dropdown process.

(I also note he has no keyboard shortcut for it.)

New ribbon has very discoverable keyboard shortcuts, opposed to the old layout

Paste as values: alt h v v

He never uses that in the video. The video also doesn't show the availability of it. Also a sequence like that for something that he uses all the time is not very good huffman coding.

But he also starts the video saying this is at a basic to intermediate level. Plus, picking things from the tool bar rather than just using keystrokes is a little more video-friendly.

This is getting into tea leaves reading, but i am fairly certain that he isn't aware of or simply never uses a shortcut for it and clicks through the cumbersome dropdown every time. My evidence being that he's happy to show off multiple access modes for "fill down", but does not do that for "fill by values". Possibly he might also be aware of the keyboard chain to reach it, but doesn't mention it because it's fairly cumbersome itself too.

Can you really call yourself a power user if you haven’t adjusted to the new UI in over eleven (11) years?

I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that doscoverability is nonexistent... everything is there, except now everything has icons, is in logical groups, and has a keyboard shortcut (exposed through alt key). If you hover over any option you get a tooltip that often includes an illustration along with text. Much of the UI is wired up with live hover preview so you can see the effects before you commit.

When office 2007 came out, there were a lot of people who thought they added a ton of new features. Aside from live previews, hover tooltip, smartart, contextual grammar, and the new formats, there was practically nothing new. The UI made things so discoverable that people just thought there were thousands of new features.

I don't think they haven't thought about it, but:

* what Microsoft did was a major change with many, many thousands of man-hours invested into it; and many of those hours were UI/UX research, usability studies, analysis for the data phoned home by Office; does any of this sound like your typical Open Source project work? :)

* the Ribbon concept is patented by Microsoft; so not Open Source friendly, which leads us to...

* the LibreOffice developers would have to come up with a novel concept for a GUI, which is superior to the existing menus; and one that doesn't fall into the traps that Microsoft Office already went through (see Harris Jensen's blog series called "The Why of the New UI"); I'm a big fan of Open Source, but unless it comes from academia (Office products are not known to be the main focus of academic research right now) or from startups (good luck taking down Microsoft Office! :) ), most of the user friendly GUI stuff in Open Source-landia is copy-cat stuff

Edit: I just saw bryanlarsen's comment. Glad to hear that they're trying. However quite a few of those attempts fit into stuff Microsoft already tried. But they might still prove superior to the current interface, so kudos to the LibreOffice devs for that ;)

>what Microsoft did was a major change with many, many thousands of man-hours invested into it; and many of those hours were UI/UX research, usability studies, analysis for the data phoned home by Office; does any of this sound like your typical Open Source project work? :)

No, and that's a problem!

Tell me LibreOffice isn't a MASSIVE project with thousands of man-hours invested in developing its under-the-hood features. How about finally recognizing UX design as a vital part of that effort? Or rather, its biggest flaw?

It's not as esoteric as copying "ribbons" or "reinventing the GUI". How about having buttons where the text isn't sticking 1 pixel to the left, some proper spacing to group elements belonging together and boxes that are aligned at all angles, so your eyes don't get tired after 5 seconds of reading the captions? How about sending 3 people into a real-life office environment where LibreOffice is used for a week and make detailed notes and interviews on which features are used most, are most annoying to use or most desperately missed and then rearranging the hierarchy accordingly?

I see such a massive amount of goodwill and idealism in the open source community but as soon as it's facing mainstream users it fails to recognize UX as an integral part of providing a viable alternative to commercial products. Microsoft absolutely needs competition in the Office space, I swear at them nearly every day for doing the simplest things they manage to make complicated. They can be beat. But it's not via features, it's via interface design.

> Tell me LibreOffice isn't a MASSIVE project with thousands of man-hours invested in developing its under-the-hood features. How about finally recognizing UX design as a vital part of that effort? Or rather, its biggest flaw?

