The Document Foundation today released the LibreOffice 6.3 open-source and cross-platform office suite, a mainstream release that introduces new features and improvements including UI updates. Development lasted for six months, and the biggest improvement was a new user interface called NotebookBar, which was based on the MUFFIN concept and was previously an experimental feature. The NotebookBar UI is optional and is not enabled by default. There are three different options, Tabbed, Grouped, and Contextual.
LibreOffice 6.3 still represents the bleeding edge in term of features for open source office suites, but may also be considered for enterprise class deployments.
- Writer and Calc performance has been improved by an order of magnitude based on documents provided by end users: text files with different bookmarks, tables and embedded fonts, large ODS/XLSX spreadsheets, and Calc files with VLOOKUP load and render more quickly. Saving Calc spreadsheets as XLS files is also faster.
- The Tabbed Compact version of the NotebookBar user interface, introduced in LibreOffice 6.2, is now available for Writer, Calc, Impress and Draw. It leaves more space for user documents, spreadsheets and presentations on laptops with wide screens. In addition, the new Contextual Single UI is ready for Writer and Draw.
- In Calc, a new drop-down widget in the formula bar replaces the old Sum tool, giving the user quick access to the most frequently used functions. Also, a new FOURIER function has been added, to compute the discrete Fourier transform of an input array.
- Export as PDF has been improved with the support for the standard PDF/A-2 document format, which is required by several organizations for long term file storage. In addition, the design of editable PDF forms has been simplified with the addition of the Form menu to Writer, to further improve one of LibreOffice strongest features.
- Documents can now be redacted to remove or hide sensitive information such as personal data before exporting or sharing the file, to help companies or organisations to comply with regulations.
- On Windows, a proper console mode was added, with better output and error codes. This makes it easier to use LibreOffice to perform batch operations such as printing or converting many documents.
- Interoperability with Microsoft Office proprietary file formats has been improved in several areas with export support for DOTX document templates and XLTX spreadsheet templates, import of charts from DOCX drawingML group shapes, import/export of SmartArt from PPTX files, to preserve editing capabilities in PowerPoint, and better XLSX Pivot table interoperability.
LibreOffice 6.3’s new features have been developed by a large community of code contributors: 65% of commits are from developers employed by companies sitting in the Advisory Board like Collabora, Red Hat and CIB, plus other organizations, and 35% are from individual volunteers.