donderdag 17 april 2014

10 years business support for the alternative for 'that one of Microsoft' - for free office-software

19.999 days young, and still celebrate the second lustrum .. how can that be possible?
It's possible when you are me and started your company on April 16 2004 :)
It's a very busy time the last months at Nou&Off, but wishing not to let pass this joyous moment unnoticed, it was decided at the last moment to do a little party in a smaller circle. To pay attention to it in wider circles, later this year a symposium will be organized around the use of open source office-software in Dutch administrations, institutions and companies.
At the same time as the 10 years anniversary of Nou&Off, there was the official opening of the LibreOffice-Trainingcenter. That was expected earlier, but due to the high workload on projects, it slipped. Luckily, sooner or later, all will be fine ;)

donderdag 19 december 2013

Graphics in HTML mail merge - new in LibreOffice 4.2.0

One of the great tools from LibreOffice that I use regularly, it the mail merge function from Writer. Preparing a text, adding field of your data source, and via the neat Python-coded wizard you can send all those document via e-mail. Personalised. The same can be done with HTML formatting and even PDF files that will be handled as attachment.
 
Until recent however, there was a nasty limitation with the use of HTML formatting for sending the emails: images were not embedded. So no use of good pictures and graphics in the mails..
After this, you understand that I'm really delighted to see that in the upcoming LibreOffice 4.2.0 the embedding of graphics in HTML-mail will be possible.
This thanks to Edmond Ciorba and Andras Timar. Kudoos guys :)
 
Rough information on these, and other features for LibreOffice 4.2.0 is on the wiki.
 
Note that beta 2 for the 4.2.0 is available and that very soon the first release candidate will be spread. Pls download this (mind parallel installation) and do your testing of existing and new features!
 
Finaly a nice picture of one of the improvements in the (Windows) user interface.

Enjoy :)

maandag 9 december 2013

Report on the LibreOffice 4.2.0 BugHunt Session

Around last weekend we had the LibreOffice 4.2.0 BugHunt Session. During three days volunteers – either known or new – added some extra steps to test the Beta version of the next LibreOffice. Compared with the weeks before, around three times more bugs were filed against that version (46/15). Overall around 25% more bugs were filed (107/80).

Experienced QA volunteers worked hard to triage as many bugs as possible, but I would not be surprised if still some need to be checked, clarified...
Also on the MozTrap tool people have been doing tests. This environment is especially easy for newcomers that want to do some good for their favourite office-suite ;) I'm told that there will be new test series for the release candidate 1 (in one, two weeks). So stay tuned there!

And last but not least: it was again really encouraging to see that several of the reported bugs have been repaired within hours or a day or so.
Thanks to the developers, thanks to all testers and other users!

zondag 29 september 2013

Escaping from the claws of Microsoft

At the LibreOffice conference in Milan, last week, there was a series of very interesting talks about migrations to LibreOffice. There I listened to someone talking about escaping from the claws of Microsoft.
One would maybe expect such words to from one of the administrations represented, that may not be charmed by the fact that the NSA spies them. Or by a NGO, whose work may be directly affected by the FBI reading their mails and documents. After all, it was Microsoft that first gave the NSA access to its software, and thus to all the work of people and organisations using it..
But no 'escaping from the claws of Microsoft' was expressed by a business man. A large company searching hard for a way to get a bit of his freedom back in choosing office-software and freedom to pay for needs, and not for obligations. Clearly business, NGO's and administrations share more and more interest in quality office software that respects freedom and property.

The LibreOffice conference again showed growth of the number of people and organizations backing the development. Looks as one of thé places to be for business, institutions and people in serving that goal of safety, respect and freedom in software.

maandag 2 september 2013

Sidebar – avoiding it or improve it for using Styles?

Since LibreOffice 4.1 there is the Sidebar as a experimental feature. While devs work on improvements and stabilising for future releases, I mostly avoid that Sidebar :) Meanwhile many people are positive about the nice looking feature... Well indeed it shows nice. And it shows huge...
You may get the feeling here that I'm not so happy with the Sidebar? Indeed! I'll explain why. And of course will try to give a shot about a maybe possible improvement.
Reasons why I'm not too happy is first because it eats space. Double: most of the formatting settings offered are directly available in the formatting toolbar already.
Furthermore, and that's much worse, the nice presentation of all kind of formatting settings, promotes direct formatting. And direct formatting, thus hassling around without using styles, is one of the largest problems when exchanging documents with people that pay for being licensed to use office-software. All this unstructured settings may give problems when working with documents over different programs. (Apart of course from the troublesome way in which Word handles pictures and numbering ;) – but that's a different story.)
 
