LibreOffice 4.3: The best open-source office suite gets better

LibreOffice 4.3: The best open-source office suite gets better

Summary: Microsoft Office has a worthy competitor in the new LibreOffice, the best non-Microsoft office suite.


Ever since LibreOffice split off from the troubled OpenOffice in 2010, this open-source office suite has gotten better and better. With this new release from The Document Foundation, LibreOffice 4.3 has established itself as the best non-Microsoft office suite.

My favorite new LibreOffice feature: The ability to import and export comments across different document formats, and thus, office suites.

The new LibreOffice 4.3 brings many new useful improvements and features to the program. These include:

Document interoperability: Support of Microsoft's Office Open XML (OOXML, aka OpenXML) Strict, OOXML graphics improvements (DrawingML, theme fonts, preservation of drawing styles and attributes), embedding OOXML files inside another OOXML file, support of 30 new Excel formulas, and support of MS Works spreadsheets and databases. The new LibreOffice also supports Mac legacy file formats such as ClarisWorks, ClarisResolve, MacWorks, SuperPaint, and more.

Intuitive spreadsheet handling: Calc now allows the performing of several tasks more intuitively, thanks to the smarter highlighting of formulas in cells, the display of the number of selected rows and columns in the status bar, the ability to start editing a cell with the content of the cell above it, and being able to fully select text conversion models by the user.

3D models in Impress: Support of animated 3D models in the new open glTF format, plus initial support for Collada and kmz files that are found in Google Warehouse, in order to add a fresh new look and animations to keynotes. This feature is currently supported only on the Windows and Linux versions.

Comment management: Comments can now be printed in the document margin, formatted in a better way, and imported and exported - including nested comments - in Open Document Format (ODF), DOC, OOXML and RTF documents, for improved productivity and better collaboration.

It is this last improvement that I'm most excited about. Trouble with reading and writing comments between different formats and office suites has long annoyed me. This looks to be a real step forward to solving this nuisance. 

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LibreOffice 4.3 also support “monster” paragraphs exceeding 65,000 characters. In addition, the accessibility technology on Windows has become a standard feature, thanks to the improvements based on IBM's IAccessible2 framework.

For the complete list of new features and improvements of see the LibreOffice 4.3  release notes.

The program's code quality has also been greatly improved in the last two years. Coverity Scan found the defect density per 1,000 lines of code has shrunk from an above the average 1.11 to an industry leading 0.13 since 2012. According to Coverity, "LibreOffice has done an excellent job of addressing key defects in their code in the short time they have been part of the Coverity Scan service."

Like previous versions, LibreOffice is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows systems. You can also run an older version, LibreOffice 4.2, from the cloud using a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.

With the United Kingdom making LibreOffice's native ODF its default format for government documents, LibreOffice is certain to become more popular. Other cash-strapped governments, such as Italy's Umbria province, have found switching to LibreOffice from Microsoft Office has saved them hundreds of thousands of Euros per thousand PCs.

"The LibreOffice project shows that a large free software community can live and thrive without the patronage of a software vendor, to liberate PC desktops," said Thorsten Behrens, Chairman of The Document Foundation in a statement. "Today, you can't own a better office suite than LibreOffice, in term of features, interoperability, support for document standards and independence. After many years, LibreOffice brings the control of the PC desktop back into the hands of the users."

LibreOffice 4.3 is available for download now. Extensions and templates to add specific features can be found at the LibreOffice Extensions page.

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Open Source, Software

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  • LibreOffice 4.3: The best open-source office suite gets better

    If it works for you great, if it does work for you also great.

    "Its a beautiful day in the neighbor hood". -Mr. Rogers
  • glad to hear they're continuing to improve

    I'm doubtful as to how good the MS format support improvement is. last version I used was 4.1, but the MS document support was pretty terrible. at the rate it goes I feel like they're never really going to hit solid support.
    • although to be fair

      I have formatting issues with different MS office versions/variants. Its best to convert to PDF if it doesn't need to be edited.
      • examples of formatting problems with other Office versions

        FWIW, the Word web app can't handle MSFT's own 2013 Annual Report correctly (top table on page 6).
    • I noticed

      A huge improvement in MS Office compatibility starting around version 4.2.1.
  • the harsh reality is that

    businesses simply use MS office if they are going to use an installed software. Its a de facto standard. Since it is purchased for the employees, there's really no reason not to use it. It makes the job easier if everyone is on the same software. And in my personal life, I use google docs, not libreoffice, for the same reason I don't use MS office. Heavyweight, overkill software.
    • Productivity software for personal life

      Abiword and Gnumeric from Gnome Office are much lighter than LibreOffice, OpenOffice and Microsoft Office. These two applications are more than adequate.

