LibreOffice can compete with Microsoft Office’s new collaborative features

People have been working together on documents generated by office suite applications for decades now. One person would create the document and write his part before sending it to his colleagues, so she could create her part and make comments on his.

In the past 10 years, this collaboration has happened in real-time. Google’s office suite made it popular and easy for students, colleagues, and others to log in to their Google accounts to work on a document. A group of people work on a document, and they can see each other’s changes almost as soon as they are made. This is known as real-time collaboration.

LibreOffice and Microsoft Office have made strides to catch up to the new kid on the block. Both have taken slightly different directions. They allow for multiple people to collaborate on a document.

However, with its past two versions of its office suite, Microsoft has given users the ability to collaborate in real-time, like Google Drive users can do, through its desktop applications. With the 2013 and 2016 versions, users could work with others at the same time from the applications installed on their computers.

The latest versions of LibreOffice still don’t allow for real-time collaboration through its desktop applications, but they now have applications that can be installed on a server. These allow for real-time collaboration.

This article will mainly compare the collaborative features of LibreOffice and three of the applications from Office 2016: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Comparisons will be made with Google Drive as well since it is the office suite that is best known for real-time collaboration, and like the other two, is used by millions of people.

LibreOffice

Real-time collaboration is an area LibreOffice is behind Office in. Over the past two decades the developers of this source code have created a product that his highly competitive to the popular office suite. It has several features and capabilities that Office does not have.

NOTE: Microsoft does not offer a free service to collaborate in real-time with its desktop applications. Users can sign up for free accounts at office.com and use those versions of the applications for free.

However, the Document Foundation, the organization behind the suite, has not created service-based products like Microsoft’s OneDrive or Office365, so they do not have a way to make their desktop applications collaborate in real-time.

With version 5.3, they released an online version that can be uploaded to a server, similar to how a company would setup a Sharepoint server. Users need to install the online applications on their own servers and maintain them. There are a few services similar to what Microsoft offers, but as of the publication of this article, none of them have a free version, like Microsoft.

While LibreOffice does not have the same real-time collaborative abilities as Microsoft, it offers a few ways of sharing documents with others that the tech giant does not offer in its suite.

Starting with version 5.1, LibreOffice has added Open Remote File and Save Remote File in the File menu of its six applications and StartCenter. These open the Remote Files dialog which gives you access to the following server types:

• Google Drive

Remote Files access in LibreOffice
One of the features that LibreOffice has added in version 5.1 is easy access to remote storage and servers. In the File menu of any application click either Open Remote File or Save Remote File to connect to remote files.

• OneDrive
• Alfresco 4/5
• IBM FileNet P8
• IBM Connections Cloud
• Lotus Quickr Domino
• Nuxedo 5.4
• OpenDataSpace
• OpenText ELS 10.2.0
• Sharepoint 2010
• Sharepoint 2013
• Other CMIS
• WebDAV
• FTP
• SSH
• Windows Share

You can can connect to an account for one of these services and save a document that you created with LibreOffice to one of them. You also can view a list of documents that are stored on the servers. Double-click one of the documents, and it will be opened with the appropriate LibreOffice document.

This has advantages over using apps that you download to your computer that syncs with the corresponding server, such as Google Drive.
• All of the documents and folders for the account are not downloaded to your computer.
• Each document is opened directly from the server. This means you don’t have to save it to a folder on your computer. The updated document will be saved to its location on the server.

Through Remote Files you can open a document that was edited by someone else, make your own edits, then save the document. When they reopen the document later, they will see your changes and any comments you made with LibreOffice’s comment features. This is the old way of collaboration.

Microsoft Office

OneDrive, the online storage service that has apps for Windows and Mac, is Microsoft’s key element to make collaboration work on multiple devices (unless you use Sharepoint). The service is integrated with the Office applications. The collaborative features work if you are an Office 365 subscriber.

There are different plans for home users and businesses. Microsoft still has several one-time purchase choices:
• Office Home & Student 2016 for PC
• Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac
• Office Professional 2016. This is only available for Windows.

Collaboration is available for the Windows and Mac versions of the suite. You also can collaborate with others if you are using one of the three applications on an Android device, iOS device, or through office.com.

The document must be saved to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or a Sharepoint service. It also needs to be saved in the latest file formats (DOCX, XLSX, or PPTX). Collaboration cannot be done on older documents.

AutoSave in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
When a document is saved in OneDrive, the Office application adds an AutoSave button to it. This will automatically update a document shortly after each change. Collaborators will be able to see changes after each save.

AutoSave needs to be turned on Mac and Windows applications for the edits to be synchronized among the collaborators. It should, by default, be activated in documents that are saved to OneDrive and Sharepoint.

Collaboration doesn’t work as smoothly as it does for documents being edited in Google Drive or simply using Office.com with others who are also editing the document through their Web browsers. Setting up documents for collaboration take several steps.

There are typically delays due to networks and multiple applications that need to update. Some of the applications also are designed to only allow others to see the updates after the document is saved.
Word
Like in Google Docs, Word users can see others’ edits as they make them. However, many have reported that it does not well as collaborating on a document in a Web browser.

It is not as smooth when making format changes in real-time. A YouTube video demonstrating collaborating in Google Docs and the Windows version of Word 2016 covers this.

For the most part typing on a document open in the Windows version shows up almost immediately in the same document that is open on a Mac or being accessed through a Web browser. Adding formats, like bullet points, or elements, like a table may take longer.

This has a lot to do with the network and how long it takes OneDrive or Sharepoint to update. On WiFi networks, OneDrive may take several seconds to update the document after it is saved.
Excel
In Excel, you cannot see typing changes in real-time. Instead a document needs to be saved after changes are made.

When someone else is updating a cell, you will see the cell in a different color, and you will not see what they added or changed until their version of the document is saved. If they are working through a Web browser, you won’t see the changes until they click on another cell and the document is updated.
PowerPoint
PowerPoint is like Excel, you don’t see the changes until the editor’s changes are saved and OneDrive or Sharepoint updates.

Typing in real-time typically doesn’t work. Adding images and charts will not be seen by others until the document is saved and OneDrive or Sharepoint is updated.

Conclusion

Microsoft has taken its flagship product to the next level for business professionals. The most feature-rich office suite on the market now has capabilities similar to Google Drive. While The Document Foundation has made strides to catch up with its online version of LibreOffice and the ability of its desktop versions to connect to different servers, it is still a few steps behind the Redmond giant.

Its new collaboration efforts, however, are not perfect. Its applications are not as smooth as their Google counterparts as far as real-time editing. A document is not as easy to set up as a Google one for real-time collaboration, and many of the things you can do in one of the documents cannot be seen by others immediately. The document needs to be saved before others see the edits.

NOTE: A previous article on this Website explained how the LibreOffice and Google Drive can be used together.

LibreOffice, on the other hand, has an easy way to connect to Google Drive. Users can take advantage of the open-source suites many features and capabilities (some that Microsoft Office doesn’t have) to create and edit a document before they hand that document over to their neighbor through Google Drive.

Microsoft’s advancements have helped many professionals work together and be more productive. However, its limitations still require them to rely on the old way of collaboration.

Due to the diversity of services it can connect to, LibreOffice has the advantage in the old way of collaboration. Users can most likely connect to their companies’ servers, even if they are not Sharepoint, to work on documents. They also can connect to Google Drive and work with anyone who has a Gmail account.

LibreOffice, NeoOffice: two great suites for your application toolbox

When OpenOffice was first released it was available for Linux distros and Windows natively, but it ran on Mac under Unix. A company called NeoOffice responded by forking the code into their own distribution for the Mac.

For the past 5 or 6 years LibreOffice and OpenOffice have run natively on Mac, but NeoOffice is still being developed. The suite is being sold through the Mac App Store for $29.99.
It has some different features than it’s other open-source counterparts. These include being able to sync with iCloud and having independent floating windows that are common to a lot of Mac applications.

This article will compare the two office suites.

The applications

Both suites come with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, vector drawing, database, and formula applications.

Word processor

The word processors for the two suites are very similar. One of the key differences is that NeoOffice is missing the Styles menu. In LibreOffice, this is between the Table and Format menus.

The menu contains many of the items that you would find in the Paragraph Styles (or Apply Styles) drop-down menu that can be found in the Formatting toolbars of both word processors. It also contains the link to open the Styles and Formatting dialog. This dialog can also be opened by clicking the Styles and Formatting icon in the sidebar of both applications.

Other items in the Styles menu can be accessed through the sidebar as well. The menu is just an additional way LibreOffice users can access and edit styles.

The formatting and standard toolbars have many of the same items. NeoOffice does not have a track changes icon in its Standard toolbar by default. Both word processors have toolbars that you can add and remove items from.

LibreOffice has more than 230 fonts available for the Mac version. NeoOffice has many more fonts installed by default. It has more than 500. Fonts can be added to both suites.

Spreadsheet

Like the word processor, LibreOffice Calc has an additional menu. NeoOffice does not include the Sheet menu.

