back to article LibreOffice 7.2 brings improved but still imperfect Microsoft Office compatibility

The Document Foundation has released LibreOffice 7.2, including a native build for Apple Silicon though users are warned not to use it "for any critical purpose." The new release is not a big one for features but is nevertheless notable for a couple of reasons. First, there is now an official Apple Silicon build which can be …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    Keeps gettin better

    I've used LibreOffice for years and have rarely run into compatibility problems. While I have not done testing on each release, my sense is that the number of problems goes down with new releases. I heartily recommend it to avoid the Office 365 trap.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Keeps gettin better

      Agreed, I have only had issues when I'm doing some complicated stuff to force a page to layout in a very exacting way - and fortunately when I've done that it I had the option of telling people "you must use LibreOffice to modify this". That's a minor hassle compared to how nice it is for me to be able to create something on Linux and have two other people modify it - one on Windows the other on a Mac.

      For 99% of cases, you can shift between it and MS Office without any problems, because 99% of us are creating simple word documents or spreadsheets not importing 150 page PDFs with embedded graphics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keeps gettin better

        Most of the time we care more about content than looks.

        If it's about looks we tend to run things into a PDF before we issue it, sometimes with an internediate step of using something like Affinity Publisher if it's customer facing publication. That's not Open Source, but their entire suite has more than enough power to do a decent job of layout and publishing with having to suffer Adobe's bleed-you-a-bit-every-month suite which does integrate well, but is dreadful in performance and security. I swear it feels like some of it must have been coded in Basic in the 90s and never refactored.

        I cabn well imagine a proper graphics house has to inflict that on themselves, I'm just grateful we don't so what we do is a lot cheaper, much faster (and for some reason each release is faster again) and more secure. That's win-win all around.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Keeps gettin better

          If you are have others who will need to modify the document, you have to give them the ODF or XLSX, you can't give them a PDF.

          It is literally irrelevant what you use to create a document if others will only ever see a PDF, or printed page. You can use Word 1.0 or Wordperfect if you want, if no one will ever need to modify / add to your document.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keeps gettin better

        That's the grwat thing about computer standards, there's so many to choose from!

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Keeps gettin better

          The correct quote is "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from." —Andrew S. Tanenbaum

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Keeps gettin better

      We use a mixture of LO for docs and spreadsheets (no perpetual VB macro risk) and Keynote for presentations so people focus on content instead of wasting time fiddling with the dials.

      The use of LO ensures that everyone can work on the same files, irrespective of platform as we use both MacOS (desktops) and Linux (tech desktops and servers), and our business has thankfully zero need for the sort of hardcore and unauditable spreadsheets that some industries locked themselves into.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Keeps gettin better

      I've used LibreOffice for years and have rarely run into compatibility problems.

      Similar experience here, and also with Open Office prior to using Libre. Still I welcome compatibility fixes.

    4. drankinatty

      Re: Keeps gettin better

      Couldn't agree more. I have a law office that went Linux in 2002 and to OpenOffice at that time and to LIbreOffice when openSUSE made the switch. Secretaries, legal assistants still used Windows and Word. LibreOffice had no problem handling all the documents needs except in the case of Appellate Briefs, and a second annoyance related to different first-page headers (which has been greatly improved in Ver. 6 & 7), but still doesn't quite handle things as well as independent sections in Word will.

      The nagging appellate brief issue specifically relates to the ability to create a Table of Authorities (actually two tables, a Table of Cases and Table of Statutes) which is inserted after the table of contents. Word specially provides field-codes to handle the appellate brief needs, Writer doesn't. Edits made to the brief in Word, regardless whether it causes the field-codes for the table entries to change pages in the document, are handled by simply regenerating the tables in Word. There is no comparable capability in Writer.

      (the workaround in Writer is the complete the brief, all red-lines and edits without the tables, ensuring it is for all practical purposes ready to file, and then create and insert the tables at the end -- and manually deal with any page number entries in the two tables that change pages due to the insertion of the tables themselves)

      I opened a bug/feature request with LibreOffice years ago specifically for the Table of Authorities issue, but as with any niche feature request, it will get handled when manpower permits. For other issues, I've found that bugs are generally handled about as quick as with any other open source project. I haven't had need to try the table of authorities again since Writer ver. 7 was release -- so there may have been improvements -- though I'm not holding my breath....)