Please don't misrepresent something you have not studied. UX is absolutely recognized as vital in LibreOffice. The point is, companies invest in development commissioned by their clients. So far there has been no client wanting to spearhead massive under-the-hood improvements to the UI system (yes, this would be very relevant to further work). The work done is incremental and admittedly not advancing quickly enough.

Volunteer UX/UI designers getting involved in open source is still a new thing, so the size of the UX team has mostly just stayed constant from the OpenOffice.org days.

> UX is absolutely recognized as vital in LibreOffice

you can really tell by the amount of effort they put into it.

Yes, and a lot of it was painstaking backend work. OpenOffice has its own cross-platform widget toolkit, which nobody else uses, and a lot of work in LibreOffice has gone to cleaning up that ancient code. For instance, all dialog boxes had hardcoded sizes and positions; each one was manually converted to a flexible layout in the Glade .ui format, and a backend was written to load these files and instantiate the corresponding widgets. Now that this conversion is mostly finished, it's become easier to modify the interface. But there's still work to be done.

I rarely use MS Office or LibreOffice, but I find it easier to locate stuff in the menus of LibreOffice.

In my experience, technical people are dogs, visual people are cats, would be the most succinct way I can put it.

3 new experimental, flexible UI's were the headline features of LibreOffice 5.3.


I have enabled Ribbon UI and it looks like ribbon ui build in nineties. There is no obvious way to revert the change.

I think you can restore the default from the main menu?

View -> Toolbar Layout -> Default

It was not obvious as the main menu was hidden. There is a button (top-right corner) to show main menu.

This is why it's still an exerimental feature, and the more testing and feedback the design community gets, the better!

Kudos to Microsoft for Ribbon UI. While I myself was supportive from the beginning (and am so glad to see it coming to LibreOffice as well), they saw a lot of backlash for it in early days.

Aside: Only thing I miss from Ribbon UI is being able to make it vertical, putting it on the side of the screen. Monitors are mostly landscape, while documents often portrait, so using space on the sides of the screen should be considered for it. (Putting Windows task bar on the right side was an instant boost to my productivity and ability to focus.)

> Instead of adding more fonts by default, they should start thinking how they can improve their UI, make it clean, discoverable and easy to use.

It's possible to do both! Not everyone in a large open source project works on the same thing. In the FOSS world, people choose what's important for them, so it's hard to say "they should" and make everyone do one specific thing.

But anyway, LibreOffice does have a design community with weekly meetings, blueprints and other activities:


They are working on the "Notebookbar" alternative GUI design, so if you're not happy with the design, why not join them and help out? :-)

I prefer my toolbars from the nineties, thank you very much. Now you know one person who prefers that.

Any user who learned to use office between 1990 and 2007 is well served by having a familiar interface. Now sure, there is a case that these user's comfort should be jettisoned for the future of the project. There is also a case that software projects (commercial and open source) regularly 'fix' things that aren't broken because they get bored.

Change is not user friendly; it breaks tutorials, it weakens the support network, it risks good ideas getting lost.

Don't get me wrong, if they do change things I'll probably support it, but if they stick to what worked for 20 years then we should support that too.

With all open/free software updates I care about one thing and one thing only: UI. Not talking "features" or anything, just reworking what's there based on concrete user studies. Never happens. The only example I know of is Firefox (which actually managed to beat Internet Explorer long before Chrome was a thing, that's how powerful usability is).

I want to support free office alternatives so badly, used OpenOffice and Libre Office for years, but recently caved to buy a license of MS Office 2016 because even Microsoft's shitty interface is miles ahead.

The free software community needs interface designers badly. I swear it's the one thing holding them back. All the features are there, but using the damn thing is infuriating.

The old keyboard shortcuts work in the new Office but how do I learn the shortcuts for the Ribbon?

Everything takes me twice as long to a) find it on the ribbon according to the incoherent positioning of items, and b) to navigate the tiny needless dropdown menus.

