back to article LibreOffice 7.1 beta boasts impressive range of features let down by a lack of polish and poor mobile efforts

The LibreOffice team has published the first beta of version 7.1, with general availability planned for February 2021. LibreOffice now describes itself as "OpenOffice evolution", a poke at rival OpenOffice. It was forked from the same codebase (the roots of both go back to an '80s application called StarWriter, acquired by Sun …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge

    Wordperfect

    30 years on Reveal Codes makes a comeback.

    1. PTW
      Pint

      ^^^ a thousand times this! Why have we had to wait so long? Have a pint

      1. PTW

        I also forgot to say

        Why is the bloody "Range contains column labels" not on the first tab in the sort function in Calc!? Half the dialogue box is empty on the first tab and it must surely be the most used option?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

    Do people really try and use things like this on mobile (excluding tablets)?

    I hate trying to work on anything significant on a laptop due to lack of screen space!

    I guess it depends on use case.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

      Some people do, or more specifically their management masters expect them to.

      But I agree with you, if you have actualy work to do and it involves documentation or large sets of data there is litle better setup than a desk with multiple large monitors.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

      I'm not sure I'd want to edit but being able to read a document might come in handy as might dunning a presentation from Impress from a device with a micro-HDMI connector.

    3. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

      In general I agree.

      However, I've found myself popping open a GoogleDocs/OneDrive spreadsheet and dropping in meter readings or checking an asset tag.

      For financial analysts working across two 27" screens then clearly the screen on a phone or tablet isn't going to cut it, but it can be very handy for brief data entry or checking a figure.

      1. Fluffy Cactus

        Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

        Yes, agree to that too. But if I had to work on the road, I would never use a mobile phone for that.

        I see younger folks (sorry, I am old) typing on mobile phones with almost the speed of light, while I being a "FATFINGER, he is the man with the clumsy touch!", can't keep up with that sort of thing.

        My excuse is not only being old, but also that I don't really have hands that are squirrel sized.

        Zero ergonomics on any mobile!

        (Fatfinger is a joke relating to Goldfinger, an ancient James Bond flick. Explain any joke!)

        Tell me, do I remember this right, that Microsoft offered Office 365 (or whatever it's called now) for free on mobile phones? Whenever that was, I did not take them up on that offer.

        If that's true, this should tell you how much fun it is to enter data on a spreadsheet on a mobile phone.

        Especially with an Android OS, which takes away about half the functions available on a regular keyboard. Copy and paste on an Android powered OS is like: "What, oh wait wait, I will in the next three minutes figure out how to "actually select" the data I wanted to copy, and then, maybe, I'll figure out how to paste where it's supposed to go. And no, it's not obvious, and it's not explained anywhere!"

        Maybe I am the only person who, kind of, figuratively, not literally, wants to grab Apple, Android, MSFT programmers by the nape of the neck and scream at them: "Why did you think that was a good idea!? Have you ever done any complex computing work, with formulas, macros, statistics, etc? Where have you been? At the crusades? Gaaah!"

        To me texting is good for: "See you soon!", "Be right there!", "Out of petrol!", Out of battery in 5 secs!" and my favorite "Sent you an e-mail, read it, print it out, or else it's gone and forgotten!"

        And remember: "the name is Jond, Bames Jond!" Yes, the dyslexic cousin!

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

          "Tell me, do I remember this right, that Microsoft offered Office 365 (or whatever it's called now) for free on mobile phones? Whenever that was, I did not take them up on that offer."

          Yes, if you have a OneDrive account, you can install Microsoft Office on your phone. Some "premium" features will be disabled, and if you try to use them, it will prompt you to upgrade your account. Having said that, I can't think of any examples of such features, and I've certainly never needed to use them.

    4. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

      I do a lot of text/word processing on my mobile. But then it is a Planet Gemini PDA with clamshell keyboard and I use it almost entirely as a mini-desktop. The Android phone capability is necessary for widespread Internet access, and the Android apps come in handy, but I'd rather have a good desktop app with a nod to mobile than the other way round..

      1. Rosie Davies

        Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

        Likewise only on a Cosmo. For that I use AndrOpenOffice which works well enough I even paid for it.

        Rosie

    5. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

      Yes. I use Excel on my phone.

      Obviously not in the same way that I use it on the desktop. But it is useful for things like recording expenses on the go, or recording measurements of things before visiting a DIY or furniture shop.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

        "Excel on my phone .. recording measurements of things before visiting a DIY or furniture shop."

        When I record measurements for getting stuff from the hardware shop I use pen (or pencil) & paper. No need for Excel. My list of numbers on paper is not prone to low battery issues, cloudy outages etc... Plus its simple and easy to draw a line through stuff on paper as you pick them up in the shop, so you don't accidentally miss something.

        1. matjaggard

          Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

          Yeah, but if you're anything like me then you'll find the bit of paper in the washing machine the following week and have to go back again. My mobile is much more reliable than paper in practice.

          1. TonyJ Silver badge

            Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

            I personally solve that by drawing stuff out on a post-it note/sheet of paper then when I am happy, take a quick photo on the phone. If I forget the note, I still have the electronic copy to hand.

            1. Someone Else Silver badge
              Facepalm

              @ TonyJ -- Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

              That - - - - >

              1. Fluffy Cactus

                Re: @ TonyJ -- Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

                What is "That - - - - >" supposed to mean?

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

            If you admit to not being able to take care of a simple bit of paper, what makes you think we believe you can make effective use of electronic storage without damaging it beyond usability? Your phone is quite a bit less resilient than my piece of paper. It's also harder, and quite a bit slower to use for simple note taking.

        2. Fluffy Cactus

          Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

          There is a simple Notepad for that sort of thing!

    6. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

      I had bought a later-model Nook Tablet specifically to do such work, but then again that particular tablet had a keyboard attachment with a *physical* connector rather than using Bluetooth. Just a shame the setup turned out to be complete crap (a bluetooth keyboard would actually be MORE reliable than the P.o.S. that was made for the Nook).

    7. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Whilst I agree that cloud collaboration is important these days...

      Do people really try and use things like this on mobile (excluding tablets)

      I think most people would say "no", but someoe out there WILL push for an unnecessarily large development effort for mobile, anyway...

      It would *GREATLY* irritate me if the UI were "tweeked" (read: ruined) to support "mobile things". Better to stick with what it's already good at, I say. Let someone else fork it for mobile if they want that.

      (office things on "mobile" are *HIGHLY* overrated!)

  3. StrangerHereMyself

    Unit testing

    I believe they're trailing because they haven't unit tested every piece of code. In projects as large as an office suite it's virtually impossible to make updates without breaking something. You need to instantly test the entire application from top to bottom on every code change you make, and THAT'S what unit testing does.

    You can develop faster and make more reliable software if you unit test everything.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Unit testing

      erm ... I'm pretty sure that's regression testing. Unit testing is usually testing individual units of code.

