Open Source Office Apps: Calligra Suite vs LibreOffice: Page 2

Is one of these open source office tools clearly better than the other?


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The Tables function wizard mirrors that of Calc almost to the letter. So coming from Calc doesn't present any real pain for the end user, once they get used to the different user interface. On the flipside, I found functionality such as data sorting to be quite different. Calc is able to sort data either ascending or descending. With Tables, on the other hand, this function wasn't clearly labeled anywhere I could find it.

After spending some time running calculations with both programs, I came away feeling like Tables gave me a great first impression, only to let me down with its data sorting. Overall though, it is generally a suitable alternative to LibreOffice Calc for most spreadsheets.

Impress vs Stage

Both the Impress and Stage programs do a fantastic job providing usable templates upon startup. While the Impress startup wizard provides more initial options, I would suggest that Stage has more attractive templates. Once both programs are open, the differences continue, as Impress offers Normal, Outline, Notes, Handout and a Slide Sorter view.

By contrast, Stage offers Normal, Notes and Slide Sorter views only. Normally, missing a single view wouldn't be a big deal. However when you consider that the Outline view can make a complex presentation easier to manage, Stage really comes up short by missing this critical option.

Another option Stage lacks is the Handout tab. This isn’t as critical, since many presentations don't have corresponding handouts given with them, but it's still something that some presentation creators might find themselves missing.

Another area where Stage really let me down is with the tasks view. There are entirely too many icons presented on the right-hand side without a clear indicator as to what most of them do. With Impress, on the other hand, the tasks pane is clear as day. Each item is carefully spelled out, forgoing the over-abundance of needless icons.

I realize that Calligra Suite is a big fan of using tons of icons with minimal descriptions. However, I can tell you that most people are going to get lost with this type of layout very quickly. I was genuinely disappointed with Stage. I simply can't recommend it over Impress.

Remaining software

When comparing Kexi vs Base, the biggest issue I found was that Kexi offers great Microsoft Access support while LibreOffice Base is simply more logical to use. The maturity with Base really shines through, in that it actually works without errors or other hassles. That said, I did find that Kexi has a better flow in setting up databases. The database creation process just felt more modern, but Base wins in that it works without crashing.

Finally, we have Draw vs Flow. Surprisingly, Flow wins simply because all of my options are presented right there for me. It's one of those instances where having a flurry of icons and options laid out before me is actually a help and not a hassle. Flow was well thought out, so I am inclined to choose it over Draw.

And the winner is...

I really want to recommend Calligra Suite. And perhaps someday, as it matures, I'll be able to. However, as Calligra Suite stands now, it's not a great match with most of its software. Despite each of the included Calligra Suite applications doing some things right, the software is still in need of more time in development to catch up to LibreOffice.

So what is my overall recommendation then? Honestly, I'm a big fan of Flow and I think that with a little bit of patience, Words has a lot going for it. I would suggest using both office suites, as everyone's preferences will likely vary. There is no question that LibreOffice suffers from a tired, ugly UI. I offer no argument there.

Calligra Suite does offer a smoother user interface. Unfortunately, though, the overall usability simply isn't there to meet my own needs. If you actually need to get some work done with stable, proven software, then LibreOffice is going to be the clear winner based on my own tests.

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Tags: open source, LibreOffice, Calligra

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