As Business Users Lose Faith In Apple’s iWork, LibreOffice 4.0 Free Office Suite To The Rescue

ZNet’s Jason D. O’Grady says business Mac users are beginning to question their loyalty to iWork, Apple’s office suite and prime competitor to Microsoft Office for Mac. Desktop iWork hasn’t received a significant update since iWork ’09 was released almost four years ago, and O’Grady says his sources tell him Apple has repurposed most of its iWork developers to work on Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iOS – which continues to receive regular updates at the expense of the OS X version, and several business Mac users have told him they’re becoming fed up with iWork for OS X’s second-class citizenship, and only reason he can perceive for sticking with iWork at this point is because, at $60 for the suite ($20 per app from the Mac App Store), iWork is relatively cheap.

The answer for some may be found in The Document Foundation’s just-announced release LibreOffice 4.0, your editor’s favorite free office software suite, and of course that’s even cheaper than iWork. I already liked LibreOffice 3.x better than iWork, and the Open Source Foundation says LibreOffice 4.0 is the first release that reflects the objectives set by the community at the time of the announcement, in September 2010: a cleaner and leaner code base, an improved set of features, better interoperability, and a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem.

LibreOffice 4.0: A Community On Fire

In less than 30 months, LibreOffice has grown dramatically to become the largest independent free software project focused on end user desktop productivity. TDF inclusive governance and the copyleft license have been instrumental in attracting more than 500 developers three quarters of them being independent volunteers capable of contributing over 50,000 commits.

The Document Foundation says the resulting code base is rather different from the original one, several million lines of code having been added and removed, by adding new features, solving bugs and regressions, adopting state of the art C++ constructs, replacing tools, getting rid of deprecated methods and obsoleted libraries, and translating twenty five thousand lines of comments from German to English. All of this makes the code easier to understand and more rewarding to be involved with for the stream of new members of the Document Foundation community.

“LibreOffice 4.0 is a milestone in interoperability and an excellent foundation for our continued work to improve the User Interface,” explains Florian Effenberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Our project is not only capable of attracting new developers on a regular basis, but it also creates a transparent platform for cooperation based on a strong Free Software ethos, where corporate sponsored and volunteer developers work to attain the same objective.”

LibreOffice 4.0: The New Features

LibreOffice 4.0 offers a large number of new characteristics, which are listed on this page:

• Integration with several content and document management systems including Alfresco, IBM FileNet P8, Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, Nuxeo, OpenText, SAP NetWeaver Cloud Service and others through the CMIS standard.
• Better interoperability with DOCX and RTF documents, thanks to several new features and improvements like the possibility of importing ink annotations and attaching comments to text ranges.
• Possibility to import Microsoft Publisher documents, and further improvement of Visio import filters with the addition of 2013 version (just announced).
• Additional UI incremental improvements, including Unity integration and support of Firefox Themes (Personas) to give LibreOffice a personalized look.
• Introduction of the widget layout technique for dialog windows, which makes it easier to translate, resize and hide UI elements, reduces code complexity, and lays a foundation for a much improved user interface.
• Different header and footer on the first page of a Writer document, without the need of a separate page style.
Several performance improvements to Calc, plus new features such as export of charts as images (JPG and PNG) and new spreadsheet functions as defined in ODF OpenFormula.
• First release of Impress Remote Control App for Android, supported only on some Linux distributions. (The second release, coming soon, will be supported on all platforms: Windows, MacOS X and all Linux distros and binaries.)
• Significant performance improvements when loading and saving many types of documents, with particular improvements for large ODS and XLSX spreadsheets and RTF files.
• Improved code contribution thanks to Gerrit: a web based code review system, facilitating the task for projects using Git version control system (although this is not specific of LibreOffice 4.0, it has entered the production stage just before the 4.0 branch).

LibreOffice 4.0: Under The Hood

There are a number of fixes and improvements primarily of interest to developers:

Overall excellent backwards compatibility is retained for legacy extensions, but moving forward TDF is committed to a more pro-active approach to evolving the UNO APIs, with more functionality to be deprecated, and eventually dropped, in due time according to the six month release cycle throughout the LibreOffice 4.x release series.

During the last seven months, since the branch of LibreOffice 3.6 and during the entire development cycle of LibreOffice 4.0, developers have made over 10,000 commits. On average, one commit every 30 minutes, including weekends and the holiday season: a further testimonial of the incredible vitality of the project.

How to get LibreOffice 4.0

LibreOffice 4.0 is immediately available for download from the following link:

Extensions for LibreOffice are available from the following link:

Changelogs are available at: (solved in (solved in
and (solved in

LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation at:

Money collected will be used to grow the infrastructure, and support marketing activities to increase the awareness of the project, both at global and local level.

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