This allows you to add cells, rows and columns, as well as delete them. By default, NeoOffice includes Insert Rows and Insert Columns icons in the Standard toolbar. NeoOffice places the insert cells function, as well as items for inserting rows and columns, in the Insert menu.

LibreOffice Calc’s Insert menu mainly has items to insert images and artwork. NeoOffice’s has these items too, but it also has items to insert sheets and functions. These are items LibreOffice places in the Sheet menu.

Both have almost 400 functions that can be accessed through the Formula bar.

Presentation

When you create a new presentation in LibreOffice, a select a template dialog appears by default. You can turn this feature off, and the next time you create a presentation, you will see a blank presentation. The Template Selection dialog is something LibreOffice added in version 5.3. The template wizard was discontinued.

NeoOffice still uses the template wizard. By default, when you launch a new presentation, you will be taken to a blank document. You can use the wizard to stylize the presentation. It is located in the File menu.

You also can set the wizard to launch when you create a new presentation.

Like its fellow applications, the NeoOffice presentation does not have a menu that its

LibreOffice counterpart has. It is the Slide menu.

LibreOffice puts items for creating new slides, editing slides, and managing how a presentation transitions from one slide to another in this menu. NeoOffice places these items in other menus, toolbars, and the sidebar. For LibreOffice users this is simply an additional way to access features.

Draw

The two vector drawing applications are identical. They have the same menus and tools.
NeoOffice includes the Text box and Vertical Text icons in its Drawing toolbar by default. These need to be added through the Customize toolbar dialog.

Database

NeoOffice took the database application from LibreOffice, like its other applications, but it doesn’t have the ability to create a database. It can only open a local one or connect to one on a server.

When you select database from the New icon or File menu, a dialog appears and it says you can connect, open, or create a database through the wizard. However, the interface doesn’t have a way to create a database.

LibreOffice uses HSQL as its default engine.

Formula editor

Like the drawing applications, the formula editors for the two suites are identical. They can work as stand-alone applications or in conjunction with the other ones.

Document management

Both NeoOffice and LibreOffice give you access to all the applications and recent documents from an open document. You can create a new spreadsheet from a text document, and you can open the presentation for tomorrow’s meeting from the same text document.

NeoOffice, however, does not have a central document manager, like LibreOffice’s StartCenter. When you launch it, a new text document is opened. The software can be set to open a spreadsheet or new presentation when it is first launched, however.

For some this may be an advantage over LibreOffice. One less step that needs to be dealt with.

Many may prefer the StartCenter, especially if they spend an equal amount of time in spreadsheets and presentations as they do text documents.

LibreOffice StartCenter in Mac
LibreOffice has a document management app, called StartCenter, that NeoOffice doesn’t have. It is a central hub for creating new documents and accessing recently opened ones.

Remote storage

NeOffice save document to iCloud
In NeoOffice you can save documents to iCloud. It appears in the drop-down list when you save a document. This cannot be done in LibreOffice.

Both office suites can access the standard Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive folders that you set up on your Mac. Documents can be saved to them, and both can easily open documents stored in them.

However, if you use Apple’s iCloud server, only NeoOffice can save documents to it and open documents stored on it. LibreOffice users do not have the ability to save documents to or open them from iCloud through the suite.

LibreOffice has access to servers that are not available through NeoOffice. With version 5.1, LibreOffice added easy access to remote servers, like Google Drive and Microsoft Sharepoint, through the File menu in any one of its applications. The two items are Open Remote and Save Remote File.

They open a Remote Files dialog. Through it, you can access the following types of servers:

Remote Files access in LibreOffice
One of the features that LibreOffice has added in version 5.1 is easy access to remote storage and servers. In the File menu of any application click either Open Remote File or Save Remote File to connect to remote files.
  • Google Drive
  • OneDrive
  • Alfresco 4/5
  • IBM FileNet P8
  • IBM Connections Cloud
  • Lotus Quickr Domino
  • Nuxedo 5.4
  • OpenDataSpace
  • OpenText ELS 10.2.0
  • Sharepoint 2010
  • Sharepoint 2013
  • Other CMIS
  • WebDAV
  • FTP
  • SSH
  • Windows Share

Through Remote access, LibreOffice can access documents on these servers. The documents will not be dowloaded. They will remain on the servers.

NeoOffice unique features

NeoOffice has been designed to integrate with the Mac operating system more than LibreOffice. In addition to iCloud, it has the following features. The descriptions are taken from the NeoOffice Web site.

  • Versions:
    In OS X Lion, Apple added a feature called Versions that allows applications to save and restore previous versions of your document. Using this feature, saving a document causes Mac to keep a copy of your document before any changes are saved so that you can restore any of the previous versions of your document.The NeoOffice engineers have implemented this Mac feature and saving a file will automatically keep a copy of your document before any changes are saved. Also, by selecting NeoOffice’s “Browse All Versions” menu, you will be able to restore any of the previous versions of your document in Apple’s document version browser.
  • Native Mac text highlighting:
    NeoOffice draws highlighted text the same as Apple’s Safari and TextEdit applications. Recent versions of OpenOffice and LibreOffice attempt to emulate native Mac text highlighting by drawing a very light shade of the system highlight color on top of the highlighted text.However, many users have requested support for full native Mac text highlighting behavior in NeoOffice so we have rewritten the text highlighting code in NeoOffice’s underlying OpenOffice and LibreOffice code to draw highlighted text the same as Apple’s various Mac applications.
  • Native file locking to safely edit files in iCloud Drive, Dropbox, or network drives:
    Because Microsoft Office and iCloud Drive use Mac native file locking, NeoOffice also uses Mac native file locking to prevent a collision when NeoOffice, Microsoft Office, or iCloud Drive users on different computers save the same file simultaneously.
  • Support for Mac Services:
    In NeoOffice, many of the menus within the NeoOffice > Services menu will be enabled whenever you highlight data in your document. When you select any of the submenus in the NeoOffice > Services menu, the highlighted data will be sent to the Mac application that matches to the Services menu that you select. NeoOffice also supports Mac services that change the highlighted data in your document.
  • Native floating tool windows:
    In OpenOffice and LibreOffice, many floating tool windows such as the Styles and Formatting and the Color windows look and behave like document windows. Also, other floating tool windows such as the Bullets and Numbering and the Table windows look and behave like Windows floating tool windows.But in NeoOffice, all floating tool windows in NeoOffice will be native floating tool windows. This means that they will look and behave like floating tool windows in most other Mac applications.They will have the small window titlebar, all of the floating tool windows will float above the document windows, and when NeoOffice is not the active application, all of the floating tool windows will automatically be hidden until NeoOffice becomes the active application again.

Conclusion

Many toolboxes have more than one hammer and screwdriver. Perhaps every Mac should have more than one office suite.

LibreOffice and NeoOffice are very similar because they are designed from the same source code. However, there are key differences between the two that may make one better than the other in certain situations.

For example, someone who uses iCloud may prefer NeoOffice and use it to save documents to iCloud. They may use versions to retrieve older versions of a document that have content they want to reinsert in the updated version. However, when they are done they may need to save the document to a server hosted by the company they work for. They can do this through the Save Remote File item in LibreOffice’s File menu.

Someone, who mainly uses NeoOffice for working with text documents and spreadsheets, may need to create a database from time to time. He cannot do it in the current version of NeoOffice, so he must use LibreOffice Base.

For those that are not concerned about having an office suite that is integrated with the previous mentioned Mac services, may prefer to simply use LibreOffice. However, the additional fonts that are available out of box may make the $29.99 price tag worth it.

Both office suites can easily open and edit Microsoft Office, OpenDocument Format, as well as other formats. They also have features that iWork and Office 2016 for Mac do not have. Either one would be good to have in your toolbox of applications.

LibreOffice, Google Drive partner through Web browsers

In the last blog entry, I talked extensively about connecting to your Google Drive account directly through LibreOffice and using the Google Drive application that can be installed on Mac or Windows.

There is another way to share and update documents created in LibreOffice using your Google Drive account, however. Simply launch your favorite Web browser go to your Drive account and upload the desired documents and folders.

A Web browser has several advantages over using the Google Drive application or a third-party application. One of the key reasons is that you don’t need to have all the documents from your Drive account downloaded to your computer.

You may not want to store a document in your Drive folder on your computer. Perhaps it is not part of your document organization strategy.

It also has advantages over the Open Remote File and Save Remote File items in the File menu. There are less steps than connecting through LibreOffice. It is also a more consistent connection method for Linux users.

Google Drive in Google Chrome
This is Google Drive in a Web browser. Through this interface you can access, create new, and upload files and folders

Google Drive supports several of the popular browsers that work on multiple operating systems:

  • Windows
    • Explorer and Edge
    • Chrome
    • Firefox
    • Opera (not officially supported, but all the features work)
  • Mac
    • Safari
    • Chrome
    • Firefox
    • Opera (not officially supported, but all the features work)
  • Linux distros
    • Chrome (supports the 64-bit versions of the following operating systems)
      • Ubuntu 14.04+
      • Debian 8+
      • openSUSE 13.3+
      • Fedora Linux 24+
      • *Other operating systems based on one of these (for example, Linux Mint, which is based on Ubuntu code)
    • Firefox: The open-source browser is available for most Linux distros, as well as various versions of BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution).
    • Opera (not officially supported, but all the features work): There are DEB and RPM versions.

