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Open Source Software

12 Ways LibreOffice Writer Tops MS Word 642

Posted by timothy
from the depends-who's-asking dept.
Open source office software is has gotten pretty good over the past decade or so; I got through grad school with OpenOffice (now known as LibreOfifice), and in my estimation was no worse off when it came to exchanging files with classmates than were friends with different versions of Word. Now, reader dgharmon writes "Writer has at least twelve major advantages over Word. Together, these advantages not only suggest a very different design philosophy from Word, but also demonstrate that, from the perspective of an expert user, Writer is the superior tool."
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12 Ways LibreOffice Writer Tops MS Word

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  • LaTeX (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:34PM (#39735837)
    And there are an infinite number of reasons why LaTeX is better than both.
    • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Funny)

      by sosume (680416) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:38PM (#39735883) Journal

      From the perspective of an expert user, Emacs is the superior tool.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        punch cards rule them all!

        • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Funny)

          by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:45PM (#39735967)

          You kids with your fancy punch cards. Hand-wiring is the only way to program!

          • Dang youngsters who think they know something...

            The One True, Right, and Only Way to do good programming is hand printing, not writing. On Cobol coding sheets. With every glyph properly in its own little box.

            Do it right or the wrath of Grace will fall on you. Like maybe a whole millisecond of 10 gauge copper wire; that will weigh you down for sure.

            • On Cobol coding sheets.

              Real men use Fortran, which needs Fortran coding sheets.

            • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Iron Condor (964856) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:06PM (#39738051)
              When amateur photographers gather, they talk about cameras. They all have their favorite tools, they all have the "best" gizmos with all the buttons and functions and they know exactly what they all do.

              When professional photographers come together, they talk about light. Composition. Art. The tool is uninteresting - a mere means to an end. And any one of a large number of them will do.

              • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Insightful)

                by reub2000 (705806) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:30PM (#39738287)

                Professional photographers talk about equipment all the damn time. They have preferences for one brand or another. After all if their equipment is inadequate for the job or fails, then that's money they lost.

                The only real difference is that a professional is less focused on how new their equipment is. If that body had good weather seals when it was new and an exterior made of a tough alloy, then it's probably going to stand up to tomorrows job even if it isn't the latest model. If the lens is sharp and has big aperture, then it's still good.

              • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Insightful)

                by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @04:58PM (#39739521)

                Not exactly :
                Amateur photographers talk about gear.
                Pro photographers talk about money.
                Masters talk about light.

        • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Funny)

          by Rhodri Mawr (862554) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:49PM (#39736039)
          ...and in the darkness bind them?
      • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Insightful)

        by agrif (960591) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:43PM (#39735953) Homepage

        From the perspective of an expert user, {thing the user is expert with} is the superior tool.

        • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Funny)

          by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:00PM (#39736203)

          From the perspective of an expert user, {thing the user is expert with} is the superior tool.

          No no no.
           
           

          From the perspective of a normal user, the expert is the superior tool.

        • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday April 19, 2012 @04:43PM (#39739345) Journal

          Exactly. I had a customer who knew Xres like the back of his hand and it took him ages to switch over to Photoshop simply because he knew where everything was and had custom plugins for Xres and trying to switch his workflow over damned near put him at square one.

          And who cares about writer? writer for the most part has NEVER been the problem with OO.o and now LO, because Writer always got the lion's share of attention. it'll still turn heavily formatted Word docs into Word salad which is why i give it to home users and not businesses, but it does that less and less and HAS come a long way.

          What sucks is the rest of the suite. hand any Excel jockey a copy of Calc and he'll laugh you right out of the room, there are too many things the Excel Jockeys use that just isn't there, likewise with Access and love it or hate it Access is used a LOT in SMBs.

          So quit focusing on the only thing that works and instead focus on the things that don't. To use a /. car analogy it'd be like trying to sell a car with half the side caved in with "But it has a REALLY great set of tires"...what good is that if the rest of it is crunched? maybe instead you should just give up completely on businesses since compatibility will always be a problem, and instead focus on making more user friendly designs for the home users? after all both Apple and MSFT are focusing on home users, why not LO? Makes sense, they have less worry about backwards compatibility or compatibility with MS Office for that matter.