      My only complaints (and this applies equally to Word and Writer) are that "improvements" to the user-interface (ribbons, context menus, etc..) are generally done to highlight the new "gee-whiz" features of the editor that serious black-and-white documents will never use. The consequence of the changes end up pushing core editor feature off the convenient context menu or ribbon. (line-spacing in LIbreOffice is a prime example, spacing of normal, 1.5 and double used to be a simple right-click away and are now instead a dialog and tab selection away).

      Long and short of it is, after nearly 20 years use of both in business, thousands of pleading, exhibit lists, summaries and letters later, LibreOffice will do everything needed with equal ease as Word, save and except the obscure Table of Authorities issue in appellate briefs. At least from a black-and-white document standpoint, there isn't any reason to be hesitant about adopting LibreOffice in business.

  2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

    "LibreOffice 7.2 brings improved but still imperfect Microsoft Office compatibility"

    Fair enough, but has nobody ever used Microsoft Office and found incompatibility issues with their previous version of Microsoft Office. Does perfect compatibility just mean that it would have the same issues that Microsoft is working to fix?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

      Or rather, Microsoft Office has compatibility issues with LibreOffice.

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

        Microsoft Office has compatibility issues with the ODF format - do not confuse the software with the file format.

        Microsoft does not want complete working with ODF. If it were to get there then people could exchange ODF files rather than OOXML ones, this would mean that it would sell fewer MS Word licenses. A good bit of non compatibility helps with the FUD to worry people about switching to LibreOffice.

        Microsoft makes money by pushing obscure, non standardised document formats.

        1. LogicGate Silver badge

          Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

          Microsoft office has trouble with Microsoft office compatibility. We moved our complexly formatted manuals to LibO after finding ourselves upening Word documents that Word could no longer open without crashing in LibO on order to re-save as a Word-file that Word could open again. At this point we concluded that .odt was the way to go.

          Simple documents, presentations and spreadsheets are still made in MsOffice, but for real document generation, we go to LibO.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

            Yup, I fondly remember whenever we had an Excel or Word file that couldn't be opened by MS Office and was reported as corrupt we would just use LibreOffice equivalents to open the file with no problem and then resave it in an MS format to fix it. It was just hilarious stuff. How can you take MS Office seriously after that.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

            My sister-in-law found she could no longer open a couple of Office docs. She emailed them to me. I opened them in LO, saved them back in MS format, emailed them back and she can now open them again. No updates to her Office suite that she's aware of.

            1. Col_Panek

              Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

              I've done exactly the same thing with some ancient .docs.

              1. jake Silver badge

                Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

                Same here. It's actually becoming quite common.

          3. Zolko Silver badge

            Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

            Microsoft office has trouble with Microsoft office compatibility

            exactly that: we have been working in an international environment (public research) and had a mixture of Windows and Mac computers, a mixture of Office generations (2007, 2013, 2016) and a mixture of languages (German, French and English). End result was that documents written/saved on 1 computer could sometimes not be correctly opened in another (references missing, apparently because in German a table is "Tabelle" and in French it's "Tableau" while in English it's "Table": when one wanted to add a table from a french computer to a doc written on a german computer, the references numbers didn't follow: we had to manually adjust them all and each time.).

        2. BloggsyMaloan

          Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

          >Microsoft makes money by pushing obscure, non standardised document formats.

          True. Upvote.

          Similar to Apple making money by pushing obscure, non standardised everything formats and erecting Pay-Up-Before-You-Enter walls around all content, created outside Apple, that it possibly can.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

            Well that escalated quickly.

    2. Avatar of They

      Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

      I have compatibility issues with Microsoft Office, does that count?

    3. The BigYin

      Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

      That'd be amusing option to see.