Google Drive allows you to upload multiple documents (or files as Drive refers to them) and a folder. This cannot be done through connecting directly through LibreOffice.

You can upload a document or update a document. You also can use many of the features to share a document. There are several features that you can use without opening a document with one of Google applications, like Docs.

This blog will cover uploading a document through a Web browser, sharing a document with others, and updating a document.

Uploading a document

There are two ways to upload a document: by using the Upload Files and Folders item and by dragging a document or folder to the browser window.

Upload items

Google Drive's My Drive menu
Through this menu you can upload one or more documents (files) or one folder at a time. All the contents of a folder will be uploaded with the folder.

The Upload Files and Upload Folders items are located under the My Drive drop-down menu.

  1. Click the My Drive drop-down menu located in the top that is located to the right of the New button.
  2. Choose either Upload files or Upload folders from the list that appears.
  3. Click the desired choice.

Upload files (documents)
When you click this item, the open files dialog for your browser opens. Use it to search folders in your hard drive to find the desired document. You can upload more than one document at a time. The documents need to be in the same folder, however.

To select more than one document do the following:

  1. Click the document that you want to upload that is the highest in the directory.
  2. Hold down the Shift or Ctrl key on your keyboard to select desired documents that are below it.
    • Hold down the Shift key if the desired documents are directly below the top document.
    • Hold down the Ctrl key if desired documents are separated by undesired documents.
  3. Click the subsequent documents.
  4. Click the Open button.

Upload folder
Clicking this item launches a dialog that is similar to the one for files. It allows you to search your hard drive for folders you want to upload.

You can only upload one folder at a time, but all the files and folders that are in the folder you upload will be uploaded, as well.

Dragging a document or folder

Simply find a file or folder using your operating system’s directory. Then drag it to the My Drive folder until a dialog appears that says “Drop files instantly to upload them:” It will then say My Drive.

If you want the file or folder to be in a certain folder drag it to the folder in My Drive. The “Drop files instantly to upload them:” will indicate the name of the folder you want to upload the file or folder to.

Sharing a document or folder with others

There are two ways to share a document or folder: through the right-click menu or through the menu across the top. Both menus have the same items. Two of those items are Share and Share link.

Share

Share with others dialog in Google Drive
The dialog allows you to type names and email addresses of people you want to share a file or folder with. It is available when multiple files are selected.

This item opens a “Share with others” dialog that allows you to enter the user names or email addresses of other Google Drive users.

The button to the right of this field has a drop-down menu with two choices: Can organize, add, and edit or Can view only. These are the permissions you allow people who you are sharing the document or folder with to have.

  1. Choose the permission type.
  2. Start typing email addresses or names in the text box. A list of names from your contact list will appear.
  3. You can click a desired name from the list to add it to the text box.
    1. If the name or email is not in the list, type the complete name or email address.
    2. Press the Enter button or Return button on your keyboard.
  4. Repeat these steps if you want some people to organize, add, and edit documents and others only be able to read them.
  5. If you want to add a note, type it in the Notes field.
  6. Click the Share button.

Share link

Sharing link dialog in Google DriveAnother way to share a document with others is to share the link for files and folders. You can share one file or folder at a time.

There are two ways to share a link: through the right-click menu and menu above the documents and through the Shareable link dialog.

Menus

The right-click menu and the menu above the the documents have an item called “Get shareable link.” It looks like a chain link.

  • Clicking it opens a small dialog that tells you the link is now shareable and give you the URL  for the file or folder. You can set whether people can edit, comment, or simply view a file or folder by clicking the Sharing setting item at the bottom of the dialog.
  • This opens a “Share with others” dialog. This has a drop-down menu called “Anyone with this link can”.
  • Click the arrow and select one of the choices:
    • can edit
    • can comment
    • can view
    • Off – only specific people can access: This is covered in the Advanced section below.
    • More: This opens the Link sharing dialog that is covered below.

Share with others dialog

The dialog that was first covered in the Share section has a button at the top called, “Get shareable link.” This opens the Share with others dialog that was just covered.

There is another button at the bottom of this dialog, called “Advanced,” which gives you more settings.

Advanced
Share settings dialog in Google DriveThe Advanced button at the bottom of the dialog gives you access to Sharing settings, where you can:

  • Copy and paste a link to the document or folder. (This is not available if multiple files or folders are selected)
  • Adjust who can see the shared link. Click the radio button next to one of the following:
    • On – Public on the Web: This allows people to find the document or folder through a search engine. They can view the folder or file.
    • On – Anyone with the link: The folders or files can’t be found through a search engine, but whoever you give the link to can view the document. They also can share the link with others.
    • Off – Specific link: Only people who you share the link with can view it.
  • Like the Share with others dialog it has a text field that allows you to invite others to organize, add, and edit documents or folders, or simply view them.

Copy and paste link
The link at the top of the dialog is affected by the privacy settings. It has icons to share the links through Gmail, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

When you click one of the icons for these services it will take you to the Link Sharing dialog, if you have set the link to Off – Specific link. If you have chosen one of the other settings a dialog will open for Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

If Gmail is chosen, a New message dialog will open:

Gmail message dialog
This dialog opens after you click the Gmail icon in the Sharing settings dialog of Google Drive

Link access
Link sharing dialog in Google DriveClicking the Change link under the “Who has access” section opens the “Link sharing” dialog. It has the following choices that were covered previously:

  • On – Public on the Web: This allows people to find the document or folder through a search engine. They can view the folder or file.
  • On – Anyone with the link: The folders or files can’t be found through a search engine, but whoever you give the link to can view the document. They also can share the link with others.
  • Off – Specific link: Only people who you share the link with can view it.

If you choose one of the On settings, you can choose what those have the link can do:

  • Can view only
  • Can organize, add, & edit

This can be selected through the drop-down menu to the right of Access. Click the blue arrow and choose the desired choice.

Click the Save button.

Invite people
This is like the text box in the Share section. The only addition this has over the text box in that section is that you can put a check in the box for “Prevent editors from changing access and adding new people.”

A check in this box prevents others from changing access permissions and adding new people.

Updating a document

A document can be updated by another document.
Manage versions dialog in Google Drive

The first step is to have a document that you can add another document to. This can not be done to a document that is in one of the native Google formats (GDOCS, GSHEET, GSLIDES, and GDRAW).

Any other format can be updated. And they can be updated with a document in a different format.

For example, if you have a PDF document, you can update it with a JPG, DOCX, ODT, or another document in a myriad of formats. The original document name will remain the same.
Manage versions dialog in Google Drive

The menu item that allows you to update a document is Manage versions. It is in the menu that appears when you right-click on a document and the menu that is above the document list.

Clicking it will open a dialog called Manage versions. It has an Upload New Version button that allows you to search your hard drive for a document.

The new document will replace the current document. Older versions will be kept for 30 days unless you check the Keep forever box.

Current versions are automatically kept forever. All versions can be deleted or downloaded.

The only way to revert back to an older version through this dialog is to delete all the versions that are above it.

Conclusion

There are several methods to submit documents created in LibreOffice to Google Drive. Uploading them through a Web browser to your account, is one of the easiest ways that can be used, regardless of whether you have Windows, a Linux distro, or a Mac.

You don’t have to worry about filling up your hard drive with documents from your Drive account. Multiple documents can be uploaded at one time. Linux users also don’t need to pay a third-part for each account they connect to a syncing application.

Once they have uploaded documents they can share them with others and update the documents without having to open them.

While this method is older than the two covered in the previous article, it has its advantages over them.

LibreOffice, Google Drive: two great companions for collaborating on documents

Office suites are almost as old as the personal computer, and like the personal computer, they have evolved over the decades. Modern office suites can open and edit universal formats and directly connect to the Internet.

Two of the most popular office suites are free for everyone and work well with each other: LibreOffice and Google Drive. Both are compatible with almost every operating system.

LibreOffice was designed to work equally well on Windows, Mac, Linux distros, and several other operating systems. Google Drive can be interacted with most Web browsers. It officially supports FireFox, Chrome, Safari, Explorer, and Edge. Firefox and Chrome have versions for the previously mentioned operating systems.

Applications file formats

LibreOffice and Drive have the core applications that are common to all office suites: a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation. Both can open the native file format for Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. They also can save or export documents to these popular formats.

LibreOffice Google Drive
word processor Writer (can save or export: ODT, DOCX, HTML, UOT, TXT, RTF, WPD, PDF, and others) Docs ( can export: ODT, DOCX, TXT, RTF, EPUB, HTML, and PDF) Only can edit GDOC
spreadsheet Calc (can save or export: ODS, XLSX, HTML, UOS, CSV, PDF, and others) Sheets ( can export: ODS, XLSX, TSV, CSV, HTML, and PDF) Only can edit GSHEET
presentation Impress (can save or export: ODP, PPTX, UOP, HTML, CSV, PDF, and others) Slides ( can export: ODP, PPTX, TXT, JPEG, PNG, HTML, and PDF) Only can edit GSLIDES

In addition to the standard Microsoft file formats, both can save or export documents to other popular formats, such as PDF and OpenDocument Formats. This makes exchanging text, spreadsheet, and presentation documents between the two suites easy to do.