      I've never had a need for a presentation app outside of the office (don't take it to mean that is true for everyone).
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • the problem with abiword for me was

        that it didn't support standard formats very well and so you'd want to use its native abi format, but few if any other programs support that so you can't exchange abi docs with anyone.
        • RTF works with most, if not all, programs expept for text editors

          Rabid Howler Monkey
          • RTF...the standard that almost is

            I've run across several instances where an RTF was imported into a word processor (Abiword, LO, OO, Kingsoft, etc.) and did not format correctly. I've noticed (minor) differences between WordPad RTF and Works RTF. A standard is only good if it IS.
            Iman Oldgeek
          • RTF is not perfect across applications and platforms

            I've run into some issues with Ted on GNU/Linux in the past. However, RTF is widely supported across applications and platforms. In fact, I've found RTF support to be considerably broader than both Microsoft DOC and DOCX.

            Also note that neither Google nor Apple support ODF. Last I heard, RTF is the default format for OS X. Every Windows version has Wordpad which supports RTF.

            Finally, remember that this discussion is for personal use of productivity software as opposed to professional use.
            Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Google Supports ODF

            I upload odt files and export to odt all the time from Google Docs.
          • I'm a user of LibreOffice (as part of Mint installs)

            I think the nature of MS to to try and differentiate itself from the competition to create a market.

            I've seen this over the decades not only with MS Office, but with their operating systems also.

            However, recently there has been a lot of energy expended by the competition to circumvent their proprietary lock-ins.

            The current LibreOffice seems to a very successful replacement for MS Office. But MS will continue to create odd little features that try and create stumbling blocks for the competition.

            But, what is happening with Office is similar to how they lost control when using their proprietary brower tricks. If enough people start using open standards, their tricks will backfire and work against them and they will eventially have to comply with standards even to just survive.
          • When you use LibreOffice with Linux Mint...

            ...The updates to it are automatically installed when using the OS Update Manager...
          • Works RTF?????

            @Iman Oldgeek

            Works??? Really??? Why on God's Earth would ANYONE use that piece of crap? Geez, nothing but WORKS can read works document. Its so bad, I'm surprised MS didn't adopt it in favor of Office...........
    • There's online too

      There are online version of office too if you have only something small to do. You also get all the office applications, web apps, and a TB of storage for much less than what it would cost for part of the storage on dropbox.
      Buster Friendly
      • Thanks for the sales pitch

        Commission good?
        • Now now

          I think the open on skydive or whatever it's called this week feature is a boon to consider in the equation.

          Just like google docs. Personally I like libre office, though I do also use WPS (formerly kingsoft office(formerly wps)) And really enjoy it's mobile app.

          I want to like the apache office suite because being developed through the linux foundation it has that aura of official about it, but fact is little niggles make it feel *not* libre office.

          That said I find the MS compatibility thing to be a bit moot nowadays - yes you get a formatting error warning when you open it in MS Office, but I've not experienced any issues other than those you get using different generations of MS offices products, and less irritations that say running MS office in wine.

          To be honest I now find that libre office outstrips MS office at understanding british spelling (instead of American English) which is very important sending buisness documents this side of the pond!
        • What's your problem?

          Office online is a great option, as is Google Docs.

          I have an iMac at home and can get by with Pages, etc.

          But for serious work, Excel, Visio, PowerPoint, and to a lesser extent, OneNote are all valuable tools. If I were an independent consultant, I would gladly pay for Office.
          • Otherwise steal office??

            Just kidding, but good to hear they now do Visio for mac! Maybe I was wrong, but I was pretty sure that used to be windows only?