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The LibreOffice suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, graphics editor, slideshow creator, database and math formula writer.
It is designed to be compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, though some Microsoft Office layout features and formatting attributes are handled differently or unsupported. LibreOffice is available for a variety of computing platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or newer, and Linux-based systems running Linux kernel version 2.6.18 or newer. It is the default office suite of popular Linux distributions like Debian, Fedora, openSUSE and Ubuntu. Ports for FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD are being maintained by contributors to those projects, respectively.
Between January 2011 (its first stable launch) and October 2011, LibreOffice was downloaded approximately 7.5 million times.
- A word processor with similar functionality and file support to Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. It has extensive WYSIWYG word processing capabilities, but can also be used as a basic text editor.
- A spreadsheet program, similar to Microsoft Excel or Lotus 1-2-3. It has a number of unique features, including a system which automatically defines series of graphs, based on information available to the user.
- A presentation program resembling Microsoft PowerPoint. Presentations can be exported as SWF files, allowing them to be viewed on any computer with Adobe Flash installed.
- A vector graphics editor and diagramming tool similar to Microsoft Visio and comparable in features to early versions of CorelDRAW. It provides connectors between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts. It also includes features similar to desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher.
- A database management program, similar to Microsoft Access. LibreOffice Base allows the creation and management of databases, preparation of forms and reports that provide end users easy access to data. Like Access, it can be used to create small embedded databases that are stored with the document files (using Java-based HSQLDB as its storage engine), and for more demanding tasks it can also be used as a front-end for various database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC/JDBC data sources, and MySQL or PostgreSQL. Base is not always included in distributions and may need to be installed separately.
- An application designed for creating and editing mathematical formulae. The application uses a variant of XML for creating formulas, as defined in the OpenDocument specification. These formulas can be incorporated into other documents in the LibreOffice suite, such as those created by Writer or Calc, by embedding the formulas into the document.
Supported formatsLibreOffice can import and export documents in several file formats; its native format is the OpenDocument Format (ODF). Formats supported (for reading and writing) include those used by Microsoft Office, including the Office Open XML specification used in Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010, which use the .docx, .pptx and .xlsx extensions, as well as to the older file formats used in Microsoft Office 95 and 97-2003, which use .doc, .ppt and .xls extensions. It also supports Rich Text File format (.rtf) and OpenOffice.org XML format.
LibreOffice has VBA macro support. It can import files from MS Works and Lotus Word Pro. LibreOffice Draw has native functionality to open SVG files, whereas OpenOffice.org Draw requires an extension. There is improved EMF drawing and WordPerfect Graphics import. In LibreOffice 3.5, a new Visio .vsd filter was introduced.
Exporting to a number of non-editable formats is supported. All documents can be exported to the PDF format, hybrid PDF, as well as presentations to Adobe Flash (SWF). LibreOffice also has the ability to import documents in read-only mode in the Uniform Office Format, Data Interchange Format and the formats of Microsoft Works, WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3.
Support for the industry standard Microsoft Word document format is continuously improving, yet some features may cause parts of the document to be formatted improperly, causing interoperability problems.
Common featuresLike OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice can use the GStreamer multimedia framework in Linux to render multimedia content such as videos in Impress and other programs. Visually, LibreOffice uses the large "Tango style" icons that are used for the application shortcuts, quick launch icons, icons for associated files and for the icons found on the toolbar of the LibreOffice programs. They are also used on the toolbars and menus by default. OpenOffice.org uses small icon sizes and the "Classic" or "Galaxy" icon style by default. LibreOffice also ships with a modified theme which looks native on GTK-based Linux distributions. It also renders fonts via Cairo on Linux distributions; this means that text in LibreOffice is rendered the same as the rest of the Linux desktop. The first run wizard from OpenOffice.org that guides a user through the setting of user name and the registration process has been removed from LibreOffice.
Future developmentsIn 2011, it was announced that plans are under way to port LibreOffice to both Android and iOS.
The LibreOffice project uses a dual LGPLv3 (or later) / MPL license for new contributions to allow the license to be upgraded.
LibreOffice Online will allow for the use of LibreOffice through a web browser by using the canvas element. Development is ongoing and it has not yet been released.
Initial releaseOpenOffice.org project formed a new group called "The Document Foundation". The Document Foundation created LibreOffice from their former project in response to Oracle Corporation's purchasing of Sun Microsystems over concerns that Oracle would either discontinue OpenOffice.org, or place restrictions on it as an open source project, as it had on Sun's OpenSolaris.