I have to hunt around by picture and unevenly-spaced icons (every button is a different size to its neighbor) and cannot navigate it by keyboard. The ribbon is truly a giant step backwards in usability.

I utterly detest it and welcome any opportunity to use an old version of Office 2003.

If you hover over the button it will tell you what the shortcut is. But this is a weakness of the ribbon over the old menu system. In the old menu you were reminded of the shortcut every time you went to select something. In the ribbon you have to hunt them down.

I've been using the ribbon for ages now and about the only shortcuts I remember are bold and italic. That said, did you know you can tap Alt and get keyboard navigation of the ribbon?

Many of the icons are pretty meaningless so you have to hover to get the text description. Give me menus with text any day.

LO comes with a ribbon-like UI called "NoteBook Bar" from atleast an year. It's deployed as an experimental feature in 5.x, but I've found it stable. Perhaps they've made it a mainstream feature now in 6.


Nah, it still requires ticking the "experimental" flag in advanced options. Sad that it's buried so far :(

It would be cool for them to do a study.... have the default set to whichever version of the toolbar people use most in their settings. A real life, long-term usability study. I bet the ribbon loses big-time since it Is such a discoverability nightmare.

If it was up to me, I would try to reach 99.999% compatibility with ms word first then do anything else. Both doc and docx formats.

If people see that LibreOffice Writer is as good as MS Word, then they would migrate to it.

Then funding would come and then they would have all the resources to build awesome UIs.

> If people see that LibreOffice Writer is as good as MS Word, then they would migrate to it.

as good as won't be enough for migration, as it's work to migrate, learn a new interface, bear all thats different.

Without a better UI, even better functionality may not be enough to convince people. UI is the first thing one sees..

The problem is that if a user opens a word file and it is different in writer than it is in word (where they created it) they will not even take the time to notice the nice UI, they will dismiss writer entirely as unreliable.

I like the fact that the UI has stayed much the same.

> And still it has a UI like in the nineties.

Want to know what happened, when I suggested folks could join in to drag it out of the nineties? https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/3u2p7x/tired_of_the_...

Hundreds of people appeared saying "Leave it alone, it's fine!! Don't you dare mess with it!"

No, please. If you want an improved UI, fork the project, do it, and let's see how much people follow you. But don't try to force it down our throats.

It's not necessary to fork the project. LibreOffice already comes with a way of reskinning/replacing the UI. Let's just say one of my priorities for 2018 is taking this further.

It seems like the average contributor to open source projects doesn't have enough interest and skill in the visual design aspect of things.

They tend to be the stereotypical hardcore old-school C developer who is not aesthetically oriented.

Everything from their website, their logo to the UI/UX has an aura of "designed by a C programmer who just wants to code and doesn't really give a shit about how fancy things look as long as it works".

I guess I'm in the minority, but I prefer function over form. On the other hand, for most office suite work (spreadsheets and documents) I'm not doing anything too fancy. There are occasional bouts of "how do I do that again?" But tbh I have that with PowerPoint also.

I can learn a UI, don't mind if it's klunky, but I need the thing to do what I need it to do.

Using LibreOffice feels like the software equivalent of visiting a historical re-enactment village where everyone dresses in costume and pretends it’s still the 90s.

The project feels like a preservation society for a type of software from the past.

Except that MS Office functionality hasn't changed much since the 2003 suite, they just adopted the questionable Ribbon UI while continually reskinning it to match the design trends of the day.

Have you tried any of the new UI layouts?

I don't like to criticise anyone's efforts, but yeah and honestly they look like stage makeup on a corpse. The whole thing's just 'off'. It's like a bad illusion, almost like it's trying to con me! I know that's not very logical but that's the gut reaction I have whenever I try to use it. There's probably some psychology in there it'd be interesting to study.

The psychology is "it's not identical to what I'm familiar with." That's what kept me on Windows for years, getting past it just takes dealing with it for a bit while you get accustomed to it.