      * Import Word doument with:

      1. Perfect fidelity

      2. Recreated compatibility problems for a target version

    4. mjflory

      Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

      If only that were true... We have a smattering of old versions of MS Office in various offices and I've seem vertical lines go askew in PowerPoint and no end of variations on mangled text in Word when we exchange documents. I'm not the best at keeping my software up to date, but I've had documents go awry when I brought them up in LibreOffice and SoftMaker Office on my Linux boxes as well. My fallbacks are to open a sent document in Office for Mac or in Office 365 (or whatever that online pain is called). Still, yesterday a friend sent me a multilingual, footnoted .docx that choked his Office for Mac. I opened it in LO 5, added a space at the end, resaved it, and returned it. Today he said it opened perfectly now in Word.

      I'll make the leap from LO 5 to LO 7.2 and see how it goes. (I should install that SoftMaker 2021 update I bought, too.)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

        "added a space at the end"

        You probably didn't need to do that. Opening and re-saving can be enough.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

          Destroys the copy of the original sent to you, though. Best to open it and then save to a different file name, just in case any changes wreck the thing completely. That way, you still have an unaffected copy that you can use to help your friend/relative/favorite blob of grey goo.

          As always, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

        "I'm not the best at keeping my software up to date"

        This is a not a software problem, it's a wetware problem.

        1. mjflory

          Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

          True, I confess...

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?


    5. BloggsyMaloan

      Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

      >Fair enough, but has nobody ever used Microsoft Office

      >and found incompatibility issues with their previous

      >version of Microsoft Office.

      Yes. Multiple times. And opening an MS Word document in LibreOffice, saving it in a different MS Word version and opening it again in Word has solved the problem a number of times,

      Informal conclusion: LibreOffice is often more compatible with various versions of MS Word than MS Word is.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

        According to the LO docs

        Command line switches

        --convert-to output_file_extension[:output_filter_name] [--outdir output_dir] files

        Batch convert files. If --outdir is not specified, then current working directory is used as output_dir.

        Eg. --convert-to pdf *.doc

        --convert-to pdf:writer_pdf_Export --outdir /home/user *.doc

        I've not tried this so YMMV.

        More adventurous uses/devs might want to investigate running LO in "headless" mode and read the API docs for more complex task automation.

    6. Mike_in_Oz

      Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

      errr? no... if you have a very old Microsoft Word document you are better off trying to open it in LibreOffice than Word (the latter does not support its own old formats) Also, when all else fails and Word freezes when scrolling through a large bitmap image that I (or more likely one of my students!) has inserted then opening it in LibreOffice is the standard work-around. Now that I can use EndNote in LibreOffice I cannot see that many reasons to use Word anymore.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does "compatibility" mean having the same issues?

        When word messes a document up I usually use LO to fix it.

        I'd like to use LO all the time as I do most of my development on Linux. However customers require docx format.

        For the latest project we are only offering PDF and odf. As TBH the only editors of the documents are us....

        Needless to say LO does have its own set of problems that I sometimes have to use word to fix ;>>

    7. DJV Silver badge

      Re: incompatibility issues

      "nobody ever used Microsoft Office and found incompatibility issues with their previous version of Microsoft Office"

      Maybe not the "previous" version but how about when I was at University where they had the "same" version of Word on both their Windows PCs and their Macs. A document written on one platform would often find its layout completely screwed up upon opening it on the other platform. Given the usual rush for computer access students couldn't be choosy on which platform they had to use. Ok, so this was the 1990s but this was about par for the course with Microsoft back then as well - nothing changes...

      1. hayzoos

        Re: incompatibility issues

        Cross-platform may not have been the issue. I have seen exactly what you describe when the only difference was default printer. Office seems to define the layout of documents using the printer as a the template. I had solved the issue for a team once by setting all the default printers (all in Windows) as a print to PDF file printer. I suggested they adapt the printing process to "print" to PDF, then print to paper.

        I cannot say LibreOffice is afflicted by the same issue or not. There is just not enough of an installed base for me to have seen the same circumstance. I do use LO myself. I have adopted "print" to PDF and PDF to paper if needed as my normal process no matter the original source application. It just works.