      1. StrangerHereMyself

        Re: Unit testing

        No, regression testing is not done in code. Unit tests also find regression errors.

        1. John H Woods Silver badge

          Re: Unit testing

          I don't know what you mean by "regression testing is not done in code"

          A lot of pipelines have automatic regression testing, performed by scripts. Are we talking across purposes?

          Nevertheless, testing the whole application from top to bottom (and, ideally, non-functionally as well as functionally) to ensure you haven't broken something is the very definition of regression testing.

          1. overunder Silver badge

            Re: Unit testing

            You don't need to add any new code for regression testing. In my experience, it's usually old code simply in the wrong place/iteration/cycle/time/wtf ever (endless possibilities). In fact, all the tests in the world could pass and there still might be a regression if something other than your code changes (ie. changed filesystems).

            Regression in software, hardware or even writing literature doesn't mean "a new addition breaking the old additions", it simply means that something has put the writing/code into a state that makes you say WTF and thus hair pulling, coffee and watching sunrises become a reality.

          2. Robert Grant Silver badge

            Re: Unit testing

            Regression testing is what people called the massive test effort to find any previous bugs. Now we can just run automated tests all the time, we don't need a specific name for regression testing. It's just testing.

            1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

              Re: Unit testing

              "Regression testing" isn't about "previous bugs", perhaps you chose the wrong words. It is re-running tests on what the software was supposed to do. and did do in the last version, to make sure that the new version still works properly in the old cases. It doesn't have to be automated, but that's desirable - as long as the automated testing is done correctly.

              Like a program that I wrote yesterday to run checks in 32 databases, which I am pretty confident is not checking only one database 32 times, but if all that it says is "OK" then how do you know?

          3. Fluffy Cactus

            Re: Unit testing

            Not sure what you mean by regression testing, but I once sent a letter to Microsoft, asking them to consider making a quick survey of the about (I dunno) 1.100 million users of Office, like this:

            1) Would you be willing to pay MSFT an extra $1 (0.77 pounds) per year to be earmarked and used exclusively for a new, amazing, state of the art software testing facility?

            2) $1 times 1.100 million equals $1 billion, 100 millions. So if you subtract $100 million for the new yacht you need, wouldn't $ billion (1,000,000,000.) or 770 million pounds per year be enough to run and support a lovely, spanking new software testing facility?

            Of course, I never heard back from them. They can't handle snarky comments, they can't handle the truth of anything! That's how I see it. You don't have to believe it.

    2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      Re: Unit testing

      FFS Unit Testing is testing a unit of code, typically a function, but perhaps a module.

      Why do people keep misusing this term when it's f'ing obvious what it means?

      1. SecretSonOfHG

        Re: Unit testing

        <<Why do people keep misusing this term when it's f'ing obvious what it means?>>

        Because developers tend to be so tangled in the testing stage that at some places "Unit testing" means simply "exercise each line of code", not "test that this does what it should do" Thus, people end up writing modules as a collection of one liners and then create their "unit tests" as just collections of mocks that supress execution of everything except the one line they want to exercise and get away with their "unit testing"

        And yes, I've seen that, a lot of times. Special mentions to places where there is a persistence layer. That tends to be mocked during unit testing instead of setting up a throw away test database (look at Django's test case to see how to do it properly) Ends up making most of the testing virtually useless while at the same time providing a false sense of confidence about the code working.

        The problem, as always with code, it is not that is hard to understand, it is that is hard to implement correctly.

  4. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    the trouble is UI coding is so horrible no one wants to do it. this is the Achilles heel of open source software.

    1. James Marten
      Go

      UI coding isn't that bad

      Well, I like doing it anyway. Because it's satisfying to see the results - a GUI which looks good, works consistently and is responsive. Obviously a good GUI toolkit helps (and, at the risk of starting a flamewar, I'm going to mention Qt).

      1. anonanonanonanonanon

        Re: UI coding isn't that bad

        Ugh, QT, no, maybe for desktop, but far more trouble than it's worth for mobile, it only appeals to devs who like to make a project 10 times more complicated for the pleasure of pushing cpp on mobile and thinking they've done a much better job because they've made everything as bad as it is for them.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: UI coding isn't that bad

        Qt, FTW...

        Gad! That is a lot of letters, none of which are vowels...

      3. DropBear

        Re: UI coding isn't that bad

        I did tangle with a modest piece of cross-platform desktop software with a GTK-based UI, and I can tell you that I literally shied away from implementing certain features simply because they required messing with the UI, as opposed to some others that didn't. That's how "satisfying" UI coding is for those of us NOT doing it day in and day out for a living. On the other end, I was ecstatic to be able to use an UI generator for some of my stupid little KiCAD Python automation scripts - being able to just pick up the data from a field in a wxdialog I never had to implement myself and run with it doing the thing I actually wanted get done was a truly marvelous feeling.

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      the trouble is UI coding is so horrible no one wants to do it. this is the Achilles heel of open source software.

      No, the Achilles heel of OSS is documentation. OSS UIs are more like lumbago.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Wow. Spot on with your documentation comment.

        My experience is that Open source documentation is it's mostly either unintelligibly written ( a few years back I volunteered to edit some to make it useful) or deep technical gibberish. At worst a link for a help item or even a changelog will go to a "Wiki" page with an incomprehensible structure, marked by incomprehensible headings and incomprehensible jargon/technical expressions. Useful information like, say Save dialogue changed to allow user selection being buried several levels down in a section called something like user interface which is in a branch called customisation which comes under a heading lable of, say gui design And these may be in a chapter heading called Interface design protocols or something

        Needless to say the link in the software/download site won't point to that useful nugget of information contained within the wiki. It'll point to the Wiki's title page, which will contain 5 chapters - none of which would be identifiable as having any useful information for anyone other than the developers (because, by and large it doesn't).

  5. Cuddles Silver badge

    poor mobile efforts

    If you're trying to do serious word processing or spreadsheet work on your mobile, something has gone very wrong.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: poor mobile efforts

      I remember the heady of days of office things on phones and tablets. People arriving at work having done all their work on the train on the way in and spending the rest of the day correcting what would have taken an hour to write from scratch on a large screen WIMP machine.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: poor mobile efforts

      Right? I was flamed for saying just this very thing not long ago.

    3. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: poor mobile efforts

      Or it has gone horribly right, and the person in question has a Planet Computers Cosmo...

      Colapsing headings(Outline) and text styles. Reminds me of the word processor on the old Psion S3 series PDAs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: poor mobile efforts

        I had to look up Planet Computers Cosmo. Is this a joke? Android 9, 6-inch screen with a giant bezel... Why would anyone choose this over a higher spec'd flagship with a Bluetooth keyboard?

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: poor mobile efforts

          Because the keyboard on the Planet devices is excellent and it folds away in a clamshell. Makes a tidy mini notebook in a small single integrated unit. Many thousands are out there.

