LibreOffice vs. OpenOffice: Why LibreOffice Wins: Page 2

When comparing LibreOffice with OpenOffice, there are eleven clear reasons why LibreOffice is superior.


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5. A Browser-Like Find Function

OpenOffice.org combined Find and Replace in a single dialogue. This arrangement was compact, but more than you need when you simply want to locate a word or phrase.

Recognizing this situation, LibreOffice splits the Find and Replace functions. In LibreOffice, selecting Find opens a field on the information bar that looks much like what you find in a web browser. How to use the change is immediately obvious, and the convenience far greater than selecting a menu item.

4. Advanced Features Toggle

As part of LibreOffice's efforts to improve the interface, features for specialized audiences no longer display by default. These include macro recording and settings for use of LibreOffice as an IDE.These features can be toggled on and off at Tools -> Choice -> LibreOffice ->Advanced.

3. Improved Header / Footer Tools

LibreOffice and OpenOffice are designed around styles. If you want a custom footer, you create a custom page style. This approach is efficient, but many users resist it. Sometimes, too, even the most dedicated user of styles occasionally wants a short one-off document that their template library doesn't cover.

To accommodate these use cases, LibreOffice adds a basic selection of header or footer tools, available when you click the margin outside the main text frame. The tools are a limited substitute for page styles, but better than anything OpenOffice has for such cases.

2. Title Page Dialogue

Like the header and footer tools in the main window, Format -> Title page is for those occasions when using page styles would be impractical. The settings in the dialogue quickly create a page style suitable for an academic essay or a business report. OpenOffice has nothing that compares.

1. Embedded Fonts

Sharing files is a problem as old as personal computing. The trouble is, you can never be sure if others have the fonts you use, and if your file is going to be reformatted with disastrous results. You can send always send a PDF, but only so long as the recipients don't need to comment or edit the file.

LibreOffice offers another solution with File -> Properties -> Font. With a single check mark, you can embed fonts in the file, guaranteeing that they will be available for all recipients.

Embedding fonts does have the disadvantage of ballooning font size. Consequently, you will want to embed only those fonts that are necessary. Still, the convenience is undeniable.

LibreOffice vs. OpenOffice: Ships in the Night

These features suggest the directions that LibreOffice is heading: cleaning and modernizing the code, and adding features for different types of users. So far as I know, no one has compared its change rate to OpenOffice.org's, but, so far as I can see, it has done more in five years than OpenOffice.org did in twice the time.

In comparison, Apache OpenOffice has continued OpenOffice.org's conservative rate of change. It is gradually adding to its supported languages, and adding polish here and there, but its innovations are far more cautious than LibreOffice's.

Nor do I see any immediate chances of that changing. Apache OpenOffice lost valuable development time when it received the code from Oracle and was setting up the Apache project. In addition, while OpenOffice's license does not allow it to borrow code from LibreOffice, LibreOffice's license allows free borrowing from OpenOffice.

However, the greatest difference is revealed on Open Hub: while LibreOffice has 298 active contributors to its code, OpenOffice has only 39. Unless this ratio alters quickly, OpenOffice is unlikely to stay competitive, no matter how dedicated its developers are.

Right now, LibreOffice and OpenOffice are like two boats drifting apart that are still close enough that a passenger on one can reach across and touch the other. However, with LibreOffice's advantages, it will soon catch the current and draw far ahead.

The problem is not that OpenOffice has anything wrong with it -- just that its ability to compete seems limited without major changes to the project.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Tags: open source, OpenOffice.org, OpenOffice, LibreOffice

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