The catch is that a document created through a LibreOffice application cannot be opened by a Google Drive one without first being converted to a Google format. Drive will convert a document to gdoc, gsheet, or gslides before you can edit it and collaborate with others on the document.

LibreOffice users can collaborate with Google Drive
Users can share and update documents stored in Google Drive, that are not converted to Google’s formats. LibreOffice users can use it to collaborate on documents that are still in OpenDocument formats

A document created through Google Drive will be in one of these formats. It has to be downloaded in one of the common formats before it can be opened in LibreOffice or another application.

Google Drive can store various kinds of formats on its servers, and it gives you tools to preview documents before they are converted to Google’s formats. Through Drive you also can perform other functions on a document that cannot be opened by one of its applications.

These include Sharing the document and uploading new versions. Both of these features allow you to collaborate with others on a document.

Through the Share item in the list, you can send the document to others through their Drive accounts. Manage versions, allows you to upload new versions of the document.

Starting with version 5.1, LibreOffice added a feature that gives you the ability to access remote servers from the File menu. One of those servers is your Google Drive account, so documents created in a LibreOffice application.

LibreOffice Remote Servers dialog
This dialog can be accessed by clicking Open Remote File or Save Remote File in the File menu of a LibreOffice application.

If you are using the Windows or Mac versions of LibreOffice, you can save documents to Drive with the Save Remote File item. You also can open files on your Drive account through the Open Remote File item.

Connecting through Open Remote File

  1. Click the File menu in any one of the applications or StartCenter.
  2. Click Open Remote File. This will launch the Remote File dialog.
  3. In the dialog, click the Add services button. This launches a File Service dialog.
  4. Choose Google Drive from the Type drop-down list, if it is not already the choice.
  5. Enter the email address for your Drive account in the User text field. As you type the Label text field will change to show “(your user name)’s Google Drive. You can change this to something more preferable.
  6. Enter your password. If you are going to connect to your Drive account in the future, mark the Remember password box.
  7. Click the OK button.
Linux-distro users also have these items in the File menu, and Google Drive is one of the options in the drop-down menu in the File Services dialog. However, there is typically an error dialog that appears when you try and access your account.
  1. Another dialog will open that relates to the settings of your Google account.
    • If you clicked the Remember password box, a dialog will appear with your Google email address and the password field blank.
      1. Enter your password again.
      2. Click the OK button.
    • Sometimes LibreOffice will ask for a 6-digit verification code. This is part of Google’s two-step verification process.
      • LibreOffice does not handle 2-step verification well.
      • You will need to turn off Google’s two-step verification to connect LibreOffice to your Drive account.
  2. The next step is the master password for LibreOffice.
    • If this is your first time connecting LibreOffice to a server account, the dialog will ask you to create a password.
      1. Type the desired password.
      2. Retype the password in the Reenter password textbox.
      3. Click the OK button.
    • If you have connected to another account, a dialog will appear simply asking you to enter the master password.
      1. Type the master password.
      2. Click the OK button.
  3. You will be returned to the Remote Files dialog. Files from your Drive account will be listed in it.
  4. Click the desired document in the list.
  5. Click the Open button.
A list of files in Google Drive in LibreOffice's Remote Files dialog
This is an example of how the File Services dialog will look when you successfully connect to a Google Drive account. If you clicked Save Remote File, there will be a Save button rather than an Open button.

Connecting through Save Remote File

If you create a document and want to save it to Google Drive, click Save Remote File. If you have not set up a connection to your Google Drive account follow the steps in the previous section.

However, if you already have connected:

  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Click Save Remote File.
  3. Select the Google account from the Service drop-down menu, if it is not already the selected account.
  4. Type a desired name for the document.
  5. Choose the file format from the Filter drop-down menu.
  6. Click the Save button.

Google Drive application and alternatives
The other way to save documents created in LibreOffice to you Drive account is to download the Drive syncing application for Mac and Windows. This can be done by going to this Website.

For Linux-distro users, there are a few third-party applications that you can install. Insynchq is one of those applications. It can be installed on Windows, Mac, and multiple Linux-distros.

The application has several advantages over the one created by Google. You can connect to more than one Google account, and you can convert documents created by Google’s applications to Microsoft Office formats or OpenDocument Formats when the document is downloaded.

It costs $29.99 per account to connect.

This allows you to use Google Drive and LibreOffice together to work on documents and collaborate with others. For those who work in OpenDocument Formats, connecting to Google Drive and the Share and Manage versions items are useful features.

Features
Most of the collaborative features in Google Drive are available through the three applications: Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These are accessed when a corresponding is clicked in Google Drive and they are converted to Google formats.

NOTE: The latest versions of LibreOffice have an online version. However, these are applications that need to be installed on a server maintained by you or an organization you work with. It is not a free service that you simply sign up for.

LibreOffice’s corresponding applications have more features than Google’s. They also can open and edit various formats, from documents created in different modern and legacy office applications.

Microsoft Office and most browser-based office suites do not allow you to collaborate in the OpenDocument Formats. They require that you convert documents in those formats to another format first.

Using both suites together allow to collaborate on the three most commonly used types of documents: text editor, spreadsheet, and presentation.

Other applications in the suite

Besides the basic three applications that are part of most suites, Drive and LibreOffice also have vector art applications. Most office suites that have the three applications, do not include a separate drawing program that is part of the suite.

Google Drawings creates documents in the gdraw format, which cannot be opened by any other application. The only editable format that it can download a document in is SVG. It also can download documents in PDF, PNG, and JPG formats.

SVG-formatted documents can be opened and edited in LibreOffice Draw. The only format Draw creates documents in is odg (OpenDocument Graphics). To convert a drawing to another format, such as SVG, you need to use the Export item in the File menu.

LibreOffice Draw has many more features than its Google counterpart, so you can create more complex drawing with it. The Share and Manage versions discussed in the previous section can be used, so you can work with others on a drawing who have LibreOffice and a Drive account.

However, odg documents cannot be opened by Google Drawings. If you want to use Google’s common in-application collaboration features, such as real-time multiple user editing, you will need to covert the LibreOffice document to SVG before submitting it to your Drive account.

Google Drawings needs to convert SVG documents to gdraw before the in-collaboration can be used, so before this step is taken, you may need to be done with editing in LibreOffice Draw.

Conclusion

LibreOffice and Google Drive can be seen as competing products. They are made by two different organizations, and they both have applications that do the same thing.

However, both suites are free to use, and they can be used on just about every operating system. Their applications also have strengths over the other’s corresponding applications.

Even if you subscribe to G Suite and pay a monthly fee for everyone in your organization, LibreOffice can be an excellent set of applications to augment your work. It gives workers the ability to collaborate, as well as advanced tools for each application type.Using both gives you the best of both worlds.

There are two main ways of connecting the two suites, where every time you update it in LibreOffice, it will automatically be saved to Google Drive. Both have their advantages over the other.

Using either Save Remote File or Open Remote File allows you to directly access Google Drive from LibreOffice. This method allows you to manage documents in LibreOffice, and you do not have to download documents to your computer’s hard drive.

However, if you have two-step verification set up or are using a Linux distro, this method may not work. You also cannot work offline with this method either.

The other way is to use the Google Drive application that installs on your Windows or Mac computer or use a third-party application, like Insynhq. It downloads the documents to your hard drive, so you can edit them offline. They will be synced with Drive when you reconnect to the Internet. They also will be organized in the StartCenter, so you can manage them with LibreOffice.

The major drawback is that unless you use Insync and pay for each account, you can only access one Google account. This would be a detriment for anyone who has multiple accounts they want to work with.

Either way you decide to connect, however, having both suites in your toolbox will enhance you ability to create and edit documents and collaborate with others on them.

Obtaining the suites

LibreOffice and Drive can be used without spending any money, and they can be accessed on any computer, not just your own.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice can be downloaded from its Website, which will allow you to choose the type of operating system you are running so you can download the right version. Many Linux distros also come with LibreOffice pre-installed, but this Website allows you to install later versions for your Linux-based operating system.

There also is a portable version that can be downloaded to a USB drive or other external drive. It can be run on any computer, running Windows XP through 10, without having to install it.

Google Drive

If you have a gmail account, you have Drive. Simply access your Gmail account on any computer on any Web browser. Click the Google apps icon in the top, right corner of the screen, then click Drive. You also can go to drive.google.com

Consistency helps LibreOffice Writer power users more than Word’s ribbon helps its users

User interfaces for office applications have evolved over the past few decades. Microsoft has transitioned its popular office applications from drop-down menus to a ribbon user interface. The Document Foundation, on the other hand, has added to LibreOffice’s toolbars and menus over the years.