          I use its predecessor, the Gemini, with Sailfish not Android, no phone + BT KB combo can touch it for convenience. I don’t use it as a phone though, it’s crap as a phone.

  6. Jon Massey
    Coat

    Lack of polish?

    The language packs are right there on the download page!

    1. dvd

      Re: Lack of polish?

      My wife sent me to the supermarket for some Brasso the other day.

      One of the aisles had a massive sign above it saying "POLISH".

      Brilliant, I thought. That was easy, and a whole aisle's worth to choose from.

      Er, nope....

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Lack of polish?

        Let me guess, it was all written in Polish?

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Lack of polish?

        Is this why I heard her say that after that, she was going to Iceland?

        (she went of her own accord)

        "Iceland" being both the name of a supermarket chain primarily selling frozen food, and the usual English name of a country rather annoyed about the supermarket. But they don't speak English (in the country - and actually, many do), as far as I can tell, amongst themselves they write "Island" ("that's going to cause a little confusion") and pronounce it "Eastland" (huh?)

        1. Fluffy Cactus

          Re: Lack of polish?

          In German, Iceland is "Island" and is pronounced exactly like that "Eeesland".

          Like the "'eee" in "Bee" and the a in the second a in "macabre". Or the "aa" in "Africaans".

          To help with the confusion (or to cause more confusion), may be they should

          call themselves " =land " which you can pronounce as " Is Land ".

          But then again again people might call it "Equals Land", and we are back to confusion as such.

          Communication is so complicated.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: Lack of polish?

            Indeed. And where does the T come from?

            China?

            But there's no T in China either.

            Maybe it's supposed to be Tchina.

  7. codejunky Silver badge

    Erm

    "long-standing annoyance, that when you copy a cell and then press return in another cell, it activates paste."

    Isnt that a feature not a bug? I love that shortcut. I might be misremembering but I thought the same used to happen in MS office (last one I used was 2000).

    1. Julz Silver badge

      Re: Erm

      CTRL-C, CTRL=V too much effort?

      1. codejunky Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Erm

        @Julz

        "CTRL-C, CTRL=V too much effort?"

        Actually you can keep pasting then end the copy paste with the enter key. But yeah I am lazy and 1 key instead of 2

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Erm

          "I am lazy and 1 key instead of 2"

          What about no key at all and it automatically pastes into all available cells? Wouldn't that make your life even easier?...

      2. Fluffy Cactus

        Re: Erm

        No, CTRL C, CTRL V is not too much effort. Except in one of the most recent iterations of MSFT Office 365, or MSFT 365, where they managed to program in an error message: "There is a problem with the clipboard, but you can still paste the contents to the destination". Which is sort of weird.

        Is MS Office now sending the contents of every copied item to Redmond, to see what we copy?

        If so, then they know all my id's and passwords. Am I paranoid? Maybe, but how would I know? How would you know?

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Don't forget, it's a beta, not a Microsoft final release.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      LibreOffice has form in making buggy releases. For a while it's had different branches but I've never had a "stable" release that hasn't been buggy in some way.

      1. Jakester

        And yet, many times I have had to open up a Microsoft Office document in Libre Office to fix then save what couldn't be fixed In Microsoft Office.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          And yet I use Libre Office, but before I can distribute docs from it, I have to open them in Word and check that they format right.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      But which MS final release are you trying to compare with?

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      It does seem a good way to give a negative review: Report on the beta. And also, on the unsatisfactory experience of using the mobile version, when the mobile version of anything except for "Pokémon Go" is unsatisfactory (and that is somewhat lacking on the desktop).

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Digital Sovereignty and funding

    I'd have thought NextCloud would have been more relevant to digital sovereignty. There are quite few hosted offerings from European service providers and I think that really does need some polish - and a policy of not dropping important features (including the ability to view, let alone edit LO documents online) in minor releases. Perhaps the EU could put some funding into such projects.

    Funding of LO came up here some time ago. AFAICR they'd painted themselves into a corner of not being able to put donations into development so those of us who have been prepared to pay via donations have suddenly started wondering what's the point.

  10. Al fazed
    Mushroom

    Annoying little Libre ? well...........

    Well,

    it's because of Libre Office's many failings, including the rather rude, and very pushy install on all Linux distros I have treid, which then prevents the install of Apache Open Office (my personal choice of office software) - unless you are sufficiently well informed that you can carve up the boot process to remove the Libre Office command and allow Open Office to install, that I have gone back to using Micrtosoft Orifice on Windose for desktop office work.

    As long as I have been using it, several years now, I dicovered early on that Libre Office Calc does some naughties with my data and these BUGS are still present.

    Enter a http or @ symbol in a cell and it automatically becomes a hyper link, great, you say !! Except that this action also hides from view the data I just typed, leaving only a very small grey smudge visible in each cell instead. In order for me to now see what I have typed, (?) I now need to go and Insert a Hyperlink into that cell. BUT first I must select the very small grey smudge in the cell, then when I go to Insert Hyperlink, I can actually see the text I want to see and I can now COPY the text I wrote previously in one cell - into the TEXT field which is now presented below the hyperlinked text and BINGO, after pressing ENTER I can see the data again where I typed it first off.

    Oh oh, not so fast............

    Why is that Libre Office automatically inserted Hyperlink NOT taking me to the web site of the link I just clicked on or not opening my eMail client ???????

    Oh FFS - there's a hidden, almost invisible, totally unwanted, BLANK SPACE in every single TEXT field in the speadsheet insert hyperlink dialogue box, which remains after pasting my chosen TEXT into the cell...... Oh fuck OFF !!!! I've had enough.

    ALFAZED

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

      "the rather rude, and very pushy install on all Linux distros I have treid, which then prevents the install of Apache Open Office"

      Somebody - possibly yourself - has raised this issue in the past.

      It simply isn't the case. I have both LO and OO installed on Devuan side by side. Neither tries to block the other from installing. KDE, and I presume other DEs can be set up to make either the preferred application to open a given document type. In fact I've found that when installing a new LO version KDE sometimes gets confused and sets OO as the default application.

      Of course one aspect of this is that the default Debian version of LO is so old by the time a Debian Stable is released that it gets replaced by the version from the LO download site immediately after installation.

      And how does "carving up the boot process" affect installation?

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

        > Somebody - possibly yourself - has raised this issue in the past.

        Go to his comment history and see the post right before the present one. "Inherently unteachable" comes to mind.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

          Quite. And it was indeed he who raised the same objection almost a year ago.

        2. Al fazed
          Facepalm

          Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

          Hmmm, I was under the impression the project developers wanted "normal" as well as the "unteachable" people to use their software, not just software developers. Durr....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

        Genuine question Doctor Syntax, why would anyone want to install 2 "office" suites on one machine?

        Cheers… Ishy

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

          Only two? Shit, I sometimes have four or more. Why? Because I can't discuss them intelligently with my clients unless I know their ins and outs, that's why.