It was originally hoped that the LibreOffice name would be provisional, as Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation. Oracle rejected requests to donate the OpenOffice.org brand to the project and demanded that all members of the OpenOffice.org Community Council involved with The Document Foundation step down from the OOo Community Council, citing a conflict of interest.
The Go-oo project (another fork of OpenOffice.org) was discontinued in favour of LibreOffice. Improvements made by the project were merged into LibreOffice. Also underway is the reduction of Java dependency.
As a result of the fork of OpenOffice.org into LibreOffice, Oracle announced in April 2011 that it was terminating the commercial development of OpenOffice.org, therefore releasing the majority of the paid developers. In June 2011, Oracle announced that it would contribute the OpenOffice.org code and trademark to the Apache Software Foundation, where the project was accepted for a project incubation process within the foundation.
In June 2011 Google, SUSE, Red Hat, Freies Office Deutschland e.V., SPI and the Free Software Foundation each contributed one employee to The Document Foundation's Advisory Board to serve for an initial term of one year.
Version 3.3 The first stable version of 3.3 was released on 25 January 2011. Because The Document Foundation and most of the software's new and former developers considered LibreOffice a direct continuation of OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice 3.3 continued the OpenOffice.org version numbering.
LibreOffice 3.3 features several functions not found in its OpenOffice.org counterpart, mainly as a result of Sun and then Oracle's requirement of assignment of copyright to themselves. Most of the features found in the 3.3 release were directly adapted from several already-created plugins, as well as the Go-oo fork. Among features unique to LibreOffice are:
- SVG image import
- Lotus Word Pro and Microsoft Works import filters
- Improved WordPerfect import
- Dialog box for title pages
- Navigator lets one heading be unfolded as usual in a tree view.
- "Experimental" mode that allows unfinished features to be tried by users
- Some bundled extensions, including Presenter View in Impress
- Colour-coded document icons
- Load and Save ODF documents in flat XML to make external XSLT processing easier
- PPTX chart import feature
- AutoCorrections match case of the words that AutoCorrect replaces
- Vastly improved RTF export
- Embedding of standard PDF fonts
Version 3.4 Early versions of v3.4 contained some bugs, including compatibility issues with Microsoft Office, and was therefore only recommended as suitable for early adopters. By 3.4.2, the release was considered suitable for enterprises.
New features and improvements in 3.4 include:
- Memory usage improvements
- Improvements to Calc, including improved speed and improved compatibility with Microsoft Excel, including pivot tables (formerly called DataPilot in OOo/LO), support for an unlimited number of fields, and a redesigned Move/Copy Sheet dialog
- There is now no need to close Writer's style edit dialog to check how a new style looks.
- Several thousand lines of German comments were translated into English.
- Over 5,000 lines of dead code were removed from Writer, Calc and Impress.
- Improved GTK+ theme integration
- The Linux version renders fonts via Cairo so that text in LibreOffice is rendered the same as the rest of the desktop.
- Reduction of LibreOffice's reliance on Java
- Continuing the transition to GNU Make for building LibreOffice
- Saving documents in StarOffice file formats was removed
Version 3.5 New features include:
- A native PostgreSQL driver.
- Java 7 support.
- AES encryption support for ODF file encryption.
- Improved Office Open XML support.
- Introduction of an online update checker. By default, this feature is not fully automated.
Version 3.6Version 3.6 was released on 8 August 2012. New features include:
- Support for color scales and data bars in Calc.
- Added Word Count to status bar.
- PDF Export with watermark option.
- 10 new Impress master pages.
- Support for importing Office SmartArt.
- Import Filter for Corel Draw documents.
Version 4.0 was released on 7 February 2013. New features include:
- Import / export support for native RTF math expressions.
- Import filter for Microsoft Publisher publications.
- Support of all versions of Visio files
- Improved XLSX Load Time.
- Various DOCX improvements.
- CMIS Support.
- Support for Firefox Personas.
Release scheduleThe Document Foundation intends to release new major versions of LibreOffice once every six months and to eventually align with the March/September schedule of the other major free software projects.
The Foundation provides two different versions of LibreOffice. The latest version is available for users looking for the latest enhancements while the previous version caters to users who prefer stability.
UsersThe Document Foundation estimated in September 2011 that there were 10 million users worldwide who had obtained LibreOffice via downloads or CDs. Over 90% of those are on Windows, with another 5% on Mac OS X. LibreOffice is the office suite of choice for many Linux distributions, and is installed when the operating system is installed or updated; based on IDC reckonings for new or updated Linux installations in 2011, TDF estimated a subtotal of 15 million Linux users. This gives a total estimated user base of 25 million users.
In 2011 the administrative authority of the Île-de-France region, which includes the city of Paris, included LibreOffice in a USB flash drive given to students which contains free open source software. The USB flash drive is given to approximately 800,000 students.
