LibreOffice 5.3 – Freedom Meets Functionality
Freedom to create with code is not the same as the freedom to create a specific product. Sometimes the freedom offered in the open source community makes it easier for me to be more productive. Other times, not so much. The biggest excuses I have to grab one of my machines with a closed source operating system consists of the following photo editing (Adobe CC), video editing (Final Cut Pro), and Civilization IV. Yes, I’m still playing Civ IV. It’s my favorite. I don’t need to upgrade. I’d love to find a tutorial that worked to get it working under Neon, but sadly the community that would write such a post appears to have moved on.
I used to think that I couldn’t create documents under Linux but LibreOffice 5.3 has really been a game changer. Everyone else beat me to the flashy reviews, so this isn’t a review that exposes the new features. This is a commentary of my experience.
The ribbon (Notebook Bar) feature they’ve added is perfect because although it costs me a bit of screen real estate, I get to have both the menu and the ribbon. It’s not intrusive, it’s complimentary. I get quick access to the things I need using two familiar ways to find them. Talk about flexibility designed for meeting user expectations! At work, I have to use the MS Office Suite and it always bothers me that I can’t quite tweak the interface to what I’d prefer. For LibreOffice, I didn’t have to tweak much once I enabled the ribbon.
The application does have a limit with larger files, but this is common amongst most text & document editors. When I was writing one of my books, I hated that it would take Word so long to load my file. The book wasn’t even that big but there was a huge amount of lag while I would wait for it to load. I threw a 1.7+GB text file at LibreOffice the other day and on a machine with 24GB of RAM. It decided it wasn’t going to play nicely. It’s not hard to understand why. That’s a lot of text to render. The 508 page book I opened didn’t have an issue. Sure, it took just a bit for the pages to load so I could scroll down, but it’s still rather impressive how responsive it was. I’ve never had MS Word feel this responsive. Ever!
My understanding is that building up to 5.3 involved a lot of code cleaning and making this a solid product underneath. It seems to have worked for ‘em. I’ve now composed several articles and most of my homework for this semester in the application suite. It’s held up for every single one. It doesn’t take much to get me to switch to a new application but it takes a lot to get me to stay there. So far, I have no reason to leave. I can easily switch from .odt to .docx files for things I have to share with folks at work. My midterm is due this week and it’ll be done with LibreOffice. For the first time in 19 years, I’m looking for my next job. The resume is getting worked and reworked in this excellent application. That’s how confident I am that it can deliver.
I know lots of other people already covered the features, but it felt not enough of us talked about how solid this thing is. Talk about reliable. When I’ve had my computer lose power without saving, it recovered every last character of my work. The only part that really annoys me about the application is the default fonts. The Libre fonts are nice, but nice isn’t the way I want to dress up my text. I usually want wow. Thankfully, it’s not hard to change the defaults.
While there are some parts of my work flow that keep me working in Windows and OS-X, document production is no longer one of them. When it comes to this software freedom has given me the freedom to produce efficiently.