          For the record, LibreOffice is the hands-down winner for doing office work from a TCO perspective. Before anybody asks, I've only seen two people who had issues moving from the Redmond offering to the FOSS offering. One was a brain-dead twenty-something, who, to be fair, couldn't use MSOffice, either ... but that was OK, she was only employed to do favo(u)rs of an oral nature for The Boss. The other (another company) was the owner's spoiled-rotten daughter, who again couldn't do anything with MSOffice either.

          1. Zolko
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

            "The other (another company) was the owner's spoiled-rotten daughter..."

            Aaaarrrrrggghhh !!! Don't let us languish: what favours did this one provide ?

            => icon, obviously

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

              She was on time occasionally, about twice per month when picking up her paycheck. Of course after making that herculean effort she was exhausted and had to take the rest of the day off. Needless to say, the rest of the office resented it ... and their work reflected this.

              Nepotism is rarely pretty ... and always demoralizing to everybody else.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

            ...One was a brain-dead twenty-something, who, to be fair, couldn't use MSOffice, either ... but that was OK, she was only employed to do favo(u)rs of an oral nature for The Boss...

            I thought these days that sort of work was best done outsourced, and not in-house.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

              Yeah, a full time dental hygienist is a bit over the top.

          3. rnturn

            Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

            Ha! The CIO at a job many years ago hired someone he'd met at a bar to be our "documentation specialist". One day I discovered that our new MS Word "expert" had been manually numbering lists and pages. When I showed her how to do it the right way it was like introducing a cave dweller to fire. If memory serves, she may also have been the force behind ordering the company phone list by first name.

            1. ShortLegs

              Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

              >Ha! The CIO at a job many years ago hired someone he'd met at a bar to be our "documentation >specialist". One day I discovered that our new MS Word "expert" had been manually numbering lists and >pages.

              Dark hair? Somewhere around Warrington - Lymm area?

              Sounds sooo familiar.

    2. Eddie G
      Stop

      Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

      Well, my Linux distribution didn't come with LibreOffice.

      Anyway, if you don't want it, then uninstall it (then install OpenOffice).

      1. ShortLegs

        Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

        >Well, my Linux distribution didn't come with LibreOffice.

        Dont feel left out, my Libre Office never came with "a brain-dead twenty-something...to do favo(u)rs of an oral nature"

    3. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

      You need to go to about:config and change the value of treat_people_like_they_deserve_it from 'true' to 'false'.

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

      Does key F2 help at all with the table cell hyperlink thing?

      1. Al fazed
        Thumb Up

        Re: Annoying little Libre ? well...........

        Yes..... of course, but there's still the unwanted blank space I discoverd which some peeps here will says is a feature. I work supporting newbs of all ages and mental capacities, these brainiacs just make my job that much harder instead of easier........ So Microsoft gets the job, I'm afraid.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dictation?

    Will it listen to dictation yet?

    Had a puzzle last week. A dyslexic client needs to dictate and Windows has good dictation built in. But we were stuck in limbo. He could dictate to Wordpad, but no spell check. He could dictate to Windows 10 Mail and spell check, but that is junk. He could type into Libre Write and spell check, but no dictation. He doesn't have the IT skillz to dictate to Wordpad and copy\paste to LIbre Write.

    Kinda sad we had to get a Microsoft 365 subscription to just be able to write a few letters.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Dictation?

      Ironically XP you could dictate to any application when you installed the tools. There are Linux tools too.

      Not sure if Dragon Dictate was on WFWG 3.11 or 95 first. There are still versions for Windows and Mac.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dictation?

        Dragon is £140 unless I am missing a free option on their site. So many of the pieces are in place, but just one step missing on each option. :( It is going to be rarely used.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Dictation?

      You could recruit a secretary experienced in doing favours of an oral nature. Although the one we were just discussing couldn't hack it in LibreOffice apparently.

      This bring a new beta release, you could give it a go. Not, as I just typed, give it a ho.

      However, from a quick search of pre-release notes, apparently "dicta-" and "spee-" aren't mentioned.

      https://www.libreoffice.org/download/pre-releases/

      https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/7.1

      LibreOffice documentation describes accessibility features provided through Java. There is an Oracle "Java Speech API" (JSAPI), not mentioned there, and approximately one "extension" around for some time called SpeechOO, for OpenOffice and LibreOffice. I don't know if it currently works.

  13. Mage Silver badge

    Failings in Mobile

    1) Phones are too small for other than a simple GUI and text edit.

    2) Android is ghastly for serious applications on a big tablet. You really need a mouse and keyboard.

    Mobile works best for viewing, browsing, not serious data creation. I don't even like smaller laptops for that.

    So I don't care about Office by anyone on Mobile. I've a text editor for phone, 7" tablet and 10" tablet. I've a laptop,

    1. HellDeskJockey

      Re: Failings in Mobile

      Because I work on specialized machinery business travel will be a Windows laptop for the foreseeable future. Daily driver at the house runs Linux and has multiple monitors.

      But for personal trips I'm looking to just carry my phone also an adaptor for keyboard and mouse. It's not the system to do major work on. But for the stuff I do on the road it will work. I will most likely use Google docs as it is already installed and I detest adding apps.

      It's also a lot lighter than the Osborne I and Silver Reed printer I started with. Ironically the screen is about the same size.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Failings in Mobile

        Osborne 1! I don't think it was an Osborne but I had another luggable as my desktop about 86/7 for a while. I've usually had terminal windows about the same size ever since. But the thought of one of those and a printer....

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Failings in Mobile

          My luggable, a Panasonic Sr. Partner, has[0] a built-in printer. Stock, it was only 33 pounds, but within the first six months I upgraded it to an MFM controller in the expansion slot, a 20 meg hard drive in one of the floppy bays, and an aftermarket hack that upped the stock 256K of RAM to a more usable768K. I used an external modem, and with the manuals and a pile of floppies, the "soft case", spare roll of paper, and miscellaneous other bits and bobs that made it usable on the road, it weighs in at a shoulder crushing 38 pounds.

          [0] Yes, "has". I still own the silly thing. One gets attached to the daftest things after a quarter million air-miles together. Yes, it still works. Came with Panasonic-labeled MS-DOS 2.2, but it currently boots MS-DOS 3.3 ... It might be hard for some of the younger readers to believe, but a LOT of RealWorld[tm] work was done with such primitive devices.

    2. TVU Silver badge

      Re: Failings in Mobile

      "Mobile works best for viewing, browsing, not serious data creation"

      ^ I fully agree with you and I haven't done any serious work on a smartphone. Occasionally, I might use my phone to record some brief ideas that later get incorporated a current project but that's about it.

      1. Sparkus

        Re: Failings in Mobile

        my first 'mobile' was an HP 200lx with a pcmcia modem. Had it for emergency telnet and kermit system connections.