          Anyway we should probably give the LO guys another year and a half before we say anything anyway, having to clean up a codebase that goes back to the mid 90s can't be easy and I'm sure once they have made it more modular and easy to maintain the improvements will come fast, so lets just let them do their job and see what comes out the other side.

      • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Informative)

        by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:46PM (#39735977)

        No, a real expert uses VI.

        Nice try though.

      • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Funny)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:04PM (#39736269) Journal
        From the perspective of a vi user, an emacs user is a superior tool.
    • Re:LaTeX (Score:5, Funny)

      by Oddweb (1625975) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:42PM (#39735945)

      And there are an infinite number of reasons why LaTeX is better than both.

      While I personally prefer LaTeX, it can be a lot more awkward to get into for most people than either of the offices.

    • Re:LaTeX (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:44PM (#39735959) Journal

      And there are an infinite number of reasons why LaTeX is better than both.

      Until you find yourself writing your own document classes or other custom macro sets. Then, there are an infinite number of reasons why just about anything is better than LaTeX.

      • Re:LaTeX (Score:4, Informative)

        by ClickOnThis (137803) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:00PM (#39736205) Journal

        And there are an infinite number of reasons why LaTeX is better than both.

        Until you find yourself writing your own document classes or other custom macro sets. Then, there are an infinite number of reasons why just about anything is better than LaTeX.

        Fortunately, you rarely need to do this. Either the generic classes are fine for what you need to do, or someone else has already written a class or macro for you. For example, many journal publishers provide LaTeX style/class files, and there are many custom ones available for PhD dissertations, etc. Just google for it and you'll probably find it.

        At the end of the day, I find that LaTeX documents simply look better than those created with word processors of any ilk. LaTeX's ability to control logical design (as opposed to visual design) is a great asset.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:35PM (#39735845)

    For at least the last three versions of Word, you can do pretty much anything you want in Word headers/footers. You can put in text boxes, graphics anywhere on the page, etc. I used to use Word headers to put in background graphics for the whole page.

    I think a lot of people mistakenly think that Word headers are limited to the little box at the top of the page and don't realize that you can use them to put pretty much put anything, anywhere on the page. It will automatically take anything you do while in header/footer edit mode and put it in the background and replicate it on every page. Not sure if LibreOffice does that too or not, but I think the article makes it sound like Word's header and footer are a lot more restricted than they actually are.

  • Number One! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kagato (116051) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:37PM (#39735873)

    It doesn't have that stupid Ribbon UI interface!

    • Re:Number One! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:50PM (#39736049)

      It doesn't have that stupid Ribbon UI interface!

      Is Ribbon really that stupid? I kind of like that part of Office.

      What I hate is text formatting and the way that Outlook will randomly change my font color between words. That is a UI that's broken as hell but most people don't even seem to care...

      • Re:Number One! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:18PM (#39736471) Journal

        There are a few reasons to dislike the ribbon. If you're on a small screen, it uses a lot more real estate than the menus. They don't have the shortcut keys next to all of the options, which means that you don't learn the shortcuts for commonly used things as easily as you do with the menu. Finally, unlike the old toolbars, the ribbon does not allow you to put commonly used but unrelated things on the screen at the same time.

        There are several reasons to like the ribbon. It does better on Fitts' Law metrics than a traditional menu, due to significantly larger targets. This is especially true on large screens. The larger display for each menu also means that you don't need as many submenus or even pop-up panels.

        The real problem with it is that it has a different set of advantages and disadvantages to the old menu plus toolbar. For any given workflow and screen size, it may be better or worse, but you can't toggle back to the old UI if it's worse.

        • Re:Number One! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:51PM (#39736993)

          Where to start, where to start...
          I've been using Office since Office 95 (and Slashdot since 1998) and the ribbon is the greatest improvement to the suite. The ribbon can be hidden by pressing control-F1 if you're worried about screen space. It completely exposes the functionality of Office, where as menus hid it. In other words, the ribbon makes the Office interface more inviting and makes it easier to explore new functionality. This also means co-workers no longer ask you how to do things with Office because it's easy to figure it out themselves. Shortcut keys only have material value when commands are hidden in a menu system. You can right-click any button in Office and add it to a quick access toolbar. You can also customize the ribbon if you like.
          There is one computer in our office using Office 2003, the last version before the ribbon. It's now considered a pain to use because it's stuck with the menu instead of the ribbon.