        1. TSM

          Re: incompatibility issues

          The printer obsession does extend into places you wouldn't expect it.

          I recently had to fix an issue where commands like setting the page header and footer in an Excel document (from Access VBA - don't ask) failed, because the print spooler service had been disabled for security thanks to PrintNightmare, and without it the user didn't have a default printer, and without a default printer the very concept of page formatting makes no sense, apparently.

      2. TSM

        Re: incompatibility issues

        Yeah, I had very similar issues in the same era. Going between Mac and PC would screw up a bunch of stuff, in particular all my equation objects were essentially destroyed - as I was doing honours maths this was a bit of a problem, and in the end I had to avoid the Macs and edit it only on PC.

        For postgrad I learned how to use LaTeX instead and was able to move seamlessly between Mac, PC, and SGI Indys for my editing - and as a bonus the files were a lot smaller, which was useful when they all had to be stored on floppy disk for transit.

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge


    There is a good financial and standards-based rationale for making that single suite LibreOffice

    Possibly, but stability and UX are also a problem. For CFOs the licence costs are less of a problem than potential retraining costs. And LibreOffice's UI has been the victim of some very poor decisions. The ribbon in MS Office is a real nightmare but much of the reworked UI was well done. At least on my Mac, LibreOffice is not particularly stable. And there, for Excel at least, there is the add-in ecosystem in which some companies have invested heavily. All this makes switching more difficult

    When it comes to the differences betweem transitional and strict versions of the OOXML specification, these are generally minimal. A bigger problem is that they use completely separate namespaces making handling qualified element names a royal PITA. And the undocumented requirements for MS Office. These are, fortunately, generally documented in the implementers notes but it's not possible to automate their enforcement.

    But it's good to see the LibreOffice team engaging more meaningfully with the specification. Many long-standing compability bugs seem to derive from simply not reading the OOXML specification. Again, when trying to persuade companies to migrate, having poor compatibility makes you, and not Microsoft, look bad.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Choices

      " the licence costs are less of a problem than potential retraining costs"

      Why do you think MS introduced the ribbon UI? No skin off their nose that it dumped a whole lot of retraining costs on their users but it built a wall round their product that they'd lost when they were obliged to turn their formats into a sort of open sort of standard.

    2. nijam Silver badge

      Re: Choices

      > ...simply not reading the OOXML specification

      The OOXML spec. is - as hinted at in the article - constructed so as to almost impossible to (simply) read.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Choices

        I'm fairly familiar with the specification and, while the descriptions are indeed at times unclear, you can still work directly with the schema. I've worked with far worse; even the post 2006 extensions are documented and the schemas provided.

        Internally, I suspect that some of the inconsistencies cause nearly as many problems for Microsoft as for anyone else.

        Real barriers to entry are things like taking XLSM off the table, but more worryingly, the move towards "collaborative" work via that cancer that is Sharepoint. OOXML itself relies on the zip format, which doesn't lend itself to changes. It took them a while but Microsoft did realise what a wonderful lock-in the cloud is and has since had CFOs hammering at its doors chanting TCO, TCO, TCO…

  4. AMBxx Silver badge


    If you have 90%+ of the market share, you have the standard. No point arguing beyond that.

    1. Craig 2

      Re: Standards?

      "If you have 90%+ of the market share, you have the standard. No point arguing beyond that."

      That's fine as long as you don't intentionally obfuscate it, specifically to stop rivals implementing it. Which Microsoft (allegedly) did, and continue to do with the never-ending "transitional" version.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Standards?

        While there may have been some obfuscation, I think the real problems with understanding the spec are rooted in essentially transliterating the existing, and undocumented BIFF specification.

        Microsoft was definitely guilty of foot-dragging and also most certainly abused the standards process by bribing fast track approval. But, at the end of the day, the transitional specification is good enough for most interoperability. And, having worked with the ISO working group for the last 5 or 6 years, I can confirm that they are still engaged with the process to improve the documentation, which has significantly helped my own OOXML library. During this period, however, there has been no interaction with either The Document Foundation or the OpenOffice team.