        Just for fun one time, I used the radio telephone at a safari camp to connect to an x.25 gateway in Lusaka and then to the text-based BIX (Byte Magazine) BBS.

        Ran forever on a set of easily find-able AA batteries......

        I tried to replace it with a Newton, but the Apple product was a lot heavier, didn't fit into a pocket, and was famously unreliable.......

      2. ShortLegs

        Re: Failings in Mobile

        Agreed. Which is why the iPad never shipped with any 'creation' tools, not even a text editor. Apple knew it was a content consumption device, not a content creation device.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    What ?

    "an option to disable a long-standing annoyance, that when you copy a cell and then press return in another cell, it activates paste "

    Excel does that all the time. It was specifically introduced because the users were tired (even back then) of hitting Ctrl-V.

    Why is that an annoyance now ? If you copy a cell, it means you want to put the contents somewhere. If you don't, just press ESC.

    I really don't see what the problem is. Thank goodness that, unlike Android, they thought to make it an option.

    I still would like to understand the reasoning of someone who copies a cell and then gets annoyed that its contents can be easily pasted though.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: What ?

      Two reasons.

      One is that it's non-standard behaviour.

      The other is that I'm copying the cell contents into my copy/paste buffer. That means I want it available to paste where, when and how I choose, not that I want a key that I use for other purposes to be reallocated to overwrite a cell without me expecting it.

      If I want to paste the contents of a cell, I'll use the 'paste the contents of my copy/paste buffer' command.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: What ?

        I don't think "non standard behaviour" can be claimed for a designed action in a specific application .. it may not be the same action as a.n.other application but so what?

        I agree with the second point though - I want to paste the copy buffer when I tell the app to paste it, not when the app wants me to paste it. And I do find it so much slower to type ctrl-V rather than CR ... especially if I have to completely change my keyboard position from having typed ctrl-C doh!

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: What ?

          >I don't think "non standard behaviour" can be claimed for a designed action in a specific application ..

          Well given it is unconventional, ie. only implemented in a single application and not across all applications in the LO suite and is not behaviour many people will have encountered in other applications over the decades hence why its referred to as a "long-standing annoyance"(*), I think it is reasonable to label it "non standard behaviour".

          (*) Challenge: humour me and provide a list of applications going back to the 1980's that implement this 'designated action'.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: What ?

          I take it you haven't re-mapped your keyboard to swap capslock and ctrl?

          1. rnturn

            Re: What ?

            > I take it you haven't re-mapped your keyboard to swap capslock and ctrl?

            Still pining for the days of WordStar? :^D

  15. LDS Silver badge

    "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

    Yes, everything was born because Stallman didn't want to pay for things. So he put some "freedom" lipstick over his greed and sold it to gullible people. Most users anyway are exactly like Stallman, and they like FOSS only because they don't have to pay for it.

    1. Binraider

      Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

      How many businesses have actually seriously considered LibreOffice? A few in Germany. If I owned a SME; I'd have no worries about chucking Libre a support contract over the hopeless support and enforced pricing of MS.

      As a drone in a megacorp, MS does have it's appeal to a certain extent for they do listen to megacorps. As a general user though, you're on your own - self help forums being the next best. E.g. the excellent Mr Excel, or others.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

        For companies, the costs for MS Office are reasonable. Okay, support is basically non-existent but the permanent access to updates will swing the deal for many beancounters. Whether people should be using Office as extensively as they do without relevant training is another matter.

        The bigger problem, as I see it, is the loss of control and the risks associated with that as Microsoft are more or less forcing companies to give them their data. Oh, and Exchange and Outlook are a dreadful combination of productivity killers.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

        >How many businesses have actually seriously considered LibreOffice?

        Perhaps the more relevant question is: how many businesses are seriously considering LibreOffice?

        With MS pushing its customers into cloud subscription services, having a client-based package that doesn't require cloud and a subscription could be attractive.

        It would seem we are finally reaching the point, forecasted back in 2012~2014 (*) when people and businesses are going to have to decide: go with Microsoft which means adopting their O365 cloud and paying the subscription or do different. The only question that remains to be answered is whether Open Source applications - such as LibreOffice - are ready for prime time.

        (*) Although I remember Microsoft's desire to switch from up front payment to subscription for their software was discussed some years prior to then.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Roland6 - Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem..."

          Even HP is pushing their customers into cloud subscription like in 'pay-to-print'.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

          > With MS pushing its customers into cloud subscription services, having a client-based package that doesn't require cloud and a subscription could be attractive.

          I've had people rave about how great it is that they can get Cloudy MS Office for only 59.99 or whatever. Then you point out that they could have bought a one-off licence for about that much a couple of years back and it would have lasted them for the rest of their careers. Don't ask me how they did it, but people actually believe they're getting a good deal.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

            Don't ask me how they did it

            Micros~1 could sell ice cubes in the Klondike. That's how they did it.

            Once you have a revenue stream, everything else is a LOT easier!

          2. Someone Else Silver badge

            Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

            How did they do it? The answer is simple when you remember that Micros~1 is not a technology company, they are a marketing company.

            The first point should be bloody obvious to anybody who's tried to use their stuff for longer than, say, 45 seconds...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

              Well, I'm not going to criticise them for that. In fact, poor / lack of marketing¹ is a major problem that afflicts us in the FOSS camp.

              ¹ Marketing per se is a good thing. Unfortunately, 49.95% of marketers are crap and another 49.95% are dishonest, so it understandably gets a bad reputation. But it can be made to bring providers and suppliers together without being annoying, intrusive, or worse.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

        "How many businesses have actually seriously considered LibreOffice?"

        All of the ones I consult for. Most have made the change. It's all in the presentation ... learn to counter the bullshit the marketing department in Redmond tries to baffle people with.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

          learn to counter the bullshit the marketing department in Redmond tries to baffle people with.

          A well known brand-name car dealer mechanic once tried to tell me that using aftermarket spark plugs (particularly the high performance kind made by Bosch) would cause a "check engine" light. Obvious B.S. as I've exclusively used those aftermarket spark plugs in more than one car for DECADES. Never had a problem.

          Same idea, yeah.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

        > How many businesses have actually seriously considered LibreOffice?

        It's rather popular east of the Rhine and not exactly unknown in France, in which country, as in much of Germany, it is the standard office software in schools.

        1. Dave559 Bronze badge

          Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

          It is always encouraging to hear how various government departments or bodies in countries like France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, etc, often make the not unreasonable decision to use open source software (and often also invest in its development to polish whatever feature they have particular need of), yet in countries like the Untied Kingdom it is somehow seen as more of an "achievement" to demonstrate that you have spaffed squillions on proprietary software licences/subscriptions, instead of saving unnecessary squandering of taxpayers' money or investing it in your local economy through said software development efforts. «sigh»

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

            Ain't that the truth. :-(

            The French have a properly funded and rather active government agency dedicated specifically to open data and software. Staffed with people who are both active in free software / data and have advanced academic qualifications from some of the most reputable schools in France and abroad.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

        > If I owned a SME; I'd have no worries about chucking Libre a support contract over the hopeless support and enforced pricing of MS.