This article will compare the two word processors: Word 2016 and Writer.The Mac and Windows versions of Word will be discussed separately because there are differences in their menus and ribbons. LibreOffice has the same menus and toolbars, regardless of the operating system it is installed on. Therefore, it can be presented in one section.

All three applications have similar user interfaces as the other applications in their suites. However, each word processor has unique menus and ribbons, so it is important to discuss each one individually.

They will be discussed in the next three sections: Word for Windows, Word for Mac, and LibreOffice. After these are explained, the interfaces will be compared and the pros and cons of each one will be explained.

This blog only lists the drop-down menus for the Mac version of Word. Click here to see the ribbons for the Mac and Windows version.

Word for Windows

Word 2016 for Windows right-click and highlight menus
Word 2016 has a right-click menu (top) and a highlight menu in addition to the ribbons, but they do not have nearly as many functions.

The ribbon interface has been part of the past four versions of the word processor: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. The 2003 version of Word had drop-down menu and toolbars. The new ribbon interface made Word look sharper and cleaner.

According to a 2006 article in Computerworld, Microsoft wanted to simplify the user interface without reducing productivity, and the 2003 and earlier versions appeared to be “mishmash.” However, the article pointed out that it took more mouse clicks to perform certain functions.

In addition to ribbons, you can access features and tools through keystrokes, the right-click menu, and the menu that appears when you highlight text, but they are limited compared to the ribbons.

Some functions, such as inserting a table or a picture, bring up additional ribbons. These ribbons appear when you select the associated element, and disappear when you click off of it. For example, if you insert a table, two ribbons appear to the right of View: Design and Layout. These are under the heading Table Tools.

Many of the items in the menu will open a dialog box with numerous functions. For most of the dialog boxes, you need to exit the dialog, by clicking Cancel or OK, so you can perform other tasks in your document. This is the case for all three word processors.

The ribbon interface has made the versions of Word released in the past 10 years cleaner than their predecessors. 

However, many of the functions can only be accessed through the ribbons. This forces users to work in a linear method. They have to click on the desired ribbon, then click the desired function. Then repeat this process for the next function.

While you are performing a function, you may decide that you need need to perform another function first. To do this you may have to click on a different ribbon to access the function. In LibreOffice and the Mac version, you could simply click one of the drop-down menus to perform it.

For example, if you are inserting a table, but decide you need to add a table of contents first, you need to click on the References ribbon to switch from the Insert ribbon to select Table of Contents.

In the Mac version, you wouldn’t need to click the References ribbon. You could just click Insert menu and choose Index and Tables …

Word for Mac

Word for Mac menus

  • Word: This simple menu gives basic information about Word. It has an About Word item and a Preferences item.

  • File: The menu has items that File menus in most applications have: New, Open, Save, Save As. It has the same items as the Home ribbon.

  • Edit: The menu has function items such as Copy, Paste, and Cut. It also has a Dictation item as well as others. Most of these items are in the Home ribbon. It is the only menu that has Dictation.

  • View: This menu allows you to change from a Print view to a Web view, Outline, or a Draft. You can also view guidelines, rulers, and gridlines. These items are in the View ribbon.

  • Insert: This allows you to put a number of items into a document. These are Pictures, Audio files, videos, etc. You can also insert breaks, footnotes, and indexes. This matches the Insert ribbon.

  • Format: This has items that will open several different dialogs, such as Bullets and Numbering, Font, Text Effects, etc. Clicking one of these opens a dialog corresponding with that type of element. Tools to edit these elements are in different ribbons. You can only open the dialogs through this menu.

  • Tools: This has items to help you edit your document, like grammar and spell checks, word count, and the ability to track changes. It also has items to access to a dialog for Envelopes and Labels. These items are in the Review and Mailings Ribbons.

  • Table: This menu lets you insert a Table and edit a table. You can also insert a table through the Insert drop-down and the Insert ribbon. When insert a table, Word adds a Table Design ribbon to the list of ribbons.

  • Window: This allows you to control the open Word document windows.

  • Help: Word uses Mac OS X help menu system for articles about Word for Mac. This menu gives you access to those help articles.

As mentioned previously in this article, Word 2016 for Mac is different from its Windows counterpart. It has drop-down menus as well as a ribbon.

The document window is similar to the Windows version. It has eight of the ribbons, but the Windows version has more features than Word for Mac, and some similar functions are in different ribbons.

One key difference is that the Mac version is missing, the File menu – which is the settings for the Windows version – to the left of the eight ribbon choices. Instead, it sticks with the traditional Mac layout and puts the settings in Preferences in the Word drop-down menu in the menu bar.

It also does not have all the preferences that the Windows version has. The language settings for the user interface, for example, can only be changed through the OSX Settings dialog. Other language settings can be found in the Tools drop-down menu.

Besides language settings, there are other functions that are in the drop-down menus of the Mac version, but not in the ribbons. Another example of this is a list of open document windows. This is in the Windows menu, but the function is not in any of the ribbons.

The drop-down menu is in Mac OSX menu bar at the top of a display. The placement of functions in these menus follows the layout of older versions of Word for Mac.

Like its Windows counterpart, the Mac version has a right-click menu, but it does not have the highlight menu. Word for Mac’s menus, along with the ribbon interface, allow Mac users to have multiple ways of accessing most of Word’s functions. As stated in the Windows section, they could perform another functions without changing ribbons.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice menus

  • File: This menu contains items to save a document, print it, and give you access to Wizards.

  • Edit: This menu allows you to copy, paste, and cut text and other elements. It allows you to Find and Replace text along with other functions.

  • View: This gives you access to toolbars, rulers, scrollbars, and it allows you to zoom in on documents. It also allows you to switch between Normal view and Web view.

  • Insert: This menu allows you to put images, media, charts, page breaks and other elements.

  • Format: The menu’s items open dialogs for formatting text, paragraphs, lists, images, shapes, and other elements.

  • Styles: This menu gives you access to standard styles for headings and other elements. It links to dialogs that let you edit the styles.

  • Table: This menu allows you to create a table, stylize it, and make changes to its structure.

  • Tools:  This menu gives you access to spell check, mail merge and other functions.

  • Window: This lists the open documents and allows you to switch among them.

  • Help: This gives you access to the Help articles for LibreOffice and has links to information about the office suite.

Writer basically has the same user interface on every operating system, so it can be discussed as one application, rather than dealing with it as more than one application as with Word. The open-source word processor has a similar user interface as Word 2003 or earlier.

There are two ways to access tools and features of the the word processor: toolbars and the previous mentioned menus. Unlike Windows version of Word, clicking the menus reveal drop-down lists, and they don’t change a ribbon.

 There are 30 toolbars that can be used in Writer. The toolbars are listed on this Web page.

They can be attached to the top, bottom, left, and right sides of the document window. Typically a LibreOffice installation will reveal the Formatting and Standard toolbars by default. These contain the basic functions of an application, such as changing fonts, saving, and creating a new document.

Toolbars give you another way to access functions. Functions and icons can be added toeach toolbar, so users have the ability to set up their document workspace in ways that are best for them.

In addition to toolbars and menus, LibreOffice has a right-click menu, where you can access many of the functions but not all of them.

The toolbars and menus give Writer users more ways to access most of the functions than both versions of Word do. It doesn’t force users into one or two ways of working.

Conclusion

The three word processors have many functions and are the most feature rich of their kind on the market. Each one has features that the other two do not. Both Microsoft and the Document Foundation have spent much time and effort redesigning their applications, so they are attractive yet still give easy access to its functions.

LibreOffice has an older style of interface, but it  allows users to work in a non-linear fashion. They can start  performing one task, realize something else needs to be done first, so  he can easily access another menu or toolbar to perform it with out  needing to close a dialog and the toolbar they were using will still be  there.

This is not true of Word for Windows. Other than some functions being available through keystrokes, the right-click menu, and the highlight menu, there is only one way of accessing some functions. This has been a criticism of the application’s user interface since it was introduced in Office 2007. Word, however, has a much cleaner layout. Your document won’t get buried in numerous toolbars that are open. This could easily happen in LibreOffice.

Word for Mac has menu bar menus that its Windows counterpart does not have. This gives it another way to access the functions, which allows Mac users more freedom in the ways they can work.

The ribbon interface is the same as the Windows version, though several functions and icons are in different places. Many Mac users probably use the Windows version at work, home, or school, and they probably appreciate that the ribbons in the two are the same.

User interfaces affect power users – those who perform an application’s advanced functions – the most. They are more sensitive to changes in menus and other interfaces than basic users because they are highly familiar with a version of an application.

According to an article an Redmond Magazine, power users for Word 2007 thought the new user interface “took too much time and patience to learn.” The change forced them to learn something they were not used to.

LibreOffice has updated its user interface but has kept drop-down menus and toolbars from its OpenOffice.org origins. This may have thrown its power users a curve, but it still retained what they were used to.

Even though it is considered to be less clean and attractive than Word, LibreOffice’s user interface makes it more flexible to its power users and causes them less stress when new versions are released.

Easily make LibreOffice, Office 2016 more worldly by adding languages

The desktop computer was an American invention, but four decades after the first ones graced offices and households, they are now in just about every office and home in the world.

