Tag Archives: Free Office programs

A Look at the Free Office Suite – LibreOffice 5.2

The Document Foundation recently announced LibreOffice 5.2, a free open source alternative to the Microsoft Suite.  LibreOffice 5.2 is one of the best free office suites currently on the market and this latest version comes with some advanced features that will be appreciated by the more advanced user, while still maintaining ease of use for the beginner.  According to their press release, some of the more advanced features include the ability to classify documents into categories (such as “Confidential”) according to TSCP standards as well as multiple digital signatures and descriptions along with import and export of signatures from OOXML files for improved security.

While LibreOffice still lacks the modern ribbon interface found in the Microsoft Office suite and the free Kingsoft Office Suite, it offers a stable, fully functional suite of office applications, including a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation tool, not to mention a database and drawing package.

Here are some of the highlights and new features for the main LibreOffice applications, Writer, the word processing tool, Calc, the spreadsheet tool and Impress, the presentation tool:

LibreOffice Writer

Existing users of LibreOffice will appreciate the new Standard Single Toolbar mode that has been added to Writer that includes the most commonly used functions, insert, and formatting operations as well as redesigned dialogs designed to help you to work more efficiently.   This saves some screen real estate as previously users had to use the default double toolbar arrangement.

In addition, you can now display and dock the Drawing Toolbar that was previously only available in LibreOffice Draw that gives you the ability to draw curves, freeform lines, polygons and a variety of filled shapes.  You can easily turn on and off the toolbars by going to View > Toolbars and selecting or deselecting the toolbars of your choice.  The Drawing Toolbar has not only been added to Writer, but to all LibreOffice applications.

drawing-toolbar

LibreOffice continues to improve the way users can create, save and print documents with the addition of some new features that include a new Print to File option in the list of printers, a Save as Template option on the Save toolbar button so you don’t have to go through the menus and two-factor authentication support for users of Google Drive for storage.  It’s also extremely easy to convert your existing Microsoft Word documents to Writers native ODF format by simply clicking the Save button on the Standard toolbar.  LibreOffice Writer will recognize that your are attempting to save a Word file and will prompt you with the option to save in the ODF Format.

Save Word files in LibreOffice Writer format

LibreOffice Impress

Creating a presentation has never been easier than it is with the latest update of Impress.  This impressive free presentation tool has a similar look and feel to PowerPoint except for the addition of a new Slide Background Properties Panel that lets you quickly change the layout, format, orientation and background image of a slide.

impress

Adding custom animations is extremely intuitive and can be accomplished easily by simply selecting the item that you want to apply custom animation to at which time you will be presented with the Custom Animation properties panel.  Here you can apply the same animation effects you’ll find in PowerPoint such as Fly In, Box, Checkerboard, etc.  The list of effects in the sidebar also now includes a description of the effect, along with the element name.

impress-animation

LibreOffice Calc

Calc, the spreadsheet tool is extremely intuitive and easy to learn offering a comprehensive range of advanced functions.  The latest version includes new functions (including tooltips that describe them), more view options in the status bar, quick-access operations to freeze columns and rows, and a single toolbar mode.  The new freeze columns feature is particularly useful to those who work on large spreadsheets and can be easily activated by selecting the column you want to freeze and choosing the View Menu > Freeze Cells and selecting from the available options.

Freeze Columns in LibreOffice Calc

While Calc saves spreadsheets in its native OpenDocument Format (.ods), it can also open and save files in Microsoft Excel format  and you can easily export to Portable Document Format (.pdf).   Calc can read .xlsx files created with Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows or Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac OS X.

LibreOffice 5.2 can be downloaded at the following link:http://www.libreoffice.org/download/.