        Well, I do own an SME (more than one, actually, but I'm involved hands on in just one) and that is a good idea indeed.

        The only problem that I have is that it works perfectly fine and does everything that we need so as far as I'm aware we have zero need for support (talk about killed by their own success).

        I'll see if any of our subcontractors needs a support contract though.

        Thanks for the suggestion!

      6. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

        How many businesses have actually seriously considered LibreOffice?

        Probably not enough. However, if your office has Linux users, chances are it's there already.

    2. Adair Silver badge

      Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

      Do you actually believe that, or are you just having a little pot stir.

      If you do believe it, it seems you don't understand what you believe.

    3. Plest
      Gimp

      Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

      "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

      Well if you expect people to pay for software you generally tend to avoid going into the FOSS world. FOSS, much as I love it, is like being a semi-pro photographer or artist, tons of people will fawn all over your work, hype you up and tell you how great your work is...right up the point at which you whip out the "For Sale!" signs on your work and then the silence is absolutely deafening!

      I'm both a FOSS user, contributor and semi-pro photographer to boot, suitable Reg icon selected.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

      "Yes, everything was born because Stallman didn't want to pay for things."

      Actually it was because somebody took what he'd written without even consulting him and wrapped it up in a proprietary package. Not surprisingly, he was pissed off by it.

      1. Martin J Hooper

        Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

        You might have that one wrong - I read somewhere that Stallman couldn't fix a bug in a printer driver back in the day because he had no source code hence he started the GNU Project...

        Could be wrong though of course ;)

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

          It was a combination of many similar things.

          rms, like many of us, didn't like the fact that companies were suddenly revoking access to source code, so customizing the computer to fit the human was becoming difficult. Unlike the rest of us, rms was in the right place, with the ability and knowledge, and stubborn enough, to try to do something about it. He has been fairly successful taking on the Corporate World. Not many people can say that ...

    5. jake Silver badge

      Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

      "they like FOSS only because they don't have to pay for it."

      Personally, I like FOSS because it works for me without throwing hissy-fits, unlike Windows which is roughly as stable as nitrogen triiodide, or Apple which refuses to allow me to use the appliance the way I need to use it.

    6. coconuthead

      Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

      I disagree with most of Stallman's ideas, and from reports I think I'd dislike the man if I met him, but this claim is unfair to him. He is known not to use certain software which is available for no payment, because it does not satisfy his stricter definition of "free".

      Furthermore, he has in the past paid money, on behalf of GNU, to people to write software which GNU gives away.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

        The clue is in the name. It is called Libre Office, not Free Office.

        (because calling it Free As In Speech But Not Necessarily As In Beer Office would have been a bit of a mouthful perhaps)

        1. coconuthead

          Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

          I was referring to the claim that Stallman's motivation was that he didn't want to pay for things, not whether he uses LibreOffice or not. He won't use those Linux distributions which, although they cost nothing, have binary blob drivers in them, which shows he has other reasons. I really don't know whether he even uses a word processor; he's said to do everything in plain text in emacs like it's still 1978.

          As for "free as in beer", I've never understood what that is supposed to mean. Maybe I have to be American, or have lived through an Animal House-style fraternity to understand. Anyway, on a quick scoot around the LibreOffice web site (oh! my eyes!) I could not find a license statement, but I don't think it could be GPL because I once bought a word processor for macOS that contained some of it embedded, to do the conversions.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

            "on a quick scoot around the LibreOffice web site (oh! my eyes!) I could not find a license statement"

            Instead of demonstrating your drama-queen credentials in a room full of techies (which never works, BTW), you would have done well actually parsing the front page at libreoffice.org ... Not only are the licenses mentioned, there are also links to the complete text.

            1. coconuthead

              Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

              All right, I had another look. It is in 8 point type in dark grey text on charcoal at the bottom after the privacy notice and other stuff no-one ever reads in the page footer, followed by a link whose name is that of another free software product. I didn't see it the first time, and I don't think any normal person would either.

              It is not my job to "parse" a page. Or my job to "contribute" to open source, or "get involved" or anything else. Nor is it "techie" to put up with user-hostile layouts. I told you I didn't agree with Stallman's ideas.

              These guys are competing with the excellent word processor/spreadsheet/presentation suite that Apple gave me *for free* with my Mac, which also runs on my phone. Or with Microsoft, to whom many ordinary users are happy to fling a relatively small amount just so they don't have to learn anything different (and Microsoft throws in a shedload of cloud storage too.)

              1. Geoffrey W

                Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

                I had a look too and my dodgy eyes couldn't read any of it. I had to pull out my magnifying glass and stick my nose right up to it to see there was text there at ll; I'm exaggerating with that last point - my eyeballs aren't quite that bad yet - but it was bad. "User Hostile" sums it up perfectly.

                When I turned on the Dark Night Mode addon, in Firefox, which darkens the whole page, it became much more readable, though I still had to squint. If you're going to put information on a web page, no matter how little it gets read, please make it legible and don't tuck it away among a solid mass of other links. It would be nicer to put a single nice big legible link somewhere on the page that points you to "Other Information". It really isn't going to completely ruin your Awesome UX/GUI design.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  @Geoffrey - Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in...

                  Good! Now please go and scout for Microsoft Office 365 license.

                2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                  Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

                  I am considering using my computer to search for a word in a web page as a service for people temperamentally unable to do it themselves. Does five British pounds a time sound excessive? As a trial I could do it in exchange for donation to an appropriate charity, which we can discuss.

                  British English only, so I can't help you with "license", sorry, unless as a verb. ;-)

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

                "Apple gave me *for free* with my Mac"

                I think you mean "That Apple included in the already overpriced cost of my Mac"

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

                  > Apple gave me *for free*

                  Free as in beer, of course.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

                > It is not my job to

                I take an instant dislike to people who say "it's not my job to…"

                1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                  Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

                  Really. Many years a go I went into a school as a (relatively highly paid) local authority funded specialist teacher, to work with a kid who had serious literacy difficulties.

                  There was a horrible smell in the school's open plan teaching area.

                  I was met by the headteacher who said "Ah Terry, do you think you could sort out that smell for us".

                  And yes, since I had a kid in that school entitled to my specialist help, and since I was funded by the rate payers (at a promoted teacher grade) to provide that help I said "It's not my job". .

                  I also said "You have a schoolkeeper for that."

                  The head told me that the SK was too busy!

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

            I've never understood what that is supposed to mean

            Here's an example: you sell a product that consists of hardware and "value add" software that's necessarily open source, or has open source libraries or "helper" applications that it needs to function.