This means that people who speak many different languages use one, and most likely use office applications to create documents in a myriad of languages.

This article compares the language support for Microsoft Office and LibreOffice. Both office suites support many languages.It also explains how to install language interfaces.

In general, LibreOffice supports 150 languages, while the Windows version of Office 2016 supports 92. The Mac version of Office 2016 supports 58. Support for languages means built in dictionaries and thesauri, as well as the ability to change menus, toolbars, help resources, and dialogs to another language.

 Office for Windows

 On the language pack Web page for Windows version of Office, the languages are in a drop-down menu. The tools are listed two ways. For fully supported languages, like English or Russian, the pack includes display, help, and proofing tools. If it is a language that is more obscure, like Amharic, the following will be stated: “the pack includes your selected display language for some Office applications but does not include proofing tools.”

 To download and install a pack, click the x86 link if you have a 32-bit version of Office or x64 if you have the 64-bit version. After it has downloaded, double-click on the file that was downloaded.

Microsoft Office for Windows language settings
After installing a language pack to Office, open a document in one of the applications. Then click File, followed by Options to open the Options dialog. The Language tab lets you change the language of proofing tools, user interface, and help section.

 The installation may take awhile. After the installation has completed, open an Office application and a document. Click File. Then click Options to open the Options dialog. Finally click the Language tab. This will allow you to set the proofing, display, and help languages.

Office for Mac

 The Mac version has a Web page for languages it has proofing tools for. This just lists the languages that are supported. There are not any packs to install.

 To change a proofing language, simply click the Tools menu in one of the applications, then click languages to pull up a list of supported languages.

 Most of the languages are for proofing tools. Office for Mac menus and help section are only available in 20 different languages.

 To change the user interface language in Office, change the user interface of OS X. Open System Preferences. Click the Language and Region icon. Then change the language in the Preferred languages list. Make the desired language first in the list by clicking and dragging it, or add a language by clicking the plus button below the list.

LibreOffice

 LibreOffice’s Web page for language support lists the 150 languages in a table, listing what the of support they have. There are actually a lot more languages on this page. Many of the languages have support tools that are in progress.

 The types of support tools are as follows:

  • Localized user interface

  • Localized help system

  • AutoText list

  • AutoCorrect list

  • Spell-check dictionaries

  • Hyphenation patterns

  • Grammar check

  • Thesaurus (synonyms)

Localized user interface and help system

 These can be downloaded from the LibreOffice Website. Click on the “need another language?” link to select the desired language. You will be returned to the download page. There will now be links for downloading language support. The types of links will depend on the type of operating system you choose in the drop-down menu:

 Linux x86_64 (deb), Linux x86_64 (rpm), Linux x86 (deb), Linux x86 (rpm)

 If one of these four types of applications for Linux distros are selected in the drop-down menu, there will be a download link for the selected languages user interface plugin and one for the offline help system. The application that matches the installed version of LibreOffice is the one that needs to be downloaded. If you want a Spanish user interface and have LibreOffice 5.3.2 installed on Ubuntu, you will need to click the Translated User Interface in the 5.3.2 section of the Web page.

 These versions of the user interface and help system are typically used when the latest version of LibreOffice has been installed through the Terminal application of a Linux distro. Many distros come with the office suite pre-installed, and if it is not, it will be available through the operating system’s software center or library, such as Ubuntu’s Software Center. However, this usually doesn’t give the user the latest version of LibreOffice.

 Those users who prefer the version of LibreOffice that comes with their distro and want to install a new user interface or helps system can search for the packages in their software center. They will most likely need to type “libreoffice” in the search field of it and skim through the results until they get to the desired item.

 Mac OS X x86_64

 This selection in the drop-down menu is for the Intel Mac version of LibreOffice. There will only be a Translated User Interface link available when this item is chosen. The .dmg application that is downloaded when you click this link contains the offline help system. After it downloads, click the application icon in the folder that opens. The next time you open LibreOffice, change the language in the Preferences dialog, then restart LibreOffice. The menus, dialogs, and help menus will now be in the new language.

 Windows x86 and Windows x86_64

LibreOffice Windows installation wizard
In the Windows version of LibreOffice, you need to run the installation application for the suite to add a new language user interface. If you already have the suite installed, choose the Modify radio button then click Next to get to this screen. If you are installing a new version of LibreOffice for the first time, choose custom installation.

 These items in the drop-down menu only give you the offline help applications for the chosen language. There is not a download for a the language’s user interface. Instead, these are available in the install application for the office suite.

 If you are installing a version of LibreOffice for the first time, there will be two options Typical and Custom. To include additional languages in the installation, choose Custom and select the language from the menu.

 Click the plus sign next to Additional User Interface Languages. Then click on the desired language and choose whether this feature will be stored on local hard drive or this feature, and all additional subfeatures, will be stored on local hard drive. Then click the next button.

 However, if you already have the version you want installed and still have the installation download, run the installation. It will give you three options: Modify, Repair, or Uninstall. Choose Modify. This will give you the same list of languages that the Custom choice will give you during the first-time installation.

 Language proofing tools

 The proofing tools are the other items in the above list: AutoText list, AutoCorrect list, Spell-check dictionaries, Hyphenation patterns, Grammar check, and Thesaurus (synonyms). Most of these can be accessed for your desired language through the language support Website. Many of these links are to pages in the extensions section of the LibreOffice Website. Others link to the Apache OpenOffice Website.

These extensions, in the oxt format, will work on any LibreOffice instance, regardless of whether it is running on a Windows, Mac, or Linux operating system. Sometimes a particular extension will not work on a particular version of the office suite. The Web page for the LibreOffice extension will state which versions it is compatible with. However, if the version you are using is not listed, this does not necessarily mean that it will not work with your installed version.

Comparing

 Office for Windows and LibreOffice both support the major languages and cover most of the world linguistically. LibreOffice has the advantage when it comes to the languages used by less people. While Microsoft does not support as many languages as LibreOffice, it has support tools for languages that both suites share that LibreOffice does not offer in that language. For example, the Windows version of Office has a display UI, help system, and proofing tools for Thai, while LibreOffice only has a display UI, auto text, and spell check available in it.

 The opposite also is true. Both suites support Icelandic, but LibreOffice has a display UI, hyphenation, spelling, and a thesaurus for it. Office only has a display UI and some proofing tools.

 Office for Windows has a more straightforward when it comes to installing language packs than LibreOffice. the user interface, help guides, and proof tools all come in one package. It also allows you to use certain aspects of the language tools and choose not others. You can use the proofing tools in one language and the user interface of another language.

 The language extensions and applications for LibreOffice, on the other hand, will not take up as much hard drive space as Windows Office’s installations because the proofing tools are separate from the user interface and help guides. A user can install proofing tools without the user interface in the same language. People who work with documents that are written in multiple languages most likely don’t need to see menus, dialogs, and help entries in more than one language, so having an installation that contains all the components is most likely not necessary.

 LibreOffice is also an advantage for Mac users. Office for Mac supports a lot less languages than both LibreOffice and its Windows counterpart. Documents that can be opened in the Mac version can be created and edited in LibreOffice.

Conclusion

 LibreOffice supports the most languages, and it is the only office suite mentioned in this article that runs on Linux distros. There are several Linux distros that run well on older computers, such as those with Pentium III processors. Workers in developing nations can use a modern office suite, even if their computers are old, and typically they can have one with proofing tools and a user interface in their native language.

 As far as Mac users, LibreOffice is a more full-featured office suite in general than Office. It has more applications and tools. It also supports more file formats. The amount of languages LibreOffice supports compared to Office, though Office supports languages in all the countries where Macs are sold on a regular basis. There are Mac users in other countries, but the cost of the computers and the lack of stores that have strong footprints in those countries probably means use is more sporadic.

 Windows version of Office will still be the office suite of choice for Windows users around the world, even in countries that speak languages that are not fully supported by it. However, as pointed out on previous articles in this blog, LibreOffice may be a good companion to it. Microsoft Office formats can be opened, edited, and created with the open-source applications. Its automatic spell check also works better when there are documents with multiple languages. Those documents could be edited in applications of both suites to create a final draft.

Insert and play video in Office, LibreOffice apps

Creating videos has become easier for the average person with smartphones and inexpensive digital cameras. There are also many free an inexpensive software applications that can help you edit and view those videos.

Recent versions of office suites have joined the group of applications. Microsoft Word and LibreOffice can both import videos into documents.

Microsoft Office

All of the applications can handle images and other objects, but only two of them can have documents in their documents: Word and PowerPoint 2016. This is true of both the Windows and Mac versions of these applications. To access the video Insert interface, click the Insert ribbon in one of the four applications.

Microsoft Word for Windows

The latest version of Word cannot import videos stored on a local drive on your computer, but it has an import interface for online videos. It allows you to search YouTube or search the Web with the Bing search engine. The Bing results will mostly turn up YouTube videos.

This shows the three ways you can insert a video into Word 2016 for Windows.

There is a third choice: copy and pasting embed code. If you have uploaded video to your OneDrive account or to another cloud service, you can take the embed code and paste it in the associated text box, then click the Insert arrow button.

