LibreOffice 6.4 RC1 Is Available With A New QR-Code Generator, Better Performance And Improved MsOffice Compatibility

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The most advanced and comprehensive free software Office solution is nearing another major release. It will have better import filters for Microsoft Office documents, a new QR-Code generator, a new Python API for the database component Base and faster parallelized spreadsheet sorting. The final 6.4 release can be expected early February 2020.

written by 윤채경 (Yoon Chae-kyung). published 2019-12-30last edited 2019-12-30

LibreOffice 6.4.0.1rc1 Writer 01.jpg
LibreOffice 6.4 RC1s Writer component.

The changes between LibreOffice version 6.3.3.2 and the first release-candidate for the upcoming version 6.4 are not ground-breaking or particularly exciting. The document editor Writer has layout tracking for bullet and numbered lists, a new option to mark document comments as "resolved" as well as new abilities to add comments to images and charts and several improvements to its table handling. Doing a cut on a table will now cut the actual table instead of it's content. A new "special paste" feature for pasting text into tables has been added and drag-and-drop operations on tables have been improved.

The spreadsheet component Calc has also seen some minor improvements. Opening and saving Excel .xls and .xlsx files are faster. A new parallelized sorting algorithm makes sorting a lot faster on modern multi-core systems.

The presentation component Impress can have hyperlinks in Image Maps in slideshows and there's some other minor improvements to the drawing component Draw.

The Database component Base has a new Access2Base API for Python.

QR Codes

LibreOffice 6.4.0.1rc1 Calc 01.jpg
LibreOffices spreadsheet component Calc with a QR-Code inserted using its new QR code generation feature.

The LibreOffice developers seems specially proud of a new QR-Code generator which works in all of LibreOffices components. It is available in the menu under Insert ▸ Object ▸ QR Code.

Better Microsoft Office Compatibility

The import filters for .doc, .docx, .xml and .ppt and .pptx files from Microsoft Offices Word, Excel and PowerPoint components have all been improved. We do not use Microsoft Office so we did not test how much the import filters have improved. The release note draft has a long list detailing what aspects of the import filters have been enhanced.

35 years in the making

LibreOffices roots go all the way back to an office suite called StarOffice which was released in 1985. Its creator, Star Division, was bought by Sun Microsystems in 1999. They open-sourced it in July 2000 and renamed it OpenOffice. Sun Microsystems was bought by Oracle Corporation in 2010. It took mere months of their mishandling before most of the developers left in disgust and formed The Document Foundation with the intention of releasing a truly free version named LibreOffice. The first LibreOffice release saw the light of day in September 2010.

Libre Means Free As In Freedom

Microsoft Office has been the dominant office suite and a business standard for many years. That is slightly changing with Googles online G Suite gaining ground on Microsofts Office 365.

LibreOffice is a free software alternative worth considering. It does not and never will require any subscription. Documents and spreadsheets are saved locally using free and open formats. You will not wake up and find yourself locked out of all your documents because some employee used a corporate account to write a comment on a YouTube video which Google disliked. LibreOffice will not suddenly stop working because you forgot to renew some subscription. It is a mature office suite worth considering, specially if you are running a small business and you just need something to get basic jobs done. Educational institutions should mandate it and not act as marketers for large commercial software companies.

.deb, .rpm and AppImage packages as well as Windows and macOS packages are available for those who want to test the first 6.4 release candidate. LibreOffices release plan has 6.4 final scheduled to be released late January/early February 2020.

Stable versions of LibreOffice are available from libreoffice.org/download/. It is also possible to get it by installing a free GNU/Linux distribution like Debian, HarmoniKR, Mageia and Manjaro Linux.


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