            You still sell the software, or bundle it as an added value for customers. It's not free of cost to the consumer, like "free beer" would be. But it's open source, so it can be 'freely shared', because it's the nature of open source. Sure a competitor COULD take your software and modify it for his own gear, and he's "free" to do that. But of course the modified/derived version would need to be open source also if you GPL'd it. And so on.

            It's a revenue model that works.

            And that's my take on it

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

            > As for "free as in beer", I've never understood what that is supposed to mean.

            It is a quote or paraphrase of a famous essay by Stallman, which is fundamental to the definition of free software and is at the core of the GNU licence.

            You don't have to be a septic to understand, but you do need to be sufficiently well informed in the subject of free software (which perhaps the newer generations aren't).

            As for LibreOffice licensing, it's joint MPLv2, LGPLv3+ except for the historic bits that aren't. As with all FOSS, as a user you are not bound by any licence and this only concerns you if you are a developer, in which case you will find the details where you would expect to find them in the source code.

    7. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: "Across the free software world we have a problem in getting people to pay for things"

      I can only speak for myself. I use free software by preference when my use case for paid software can't justify the cost. e.g. I haven't bought ABBYY because I only need to use OCR about once a year, if that. £165 is a lot for that.

      I also use free versions when the alternative is a subscription. Yes I will pay £50 for the paid version of some product, or even £100 maybe. But not £50 every year forever.

  16. davebarnes

    I donated

    I donated money to the 501(3)(c) organization that supports Libre.

  17. nijam

    > ...we have a problem in getting people to pay for things...

    In my experience, it's much more of a problem convincing people not to pay for things.

    1. jake Silver badge

      It is surprisingly difficult. But once you flip that little switch in their brain, they start to see the benefits vastly outweigh what they used to think.

      1. Geoffrey W

        But once that switch is flipped and the light bulb goes on, then they no longer want to pay anything for anything ever again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > In my experience, it's much more of a problem convincing people not to pay for things.

      Or paying too little. Ask me how every time we apply for public funding we need to gold plate the shit out of the project so we can ask two orders of magnitude more money than is actually needed, because if we don't either we don't even qualify for funding or nobody takes you seriously.

      Friend of mine literally added an aeroplane to the project budget so he could get funded, which he did.

  18. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Too many bells and whistles?

    I admire the work of open source developers of 'office' software. However, in efforts to compete with Microsoft products they may be following the latter into a dead end.

    On taking a first look at MS Office and its free competitors one might be bedazzled by a display resembling in complexity the instrumentation on a passenger jet. Admittedly it looks an impressive portal to using a powerful engine. However, it suggests a steep learning curve even for doing simple tasks.

    Users of this software have a wide range of requirements. Home users generally have simpler needs than workplace users. The latter are heterogeneous in needs. A small business and most users even in a corporate setting have but a few staple requirements. Yet the software offers features encompassing needs of publishing houses, intercommunication among office workers, letter writing, and simply making a note for later use. Ever more advanced spreadsheet capabilities offer power but at risk of people wrongly using features and misinterpreting the result; moreover, there can be false impression of a spreadsheet (with its superficial simplicity) being the best tool for a task when perhaps bespoke software is better suited (e.g. for statistical analysis). Then there is equation handling facility with natural temptation for developers to converge on Mathematica and its like. Whether all this, and additional features such as presentation preparation, represent wondrous opportunity or a sorry mess rests with the eye of the beholder.

    Perhaps this is an interim stage toward software showing 'intelligence' for adapting to each user's needs and offering sage advice on how to proceed; software which 'Alexa'-like answers questions and sets itself up for the task in hand. Maybe existing modular code can be incorporated in this but the user would be presented with an initially simple (yet adaptive) interface based upon speech, touch screen, mouse movement, and typing. Those days may not be far away but in the meantime current interfaces would benefit from simplification.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Too many bells and whistles?

      No. I do not want the computer to "think" for me. That kind of solution locks the world into lock-step with whoever's brain programmed the thing in the first place ... quite frankly, I much prefer to make my own mistakes. It's part of the learning process.

    2. babaganoush

      Re: Too many bells and whistles?

      "Perhaps this is an interim stage toward software showing 'intelligence' for adapting to each user's needs and offering sage advice on how to proceed; ..."

      But we have had Clippy for decades already?

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Too many bells and whistles?

      Interesting, in that context, is that Microsoft's "Ribbon" is much less customisable than the previous menu system. It's not a fault with the Ribbon, per se as much as the Microsoft in their wisdom stupidity made it difficult to customise.

      Once I would have removed the items that I would never, in my professional ( and certainly not in my home) life, have any need for, and regrouped other menu items according to how they fitted together in my use case, quite easily. (Like anything I used for editing in an "edit" menu rather than split between review and home) Which was a useful productivity feature.This is no longer the case.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Too many bells and whistles?

        > Microsoft's "Ribbon" is much less customisable than the previous menu system

        Microsoft products have been losing customization capacity and user friendliness since Windows XP/Office 2003. Power user functions were either removed or made useless, customization possibilities were progressively removed, choices were foisted upon you and made permanent (the universally praised "Ribbon" is a good example of a solution to a problem nobody had).

        This increasingly aggressive "Sorry, we know what's best for us you" attitude is what definitely drove me away from Microsoft offerings.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        @Terry 6 -- Re: Too many bells and whistles?

        It's not a fault with the Ribbon, per se as much as the Microsoft in their wisdom stupidity made it difficult to customise.

        I think it's more the case where, they wanted the damn ribbon to be customizable...they just couldn't figure out how to do it. Then, the next shiny caught their Millennial GUI-flinger's eyes, and off they went chasing that shiny object. Never found the time to go back and fix they original thing (or, it was too boooooring!!!)

        Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence!

        Wait! What? Is that the way that saying goes?!?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for the nice review

    I find it a lot less dry reading than the upgrade notes and just as informative.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Begging to disagree

    > At the same time, desktop productivity software is somewhat unfashionable,

    Unfashionable? If I wanted fashion I'd be reading Vogue, not El Reg.

    Let us point out, for the benefit of the oblivious amongst us, that the recent move from a one-off desktop licensing model to a "cloud" model was a vendor-driven initiative so that they can enjoy a healthy recurring revenue stream. There is no advantage in cloud-based office software for the user (read on).

    > at least without strong online links for document collaboration and access from anywhere

    That is orthogonal to the software itself being cloud-based, and a problem that is addressed in a specific and more generic way via the likes of Nextcloud (which at the end of the day is basically just a WebDAV implementation). For those who need real-time collaboration on an office document (personally I've never come across a tenable excuse for that, much as I would have liked it), Collabora does do an online version as pointed out in the article (there is at least one other implementation) and it is often included in the package by vendors of hosted Nextcloud and derivatives.

  21. bin

    Alternatively

    .. you could just use Softmaker FreeOffice. It doesn't do some of the fancy stuff that is present in the paid for version, but it gets things done. The paid for version is a bit expensive but it is as close to MS Office as I think you can get.