        And, FWIW, the feedback from ISO is that ODF, while probably the better format, has largely been left to languish.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Standards?

          "And, FWIW, the feedback from ISO is that ODF, while probably the better format, has largely been left to languish."

          You say that like it's a bad thing. The alternative word for "languish" is "reliable".

          1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: Standards?

            No, I say it like – even though it's a good standard, there are still things to fix and improve, but no one's doing this.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Standards?

      "If you have 90%+ of the market share, you have the standard. No point arguing beyond that."

      Hence the need and requirement for anti-monopoly laws.

  5. Mage

    MS Office Compatibility?

    Which MS office and which application in it?

    Also long standing bugs in MS Office

    It's only an issue if you are sending documents back and forwards between people that use different versions. Also there is the issue of incorrect column or cell types on Excel and lack of use of Styles in Word and stupid VBA or macros.

    See also

    It's not been a real issue for 10 years or more for most people.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just wish it were more compatible with itself. I've been banging my head on the wall with OOo7, where copying lines from one sheet to another in the same spreadsheet (native .ods), text objects won't appear - except they still will print - and then later reappear - except with a different shape and position - and copy-pasting again, then they are not copied.

    And saving then reopening the document after a lot of tinkering to get it right, the content of the cells is different too, with new lines disappearing.

    It can be exceedingly frustrating.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      OOo is dead. Switch to LibreOffice.

  7. Tron Silver badge

    Let me rephrase that for you.

    Microsoft Office is not 100% compatible with LibreOffice 7.2.

    I've used LibreOffice for years. When I send people files, I offer the option of .odt or .pdf.

    If someone sends me an Office file, it is usually fine. If it is garbage, I request an alternate format or a printed copy. Even the British government accepts .odt files.

    Users establish standards, not Microsoft. Grow a pair and switch to .odt.

  8. Sandstone

    How compatible does it have to be?

    We should be asking the question, "Does it do what we need it to do?" My answer is a resounding, yes!

  9. Adair Silver badge


    + open standards

    + well documented

    + effectively 'bug free'

    + ergonomically sound

    + cross platform

    + excellent printed output

    + easy collaboration

    + (I could go on)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LaTeX

      Dunno, feels good on the skin ?

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: LaTeX

      You forgot "used only within a tiny segment of the overall population, so if you aren't in a science/research field no one you're working with has ever even seen it before".

      1. Adair Silver badge

        Re: LaTeX

        I sincerely hope you are not in any way suggesting quantity equates to quality.

        A common assumption and one that is frequently disproved in practice - we buy shit because that's what everybody else buys, i.e. whoever has the biggest marketing budget is likely to win the market.

        Evidence for the prosecution: Microsoft Word - a product commonly misused, misunderstood and actually more than a bit crap. Doesn't actually know what it's supposed to be so tries to be a bit of everything and so turns into an ergonomic and functionality cesspool - fit for nothing very much at all.

        LaTeX gets out of the blocks with a near vertical learning curve, which immediately asks the question 'Is my crap really worth the effort?' - probably not. However should one persevere then a whole landscape of decent typography, formatting, documentation and straightforward document maintainability lies at ones fingertips.

        In an ideal world the choice would be a no brainer. This is not an ideal world. Instead we have Word.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: LaTeX

          I sincerely hope you are not in any way suggesting quantity equates to quality

          Of course not. But if you thought Windows Phone was better than iPhone and Android, and chose to buy one, you were still left twisting in the wind with a lack of apps and eventual dumping of the product by Microsoft due to lack of userbase.

          The open source world allows for products with tiny userbases to continue forever so long as someone is willing to maintain it, or it does its job well enough it doesn't need improvement. That doesn't mean you should try to force others who have to work with you to use it. For creating your own documents others will never touch except as a PDF or printed page, sure. For creating something others may need to modify someday, unless you know they already use TeX it would be colossally stupid to do so.

          1. Adair Silver badge

            Re: LaTeX

            Maintainability is actually one of LaTeX's greatest strengths, in comparison to Word with it's ever hanging codebase and feature set. A LaTeX document created twenty years ago will compile as sweetly today and be transparent in it's formatting coomands.

