Tag Archives: Office

0:1 for LibreOffice

I love LibreOffice. In combination with Zotero, it serves me well writing academic articles. Until…. I have to share documents with Non-LibO-using collaborators. Unfortunately, there are still a few of those out there.

Recently my wife told me, she wants Windows and WinWord back, after she lost a few hours of work due to incompatibilities.

I feel that LibreOffice does not get its priorities in the right order. Sure, code cleanup and all that is good. But LibreOffice seems to be mostly thinking in terms of (new) features. Blogs show impressive feature comparison checklists with competitors, such as this one by M. Meeks. The Wiki compares features with MS Office, and each release sports an impressive release note visualizing cool new stuff. But for those poor souls that try to hold out against the MS Office fortress the most important feature is reliable interoperability with .doc and .docx formats. This is tedious and boring work and hardly leads to flashy release notes. Yet, for me -and I would wager many others out there- this is the most important thing, LibO can offer.

It is not a matter of life and death, but students have gotten marks deducted as LibreOffice had introduced spurious superscript in a file when saving as .doc.

About half of the files my wife saves as .doc or .docx refuse to open on her colleagues’ MS Office versions (bug 45983). No one seems to know why. All embedded OLE objects, such as charts or spreadsheets are physically lost from the file when saved by LibO as .docx file (bug 51550), an issue that has bitten me bitterly. And when opening a not so complex .doc file, a table was simply missing in Libreoffice (bug 54430 which led my wife to waste quite a few hours, because she first did not notice the lack of the quite crucial table. (and had to track down another version of the file which turned out an obsolete version). To cut a long story short: my wife wants me to install Windows and WinWord, although she prefers LibreOffice’s UI. I am sorry, but I can understand her. 0:1 for LibreOffice.

Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for all the work that is being done in and around LibO, and I know about the difficulties of reimplementing a reverse-engineered file format that is handled differently by different MS office versions. The blame lies squarely with Microsoft for not being open here. Yet, I feel that rather than hunting for new features to check of, more effort should go towards those poor souls that actually have to read documents that other people have written and the other way round.