Lodahl's blog: LibreOffice is becoming the Swiss army knife in the office

16 July 2013

LibreOffice is becoming the Swiss army knife in the office

What started as a simple text editor and later became am office suite is actually becoming a very comprehensive set of tools for the daily office work.

LibreOffice is most likely the only application that can open almost any office file format in the world. Legacy and modern - it doesn't matter LibreOffice can handle them. Even some legacy file formats from older versions of Microsoft Office that can't be recognized by supported versions of Microsoft Office can be opened and converted with LibreOffice. Its a well known fact that some corrupted files from legacy Microsoft Office versions can only be opened with LibreOffice. I'm just mentioning a few file formats here: Lotus Word Pro, MS Works, WordPerfect and Cores Draw. Also older versions of office files from outdated Mac computers like Microsoft Word for Mac, Write Now, MacWrite Pro and AppleWorks is now accessible.

Besides that LibreOffice is constantly improving the Microsoft OOXML Import and Export filters as well as for the Microsoft Office binary file formats and the RTF format.

With LibreOffice you can store PDF-files and even embed the original text document or spreadsheet within the PDF. This makes it possible to do later edits of the file directly by loading it into LibreOffice. But there is more that. With the drawing application you can open any PDF-file that is stored without encryption. You can even edit the content and you can merge and split the document as you like. Hereby LibreOffice can replace some of the separate tools that is often used to do these tasks.

With the spreadsheet application Calc you can import CSV files and even arbitrary XML files into a spreadsheet.

LibreOffice runs on almost any thinkable platform ans operating system and its free. Free as in free beer and as in free speech. you can download it from here: https://www.libreoffice.org/download/ .

What more do you want of interoperability?


Mirosław Zalewski said...

So, to sum up:
- LO 4.1 adds filters for reading files from Word 5.1 on Mac (released in 1992), WriteNow 4.0 (released pre-1993), MacWrite Pro 1.5 (released in 1994) and AppleWorks 6.0 (released in 2002).
- LO 4.0 removed filters for reading files from StarOffice 1.0-5.1, it's direct ascendant (released pre-1996 to 1999).

Do you know how many bugs on LO bugzilla ever mentioned Write Now or MacWrite Pro? Zero.
And StarOffice? Nine.
It might be not huge number, but there were some people that actually took time to register and notice developers that they (users) can no longer read their old files.

Speaking from user perspective, what is a logic here? Why do we remove support for newer formats and add support for older formats? Why do we remove feature wanted by minority of users and half year later add feature that no-one has ever asked for?

Anonymous said...

I wanted to say the same like Miroslaw: The removal of the import filter of binary StarOffice SDW, SDA, SDC, SDD files is a serious omission.

However, many of these old files did even not open correctly in LibreOffice 3.6 (many of them had quit with an "input error" message. Therefore, I took the effort to convert my ~260 old binary StarOffice files with an OpenOffice 1.0.1 running in a wine emulation (since I couldn't run OOo 1.0.1 on recent Linux distributions). In this old programme I converted it to .sxw,... which I could convert in LO 4.0 to recent ODF files. For me, as a private person, this was possible, but for people having thousands of StarOffice files, this is an absolute NoGo! There was also no reasonable automation possible, because no automation approach really worked with OOo 1.0.1.

Import filters for SDW, SDA, SDC, SDD files would be good to have, indeed. Alternatively, IMHO it would be sufficient if the LibreOffice team would run an old OpenOffice 1.0.1. with a ODF conversion tool online and provide a hint for users if they want to open an old StarOffice binary file.

Mateusz Zasuwik said...

@Mirosław Zalewski

Better question is "why LibreOffice doesn't read files made by itself?".

We both know about fdo#64916 and I assume that none of developers will glance at this bugreport before 4.1 release. I am feeling fooled a little because there is huge regression. Community spend years of their life to make Open/LibreOffice better product but developers are parading these useless enhancements and do nothing with really significant issues. I got impression that in last time, in TDF there is more stupid marketing actions than really needed actions.

Other issue are proved regressions, dropped by developers many months ago.

David Gerard said...

@Mirosław Zalewski - presumably because third-party libs to do the job already exist so it's easy. I doubt they would ever have implemented the old Mac format filters (a WONTFIX on OOo since 2001) if libmwaw hadn't just been right there to use.

Note, btw, that AOO is also removing the StarOffice import filters in AOO 4.0. From this, I presume that the old binfilter sucks that much.

Chris said...

This is fantastic!

David Gerard said...

The actual answer is, really, "so write the filter".

Or write a stripped-down standalone that does nothing but convert old StarOffice formats to ODF.

In the general case: write code.

It is slightly embarrassing that LO doesn't read SO formats ... but as I noted, the old code sucked so much that AOO doesn't either. And they've railed against "code cleanups" in the past.