Announcement of LibreOffice 7.0

Berlin, August 5, 2020

LibreOffice 7.0: the new major release of the best FOSS office suite ever is available on all OSes and platforms, and provides significant new features

The LibreOffice Project announces the availability of LibreOffice 7.0, a new major release providing significant new features: support for OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.3; Skia graphics engine and Vulkan GPU-based acceleration for better performance; and carefully improved compatibility with DOCX, XLSX and PPTX files.

Support for ODF 1.3. OpenDocument, LibreOffice’s native open and standardised format for office documents, has recently been updated to version 1.3 as an OASIS Technical Committee Specification. The most important new features are digital signatures for documents and OpenPGP-based encryption of XML documents, with improvements in areas such as change tracking, and additional details in the description of elements in first pages, text, numbers and charts. The development of ODF 1.3 features has been funded by donations to The Document Foundation.

Skia graphics engine and Vulkan GPU-based acceleration. The Skia graphics engine has been implemented thanks to sponsorship by AMD, and is now the default on Windows, for faster performance. Skia is an open source 2D graphics library which provides common APIs that work across a variety of hardware and software platforms, and can be used for drawing text, shapes and images. Vulkan is a new-generation graphics and compute API with high-efficiency and cross-platform access to modern GPUs.

Better compatibility with DOCX, XLSX and PPTX files. DOCX now saves in native 2013/2016/2019 mode, instead of 2007 compatibility mode, to improve interoperability with multiple versions of MS Office, based on the same Microsoft approach. Export to XLSX files with sheet names longer than 31 characters is now possible, along with exporting checkboxes in XLSX. The “invalid content error” message was resolved when opening exported XLSX files with shapes. Finally, there were improvements to the PPTX import/export filter.

LibreOffice offers the highest level of compatibility in the office suite arena, starting from native support for the OpenDocument Format (ODF) – with better security and interoperability features over proprietary formats – to almost perfect support for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX files. In addition, LibreOffice includes filters for many legacy document formats, and as such is the best interoperability tool in the market.

This is a press release from the LibreOffice Website, written by Italo Vignoli. Click here to visit the article on the LibreOffice blog.

Graphic design apps extend LibreOffice

Office applications are not closed entities that do not interact with other applications. Various elements created by other applications can be imported into an office document, such as a graphic or image. Other applications, such as financial software, can import office documents as well.

The focus of this article how applications outside an office suite can extend the capabilities of that suite. LibreOffice and Microsoft Office can import documents native formats of other applications.

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Portability makes LibreOffice more flexible than Microsoft Office

Tom graduated from university with a degree in graphics design, and finding a full-time job was difficult. He had to take a job creating technical manuals for an appliance manufacturer. This job was through a temp agency.

His cubicle was in the basement of the office, and he was given a 10-year old computer, running Windows XP with the standard Microsoft apps minus a copy of Office. The IT department sees Tom as a low priority, so they have taken there time upgrading his computer.

Tom cannot use his own computer because he is required to save documents to the in-house servers that the XP machine is connected to. This problem would have frustrated most workers adapting to the professional world for the first time.

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Open formats give LibreOffice advantages over Microsoft Office

During the 1980s, software companies were started, developing application types that are popular today. During this time there were several popular operating systems and computer manufacturers. When Microsoft started to dominate the market in the 1990s and early 2000s, many of the companies went out of business, or they were bought out.

For example, when the first Macintosh was released in 1984, its word processor MacWrite was one of the most popular on the market. However, in the 1990s, like many word processors it took a backseat to Microsoft Word.

Many applications were discontinued due to Microsoft Office’s market share, and many people and organizations did not migrate their old documents to active applications and formats.

As technology evolved, and they acquired new technology, many old documents could no longer be opened. This is one aspect of data rot, when data can no longer be accessed. A YouTube video gives more details.

Now there is much less concern over data rot.

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Clipboard managers extend LibreOffice, Microsoft Office

A college student in 1981 is sitting in front of a typewriter working on a term paper for a course in Western Civilization realizes that a lengthy quote he just typed would work great in the paper he is writing for a philosophy course. At this point in history, he has to retype it.

Four years later that student is working in the computer lab on his senior thesis. The Macintosh he is sitting in front of allows him to copy and paste quotes and other passages from one document to another.

The clipboard built into modern operating system and applications has become common place. People use the feature billions of times per day. Typically they copy one passage of text, graphic, or other object at a time. Then they paste it immediately.

More advanced users like to paste several different items in a clipboard, so they can paste different ones later.

