The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 3.5: “the best free office suite ever”

The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 3.5, the third major release of “the best free office suite ever”, which shows to end users the improvements derived from the development strategy adopted since September 2010. LibreOffice 3.5 derives from the combined effort of full time hackers – the largest group of experienced OOo code developers – and volunteer hackers, coordinated by the Engineering Steering Committee.

During 16 months, an average of 80 developers each month have provided a total of over thirty thousand code commits, introducing new and interesting features:

Writer

- a new built-in Grammar checker for English and several other languages
- improved typographical features, for professional looking documents
- an interactive word count window, which updates in real time
- a new header, footer and page break user interface

Impress / Draw

- an improved importer of custom shapes and Smart Art from PPT/PPTX
- a feature for embedding multimedia/colour palettes into ODF documents
- a new display switch for the presenter’s console
- new line ends for improved diagrams
- Microsoft Visio import filter

Calc

- support for up to 10,000 sheets
- a new multi-line input area
- new Calc functions conforming to the ODF OpenFormula specifications
- better performances when importing files from other office suites
- multiple selections in autofilter
- unlimited number of rules for conditional formatting

Base

- a new integrated PostgreSQL native driver

In addition, for the first time in the history of LibreOffice, we will be enabling the online update checker, which informs users when a new version of the suite is available.
“We inherited a 15 years old code base, where features were not implemented and bugs were not solved in order to avoid creating problems, and this – with time – was the origin of a large technical debt,” says Caolán McNamara, a senior RedHat developer who is one of the founders and directors of TDF. “We had two options: a conservative strategy, which would immediately please all users, leaving the code basically unchanged, and our more aggressive feature development and code renovation path, which has created some stability problems in the short term but is rapidly leading to a completely new and substantially improved free office suite: LibreOffice 3.5, the best free office suite ever.”

“In sixteen months, we have achieved incredible results – comments Michael Meeks, a SUSE Distinguished Engineer, who is also a founder and director at TDF – with nearly three hundred entirely new developers to the project, attracted by the copyleft license, the lack of copyright assignment and a welcoming environment. In addition to the visible features, they’ve translated tens of thousands of German comments, removed thousands of unused or obsolete methods – sometimes whole libraries – and grown a suite of automated tests. Although we still have a long way to go, users – who have sometimes complained for the stability of the software, as they were not aware of the technical debt we were fighting with – can now benefit from a substantially cleaner, leaner and more feature rich LibreOffice 3.5.”

LibreOffice 3.5 is the first release where the contribution of local communities and associations, such as ALTA in Brazil, has been acknowledged. In addition, TDF tried to recognize those volunteers – where we could easily identify them – who put so much into the 3.5 release, with a “hacking” or “bug hunting” hero badge presented the same day of the announcement. TDF is encouraging the development of a global, open and diverse ecosystem where companies, associations, local communities and volunteers share the common objective of developing the best free office suite ever.

The Document Foundation invites power users to install LibreOffice 3.5, and more conservative users to stick with LibreOffice 3.4 branch. Corporate users are strongly advised to deploy LibreOffice with the backing of professional support, from a company able to assist with migration, end user training, support and maintenance. The Document Foundation will soon provide a list of certified organizations providing these professional services.

LibreOffice 3.5 is available from: http://www.libreoffice.org/download. The new features and the improvements are described in the infographic which can be downloaded from: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/116590/lo35-infofinal.pdf.

Comments are closed.