Friday, 30 January 2015 08:57

LibreOffice spruces up, adds new features in 4.4 Featured

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One of the major complaints levelled against free and open source software is that it looks bad. The user-interfaces for many applications are not geared towards being pleasing visually and this is not surprising as the software is merely meant to do a job.

But looks are important and over the years have become more important, sometimes even than the actual functionality. An ounce of image, as the late Peter Lawrence wrote, often outweighs a pound of performance.

LibreOffice is not in the category of software that does a poor job. The office suite is great piece of work and satisfies the needs of many, not merely in the GNU/Linux world but also in the Windows and Mac worlds.

The developers behind this project have now decided to dress up the office suite a little better. With the release of version 4.4 on Wednesday, the team behind LibreOffice has made the program look a lot spiffier.

"LibreOffice 4.4 has got a lot of UX and design love, and in my opinion is the most beautiful ever," Jan "Kendy" Holesovsky, who is on the membership committee
and is leader of the design team, was quoted as saying in a media release.

"We have completed the dialog conversion, redesigned menu bars, context menus, toolbars, status bars and rulers to make them much more useful. The Sifr monochrome icon theme is extended and now the default on OS X. We also developed a new colour selector, improved the sidebar to integrate more smoothly with menus, and reworked many user interface details to follow today's UX trends."

The following are some of the other features in the new version:

  • Support of OpenGL transitions in Windows, and improved implementation based on the new OpenGL framework
  • Digital signing of PDF files during the export process
  • Installation of free fonts Carlito and Caladea to replace proprietary Microsoft C-Fonts Calibri and Cambria, to get rid of font related issues while opening OOXML files
  • Addition of several new default templates, designed by volunteers
  • Visual editing of Impress master pages, to remove unwanted elements, adding or hiding a level to the outline numbering, and toggling bullets on or off
  • Better Track Changes with new buttons in the Track Changes toolbar and AutoCorrect features in Writer
  • Improved import filters for Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Publisher and AbiWord files, and Microsoft Works spreadsheets
  • New import filters for Adobe Pagemaker, MacDraw, MacDraw II and RagTime for Mac
  • Greatly expanded support for media capabilities on each platform.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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