But I don't feel that when I use for example Pages, Apple's word processing app which has a different user interface to Word. That looks very different, but feels solid, authentic and high quality and I don't get the same feeling.

I thought this was the nature of open source, UI seems to require a certain ability to dictate changes that private software is able to lead on.

But Audacities latest improvements in UI are very nice which leave hope for foobar and libreOffice etc.

I like LibreOffice but what made me switch back to MS was the compatibility problem. In particular in thr older version of LibreOffice thr fonts weren’t even compatible for me... I didn’t look back since going back, to save the overhead. FWIW, I did my thesis on LibreOffice but after that I switched away. Same happened to Thunderbird to Outlook, but mainly due to performance issue (handling tens of thousands of emails and searching through those emails), otherwise I would love to keep Thunderbird (its UI and functionality is just as good as Outlook by OSS standard).

MS isn’t perfect. It’s slow to open files, occasionally Outlook’s data file will corrupt or too large to be usable, then I have to delete the file and force Outlook download the emails again. I miss one license for life time model, instead of subscription.

I want to use Thunderbird, and for whatever reason even thunderbird performance is better on my computer.

The problem I have is that its junk filtering is absolutely messed up. It ends up marking several important emails as junk.

Also it’s not very clever in auto completing email addresses.

Did anybody here use LibreOffice online? How does it compare to Google Docs or Office 365?

I tried it. I generally liked it, but was super annoyed at the lack of auto save. Even office online does this. I lost work as a result.

LibreOffice is worse in all ways.

I downvoted your comment as it was too lazy. If you're going to provide feedback, at least try to give examples to back it up. For example, compare one similar feature available in all three applications.

Maybe so, but would you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?


When I installed this on macOS 10.13, it wouldn't run at all. Crashed on every document it tried to open, including a new document based on the default template, and then got stuck in a recovery loop. I had to force-quit it.

After deleting ~/Library/Application Support/LibreOffice it seems to be fine. So there must be an issue installing with old preferences in place.

Wish they would use this in schools instead of getting kids accustomed to MS office.

Here in my region in Spain (~5M people), all school computers come with a custom Linux distro, and only for some professional education courses they have Windows (for "real world" specialized software with no Linux alternative).

I'm puzzled why kids have to do paper work using office suites and powerpoint presentations. For me these tools, especially MS Word, are from the 20th century where your intention was to prepare a document for printing out on paper, something I very rarely do in this decade.

I know my now-17-yo had to learn MSO basics as part of "informatics" in 6th-8th grade, which made me furious as I found it time not spent well, and inappropriate for a high school curriculum.

Why? Businesses run on Office docs, spreadsheets, and powerpoints, and conceivably will for the next 30 years, until everybody who came up under the current regime ages out of management positions. At which point the next generation will have been inculcated with Officisms, and so the cycle will repeat, perhaps losing a bit of steam in each cycle.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to swap over almost everything that we currently use Word for to just be some combination of Markdown and HTML, but beating my head against the inertia and trying to get people to invest an hour or two of time in learning something they don't already know is demoralizing.

We have both in our school (Bavaria, Germany) MS Office and Libre Office. You are free to use what you want but you get thought Libre Office (or Open Office ~7y ago).

Indeed. Here in India, I bet most homes are using pirated versions of MS office because of this.

I am happy to see Ribbon UI improvements just so that my son (middle school) could still manage at school while using LibreOffice at home.

But MS Office would still give your son scary warnings when he tries to open a ODF file in school.

...as it would with older MS Office files. Why do people always try to frame this as some anticompetitive conspiracy?

Presumably because of the party involved. We are talking about the Microsoft here. Its like asking why people are trying to paint Roman Polanski as a pervert.

No it would be like suggesting that Polanski directed the Pianist so that he could sleep with the children cast in the movie.

