LibreOffice 7.1 Community released with user-interface picker, other bits and bytes

Community? 'The software isn’t changing at all. This is a label on the name, nothing else'


The Document Foundation (TDF) has released LibreOffice 7.1 Community, while continuing to complain about free-loading enterprises who do not pay for support. The "community" label is an effort to steer them away, though it is not a cut-down version.

The download on the LibreOffice site is called 7.1 Community, in an effort to get businesses to sign up with an "ecosystem partner" for paid-for support.

"An increasing number of enterprises have chosen the version supported by volunteers over the version optimized for their needs. This has had a twofold negative consequence for the project: a poor use of volunteers' time, as they have to spend their time to solve problems for business that provide nothing in return to the community, and a net loss for ecosystem companies," complained the post introducing the new release.

We are also informed that 73 per cent of commits to the LibreOffice code come from developers employed by these companies.

The User Interface dialog asks the user to choose between seven different options.

The User Interface dialog asks the user to choose between seven different options

What is the technical difference between the community and enterprise versions?

While it is possible for the commercial LibreOffice providers to customise their builds and add features, the "community" version is not cut down. "There will be no difference in features in the version offered by TDF. The software isn't changing at all. This is a label on the name, nothing else," said Mike Saunders, who does community outreach at TDF.

The issue is nevertheless a concern for users on two counts, one being that the business model behind the project is under threat, and the other that the suite is getting less Libre. Although the project is under-resourced according to some key members, this is partly is down to oddities in the way it is financed as TDF itself is said to have large cash reserves.

A chart in LibreOffice Calc 7.1

A chart in LibreOffice Calc 7.1

What's new in 7.1?

Along with numerous small changes and performance improvements, one point of interest is a new dialog for selecting a user interface (UI). LibreOffice supports several UI variations and this dialog is presented on first start and available thereafter in the View menu.

Much complexity and history lurks here. Menu bloat is a problem with these massive office applications, which Microsoft addressed with its ribbon UI in Office 2007.

Some users preferred the old drop-down menus which became a selling point for alternatives such as OpenOffice, from which LibreOffice was forked. On the other hand, familiarity with Microsoft Office raised expectations that other office suites would follow. The consequence is the LibreOffice today has some ribbon-like features, also retains drop-down menus, and provides options to customize the mix.

The UI variant dialog has seven options, starting with Standard Toolbar and including Tabbed, described as "most similar to ribbons used by Microsoft," though in practice the look and feel is very different. We found that the standard UI is the most consistent, but also clutter and duplication issues with some choices.

In Writer there is a new Style Inspector, which aims to answer the question "why is this text formatted the way it is?" The combination of paragraph styles, character styles and direct formatting can make this a puzzle. Those who enjoyed Reveal Codes in WordPerfect (remember that?) will like this feature.

Scripting LibreOffice will be easier thanks to the addition of ScriptForge libraries, which can be invoked from Basic macros.

Features include array operations, string functions, "coherent error handling," file operations, and interop between Basic and Python. There are also examples to overcome what has been described by co-author Jean-Pierre Ledure as a "LibreOffice Application Programming Interface (API) steep learning curve."

There are also build instructions for Windows on ARM64, though "it is in early development and has some known limitations," according to the release notes. Other changes include an outline folding mode in Writer, soft blurred shadows for objects in Impress and Draw (presentations and graphics), better SmartArt compatibility with PowerPoint, and a new dialog for installing extensions.

LibreOffice lacks the polish of Microsoft Office, and is primarily a desktop tool in an era of cloud and mobile, but its existence is of great value for Linux desktop users and others in search of an open-source alternative. ®

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article suggested the 7.1 release was available as a native application for Apple's Arm M1 Macs. Though universal x86-arm binaries of the productivity suite are available for LibreOffice from the Mac Store, version 7.1 has yet to be published at time of writing. You can run the x86 build on Rosetta on an Arm Mac, and we imagine a native Arm build of 7.1 will be released to Apple's software store shortly.

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022