Commentary on an Article About LibreOffice
An article appeared in InfoWorld with the title “LibreOffice 3.5: The best Office killer yet” (Feb. 29, 2012). However, the article was critical of LibreOffice. A published comment pointed this out. The article’s author, Neil McAllister, replyed by saying, “I agree that the final headline sounds a little too sunny. Headlines have a way of changing for various reasons, and this wasn’t the original.” I posted the following two comments for the article. InfoWorld later reset its system and erased the comments.
I think LibreOffice is better than the article suggests.
The article mentions limited support in LibreOffice for Microsoft’s Access and Visio. But many Microsoft Office users do not have these applications. Access is not included in the Standard edition of Microsoft Office; you have to buy the Professional edition. Visio is not included in even the Professional edition. It is a separate purchase with a suggested retail price ranging from $250 to $1,000. In contrast, Base and Draw are included in the free LibreOffice suite.
The LibreOffice Base application has a built-in HSQL database engine. Base has native-support drivers for MySQL, Adabas D, MS Access and PostgreSQL. JDBC and ODBC drivers allow connection to other database engines. Base allows you to create tables, queries, forms and reports.
For those who prefer a spreadsheet interface, there is the Calc spreadsheet application. It can connect and be used as a front-end to databases.
The article criticizes the supplied grammar and spell checking tools. The LibreOffice project has bundled lightweight checking tools into its suite. But LibreOffice and OpenOffice also come with a powerful extension facility. The LibreOffice Extensions page is at http://extensions.libreoffice.org/extension-center. For instance, entering the keyword “grammar” will return the more full-featured “LanguageTool” and “After the Deadline” extensions for English grammar checking.
The article also faults LibreOffice about networking. The last sentence in the article’s networking paragraph is, “A stand-alone desktop office productivity suite may be going the way of the dinosaur.”
But again the available extensions can help. These two extensions are available for both LibreOffice and OpenOffice:
OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs – export & import to Google Docs, Zoho, WebDAV
The article mentions that the author could not get LibreOffice to work with Java 7. Oracle’s Java website has a page that starts, “Why is Java SE 7 not yet available on java.com?” Release 7 is currently only recommended for developer testing.
I installed LibO 3.5.0 on a Windows system with Java 6. That installation and the use of the Java-dependent Base application in LibO were normal.
Another installation-related aspect can be mentioned. LibO is free of the product activation and license administration hassles with which Microsoft Office sites have to contend.
Finally, I would like to add that LibO has a third document networking extension. LPSP is a connector to Microsoft’s SharePoint.
I also emailed the author with additional thoughts about getting LibreOffice and Java to work together:
The following two forum postings for LangugeTool provide possible insight into the problem discussed in this thread.
For many LibO users, the Java-dependent components work with the default settings. But if there is a problem, it is a good idea to examine the configuration in LibO at Tools > Options > Java. The box for “Use a Java runtime environment” should be checked. The section below that shows the installed Java runtime environments (JRE) that were detected, along with radio buttons to select the JRE to use. The Help button provides documentation on this and the other Java configuration options in LibO. After making a Java configuration change, you may need to restart LibO before it takes effect.
© 2012 Stephen Leibowitz