MS is a convicted monopoly abuser. But that doesn’t mean every action of theirs is an abuse of their monopoly (further being publicly convicted and penalized for it, odds are they are less likely to do things that abuse their monopoly position).

"further being publicly convicted and penalized for it, odds are they are less likely to do things that abuse their monopoly position"

This is a wholly fictional understanding of how people and companies work. People who have transgressed moral and legal boundaries are more likely to do so again.

By your understanding a former violent rapist would be a safer date than an average person.

Thanks for bringing this up. I'll watch out for it. :-)

As of now, he has to pass exams that use printed screenshots in quizzes! :-)

My kids mostly use Google Docs.

How is Google Docs not significantly worse from a freedom as speech perspective than Office (even the O365 variant).

I have no idea what you are asking. As far as I know, the kids are able to write anything they want with any of the tools.

Why? So kids can be even more unprepared when they enter the world of work, where nobody uses LibreOffice?

Quite the opposite.

The idea is that children learn concepts, not individual implementations. And since Writer is arguable better than MS Word I see lots of institutions moving to LibreOffice.

Note, however, that Excel is better than Calc for anything non-trivial, and Powerpoint just blows the LibreOffice counterpart away completely. Praise to Writer is _not_ praise to the whole LibreOffice suite.

A lot of schools have also switched to google docs. Free and easy for kids to use to get the concepts. And much easier for the schools than Libreoffice.

I would not want my child to learn Excel/Calc at all, so that doesn't bother me. :-) While spreadsheets have been very sticky, super-useful for quick calculations, they are often abused for a variety of cases where alternative tools would be better. If I could, I would ban installation of Excel and Calc at my workplace!

Hope LibreOffice Impress improves over the time to catch up with PowerPoint.

digital spreadsheets - without macros - are arguably the simplest form of functional programming you could teach anyone, so i wouldn't be so quick to dismiss them.

Spreadsheets are immensely useful. In many situations they are more useful in specific tasks than software designed specifically for those tasks, because their general nature means that they can be used to do things beyond what the creator of the designed software intended.

People don’t use Excel for everything because they are masochists. Excel very often really is the best solution available for a very wide variety of uses.

Sure. For that use-case.

I would still like a mechanism in place to prevent use of spreadsheets wherever not suitable.

> The idea is that children learn concepts, not individual implementations

I fully agree, but why wouldn't you teach these concepts using an implementation that the vast vast majority of children will use in their adult life?

You could teach kids how to use a computer using OpenBSD, it's arguably better than Windows and I'm use a lot of institutions use it. It's just not very useful to the overall majority of kids who do not go into a comp-sci field.

>why wouldn't you teach these concepts using an implementation that the vast vast majority of children will use in their adult life?

Because it makes it too easy for the teachers to cheat and only teach mindless button clicking.

Actually, Linux became popular in the server world partly because students could toy with it for free.

Sure, MS Office has a large user base in the professionnal world, but maybe students accustomed to LibreOffice can push the change.

Still, I do agree with the comments stating how important the overall UX/UI of LibreOffice needs to be improved.

> but maybe students accustomed to LibreOffice can push the change

But... why? For 99.9% of students Word is all they need. There are not many compelling reasons to not teach the software people will actually use in the real world.

I mean, why not eschew the English language in schools and teach kids Swahili? Maybe students accustomed to Swahili can push the change. Or maybe not.

> But... why? For 99.9% of students Word is all they need.

MS Office is especially better than LibreOffice with Excel and PowerPoint. If all you use is Word, then the licence you have to pay to use it might not be worth the difference with Writer.

> There are not many compelling reasons to not teach the software people will actually use in the real world.

Well, I do use MS Office in "the real world", and LibreOffice at home. When I landed in my company, we got a mandatory session of "advanced" Excel and Powerpoint usage, because that's inexpensive for the company to spend a day or two to make sure we can use the tools adequately rather than betting high school taught us.

