LibreOffice vs. OpenOffice, Not Always SimpleOctober 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Operating Systems, Technology | 42 Comments
[Final Update: This post got a lot of notice, but I also had a follow up post that received less notice here that should be read for full perspective before commenting on this one now.]
If you are like me, you prefer LibreOffice over (Apache) OpenOffice because (1) It has a better open source license. (2) It has more community support. (3) It is more rapidly developing and releasing updates.
But at the same time, when I try to use them in a hard-core power user work environment, ideals go out the window and I use what works to keep my job. My employer briefly flirted with OpenOffice around 2005, and supposedly it was really bad experiment, but I wasn’t there at the time. So sadly, no one here contemplates a change from MS Office. Take an example spreadsheet I use. It is very complex to the point it would be better off in a database, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.
The surprising part is that MS Excel fails my needs even with working with its own .xlsx spreadsheet format. I need to hide 130 columns and Excel 2010 warns me “Cannot shift objects off sheet.” Prior Excel versions had the same problem. I’ve spent some effort looking for a solution, but the only thing I found to work is opening in an open source office suite.
MS Excel 2010:
I can open up this Excel document in either OpenOffice 3.4.1 or LibreOffice 3.6.1, and both are able to successfully hide the large number of columns I need hidden where Excel fails itself. However, LibreOffice has a bug that has persisted for many months, whereas OpenOffice just works. LibreOffice is making all comments visible by default. The only solution I’ve found in LibreOffice discussions is to manually close each one. In this case, that is an insane waste of time, as there are hundreds of comments showing, poking through the hidden columns.
Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1:
So in this case, the solution is to use OpenOffice. I’d rather point to a LibreOffice victory, but the open source community has to acknowledge failures for them to be fixed. And the bright side is that Apache OpenOffice is both still open source, and still free. There is nothing stopping people from using both office suites when necessary to see which better renders specific documents.
Update: Here is discussion where LibreOffice users have known and tried work-arounds for the past six months. I think that OpenOffice might have had a greater focus on MS Office document compatibility, while LibreOffice has focused on advancing features. I’m afraid my employer needs are squared directly over MS Excel compatibility vs. new features.