            You are right, however, in that it is hardly a suitable tool for mass use by untrained users. OTOH, it certainly offers an effective solution to many of Word's weaknesses and crimes against user control and composition management.

            I have no wish at all to impose its use, simply glad such a tool exists, and LO too.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: LaTeX

              Yes, LaTeX is great. I've published with it for decades.

              I wouldn't use it for an inter-office memo, though. Nor would I recommend MeDearOldMum use it to dash off a letter to her cousins overseas[0].

              Horses for courses & all that.

              [0] Yes, they still send dead-tree letters. They also use email. And various forms of instant messaging. And occasionally video chat of one sort or another.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: LaTeX

        ...the 'vi' of text processors.

        Ooops! Almost wrote 'word processors' but LaTeX is hardly that.

        1. alain williams Silver badge

          Re: LaTeX

          No - that would be troff/groff - which I still use occasionally.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: LaTeX

          It's not a text processor so much as a system for marking up pages for desktop publishing.

          I sometimes use vi to edit LaTeX documents.

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            Re: LaTeX

            I sometimes use vi to edit LaTeX documents.

            I admire your tenacity, but I can't keep and old line from Star Trek from coming to mind... something about stone knives and bear skins....

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: LaTeX

              I've already published it using LaTex. I have the finished product. But once in a while I need to adjust things (re-word a clumsy paragraph, add a couple paragraphs to account for modern changes, change the edition number & new publishing date, little shit like that). Firing up vi and making a quick change is the no-muss, no-fuss answer.

              Presumably, you would have me convert them to (Libre)Office or similar, then make the changes? Frankly, that would open a can of worms that I'd really rather not have to bother with.

              Retaining the original format is pragmatic. So is using vi.

              Horses for courses and all that.

      3. mjflory

        Re: LaTeX

        Alas, I am in a science/research field and no one I'm working with has ever seen it before.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: LaTeX

          I'm no longer in the science/research...

          I still occasionally use it when I generate API documentation using doxygen.

          We also used it to replace a 400 odd page technical manual original written in word with a combination of mark down and doxygen to create a latex document with our own front page, headers and footers etc.... The word document use to fall apart every time anyone edited it requiring a manual check of every page...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LaTeX..a complete waste of time..

      I just checked and LaTeX really has not changed that much since I did a serious technology review back in 1990 for architecture / implementation ideas for a commercial desktop publish / typographical editor application. (Which later sold hundreds of thousands of copies). There were some good academic books and research papers at the time which were useful. Even PostScript source was useful. But LaTeX . A complete waste of time.

      After a few days it was obvious that it really did not do that much and did it badly. Obtuse does not even start. And over the years when ever I ran into LaTeX zealots they always reminded me of people who spent hours writing and getting to work some "elegant" Emacs Lisp code for an editing op that took a few minutes to work out and do with some stupid macro / script combo.

      So LaTeX failed completely for the same reason SGML did. It tried to do a limited set of sophisticated operations in such an obscure and convoluted way that almost no one bothered to go though the pain of learning how to use it. I've written compilers and I could not be ars*ed to lean LaTeX (again) when I needed high end text layout. And I already know the three types of leading..

      Otherwise a very happy user of Star/Open/Libre Office for decades. Always guaranteed to open any Word file when the latest and greatest version of MS Word cannot.

      1. LionelB Silver badge

        Re: LaTeX..a complete waste of time..

        Missed the point entirely. For technical document production, LaTeX simply produces better-typeset copy.

        This is especially true of mathematics. As a research scientist, mathematician and statistician, I get to read and review an awful lot of papers, and can generally tell at a glance whether they have been produced by LaTeX or a word processor. I have yet to come across a word processor that does not generate hideous mathematics (not to mention the ghastly-to-the-point-of-unusable UIs). This is not simply a fanboi whinge - I need to read a lot of maths, and bad maths typesetting actually makes my work harder and more stressful.