Not everyone uses MS Office in "the real world", nor in "the business world". Most of the document we receive and send is in PDF format.

> I mean, why not eschew the English language in schools and teach kids Swahili? Maybe students accustomed to Swahili can push the change. Or maybe not.

Come on, I'm quite positive we can both be smarter than that :)

Are you really equating learning an entire language to learning the basics of an office suite?

Most people use extremely basic functionality. They can probably learn a slightly different UI in an hour of experimentation.

Well, for 99.8% of the world, Writer is as good as Word. And it's 100% cheaper.

Sure, but Word is cheap enough. Writer has to be better than Word to win because price really isn't an issue.

It doesn't have to be better, it just has to be the same. For most people, they pretty much are the same.

Ideally they would switch around every few months, so they can raise users who actually know the general principles behind their tools and don't get completely lost by minor interface changes.

> It doesn't have to be better, it just has to be the same.

I think you underestimate just how powerful good enough is in terms of inertia.

I don't think it's the school job to prepare how to use a specific software, but train skills that one can apply to every software.

I agree, but still acknowledge that school has the power to shape habits, nonetheless

Do you really feel that paying to teach someone a particular office suite prepares them for the working world? Anyone who has once learned the basics of computer use and has used an office suite can become accustomed to buttons being in a different menu and different shortcuts rather easily.

Why Office? So that everyone keeps paying the microsoft tax in the future for ever and ever?

Why call it a tax? Do you have a fundamental objection to commercial software?

Every company out there is kind of forcing you to use Office, unless you are in the privileged few. So yes, it has become a tax in practice, since it's expected everywhere - even with government interaction which is particularly insidious.

No, but why lock yourself in when you don’t need to?

Just asking: did they, by any chance, fix or at least improve the usability of the LibreOffice API?

Last time I tried live-updating a cell in a Calc worksheet it was a huge mess and a total pita.

Did it get outline mode yet? That’s what always held back my colleagues that write documentation. I use it when I need an office suite, though not often.

release fail: sudo apt-get upgrade libreoffice libreoffice is already the newest version (1:5)

Distributions always lag a bit behind upstream releases, so don't expect a new release of any upstream software to be available instantly in Ubuntu/Debian/etc.

To be fair, the LibreOffice Fresh PPA also doesn't (from it's website) have 6.0 yet. While OS vendor repositories naturally take time, I don't know that there is a good reason for the PPA to get debs slower than the website.

Arch has 6.0 in testing at the moment. :)

Believe it or not, Debian unstable just got it this morning.

Boy, it's fast. I open a document, and it's there in less than a second. Very impressed. Like with Firefox, I'm starting to see the backend work.

name one software feature that is better in LibreOffice than MSOffice.

1. It works on Linux.

2. It has the classic menu and tool-bars.

Bonus: The price.

Chances are, LibreOffice is more than sufficient for the layperson. Even if the feature disparity was that of GIMP and Photoshop, 99% of the professional features would be left unused by the average person.

I always had better luck running Word on Wine than I did using OO/LibreOffice on Linux, but that was a decade ago.

Word 2003, as a self-contained package that could run off a flash drive, was the pinnacle of office productivity in my books.

Saving CSV files. In Excel you have to do a bunch of tricks to get quotes around certain fields in the exported CSV (I end up using a custom field format to force quotes, then doing a find and replace in a text editor, as Excel likes to save "Text" as """Text"""), whereas in LibreOffice Calc there's an option to 'Quote all text cells' when exporting the CSV, which is much simpler.

Also importing CSV files works much better. I don't know how many times I had to suggest friends or customers to use openoffice for that, it was just easier than finding the right way to do it in Office.

This made me smile. My usage of LibreOffice is essentially as a CSV editor.

Why not research it for yourself? Here's a start:


Look at the "Major Feature Differences" and "Minor Feature Differences" sections.

You can use LibreOffice Draw to edit PDFs, yes actually, and obviously for free.

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