        • Re:Number One! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:01PM (#39737149)

          here are a few reasons to dislike the ribbon. If you're on a small screen, it uses a lot more real estate than the menus. They don't have the shortcut keys next to all of the options, which means that you don't learn the shortcuts for commonly used things as easily as you do with the menu. Finally, unlike the old toolbars, the ribbon does not allow you to put commonly used but unrelated things on the screen at the same time.

          The AC mentioned these points but I want to reiterate them so more can see, since you're modded +4 insightful yet you're completely uniformed:

          1) I've done the calculation: From the top of the screen to the top of the page, the default ribbon layout in Word uses THE SAME vertical space than the default menu+toolbars in open office writer. Further, you can minimize the ribbon by double clicking on it. Can't do that with toolbars. Further still, the ribbon scales better to the screen size; whereas the ribbon adjusts the size of buttons, keeping them visible on the screen, the menu system will hide them in a drop down list.

          2) There are keyboard shortcuts to every feature in the ribbon. Press Alt and follow the letters. This is more discoverable and provides more functionality.

          3) You can put any shortcuts you want in the quick access toolbar at the top of the screen, or you're free to customize the tabs in any way you wish including adding your own tabs.

          • From the top of the screen to the top of the page, the default ribbon layout in Word uses THE SAME vertical space than the default menu+toolbars in open office writer.

            But you can turn off all of the toolbars, and still have everything reachable form the menus in less mouse movement than from a hidden ribbon (although more from an unhidden ribbon).

            2) There are keyboard shortcuts to every feature in the ribbon. Press Alt and follow the letters. This is more discoverable and provides more functionality.

            Unlike the more conventional shortcuts, these are not side-effect free. They change the currently exposed tab on the ribbon. If you have your quick access tab open, and you save with alt-f-s (for example) instead of control-s, then you will now have the file menu open and need more mouse movement to return to the old state.

        • Re:Number One! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by JonathanCombe (642832) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:28PM (#39737569)

          I think there is an awful lot to dislike about the ribbon interface. For example in Excel in 2003 if I wanted to insert a row, I'd go "Insert -> Row". In the ribbon I have an insert tab which allows me to insert lots of things but none of them are a row. No if I want to insert a row I have to press the Insert button on the Home tab and select the option from the drop down on there. How is it any easier when I have two Insert options and there is no way to know which one I need to use to insert something without clicking through both of them of and hunting for the option.

          There are similar problems with Word. For example if I want to insert an object, I use the Insert tab then select object on the drop down. But if I make the window a little narrower it becomes just an icon and it's not exactly obvious until I click on it what that might do. If I make the window narrower still, to the width of the document, it puts the object button under another drop down labelled Text. So I have to click a box marked "Text" to insert something that is NOT text? This is better how?

          Then there other features like the fact the "File" menu now takes over the entire window of the program.

          Now with the old system I had drop down menus which makes it much quicker to go through and find all the options then go through the ribbon, click each button and navigate through all the various drop downs off those buttons. The pull down menus also made it very easy for me to find the keyboard shortcuts for an option, so I can quickly learn to use the program more efficiently. All this is now hidden in the help system - it is not obvious what the keyboard shortcuts are and I suspect users new to the system will keep reaching between the mouse and keyboard for even simple things because the keyboard shortcuts are hidden away.

          However for me the worst of all is the inconsistency. In years gone buy these things were defined in a style guide so if I used one program I could quickly get familiar with others as many of the options would be called the same and in the same menus (e.g. Edit for the clipboard functions, file to save, open, close, print and so on). Once I'd learnt one program it made it much easier to find my way around other programs. Yes the menus may be illogical in places (e.g. Find, a read only option, on and Edit menu) but at least once the user has learnt these oddities they can easily navigate around other programs. The toolbar was a useful addition to this, making common options a single click away, and the user could customise them to their hearts content. Now we're stuck with a horrible interface (in my opinion) that has very few possible customisations. Worse as Microsoft has patented it, it stops other application writes from using the same interface - thereby making Microsoft programs have different interfaces from other vendors and increasing the learning curve of non-Microsoft applications.

