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LibreOffice 4.2 released (libreoffice.org)
72 points by chris_wot on Jan 30, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 28 comments

I know that the LibreOffice team is short on manpower, but I still find it puzzling that they do not treat reproducible crashes as release-blocking bugs. Instead, there are a lot of such bug reports untouched, potentially waiting to be exploited by bad people. (I reported 2 such bugs myself, neither has been fixed yet I think)

Not all crashes are exploitable.

Still not exactly ready for production environments. The lack of a decent and reliable word processor is a big argument against Linux in non-programming offices. That's too bad, because there's a lot of money and influence there and the privacy argument would otherwise be a strong advantage for Linux.

Links please?

This being a more major update, I won't touch my LibreOffice install until 4.2.1 is released at the earliest.

I hope you mean 4.2.1. There might be a long wait for 4.21. <wink/>

Oops... I updated my comment and up voted yours.

Great release from the Libreoffice team, as usual!

LibreOffice might not be the "Snazziest" or whatever, but it's perfect for folks like me who need to use MS office but don't use Windows and can't stand Google's web UI.

I applaud LibreOffice's intent, but the interface reminds me too much of Office 2003 and older.

What happened that Microsoft has the most modern-looking office software?

A lot of people don't like the Office ribbon interface but prefer it myself.

Microsoft makes a lot of money from Office so it better be modern like looking. Proprietary software in general does a better job with UI design then FOSS software. The Windows 8 Modern UI on desktops or laptops is a big exception to that...

Word 2002 is still the standard where I work mainly because of the insane UI change of Microsoft.

Why would LibreOffice copy Microsoft when its main compelling advantage over Microsoft is to avoid this mess ?

I use OO/Libre Office in part just because they did not follow MS' lead on the ribbon. I have never found the ribbon intuitive personally.

I'm not at all saying that LibreOffice should copy Microsoft. I'm not fond of the ribbon, and I've never heard of anyone who likes it.

Modern design does not require following any one company's lead, but it DOES require innovation. LibreOffice's UI does not innovate.

Most people dislike the ribbon interface.

Microsoft have a patent on the ribbon bar. You are meant to ask them for a licence if you implement one. Unless you are using a Microsoft control.

Also the interface takes up screen space on the horizontal when we have wide screens. A sidebar would be a better use of screen space.

They started iterating about 7 years ago, based on user feedback and ignored people whining.

UX is the most under appreciated area of open source software. It requires change, following/setting design trends and not listening to the majority.

Not listening to the majority, on the other hand, may lead to your project being forked. Take Gnome 3 as an example. This in turn may lose you a significant amount of developers so that you have two projects that each are weaker than the original one. This seems to be an inherent problem with projects like this. The only thing resembling a solution is to have a strong project leader who is able to convince people to trust him or her on radical UX changes.

> Added a new formula interpreter to enable massive parallel calculations of formula cells using GPU via OpenCL.

I'm genuinely interested in what kind of spreadsheets have a noticeably faster response when getting processed on a GPU instead of CPU. ... actually it's the same kind of interest as "what does a train wreck in slow motion look like".

OpenCL is actually a framework that allows a program to execute across heterogeneous platforms. That includes CPU and GPUs. It will improve spreadsheet tasks (which often use a lot of calculations that can be offloaded to a GPU) for those who don't even have a GPU.

One of the preview feature in 4.2 contributed by Andrzej Hunt is Firebird SQL C++ backend for Base http://www.firebirdnews.org/?p=9109

I think the most interesting thing about this release is the use of OpenCL.

With more and more popular applications using GPGPU techniques it's possible that normal users will start noticing the difference soon.

What I'd really like to see is benchmarks between LO 4.2, MSO 2013 and Office 365. Maybe AOO 4.0.1 as well. Benchmark some serious spreadsheets, the sort that take hours to run. I don't expect LO to win, but I do expect the results will be interesting and give areas to improve upon now they've got the Calc data structures sorted out.

Wow... the docx support has really seemed to improve with this release.

I don't know much about Libreoffice, but I created Python DocX and am familiar with the spec.

The Office Open XML spec refers to the behaviour of old versions of MS office as the correct way to render certain options. Without access to the source code of say, MS Office 97, alternate renderers need to reverse engineer the correct behaviour.

(Pasted from an earlier discussion)

That's not correct. What it actually does is reserve some markup for use by third parties that have reverse engineered various old programs (including programs that competed with Microsoft programs), so that if those people have workflows that depend on features of those old programs that cannot be represented in OOXML, they can still use OOXML as a storage format but add in the extra information they need.

Here's the use case this is aimed at. Suppose I run, say, a law office, and we've got an internal document management system that does things like index and cross reference documents, manage citation lists, and stuff like that. The workflow is based on WordPerfect format (WordPerfect was for a long time the de facto standard for lawyers).

Now suppose I want to start moving to a newer format for storage. Say I pick ODF, and start using that for new documents, and make my tools understand it. I'd like to convert my existing WordPerfect documents to ODF. However, there are things in WordPerfect that cannot be reproduced exactly in ODF, and this is a problem. If my tools need to figure out what page something is on, in order to generate a proper citation to that thing, and I've lost some formatting information converting to ODF, I may not get the right cite.

So what am I going to do? I'm going to add some extra, proprietary markup of my own to ODF that lets me include my reverse engineered WordPerfect knowledge when I convert my old documents to ODF, and my new tools will be modified to understand this. Now my ODF workflow can generate correct cites for old documents. Note that LibreOffice won't understand my additional markup, and will presumably lose it if I edit a document, but that's OK. The old documents I converted should be read-only.

Of course, I'm not the only person doing this. Suppose you also run a law office, with a WordPerfect work flow, and are converting to an ODF work flow. You are likely going to add some proprietary markup, just like I did. We'll both end up embedding the same WordPerfect information in our converted legacy documents, but we'll probably pick different markup for it. It would be nice if we could get together, make a list of things we've reverse engineered, and agree to use the same markup when embedding that stuff in ODF.

And that's essentially what they did in OOXML. They realized there would be people like us with our law offices, who have reverse engineered legacy data, that will be extending the markup. So they made a list of a bunch of things from assorted past proprietary programs that were likely to have been reverse engineered by various third parties, and reserved some markup for each.

Also of interest: the developer-focused improvements in the LO codebase up to 4.2, by Michael Meeks.


Lets hear it for better RTF support!

I really like LibreOffice, which I switched to from open office a few years ago (and Star Office before that). My main issue is that I would love to transition users over to it, but they complain that it messes up formatting (lots of spreadsheets), so while just about everything else my users do could be done on GNU/linux, most of the end-user workstations still wallow in windows land, due to office alone. This release seems to have some massive improvements for businesses as well.

I will probably send MS a gift once they finally release Office for *nix.

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