        Sure, the LaTeX learning curve is steep - it's not a word processor, and I wouldn't recommend anyone use it as such - but for technical documents the end product is of infinitely higher quality and readability

  10. ecofeco Silver badge

    Microsoft compatibility?

    Microsoft Office is often not compatible with itself! So I don't see Libre Office as being the problem.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What amazes me is how fast it loads on an M1

    I'm going to install the 7.2 release tomorrow, but I saw already with 7.1 that whatever they've done for M1 compatibility was impressive.

    I don't think I have any other software that loads so immediate on Apple M1 hardware without an agent already in memory. It's nowhere near that fast on Intel, and, frankly, it puts other programs of a similar size a bit to shame. I have no idea how they did this, but I would love this to be done by everyone (and no, this is not caching, on test machines that do get a frequent restart it's just as fast and that would otherwise also work for other software).

    Great job. Again.

  12. gerryg

    As I posted in the discussion about Zorin

    This is a specific example of the LOTD problem.

    If in any way LibreOffice is sub-optimal it is LibreOffice's problem.

    If in any way Microsoft Office is sub-optimal it is LibreOffice's problem.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Libre Office 7.1 released for routine use

    Fixed the headline for you.

    Time to download it.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In The End It Doesn't Even Matter

    My wife put a few images in a doc using writer and added text under each.

    An extremely simple use case.

    Opening the file in OnlyOffice, WPS, 365 all resulted in the text in a 10 char column next to it.

    If you are only using it yourself or only dealing with other people using it LO is fine.

    Otherwise nothing else matters if you don't have fidelity 99.5% of the time.

    Microsoft is standard in a non technical sense since it is so prevalent it is standard to have and works so well.

    You have to give MSOffice a perfect 5 out of 7 rating!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: In The End It Doesn't Even Matter

      Alternatively, you export it in a format that other users can open, ie lowest common denominator. Back in the day I used to save Word documents in Word95 format so users of Office'95, '97, '2000 and 'XP as well as Open Office could all open it reliably.

  15. Len

    The challenges with roundtrips

    I was following the development of the OpenDocument standard very closely at the time and remember the roundtrip discussion very well.

    Inevitably creating a standard involves making choices. Some choices are easy. Do we follow a decision made by some drunk intern developer without standards experience at Microsoft in the 1990’s or do we follow the ISO standard on this topic? Following ISO usually means it integrates better with what’s out there and it sometimes means that the 96% of the people who are not American do not have to adapt to things that are incongruent with their daily life (Seriously, why on earth default to the “Letter” paper format that nobody outside the US uses? I wouldn’t even know where to buy paper in the “Letter” format. Does my printer know how to handle “Letter”? Working with dates is usually a nightmare in MS products because their software often thinks that 12/31/2021 is a valid date but 31/12/2021 is not. Is 4/5/2021 a date in May or in April? Is 4-5-2021 a date in May or -2022? The hours that I've lost battling MS Office when importing automatically generated CSVs containing dates...).

    Some choices are hard. And the roundtrip decision was a very tough one. On the one hand, developing a new standard means you can shake off mistakes and oversights of the past. A fitting example is the year 1900 bug in MS Excel. Microsoft had decided to import that bug from Lotus 1-2-3 (which their new spreadsheet application was going to compete with) and even today Excel wrongly thinks that 1900 was a leap year.

    This means that if you do a time series in Excel that crosses the year 1900 your data will probably be wrong. MS sacrificed correctness for compatibility and well into the 21st century, users of Excel are still suffering (or unknowingly have unreliable output from Excel).

    After a long, and at times quite heated(!), debate it was decided for the new OpenDocument standard that correctness was more important than roundtrip compatibility.

    The benefits are that you can use official global standards instead of forever chasing MS and their odd choice of the week (even MS can’t get compatibility with MS formats right, imagine being a third party always having to chase them). Also, your format is more reliable for serious work. Especially since they involved professors in mathematics and experts from the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group (their horror stories are great) to advise on the standard (software developers are usually not very good at creating standards, it’s a specialist’s job).