          Sorry but I'm just NOT going to be convinced the ribbon is a good idea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, everyone hates the ribbon interface! That's why Office 2010 has sold over 200 million copies. You'd think if it was so universally reviled and killed productivity (as slashdot claims with no proof), people would have stopped buying Office at 2007. Fact is the ribbon was designed from user feedback, and while slashdot trolls can cite himself and his 5 immediate co-workers as people who do not like the ribbon, Microsoft can point to thousands of data points and usage metrics to explain why the Ribbon is

      • Re:Number One! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:17PM (#39736455)

        No because someone else in the org upgraded and will now hand out only 2010 files... It spreads like a virus.

        Or companies have an agreement with MS to buy the latest version so they can get a discount on something else.

        2 inches of wasted space for functions I only use once and awhile. It is a toolbar within a toolbar, with the menu burred so you can not get at all the cool things it does...

      • by rgbscan (321794)

        I bought it for my new laptop but hate the ribbon. However, the huge student discount was very alluring, and they don't sell Office 2007 anymore and I like to stay legit. Plus, on the Mac, at least you still get the menus in conjunction with the ribbon. Just because someone bought it is not an endorsement of the ribbon.

      • Re:Number One! (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kagato (116051) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:18PM (#39736475)

        Office 2010 sold licenses because Office XP went EoL.

        Sit someone down who's been using office since the 90's with Office 2010 while still being saddled with Windows XP (extremely common in the corporate environment even today). Tell them to find Save As. Watch even the most mild mannered person get physically angry because it's not in an obvious place. The UI components when first released assumed that people would be using Vista (which obviously didn't happen for most companies).

        Oddly enough I don't mind the ribbon UI on Office 2011 Mac, but that's because it still have a standard menu bar up top that gives me a choice between ribbon or traditional menu UI. Though I would be hard pressed to actually buy Office Mac on my own because LibreOffice really does 99.9999% of what I do and is free.

      • Re:Number One! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:22PM (#39736551) Homepage Journal

        That's a bad comparison.
        I like the ribbon, but those numbers ar ebusiness that just buy whatever the version is, and computers that come with it; regardless if anyone uses it.

        If I buy a new computer for my home, it's likely to come with a version of word. A home version, or a trail version. Those get counted as sales even though I will never use it in the home. I prefer google docs.

        If MS didn't have the ribbon, they would have 'sold' just as many.

      • Re:Number One! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DiegoBravo (324012) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:40PM (#39736849) Journal

        I'm sure Microsoft can point to millions of users in lots of statistics and hundreds of focus groups about people liking clippy.

      • It didn't sell 200 million copies because it was the best program available, but because companies got bundles, have upgrade contracts and are already using older versions. Since the older versions no longer get updates, or will not get them in the near future, companies decide to upgrade. They seldom re-evaluate the competution, but just buy "the lastest version" and get unpleasant surprises like a lot of users not being able to do their regular work with the ribbon.

        If they would seriously investigate wha
      • Re:Number One! (Score:4, Informative)

        by phoenix_rizzen (256998) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:46PM (#39737829)

        Our school district stopped buying Office at 2003 because of the ribbon interface. Since you can't buy licenses for Office 2003 anymore, we use the "downgrade license" in 2007 and 2010 to install 2003.

        We have a few staff members that have laptops that came with 2007/2010 pre-installed, and after trying to use it for a month or so, they all come crawling back asking for 2003 to be installed.

        We also use OpenOffice.org on our Linux stations, and make OO.o available to our Windows users.

        So my anecdotal evidence includes just under 3500 co-workers, and just under 14,000 students.

        My personal beef with the ribbon is that there's no organisation to it. It's just a mishmash of large icons, small icons, text, jumbled together.

        A toolbar has every icon the same size, and organised according to a grid.

        A menu has every entry the same size, and organised according to a grid.

        And, the biggest thing, is that if you turn off the annoying "personalised menus" feature, everything is in the same place, everytime. Nothing moves, nothing jumps around.

        The ribbon may have it's uses. But I've yet to find one.

      • Re:Number One! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:17PM (#39738149)

        Yes, everyone hates the ribbon interface! That's why Office 2010 has sold over 200 million copies. You'd think if it was so universally reviled and killed productivity (as slashdot claims with no proof), people would have stopped buying Office at 2007.