An image for the video is inserted into your document. It can be edited with Word’s tools just like any other image. You can wrap the surrounding text around it, apply different borders and filters, change the effects, and other edits.

When you want to watch a video, click on the image for it and it will be played in a new window. Word (and PowerPoint) have a YouTube interface that looks exactly like the one when you play a YouTube video in a browser. Videos from other sites will have a similar interface in Word.

Microsoft PowerPoint for Windows

Unlike Word, PowerPoint can insert documents from a computer,  as well as online sources. The file formats are as follow:

  • Windows Media file (asf)

  • Windows video file (avi)

  • MK3D Video

  • MKV Video

  • QuickTime Movie file

  • MP4 Video

  • Movie file (mpeg)

  • MPEG-2 TS Video

  • Windows Media Video file (wmv)

  • Adobe Flash Media

These videos are treated like images, and you can perform the same edits as you can in a Word document. However, the videos can be played directly from the slide. A window will not pop-up to play the video.

Videos from online sources also can be played from the slides. PowePoint’s online video insertion interface is also different from Word’s. Instead of Bing, it has a link to your OneDrive account. Click on it and videos uploaded to your account will appear in the dialog.

Insert video dialog PowerPoint for Windows
This shows the Insert Video dialog for PowerPoint for Windows. It is different from the one in Word. It replaces the Bing search with a connection to OneDrive and Facebook.

At the bottom of the dialog is a button to connect to your Facebook account. Clicking this button will open the steps to login to your Facebook account in a new window. Your images and videos will appear in this window.

Mac versions of Word and PowerPoint

Browse Video dialog in Word 2016 for Mac
This shows the Browse Video dialog over the Media drop-down menu (red circle) in the Mac version of Word 2016. The same menu is available in PowerPoint, but the drop-down menu is called Video.

Like the Windows versions of these applications, all the editing tools for images are made available to integrate the videos with text and other elements in the document. However, the Mac versions have a different interface than their counterparts.

Both Word and PowerPoint have a drop-down item in the Insert ribbon that allows you to choose Movie Browser or Movie from File. In Word it is called Media, and in PowerPoint it is called Video.

Movie Browser opens a dialog that allows you to choose videos from the iMovie directory, Movies folder in Finder, or the Photo Booth directory. Click on one of these and icons for videos in the chosen one will appear in the lower part of the dialog.

If you click once on one of the videos listed, the Play button at the bottom of the dialog will become active. Clicking Play makes the entire video take up the lower half oh the dialog when it plays. Clicking the Play button again restores the bottom half so it lists the videos

 To insert a video, click and drag the desired video to where you want it in the Word document or PowerPoint slide.

Movie from File will open the Choose a Movie dialog that will allow you to find a video in one of the folders on your Mac’s hard drive or a peripheral drive or remote drive connected to your Mac. The video will be inserted where your cursor is located.

Once a video is in the document or slide, a menu item appears to the right of View, Picture Format for Word and Video Format in PowerPoint. Clicking this menu item changes the ribbon to all the items Word and PowerPoint for Mac have to edit images. This includes adjusting the color, contrast, and transparency; changing the height and width; cropping the image; and changing how text wraps around it.

The videos also are played within the document. A separate window does not popup. To play a video in Word, simply double click on it. Once one starts playing, it will have pause and volume control buttons along the bottom of it.

In PowerPoint, there are playback controls at the bottom of the video, regardless of whether it is playing or not. These are present when you are editing a slide or reviewing the document in Slideshow mode. PowerPoint also has a Playback menu item that appears when you click the item that has various controls for adjusting how the video is played back.

LibreOffice

Insert video into LibreOffice
This shows the Audio or Video item in the Media sub-menu in the Insert menu of LibreOffice Writer. Videos can be inserted in Writer, Calc, Impress, or Draw.

As mentioned in a previous article in this blog, LibreOffice is different from Microsoft Office because you can create and open a document for one application from a document in another application.

This centralization also applies to other menus. One of those menus is Insert, which contains an Audio or Video item. Four of the applications have the menu and item: Writer, Calc, Impress, and Draw.

Videos are treated like images. Writer, Impress, and Draw have different tools to edit the images and integrate them with the text and other objects in the documents. In Calc, the image is a layer above the cells. The spreadsheet application does not have many tools for integrating it with the cells.

The media playback toolbar has the Play, Stop, Pause, and Volume controls to play the videos. They are played within the document. Unlike Word, a window does not pop up when the video image is clicked.

Here are the formats that can be inserted into a document:

  • FLAC Audio flac

  • Flash Video (flv)

  • Matroska Media (mkv)

  • Ogg Video

  • Quicktime Video

  • WebM Video

  • Real Media (.rm)

  • Digital Video (.dv)

  • Ogg Opus (.opus).

Neither one of the four applications has an interface for finding or inserting videos from online sources nor do they have the ability to insert embedded code.

Be sure to save your documents in the OpenDocument Formats, otherwise the videos will not be saved in them.

Conclusion

While Microsoft Office has an advantage over LibreOffice as far as video insertion capabilities, its users have a dilemma, especially if they want to insert a video in a Word document. If they are using a Mac, they cannot insert a video from YouTube or another online source. If they are using Windows, they cannot choose a video they have stored in their hard drives.

LibreOffice works the same regardless of which operating system it is running on, so Windows, Mac, and Linux distro users can insert videos and share their documents with someone else who is using LibreOffice on a different platform. However, in this situation the free office suite cannot be used as a companion for Office users, regardless of whether the user has Mac or Windows, because a video that is inserted and saved in a LibreOffice Writer document will  not be present if that document is opened in Word.

For this reason the open-source suite does not give the Windows or Mac user any reason to use it for video work if they have a copy of Microsoft Office. YouTube videos cannot be inserted unless they are downloaded, so this does not help the Mac user. Since videos stored in LibreOffice documents do not appear when they are opened in Office, it cannot be used as a method to insert videos into Word for Windows documents.

The best thing to do is work with the limitations of your office applications. If you are using Word for Windows, upload your videos to a service that creates embedded code, so you insert them. If you are using a Mac, download the desired videos. LibreOffice users also need to download the videos they want to use, and make sure they are in formats it can recognize. Whatever application you use to insert videos with, you will need to finalize the draft of your document with.

LibreOffice, Microsoft Office can work together when it comes to graphics

Photographs and graphics have been used in text documents since desktops started having GUI interfaces in the early to mid 1980s. Users had to copy and paste images into documents created by those early word processors.

 As technology evolved, different file formats and applications that create them have come and gone. Since office-suite applications have been the standard tools used to create documents to share with others for various business and personal purposes, many of these image formats can be integrated into documents created by them.

 It is no different for the two office suites discussed in this blog. Microsoft Office and LibreOffice can import and export many of the standard image and graphic formats that are popular today.

 Both Office and LibreOffice can open the basic format images, such as JPG, PNG, and BMP. These are universal formats that can be opened by many applications.

Here is the Open list in LibreOffice. It shows the list of graphics formats that the suite can open.

 LibreOffice, however, has the advantage in the number of formats it can import. Though there are several formats that can be accessed by Office that LibreOffice does not support. This information comes from a Web page, published by the Document Foundation that was used in previous articles.

 The differences is supported formats are fairly obvious. For the most part, Office supports ones that have been created for Windows or other applications owned by Microsoft. LibreOffice supports more open formats and ones from industry standard applications.

 An example of this is Adobe Photoshop. Its default format, PSD, is a popular format used by many photographers and graphic designers. LibreOffice can open these documents, but Microsoft Office 2016 cannot.

The open-source suite also can export to Adobe Flash (SWF) and import graphics formats from other popular Adobe, Corel, and other programs:

  • CorelDraw (v1-X7)

  • Corel Presentation Exchange

  • Adobe/Macromedia Freehand (v3-11)

  • Adobe PageMaker

  • Zoner/Callisto Draw (.zmf)

 Here are a list of formats that Microsoft Office does not support:

  • SVG: Scalable Vector Graphics is an XML-based format for two-dimensional graphics.

  • EPS: Encapsulated Postscript Vector graphics are used in vector images in Adobe Illustrator.

  • DXF: This is an AutoCAD format.

  • MET:  MET files contain information such as the preferences set in the application, hashed file ID’s, resource download links, server addresses, file names, and statistics

  • PBM: This is a format that is part of the Netpbm project. Images in these formats are designed to easily  be exchanged among different formats. Portable Bitmap is  0-1 black and white.

  • PCD: This is the format of images that are on a photo CD.

  • PCX: This is a Paintbrush Bitmap Image file. It was one of the first image standards for MS-DOS.

  • PGM: This is a format that is part of the Netpbm project. Images in these formats are designed to easily  be exchanged among different formats. Portable GrayMap is  0-255 gray scale.

  • PPM:  This is a format that is part of the Netpbm project. Images in these formats are designed to easily  be exchanged among different formats. Portable Pixmap is  0-255 RGB.

  • RAS: This is a bitmap file.

  • SGF: Smart Game Format. This is used for storing records of board games.The format pairs properties and values that describe games.