    The downside is that, sometimes, sending the same file backward and forward with a colleague that uses MS Office give you weird results. It often works well once in either direction but subsequent roundtrips get worse.

    Ultimately I am glad with the direction they chose to go. It means that ODF is a much better standard for serious work and long term archival. After those standard debates (I believe there was also an issue in Excel with the order in which it executes operators, leading to very different outcomes of calculations) I am never trusting Excel with anything important ever again. Even if it sometimes causes some interchange issues.

    As for text files, the majority of my work. About three years ago I switched to only sending .ODT files to clients, editors and suppliers and it has never caused any issue or complaints.

  16. Long John Silver

    Avoidable incompatibilities?

    The first word-processing package I used was Borland Sprint. Within expectations of its day Sprint was customisable and versatile; Borland's separate spreadsheet software was excellent too. Sprint enabled me to prepare a book for a publisher. Thereafter I dipped into WordPerfect, early MS Office applications, and OpenOffice. LibreOffice has served my needs for several years. However, being retired I have little demand for facilities enabling collaborative authorship in an institutional setting. These last are where matters concerning compatibility of software packages arise.

    Lack of full inter-compatibility may be much less a problem than the article suggests. Within any institution, standardisation of software in use may be enforced (commerce) or encouraged (universities). When collaboration crosses institutional boundaries it obviously is desirable to agree on a document format supported by software from differing sources. I suggest the huge bulk of documents in production contain simple text and undemanding graphics. Format compatibility worries should rarely come to fruition.

    Production of completed works intended for consumption beyond institutional boundaries (e.g. annual reports and brochures) generally requires specialist skills for page layout (including choice of fonts and colours) and for preparing/adjusting illustrations regardless of intention to typeset a printed document or to distribute in digital format (e.g. web pages and/or PDF). At this stage residual annoyances from incompatibility among software deployed to make the draft can be ironed out within whatever software is chosen to facilitate publication. The entire process should pose little challenge to persons willing to consider workarounds rather than demand perfection.

  17. Alan Hope

    I'll try it, but...

    Can Libreoffice now do one-click "save and email" ?

    I try each new version, but it's the slick little timesavers like this that take me back to Microsoft every time.

  18. Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds)

    Knock-Off products

    I was going to write this long diatribe about how terrible Libre Office and Google Docs are at being compatible with the real thing, but as I was composing it, I remembered the Seventies, when cheapskate relatives gifted me so called compatible Lego blocks, that were anything but.

    I hate fake Lego blocks, and I am no longer five, so I don’t have to put on a fake happy face to please Aunty Cheapskate (God rest her soul).

    That is all I have to say about Office Knock-Off products.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Knock-Off products

      You mean Lotus Symphoy or SmareWare knock offs?

      SmartWare in particular had an excellent cross-app scripting language and even included it's own comms client. We'd take spreadsheets from staff designed to minimise staff time while getting the data we needed, eg student number, course number, grade, and the system would uses the data in the spreadsheet to get the full wordy stuff from a database, put it into the word processor and print a useful, wordy report to give the student/their parents. The spreadsheet data also went to another database so we could get pretty formatted reports on almost anything and even graphs if required. The fact MSOffice doesn't have a database by default is why we couldn't do the above as easily with Office today without doing what so many do and use Excel as a tangled multi-sheet, multi-file spaghetti mess of a database or buying in a specialised bit of s/w and some likely extortionate price.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Knock-Off products

      In these here parts we put the blinders on the horses, not the people.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what about Wordperfect?

    Won't someone think of the geezers? Where does this leave Wordperfect on the desktop?

    It too has many ISO advances! Too many to be listed here!

    Is it true there will soon be a Linux version? And a Mac version of WordPerfect?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: But what about Wordperfect?

      "Won't someone think of the geezers?"

      Well, I R one, so I'll take a shot at it.

      "Where does this leave Wordperfect on the desktop?"

      Squandered by Corel. On the bright side, most editors and word processors can easily be made to emulate WP, including vi and EMACS. DDG for how.

      Or perhaps you'd prefer WordStar. Same deal.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like