So for me, two reasons to dislike the Sidebar: for eating space and for promoting bad habits :(
Now, before bringing a suggestion, as a side step, a way in which the Sidebar can bring some sort of fun: when opening the Navigator both apart and in the Sidebar, one with only headings shown and the other with all other content.
With only headings shown, the view in the Navigator (the one left in the screen shot) nicely follows the position in the document.
 
Then for a maybe possible improvement – I try to bring this careful, because ideas are often easily written down, and hard to realise ;)
From my objections with the current implementation, it's clear that I would rather see support for the use of styles. So I mocked up a little version with various style categories shown at the same time. And maybe also something can be done with the presentation of the font, as is the cast in the list Select Style.
And to recover some space, I simply hided the Formatting toolbar. Only the list Apply style deserved a new place on the Standard toolbar.
That's all that there is for now.
 

dinsdag 30 juli 2013

Version 4.1 pushes LibreOffice across the 500 border

Since LibreOffice 3.3 there are more then 500 new features and improvements listed on the pages that are published with the new releases.
 
With the preparations of a new release of LibreOffice of course there is the need to show the new function and improvements, extendings of existing features. Every half year this nice tasks is repeated, and of course it covers a aspects of many different sides of the suite. To me it's always a little wonder when this is done. Thanks to the information given by the developers, people as for example Marc always are able to create a nice and accessible overview.
Now recently we decided to make an overview of the most important, unique possibilities in LibreOffice. And when looking through the published overviews of all the different releases, I started to count a bit and suddenly it stroke me that LibreOffice had passed the border of 500! (Here are the pages, so you can count them 4.1 / 4.0 / 3.6 / 3.5 / 3.4 / 3.3)
 
Of course not every function or improvement is a huge one. There is a large amount of smaller but indeed useful items. Also there are features simply not listed, because a developer implemented but then forgot to add it or because it was not easy to explain. Or we have the functions that are listed more than once. Which is completely in line with an open source development style, where new stuff is made available rapidly and extended in smaller step. But when counting the improvements, regularly I counted listed items as "numerous improvements on MsOOXML Import en Export", or "Number of new functions in Calc" as one. Had I counted those each separately, I would have ended on a much larger number.
Does that matter? For me it doesn't: we count clearly more then 500 features and improvements , of which around 350 unique in LibreOffice. A mile stone!
 
Mind that we do not talk about the ten thousands bugfixes in LibreOffice. I would estimate that of that number only a relative small amount is for old bugs from the time of OpenOffice. But that is fine too: with the enormous speed of new functions and cleaning up and improving the code base (you may want to see this one once more..) there are of course new bugs (or old hidden bugs become visible...) and it's only prefect that LibreOffice shows that it tackles those fast too.
 

maandag 15 juli 2013

Cool and hot times - testing and localization LibreOffice 4.1

Why you will want to read this article soon...
 
So that were extremely busy weeks for all people active in LibreOffice localization and QA. Today the last translations – many up to 100% – have been pulled and the last triple reviewed code commits were done. And somewhere next week already we expect the release of LibreOffice 4.1.
 
Many volunteers doing the translations help a lot with testing too. That extremely important job is not something that happens every now and then... it is a continuous task. Beside the translations for the major releases, twice a year. Hard work, but being a part of the community that makes the best free office suite in the world makes it worth of course :)
That was what I felt very strong when reading Michaels blog, some weeks ago, on all the hard work that that the developers are doing on code improvements. Look here for many details: on cleaning, modern and faster code, easier building, automated tests, etc. etc.
As a result enthusiast 'hackers' keep joining the project with a cute EasyHack in LibreOffice or some other task. That makes some extra testing really worth, doesn't it?
Tip: watch out for the announcements that will come with the new LibreOffice. And don't forget then that about half of the good work is done below the surface ;)