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Compared and Contrasted: OpenOffice V. LibreOffice 294

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the forks-and-spoons dept.
GMGruman writes "Oracle's imposition of fees for some OpenOffice capabilities caused some of the venerable open source office suite's creators to head out on their own and create LibreOffice as a truly free OSS tool. InfoWorld's Neil McAllister reviews the two OSS productivity tools side by side to figure out where they differ, and whether you can jettison Oracle's OpenOffice safely for the fully free LibreOffice."
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Compared and Contrasted: OpenOffice V. LibreOffice

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  • Outlook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @02:16PM (#35223156)
    Neither has an equivalent to Outlook. I would think that the corporate lock-in to Outlook would be a strong message to OS writers that this is a big opportunity. I keep hearing from MS Office users that they'd ditch Office in a nanosecond if there was a competitor to Outlook, but since there isn't they don't bother moving to the OpenOffice/LibreOffice half-offering.
  • Re:Outlook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @02:27PM (#35223274)

    He said "competitor" not half-assed attempts at cloning Outlook but with reduced functionality that somehow end up being buggier than Outlook is.

  • Re:Outlook (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @02:42PM (#35223452)

    replacing all the functionality of Exchange/Outlook is not easy.

    Nor even remotely necessary.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:27PM (#35223936)

    I agree that the UI puts things in odd places, and some things are done in un-obvious ways. But basically I disagree with the author's "amateurish" assessment. That is pure Microsoft speak there, which translates into "Not all the things learned from years of swearing at Word translate to either of these packages".

    Comical, but fair. User interface design is so often done poorly in the computing world that calling terrible usability amateurish is not really fair. Individual mileage may vary. I'm, perhaps, overly harsh because I use OS X as my default desktop, only resorting to Ubuntu or Windows when I need specific software for that platform or that only runs well on that platform, or when testing on multiple platforms. As such, most of the software I use inherits a lot of good usability defaults from the dev tools and native UI widgets. OpenOffice has always ignored OS X native UI, however, concentrating instead on consistency across platforms and ignoring both the UI issues this causes and the functionality offered by OS X to native programs, which OO and LibreOffice cannot use (system services for example). This makes it seem like a usability disaster on OS X, when in truth it is just another poor to average usability program, badly ported to an OS it was clearly not designed for.

    As for OO versus MS Office, I had a fun interaction at work where a co-worker was demanding MS Office because they did not like the supplied OO. When they obtained it, it was the new version with a completely different interface than they were used to and they ended up switching back in short order. Personally, I've used both about the same amount and curse at both equally. Word probably takes the cake for hellish UI design choices, but Calc is pretty close.

  • Re:Outlook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529@yahMENCKENoo.com minus author> on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:56PM (#35224270)

    I'm a bit of a pragmatist. Richard Stallman-like loyalty to FOSS be damned if my users can't do what they need to do for the company to be productive. Your NFS analogy falls flat because users can still store files and have share-level and file-level permissions added via NTFS. It doesn't support ZFS either, but if I wanted to, I could easily build a FreeNAS and have Windows talk to it with the users being none the wiser.

    *YOUR* bubble involves the notion that users are going to notice what file system is on the computers they run. Given that half the staff has an iPhone or Android phone and the other half wants one of the above, neither of which come with file system management utilities out of the box, it's a safe bet that they won't care in the slightest. They *will*, however, care if I took away their ability to deal with large mailboxes and exchange meeting requests, or radically altered the process. While our internet service here is firewalled with a Linux appliance and our fax system soon will be, replacing our entire server infrastructure with Linux machines will do nothing but cost us money. How? our financial management software, for one, is Windows only. "Free as in speech" doesn't mean squat to a finance department that can NO LONGER DO THEIR JOBS because their financial management software no longer functions. Even if you were able to find me collaborative bookkeeping software that was able to handle tens of thousands of financial entries per fiscal quarter with the kind of support I get from that vendor (when I call, it's one of four people who all know me by my first name, know the internal politics, know the systems, and know my limits of abilities, etc.), there's still the hours of migrating the data from one system to the other. A full blown linux stack is useless for us because there's a dozen other windows-only applications that run our business that don't have Linux counterparts designed to scale to the magnitude that we need it to.

    Even if you said, "okay, just switch your mail server then", I again ask the question - why? for a warm fuzzy feeling that I'm not giving my money to Microsoft - the Microsoft that's already got my money for the present Exchange server? So that the mail store can run on ZFS and be somewhat more fault tolerant? Would whatever the product I'd switch to be able to seamlessly import the hundreds of gigabytes of mail that already exists and would cost me my job if it wasn't able to be migrated? So I get better support than having every question I've ever had exactly one Google search away?

    Exchange isn't the only option, but - stay with me now - I've yet to see a compelling reason to switch AWAY from it. Sure, it makes sense if you're starting from scratch. Heck, I'm working with another client to replace their present Squirrelmail abomination with a Zimbra stack, so I'm not opposed to it in a broad sense. But I'm still waiting to hear the list of specific (and neither "more secure" nor "free [in any sense of the word]" fit that criteria) functionality that would make a switch away from Exchange worth the migration.

    As for 'instant search', as I said to another reply, it does require the freely downloadable Windows Desktop Search plugin. The semantics of what exactly is being searched is irrelevant to exactly all of my end users as long as the e-mail they're thinking of is found at the end of the day.

  • by Belial6 (794905) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @06:38PM (#35225860)
    Fit's law is a joke. In a best case scenario, the amount of time it would save is small enough to be statistical noise. For someone who has never touched a mouse before, you might see some benefit, but it only takes days for someone to become proficient enough with a mouse that it loses it's benefits. In multi screen modes you not only have the longer distance, but you also have to move to a second screen that is not necessarily the same size and shape. It also requires that you reorient your vision form one screen to another to find your place. After all, not every click is going to be in the corner. It also has the problem of the user having to figure out what window the menu applies to. That more than consumes the tiny amounts of time and effort that would be saved with Fit's Law. It could be argued that the saved real estate was worth the drawbacks of the single menu for all applications, but real estate is less valuable now than the benefit of clearly associating a menu with a window.

    I don't know what you are talking about Linux requiring the movement of the mouse in specific patterns.

    As for symbols, Windows has a picture of what it will do. One big window for full screen where you can see only one window. Two smaller windows for the mode that lets you see more than one windows. Clearly, there was at least an attempt to have icons that had some kind of association with what would happen. I personally think they did a perfectly fine job with them. OSX on the other hand used a symbol, that means exactly the opposite of what the button does half the time. Plus means add or more. There is never a case where a plus symbol should be used to shrink a screen. It is worse than arbitrary. It is wrong. A squiggly line, a # symbol, an picture of an apple, would all be fine if meaningless. A plus symbol is not meaningless, it is wrong. Then the color choice gets added to that. Apple is using Green, Yellow, and Red. When these colors are put together in a row, it is a reference to a stop light. The fact that red, the universal symbol for stop is used to close the window (some times the app, but that is a whole other UI screwup). Using Green along side of it in a Green Yellow Red combination assigns 'Go' to the color. That means the green plus has the symbol 'Go More' or 'Go Bigger'. That is simply not what the button does. The OSX symbol isn't "not easily interpretable". A green plus assigned to a window is very clearly marked. It is just that the button doesn't do what it is marked to do. Sure, you can learn that it is labeled badly, just as we can learn that hamburgers are not made with ham. It doesn't make it correct.

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