        Your underlying point has merit, but your logic is also flawed.

        For one thing, Slashdot, like the Office user base, is not a single person with a single mind. Different people have different preferences. In particular, most users of most software products are not so-called power users. The Ribbon interface works well for people who are not power users, and most such people do seem to prefer it once they get used to it, as Microsoft's usage data suggested they should.

        However, that does not mean that the significant subset of Office users who really do intimately understand their way around a tried and tested combination of keyboard shortcuts, toolbar icons, menu commands, dialog tricks and so on will appreciate having the new UI and the underlying models forced on them as well. The Ribbon caters very much to cosmetic hacks and a quick-and-dirty approach. Don't bother defining styles, structuring your document systematically, or understanding how to present your data effectively! Just slap the format with the most "clever" borders on every table, format paint your headings so they're all the same colour that is a bit like your corporate standard, and use some random combination of bold, italic, faked small caps, underlining, colours, background colours and all-caps if you want to emphasize something. Oh, and if the spacing's not quite right, just hit enter a couple more times. Of course, MS Office has been going down this path for a long time and has never been shy about who it was aiming at, but the emphasis on the Ribbon pretty much seals its fate as any sort of productive tool for power users.

        As for your 200 million sold copies statistic: the overwhelming majority of people who use MS Office do so because it came with their computer, it's their corporate standard at work, or it's the only thing they ever heard of so they pirated it. Microsoft sells about three individual licences a decade for Office applications and about a bazillion copies through mass licensing or preinstallation deals every year. The number of sales really doesn't tell us anything meaningful about what the people using Office actually think of the new ribbon.

    • Man I dislike the ribbon. But even more I dislike how word 2011 puts all your embedded figures and textboxes in these weird hierarchy of wrappers I find impossible to manipulate. I can't find anything that word 2011 does better than 2008 did.

      When I want to lower my blood pressure I turn to apple Pages. man what a breath of fresh air. It too has a different interface than the old word, but it is very very self consistent so the learning curve is fast. unlike the ribbon which is required for some functi

  • by postmortem (906676) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:40PM (#39735903) Journal

    is better than one he does not use.

    Not defending Word here, but MS PR can also write article '12 ways word tops writer'.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:40PM (#39735915) Journal
    I like the Ribbon layout. Go figure. After an initial "what the hell?" week I got used to it, and now I don't even notice it or think about it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:45PM (#39735969)

      Did you like Microsoft Bob as well? How long have you been a member of the communist party?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:49PM (#39736017)

      I didn't get the hate for Ribbon either...till I realized that it was mainly all the people who had memorized all their shortcuts and exactly which obscure menu had the function/tools they needed to use. They were the power users of old, and suddenly they were castrated, and they were back to being on the same level as MS noobs. To make matters worse, the ribbon interface actually made the MS Office suite of software easier to use for noobs and probably made these same power users feel threatened.

      I was never a power user of Excel/Word/Power Point 2003, but I always found them to be exceedingly frustrating to work with. Sure, if your work requires you to master those tools, I'm sure you'd get really good after months/years of use, but to a new user, the tons of nested menus with features hidden away made MS Office use an exercise in frustration.

      Then I used Office 2007, and once I realized the orb was the file menu (that, I agree was a terrible decision), I found myself using tons of new features that I could never have known about or discovered in Office 2003. The quality of my Word documents, Powerpoint presentations and Excel files greatly improved. I actually find the interface extremely useful because everything is arranged in a logical manner and it is fairly easy to find the tools you need to use without having to spend tens of minutes trying to find the feature in some hidden menu.

      Not to say that Word and Office doesn't have its fair share of issues (formatting documents consistently in Word is just a nightmare. I had to write my doctoral thesis in Word because my adviser did not know to use or care about LaTeX), but as far as the new ribbon interface goes, it certainly seems a big improvement over the old Office interface.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        This is it. Lots of people had behavioural understanding of how to use the old menu system, and it had 2 decades of inertia behind it. But that didn't make it a good way to do things. For all the new users (3rd world, and high school kids learning) the old system didn't really click with their understanding of how computers behaved. It very much represented things as layers of types of computer operations, not types of tasks you want to perform.

