LibreOffice 3.5 pushes past OpenOffice, not recommended for biz users

The Document Foundation has announced the release of LibreOffice 3.5.0 FINAL, its cross-platform, open-source office suite. Version 3.5.0 introduces a number of new features, including faster grammar checking, multi-line input bar in Calc, and a better user interface for headers and footers in Writer.

LibreOffice is a spin-off of OpenOffice, and comprises word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentations package (Impress), database (Base), graphics editor (Draw) and equations tool (Math). This is LibreOffice’s third major release since the project launched back in September 2010.

LibreOffice 3.5.0 FINAL includes a number of notable new features, helping support RedHat developer Caolán McNamara’s claim that LibreOffice “is rapidly leading to a completely new and substantially improved free office suite”, highlighting its swift development away from its OpenOffice origins.

New features are spread across most of the suite’s components. Writer users will discover a brand new built-in grammar checker for English, Hungarian and Russian that promises to be faster and more accurate than the existing checker. It also sports an interactive word count window, which updates in real time, plus a new user interface for headers, footers and page breaks.

The RTF filter has also been completely written while the Word DOCX filter tweaked with a number of improvements.

Updates Aplenty

LibreOffice’s spreadsheet component, Calc, can now support up to 10,000 sheets and claims better performance for many sheet-related operations as a result. It also includes a new multi-line input area for data entry, brand new functions conforming to the ODF OpenFormula 1.2 specifications, better performance importing files from other office suites, an unlimited number of rules for conditional formatting and multiple selections in the auto-filter.

There are also a number of numerous minor tweaks, such as the ability to set a default number of sheets for new documents and the ability to protect sheets from the sheet tab’s context menu.

Impress and Draw users will discover a new filter for importing documents from Microsoft Visio, new line ends for improved diagrams, better import of custom shapes and Smart Art from PowerPoint, a new display switch for the presenter’s console and the ability to embed multimedia and colour palettes into ODF documents.

More Changes

Elsewhere, Base gets a new, integrated PostgreSQL native driver, while the inline, automatic update checker has also been reintroduced with a number of improvements and bug fixes.

It’s also worth noting that LibreOffice 3.5.0 uses a different algorithm (AES as opposed to Blowfish) for encrypting files. While version 3.5.0 can open Blowfish-encrypted files, 3.4 users will need to update to LibreOffice 3.4.5 to gain access to files encrypted in version 3.5 and later.

For a full list of changes in version 3.5.0, click here. Note that, as with previous major updates, TDF recommends only power users update to version 3.5.0 for now, suggesting more conservative users, including corporations, should stick with LibreOffice 3.4.5 instead.

LibreOffice 3.5.0 FINAL is a free open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux. A separate portable build is also available, which is currently at version 3.4.5. Expect an update to 3.5 in the near future.

Photo Credit: Alberto Zornetta/Shutterstock

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