The Document Foundation has set a target of 200 million users worldwide before the end of 2020.
LibreOffice was initially named BrOffice in Brazil. OpenOffice.org was distributed as BrOffice.org by the BrOffice Centre of Excellence for Free Software because of a trademark issue.
LibreOffice ConferenceStarting in 2011, The Document Foundation has organized the annual LibreOffice Conference as follows:
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February 7, 2013
The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.0The free office suite the community has been dreaming of for twelve years
Berlin, February 7, 2013 – The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.0, the free office suite the community has been dreaming of since 2001. LibreOffice 4.0 is the first release that reflects the objectives set by the community at the time of the announcement, in September 2010: a cleaner and leaner code base, an improved set of features, better interoperability, and a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem.
LibreOffice 4.0: a community on fire
In less than 30 months, LibreOffice has grown dramatically to become the largest independent free software project focused on end user desktop productivity. TDF inclusive governance and the copyleft license have been instrumental in attracting more than 500 developers – three quarters of them being independent volunteers – capable of contributing over 50,000 commits.
The resulting code base is rather different from the original one, as several million lines of code have been added and removed, by adding new features, solving bugs and regressions, adopting state of the art C++ constructs, replacing tools, getting rid of deprecated methods and obsoleted libraries, and translating twenty five thousand lines of comments from German to English. All of this makes the code easier to understand and more rewarding to be involved with for the stream of new members of our community.
“LibreOffice 4.0 is a milestone in interoperability and an excellent foundation for our continued work to improve the User Interface,” explains Florian Effenberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Our project is not only capable of attracting new developers on a regular basis, but it also creates a transparent platform for cooperation based on a strong Free Software ethos, where corporate sponsored and volunteer developers work to attain the same objective.”
LibreOffice 4.0: the new features
LibreOffice 4.0 offers a large number of new characteristics, which are listed on this page: https://www.libreoffice.org/download/4-0-new-features-and-fixes.
- Integration with several content and document management systems – including Alfresco, IBM FileNet P8, Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, Nuxeo, OpenText, SAP NetWeaver Cloud Service and others – through the CMIS standard.
- Better interoperability with DOCX and RTF documents, thanks to several new features and improvements like the possibility of importing ink annotations and attaching comments to text ranges.
- Possibility to import Microsoft Publisher documents, and further improvement of Visio import filters with the addition of 2013 version (just announced).
- Additional UI incremental improvements, including Unity integration and support of Firefox Themes (Personas) to give LibreOffice a personalized look.
- Introduction of the widget layout technique for dialog windows, which makes it easier to translate, resize and hide UI elements, reduces code complexity, and lays a foundation for a much improved user interface.
- Different header and footer on the first page of a Writer document, without the need of a separate page style.
- Several performance improvements to Calc, plus new features such as export of charts as images (JPG and PNG) and new spreadsheet functions as defined in ODF OpenFormula.
- First release of Impress Remote Control App for Android, supported only on some Linux distributions. (The second release, coming soon, will be supported on all platforms: Windows, MacOS X and all Linux distros and binaries.)
- Significant performance improvements when loading and saving many types of documents, with particular improvements for large ODS and XLSX spreadsheets and RTF files.
- Improved code contribution thanks to Gerrit: a web based code review system, facilitating the task for projects using Git version control system (although this is not specific of LibreOffice 4.0, it has entered the production stage just before the 4.0 branch).
There are a number of fixes and improvements primarily of interest to developers: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/4.0#API_Changes.
Overall excellent backwards compatibility is retained for legacy extensions, but moving forward TDF is committed to a more pro-active approach to evolving the UNO APIs, with more functionality to be deprecated, and eventually dropped, in due time – according to the six month release cycle – throughout the LibreOffice 4.x release series.
During the last seven months, since the branch of LibreOffice 3.6 and during the entire development cycle of LibreOffice 4.0, developers have made over 10,000 commits. On average, one commit every 30 minutes, including weekends and the holiday season: a further testimonial of the incredible vitality of the project.
How to get LibreOffice 4.0
LibreOffice 4.0 is immediately available for download from the following link: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/. Extensions for LibreOffice are available from the following link: http://extensions.libreoffice.org/extension-center.
Changelogs are available at https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.0.0/RC1 (solved in 188.8.131.52), https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.0.0/RC2 (solved in 184.108.40.206) and https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.0.0/RC3 (solved in 220.127.116.11).
Support The Document Foundation
LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation at http://donate.libreoffice.org. Money collected will be used to grow the infrastructure, and support marketing activities to increase the awareness of the project, both at global and local level.