        They've taken some time to get it improved, and there are c

      • To make matters worse, the ribbon interface actually made the MS Office suite of software easier to use for noobs and probably made these same power users feel threatened.

        I'm not sure I would ascribe so much psychology to it. The interface changed significantly, and everyone who was used to the old interface found the new interface counter-intuitive and difficult to use, so they raged. It's what users do.

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:51PM (#39736059)
      The problem with ribbon I have is that it assumes what I need and don't need. It works fine until I have to do something that isn't easily found. Then it is hidden two or three menus deep that I have to use MS help or the Internet to find. I could customize the ribbon but that requires precognition that what I want is not obvious.
      • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:02PM (#39736235)
        Isn't that the problem with any interface? Due to limited screen space, they can't make every option available in a menu system or the ribbon system (which is really still a hierarchical menu, just a different layout). So they have to make obvious the most common features, and hide some of the more esoteric ones. The benefit of the ribbon is that 90% of the functionality of Word is available in 3 clicks or less. With the old system, many more options were hidden in multiple layers deep. So much so, that people started requesting functionality to be added that has been there the whole time, because they couldn't find those features in the menu layout.

        At any rate, if you really need to, you can customize the ribbon layout in Office 2010 in pretty much any way you choose.
        • What you're missing is that before the ribbon it was easier to self discover the menu option that was needed and it wasn't buried 3 menus deep. As for customization, I already told you that while I can customize the ribbon, it requires precognition that I need to customize the menu. So I will need to memorize every single tab/button arrangement to know that something I will need isn't easily found before I start working on a document. If it is something I use all the time, customizing the ribbon makes se
    • You're not alone. I like the ribbon.

      It's a helluva lot better than a thousand menu layers.

    • I've had to only just use it because my new employer uses office (I use libre office at home) and no, ribbon is shit.
    • You're not alone. I just don't like the fact that it requires actual processing power to work, unlike a regular old Word 2003-style menu... this results in keyboard shortcuts lagging on slow machines (such as netbooks). Other than that, I actually quite like it - much easier to find stuff if you're actually new to Office or haven't used the application for a while...

    • by Yewbert (708667) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:10PM (#39736355)

      I don't mind the ribbon much one way or the other - but I still find myself getting more use out of an extensively customized Quick Access Toolbar than out of the ribbon itself.

    • by Mr Z (6791)

      What I don't like about the ribbon is that there are many functions I used to use regularly that were always on screen. Now they're spread out across many different ribbon tabs, and sometimes where they ended up is non-intuitive for me. What used to be a simple click turns into an Easter egg hunt.

      Perhaps if I used Office daily, I'd develop the appropriate muscle memory. But, I only use it a few times a month, and it's usually different apps -- this week it's Excel, next week it's PowerPoint.

      I don't care

  • It's free. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:45PM (#39735963)

    I made a big mistake when I bought MS Office. I spent ~$150 and used it to update my resume. Have done very little else with it.

    For us casual users the free version of Open/Libre Office can save a lot of money. PLUS writer doesn't come with the stupid ribbon interface. (Where's the find menu option? Where's spellcheck? I don't want to play Where's Waldo? with my software.)

  • by spike hay (534165) <blu_ice&violate,me,uk> on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:46PM (#39735973) Homepage

    Libreoffice writer is more annoying to use than Word, but it's not so bad. I use LaTeX/vim for the vast majority of what I write. It actually does what I tell it to do, which is better than any WYSISWG program.

    What's really bad is Impress. It's a complete mess from a usability standpoint. When I need to make a presentation, I use Powerpoint. I should figure out how to use LaTeX instead.

    • Beemer (Score:4, Informative)

      by getto man d (619850) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:51PM (#39736063)

      When I need to make a presentation, I use Powerpoint. I should figure out how to use LaTeX instead.

      Check out the Beemer [wikipedia.org] class; it's handy but not exactly pretty. However, you can find some decent templates floating around the net.