  22. PhilipN Silver badge

    Star Writer

    Actually comparing eggs with eggs - Star Office.

    Took ages to load since it used a monolithic code base, and then was (putting it VERY mildly) rough around the edges.

    1. rnturn

      Re: Star Writer

      Oddly, I've been seeing the same problem with LibreOffice on a newly upgraded openSUSE. Launching Writer can take several minutes. Then patches come out and it launches in a few seconds. Come the next round of patching and we go back to "click and go for coffee" load times. I'm about ready to have it autostart when I log in and just leave it loaded all the time---just to avoid the awkward delays when someone calls to discuss a document and I have to make them wait a couple of minutes while Writer loads.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Star Writer

        Which OpenSUSE?

        I run Leap 15.2 (× 3 not counting headless) and Tumbleweed (× 1) and I haven't seen the problem that you mention. Have you tried launching it as a different / new user?

  23. johninokinawa

    LIBREOFFICE SETS NEW PARAMETERS FOR BLOATWARE

    Horrible software. Software designed by a committee. It needs to focus on ONE thing and do it well. It doesn't need all these functions. Look at Zoho's Notebook for example. Simple, easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. Notebook is cross platform and runs on just about anything.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LIBREOFFICE SETS NEW PARAMETERS FOR BLOATWARE

      Got your software names mixed up or just trolling?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: LIBREOFFICE SETS NEW PARAMETERS FOR BLOATWARE

      "It needs to focus on ONE thing and do it well."

      It's a fucking office suite. By definition, it does multiple things. It's not fucking notepad.exe

  24. Sparkus

    so mobile clients and sparkly features across the board

    is now defined as 'polish'?

  25. binary
    Thumb Up

    LibreOffice and other word processors

    Google Docs is the best, and only word processor I use. Never liked LibreOffice

  26. nautica
    Happy

    It's been twelve years. How long does The Document Foundation need?

    ”...and largely because of the previous point, the million-dollar question [is] ...when and if and how LibreOffice could actually become a viable, realistic substitute for (Microsoft) Office. My findings from the past dozen summers say no...”

    "...I would gladly pay for LibreOffice, but then, it also has to have a justifiable level of professional usability, which allows me to use the product out there freely, without any fear that my books, resume or other vital information will get lost or malformed in some format conversion...

    "LibreOffice 7.0 - Words are very unnecessary"

    Updated: August 19, 2020

    https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/libreoffice-7-review.html

    ************************

    "...I am a fairly happy user of LibreOffice. For real. I use it in a relatively lightweight capacity, mostly the Writer application, and it does a decent job for a program that costs nothing. But then, occasionally...when I have to work with Microsoft Office files, issues do crop up...As much as I'd like for the reality to be different, it isn't...

    "...However, every time there's a new LibreOffice release, like version 6.3, I perk up, aflush with hope that this new edition will bring in revolutionary changes and fixes, which will make it a business-quality rival to the expensive Microsoft suite.."

    “...This [Microsoft Office compatibility] is THE thing. Yes, we can debate ideology all day long, but at the end of the day, the practical truth is that people need Microsoft Office, so if you want to work with them, your documents must look just right...”

    "LibreOffice 6.3 - Waiting for a miracle"

    Updated: August 23, 2019

    https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/libreoffice-6-3-review.html

    ************************

    “...While we can argue the philosophical point ad nauseam, the simple fact remains that most people on Planet Earth use Microsoft Office for their documents, and if you want to or need to exchange files with them, be they letters, essays, presentations {PRESENTATIONS, as in RÉSUMÉs} [additional clarification and emphasis added], or spreadsheets of data, you will most likely need to use Microsoft Office formats...”

    "LibreOffice 6.2 – de oppresso liber officium"

    dedoimedo / February 28, 2019

    http://www.ocsmag.com/2019/02/28/libreoffice-6-2-de-oppresso-liber-officium/

  27. Sam Haine

    MacOS rendering problem

    Have they fixed the rendering problem in macOS yet?

    1. coconuthead

      Re: MacOS rendering problem

      It seems not:

      https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=122218

      This comment says it was caused by building using an old version of Apple's Xcode developer environment:

      https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=122218#c197

      That must be some old hardware they were rocking - even my 10 year old cheesegrater will run Mojave. In February they moved on to Xcode 11 on Mojave, and those builds are no longer blurry on Catalina.

      But it broke again for Big Sur, the newest release from about a month ago which you get if you buy a Mac today:

      https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=138122

      The comments are instructive: they don't know why it doesn't work, and a developer who worked on the original code for Mac does not currently have access to a Mac. I'm also going to guess the developers haven't been going to Apple's WWDC developer conferences and talking to Apple's engineers there. It looks like these problems might have gone away sooner (running 2 years now) or perhaps not arisen at all if LibreOffice had had more money,

      (There's a fork called NeoOffice which claims to work better on macOS.)

      1. Sam Haine

        Re: MacOS rendering problem

        I think I might have discovered a new rendering problem: Writer intermittently renders parts of its window at the wrong resolution, making documents unreadable.

  28. d3vy

    To be honest that heading "*** Let down by lack of polish" could apply to any number of open source efforts which is a massive shame because there are loads of really good open source alternatives out there that people will dismiss outright based on how it looks rather than how it functions (Or in some cases because it has a stupid name - I know people that outright refused to even try Gimp because of its name and a few that managed to look past the name, saw the UI and went right back to photoshop).

    There needs to be some change in these OS projects to try to get more UX designers involved and engage with more than just the hardcore user base for feedback.

    Its stupid, but a lot of the time even rational people will go for shiny and nice looking over functionality.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      And within "functionality" comes simplicity or at least intuitiveness of use. And that is not the same as the developers' and fans' familiarity with the programme.It's only functional when a new user can a) immediately discover what it can do and b) find out how to do it.

      Also any aspect of function that demands "You have to do X first" needs a bloody good reason why you have to do X first, a pretty clear path to discovering you have to do X first and a good link from doing X to the function the user actually needs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > There needs to be

      I take notice the use of the passive voice. What have you done, specifically?

      > some change in these OS projects

      Are you paying? Are you contributing? Or does the entirety of your effort consist of telling other people what they should do?

      > to try to get more UX designers involved

      Changing subject, I am all for the fundamental concept behind UX itself. I cannot say however that I am overly impressed but the bulk of people presenting themselves as "UX experts". By and large they are pretty useless themselves *and* only add another link in a chain of Chinese whispers.

      What I do is carefully choose engineers / developers who are successful at the UX design and user testing games and get them to engage closely with a variety of actual users. If I did find a very good UX person without an engineering / software development background (depending on whether it's a hardware or software product), I would consider them, but to me having those two roles separate is bullshit.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Headings

      > Let down by lack of polish

      I imagine that at El Reg it's the editors / subeds that come up with the headings and not the article author himself. The heading does not seem substantiated by what's in the article (or by the software itself for that matter).

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