The clipboard is an advantage Microsoft Office has over LibreOffice. It comes with a feature that allows up to 24 items to be copied and pasted when the user desires. LibreOffice’s clipboard only allows one item to be pasted at a time.

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LibreOffice, Microsoft Office can share package graphics

Modern office suites allow you to add graphics to any type of document. This includes pre-packaged graphics that comes with the suite.

LibreOffice and Microsoft Office have a series of graphics that are available to any document, regardless of whether it is a text document, spreadsheet, or presentation. Both suites have dialogs that allow for easy insertion of a desired graphic.

LibreOffice has 13 categories by default, and it allows you to create new categories as well as add more graphics. The section is called the Gallery.

In Microsoft Office, the dialog is called Icons. The graphics in this collection are all black and divided into 26 categories. No more can be added to the library, however. The icons are available in the Windows and Mac versions of Office.

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StartCenter makes LibreOffice great tool for multiple documents

LibreOffice has an element and feature that Microsoft Office doesn’t have. The feature is document centralization.

Users can open any recently created and opened documents from any of the applications. A spreadsheet that you created last week can be opened from Writer. You can open the Draw document that you worked on yesterday from Impress.

These documents are listed when you click the arrow next to the Open icon in the Standard toolbar and the Recent Documents sub-menu in the File menu of any of the six applications.

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If you have Visio documents, you need LibreOffice

One interesting advantage LibreOffice has over Microsoft Office is that it works with some Microsoft products and formats that Office does not. One of those products is Visio.

LibreOffice Draw can open standard Visio documents, which are in VSD and VSDX formats. These formats cannot be opened by Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, even though Visio is considered to be an Office application.

There are several other vector-drawing applications that can directly open and edit Visio documents. These include Inkscape and CorelDraw.

Visio is a vector application, but it is different than Adobe Illustrator and those just mentioned. Visio’s purpose is mainly to create diagrams, flowcharts, and similar types of drawings. The other applications are for graphic artists. While they have shapes and flowchart symbols, they also have free-drawing tools that are not present in Visio.

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LibreOffice new EPUB feature a step in the right direction

Modern technology has allowed the individual to share his ideas and stories more easily. It has also given people low-cost or free access to more books.

Readers can enjoy their favorite books on any device, and they can read them on the go. Literature students can start Hamlet on their tablets in their dorm rooms and continue reading it on their phones in between classes.

A computer engineer, at his first job after graduation, can read “The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary” during lunch breaks on his laptop and continue reading on his phone during the train ride home.

Ebooks have changed how humans interact with books. They have been around for decades, but they became popular when Amazon released the Kindle in 2007 and Kindle apps in 2009. Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, and others released e-readers later.

New file formats, designed for e-books, were created at about the same time as these devices were released. One of the most widely used formats for e-books is EPUB (Electronic Publishing). Many e-book stores accept publications directly in this format, or they will convert the submissions to a proprietary format based on EPUB. Amazon uses a file format that is similar to EPUB, and will accept author submissions in the format.

Books are best converted from their original formats to EPUB through special software. Recently, several word processors have been released with basic export features to EPUB. LibreOffice Writer 6.0 has this as a new feature. Previous versions required an extension to be installed.

Another popular application, for Apple users, however does. Apple Pages allows users to export their documents to the EPUB format.

Microsoft Word 2016 does not have an EPUB export feature. However, Amazon has created a plugin for Word, so authors can format a book before submitting it to the Kindle store.

This article will give a brief overview of the format, then compare Writer and Pages capabilities of exporting to the format.

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LibreOffice has many PDF export features Microsoft Office doesn’t

One of the most downloaded and shared file formats is PDF. The format that was developed by Adobe in the 1990s and released as ISO 32000 in 2008, is the key format to share reports, books, and many other types of documents. It looks the same regardless of the operating system and application that it is being viewed with. The documents also cannot easily be edited.

Most office suite applications have the ability to save a document or export it as a PDF. This includes Microsoft Office and LibreOffice. Both suites allow users to control the over the exportation that is more than just low or high quality.

For Microsoft Office, the conversion options differ from application to application. Word’s options differ from Excel’s and PowerPoint’s.

For LibreOffice’s applications, the same dialog with the same settings will appear when Export as PDF is clicked in Writer, Calc, Impress, or Draw. There is one setting that is unique to Impress.

Due to the differences from Microsoft application to application, this article will compare Word’s PDF option dialog to LibreOffice’s dialog. Microsoft Office has a PDFMaker add in that enhances its PDF-making capabilities. If you purchase Acrobat Standard or Pro, you will have PDFMaker.

Without PDFMaker, Microsoft Office does not have as many PDF export features as LibreOffice. This article compares the out-of-box versions.

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