      • I like the Singapore theme with beamer: it's clean and minimal. here's an example I created recently [llvm.org]. The overall structure is beamer with the Singapore theme, the diagrams are done with TikZ, the PDF annotations with pdfmarginpar and the code listings with the listings package. The really nice thing is that you can compose all of these things, so I have some code listings embedded in TikZ drawings: listings does the syntax highlighting and then TikZ places that box somewhere and draws a background behin

  • by DeadDecoy (877617) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:48PM (#39736007)
    If I wanted superior formatting control, I'd use LaTeX. The primary reason I'm stuck with MS Word, and sometimes google docs, is due to superior collaboration tools: change tracking, multiple views for revision and final draft; identifiers for whose made changes where (provided the userid has been setup properly); notes/comments in the margins.

    For the record, I haven't taken the recent version LibreOffice for a spin. But from what I remember of OpenOffice, these features were not that functional. I thought OpenOffice was a decent piece of software, but it's still based on prior definitions of what a documenting software has been, rather than what it could be.
    • by loufoque (1400831)

      Putting latex files under revision control just works. Doesn't work so well with word/openoffice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Revision control is only a collaboration tool to those who haven't used real collaboration tools.

  • It does seem like LibreOffice's spell- and grammar-checking-tools still need some work, though.

  • by InvisibleClergy (1430277) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:53PM (#39736093)

    . . . "Guys, we have a styles system! And it's better than Word's!"

    From the title of the article, I was expecting 12 distinct and separate features, not 6 features and a treatise on how awesome Styles are in LibreOffice.

    I am counting hyphens as another point in styles, because the hyphens point is essentially "You can specify this with styles too!"

  • by metrometro (1092237) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @12:55PM (#39736131)

    You don't have permission to access /applications/how-libreoffice-writer-tops-ms-word-12-features-1.html on this server.

  • by brit74 (831798) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @01:12PM (#39736381)
    I use LibreOffice on my computer. While I don't use it much, I haven't used MS Word in years. I generally find LibreOffice to be harder to use and less professional-looking than MS Office. How do I know? A few months ago, we were putting together some documents for work. Other people in the office were using MS Office and I was using LibreOffice. Sending documents back and forth between us mostly worked, although there were sometimes things that didn't appear in the LibreOffice version of the document (if I remember right, it was some image data in the headers and footers and sometimes signatures wouldn't show up in LibreOffice). I was sometimes surprised when I looked at a document in MS Office because I'd suddenly discover that something important wasn't showing up at all in LibreOffice and there was no indication that something was supposed to be there. Also, formatting had a tendency to get messed up. Don't get me started on getting charts to format correctly on LibreOffice. When I'd go over to my coworkers computers and look at/adjust the document in MS Office, it was generally a better experience (even though I haven't used MS Office in years). My conclusion was that MS Office was just plain a better program and LibreOffice has some usability issues and looked like it was a number of years behind MS.

    I use LibreOffice because it's free - that's the only reason. If both were free, I'd use MS Office. But, for someone who wouldn't spend a lot of time using LibreOffice/MSOffice, it's just not worth my money to buy a copy of MS Office.
  • by chiark (36404) on Friday April 20, 2012 @03:52AM (#39743655) Homepage Journal
    I'm all for bigging up the best solution, however something really isn't right with this article. Yes, this is slashdot and I'm about to commit Karmacide by defending a Microsoft solution... The author of this article seems at best uninformed at worst out to mislead when it comes to some of these points. Let's pick one.

    Advantage: Hierarchical Paragraph Styles.. "since every style is based on Normal"

    Let's examine that. The first four properties of a style in Word 2010, sitting open next to me.

    -Name
    -Style type
    -Style based on
    -Style for following paragraph

    So a Style can be based on any other style, or (no style) should you want to start from blank. Does that sound like a hierarchy? It does to me, and I use it as one. Set up what you want. Knock yourself out. It works, and allows you to create a hierarchy.

    His piece on list styles/bullets seems slightly ill informed too, as is the tirade on headers and footers, tables of contents... Word can do what is described.

    Custom properties, linked to fields, are extensively used by many organisations and what he's describing sounds more like Word than Writer to me. That one has me really confused as metadata management is really quite good in word.

    In short, I know Word quite well and I think the 'advantages' that are being proposed as Writer advantages are simply down to the author's lack of knowledge.

    I fully expect flamebait moderation for this, but it would be nice if someone could point out where I'm wrong!

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