  • SVM: This commonly used when inserting and copying images in the drawing and presentation applications of the OpenOffice and LibreOffice suites.

  • TGA: file extension for a raster graphics file created by TrueVision Inc. Truevision was also called Truevision Advanced Raster Graphics Adapter (TARGA),  the first family of video cards for IBM Compatible PCs that supported TrueColor display,

  • XBM: This is X Bitmap. It is typically used for storing cursor and icon bitmaps.

  • XPM: This is X PixMap, used to create icon PixMaps.

LibreOffice Impress supports 3D-model formats that PowerPoint does not. The first are Digital Asset Exchange (DAE) files. These are used for exchanging digital assets among different programs. The presentation program also can open Keyhole Markup Language Zipped (KMZ) files. These are for place holders in Google Earth.

Here is a list of formats supported by Office but not LibreOffice:

  • MEZ: MusicEase Music File Notation

  • WMZ: This is a skin format for Windows Media Player that is Windows Metafile that is zipped into XML documents. A skin file is master file that defines how the other files will be used.

  • PCZ: This is a compressed Macintosh PICT picture image file. PICT is Apple’s standard metafile for Macs.

  • CGM: This stands for Computer Graphics Metafile.  It is a free and open international standard file format for 2D vector graphics, raster graphics, and text, and is defined by ISO/IEC 8632

The conclusion of this article supports the idea discussed in previous articles. LibreOffice is a good companion tool to Microsoft Office. Since you can open or create Office documents with it, you can use it to import graphics that are in formats not supported by the Microsoft suite.

 This is good in environments where Adobe generated graphics and CAD drawings need to be inserted into reports or presentations. It also would be a good way of getting a Google Earth place holder in a PowerPoint presentation.

 With both office suites, you simply have more options in creating and editing documents.

LibreOffice can revive old documents from graveyard

One key difference between LibreOffice and Microsoft Office are the organizations behind them.

 Office is owned by one of the largest technology companies in the world. It charges for its office suite and gives the version that runs on its operating system the most features and applications. The corporation’s goal is to sell its latest versions of Office to as many people as possible.

 LibreOffice is developed by the Document Foundation, a non-profit organization with a guiding manifesto that posits that everyone should have equal access to an office suite, regardless of their ability to pay or their native language. It also maintains that the individual user should retain intellectual property rights over their documents, as stated in its manifesto.

 The non-profit nature of LibreOffice has made the suite a good digital preservation tool. Digital preservation is a process of making sure digital information is usable and accessible, regardless of the applications used to create it are still available or not. LibreOffice uses open formats and standards, which are essential to digital preservation,  and digital preservation is important to retaining an individual’s intellectual property rights.

 Many users have temporarily lost their property rights because they have old documents in formats from office applications that are defunct, or newer versions of applications no longer support their old formats.

 When you click Open in one of LibreOffice’s applications and click File drop-down menu, a list with more than 100 formats will appear. This list is composed of modern and legacy formats for text editors, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.

LibreOffice Open dialog.
The files drop-down menu in LibreOffice has more than 100 formats for text, spreadsheet, presentation, and other documents.

 Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formats are in the list, of course, but it also includes Apple Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, as well as Corel WordPerfect, Quattro Pro 6.0, and several other Corel formats. Some of the legacy formats include Lotus WordPro and 1-2-3, ClarisWorks/AppleWorks, and Microsoft Works.

 LibreOffice supports all of these formats because the Document Foundation values users retaining intellectual property rights. It allows them to open their documents and migrate them to open formats, such as OpenDocument Text. OS-College has a Web page with the list of formats for LibreOffice.

 Microsoft Office does not have an exstensive list of formats like LibreOffice has, though version 2016 can open Office 97-2003 format documents in compatibility mode, and they can be converted to the latest Office formats (XML-based and open) or OpenDocument Formats. The latest version cannot open older Microsoft formats, however.

The XML formats that Microsoft has been its standard for that past decade or so are easier to examine with other applications than their previous ones. However, it has zero interest in allowing users to open legacy formats from other office applications, so they can migrate them to these XML formats.

 This means that LibreOffice is a better preservation tool than Microsoft Office. While this may not be a reason to ditch the most popular office suite in the world for the open-source one. It may be a reason to include the latter in your toolbox of applications.

 You can use LibreOffice, either by installing it or running the PortableApps version on a USB drive, to open the older documents and migrate them to and OpenDocument or office open format (docx, xlsx, pptx). This can be done by simply performing a Save As.

LibreOffice integrates in ways Microsoft Office doesn’t

 

The previous article has a link to a Web page that compares LibreOffice to Microsoft Office 2016. One of the items in the Website’s table is “full integration of all office components.” This is a key advantage LibreOffice has over Microsoft Office.

Recent documents LibreOffice Standard toolbar
The Open icon, with Recent drop-down, is available in all six applications.

 

This article covers the ease of opening recent documents, creating new documents, and launching wizards in LibreOffice and compares that to Microsoft Office’s integration. All of these are accessible from the File menu in any one of LibreOffice’s six applications (Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, and Base) and StartCenter.

 

You can access any recently opened document from the File menu in any application.  If you have a document open in Writer and want to open a spreadsheet you worked on yesterday, simply click the File menu, highlight Recent Documents, and then click on the document in the list. Recent documents also can be accessed through the Standard toolbar, that is available to all six applications. Click the arrow next to the open icon to reveal recent documents.

 

LibreOffice New sub-menu
This shows the New sub-menu that is in LibreOffice’s StartCenter and all six applications: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math.

Creating new documents is similar. To create a presentation document while you are working on a Writer document, click the File menu, highlight the New sub-menu, then click spreadsheet in the list. The Standard toolbar has a New icon with an arrow drop-down menu, listing document types. They are as follows:

        Text Document: This creates the basic document in Writer that can be saved in OpenDocument Text, DOCX, Rich Text and several other formats.

        Spreadsheet: This creates the basic document in Calc that can be saved in OpenDocument Spreadsheet, XLSX, and several other formats.

        Presentation: This creates the basic document in Impress that can be saved in OpenDocument Presentation, PPTX, and several other formats.

        Drawing: Clicking this opens standard drawing document.

        Database: This opens the Database Wizard that allows you to create an HSQL database or open an existing database.

        HTML Document: This creates a new LibreOffice Writer/Web document.The document is similar to the standard Writer document, but it has some different tools and features for creating Web pages. This document can be saved in HTML (html), HTML Document Template (oth), and Text (txt).

        XML Form Document: This opens an XML Form Document.

        Master Document: This is a container for multiple documents that compose a complex document such as a book. The documents that are part of the master document are called subdocuments.

        Formula: This opens an untitled document in Math.

        Labels: Clicking this opens a Labels dialog that has three tabs: Labels, Format, and Options. Labels allows you to choose the database and table from where the information will be drawn. Format has settings for pitch, width, and heighth, Options lets you set whether it is a single label or entire page.

        Business Cards: Clicking this launches the Business Cards dialog that has five tabs that allow you to set up the business cards.

        Templates: This opens the Template Manager. It has tabs for Documents, Spreadsheet, Presentations, and Drawings.

 

Another sub-menu in the File menu of every application and StartCenter is Wizards. This contains a list of items that are dialogs that help you create various types of documents. However, there is not an icon in Standard toolbar.

 

The Wizards are as follows:

        Letter: This opens a dialog that helps you create a Business, Formal Personal, or a Personal letter. It takes you through list of six steps to create a letter.

        Fax: This opens a dialog that helps you create a fax page. There are five steps that help you create a Personal or Business fax.

        Agenda: This guides you through creating a template for an agenda. You can use the template to create an agenda in the future.

        Presentation: This helps you create a new presentation from a blank document, a template, or an existing template. It allows you to choose the output medium.

        Web Page: This will allow you to select documents from you hard drive to convert to a file format that can be viewed by a Web browser. It will create

        Document Converter: This allows you to convert Microsoft Office documents in a directory on your hard drive to OpenDocument formats and put them in another directory of your choosing.

        Euro Converter: This converts any numbers that are in currencies of various European countries to Euros. The figures can be in spreadsheet documents or in tables in a text document.

        Address Data Source: This allows you to set up a spreadsheet or a database as a source for address information.

 

Microsoft Office applications do not have this level of integration. If you have Word open, you only have access to Word documents. You cannot open the PowerPoint presentation you worked on yesterday without either first launching PowerPoint or going through your computer’s file system to find the presentation and click on it. Each of Office’s applications has its own document management system, so you can access recently opened workbooks in Excel and create new ones based on Excel templates. You, however, could not do anything with a Word document.

 

LibreOffice’s level of app integration helps with workflow. It reduces the amount of steps to create or open a new document and makes it easier to work with multiple documents at the same time. LibreOffice also makes it easy to switch between documents. The Window menu lists all the documents that are open. Simply clicking one in the list makes it the active window.

 

This is just one of the features that makes LibreOffice a competitive alternative to Microsoft Office. The suite also works well with Office formats, so if you are not completely comfortable ditching Office, you can make it a companion to the Microsoft product.