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FreeOffice Suite Is Almost Blue Ribbon-Worthy | Reviews

FreeOffice Suite Is Almost Blue Ribbon-Worthy

TenderMaker’s
FreeOffice 2018 Linux workplace suite is a high-end product that gives efficiency and compatibility with Microsoft Office and different workplace suites.

FreeOffice 2018, launched this spring, is a free model that’s practically equivalent to the options and consumer interface of Softmaker’s business flagship workplace suite, TenderMaker Office 2018. I not too long ago
reviewed the beta business model. The FreeOffice line is distributed beneath the Mozilla Public License.

The Germany-based software program developer gives a powerful and really usable line of open supply and business merchandise. The FreeOffice 2018/TenderMaker Office 2018 merchandise are Windows/Linux cross-platform purposes with built-in modules for phrase processing (TextMaker), spreadsheets (PlanMaker) and displays (Presentations).

If you’re considering, “Gee, why not keep the Maker moniker consistent by calling it ‘SlideMaker’?” I completely agree.

Office suite compatibility is likely one of the main promoting/rejecting factors when customers and enterprises contemplate migrating to the Linux OS. The Linux OS has its share of free light-weight phrase processors and some worthy standalone spreadsheet apps. Generally, Linux workplace suites lack a very strong slide presentation creation device, nevertheless.

Many of the Linux phrase processing packages are little greater than glorified textual content editors. Graphics compatibility in web page design are sometimes their fail level. That pattern has been altering for the higher with purposes similar to TenderMaker’s FreeOffice, The Document Foundation’s
LibreOffice and Ascensio System SIA’s not too long ago launched free workplace suite improve OnlyOffice Desktop Editors, which I not too long ago
reviewed.

The FreeOffice 2018 suite has a lot to supply. It is a succesful different to its business improve. It poses little bother studying and writing to different doc codecs similar to .docx, pptx, xlsx and gives very correct web page rendering when importing/exporting file codecs. Except for the flexibility to avoid wasting as earlier MS Office doc codecs, all that’s lacking from the TenderMaker business version are just a few dictionary-based and associated instruments.


FreeOffice 2018 settings panel

The FreeOffice 2018 suite enables you to configure many elements of every modules’ operation with an in depth settings panel.


Switching Gears

I switched to LibreOffice years in the past when
The Document Foundation forked OpenOffice. Each main release closed the hole as a dependable Microsoft Office substitute. I not often had difficulties with exchanging information amongst customers of Microsoft Word. The consumer satisfaction received even higher with FreeOffice, to some extent.

I started utilizing earlier variations of FreeOffice two years in the past on a number of of my computer systems, which allowed me to settle in with long-term compatibility testing. I might create information in LibreOffice or FreeOffice. Depending on which pc I used, for subsequent modifying periods I might work on the file in both LibreOffice or FreeOffice. Rarely would I see web page structure or formatting glitches in how FreeOffice rendered the show or printed the web page.

I examined FreeOffice 2018 utilizing the identical course of. Since a number of the paperwork I create or edit require printed copies by a shopper utilizing Microsoft Word, I additionally routinely test for compatibility between FreeOffice and LibreOffice outputs. Results are often greater than ample. Sometimes, a little bit of tweaking resolves show points. I virtually by no means have points with the way in which FreeOffice 2018 prints paperwork.

This newest release of FreeOffice proved itself to be very adept at opening, displaying and saving paperwork with a excessive diploma of constancy — that’s, so long as I wished to make use of the most recent Microsoft file format, as in .docx.

Was it flawless? Not all the time.

Compatibility Without Compromises – Not Quite

TenderMaker claims that you simply not solely can open but in addition can save paperwork within the Microsoft file codecs docx, xlsx and pptx. The company additionally boasts that customers can share information straight with Microsoft Office customers with out first having to export them. That is true, however with a catch.

That catch is usually a delicate inconvenience or a deal breaker, relying in your file interoperability wants. Depending on the module concerned, you’ll be able to *solely* save paperwork as docx, xlsx or pptx information.

If you need to save information within the older MS Office codecs, it’s essential to purchase the business model of FreeOffice. For occasion, in TextMaker You have choices for the .txt and TenderMaker-specific .tmdx and generic .rft codecs together with just a few different codecs.

However, there is no such thing as a help for the Open Document Text (odt) format utilized in LibreOffice and different open supply purposes. This may cause difficulties in exchanging paperwork with these who use these cross-standard codecs.

Potential Problems

If your workplace suite wants are restricted to working with paperwork solely you create and print out, or ship as hooked up information, then go for it. Typical real-world doc utilization goes far past being restricted to only the most recent Microsoft Office file format, although. Many small companies and even massive enterprises work within the realm of .doc /.xls /.ppt codecs.

For instance, within the case of 1 shopper, in-house copy exchanges are accomplished in .txt format filed on the company’s servers. I need to save blogs and article submissions I present to different publishers in a most well-liked file format of the editor concerned.

In most instances, editors, publishers and my freelance shoppers care much less what software I take advantage of to create or edit the paperwork we change. They solely care in the event that they can’t open the doc or its rendering is tousled when displayed on their screens or printed output.

On the opposite hand, nearly all of press releases and slide displays I obtain or edit and return are accomplished in .doc or .ppt file format, not .docx or pptx format. I have not found that scenario to be a lot totally different exterior my publications world, both. Personal correspondence from legal professionals and government businesses, for example, often are within the older .doc/.xls/.ppt codecs.

Ribbon vs. Traditional Interface

As good as LibreOffice is now with its 6.xxx sequence, its builders have been gradual to implement the favored ribbon interface first launched in Microsoft Office. TenderMaker’s FreeOffice 2018 has a really workable ribbon interface possibility together with the standard toolbar-style menu. Switching between the 2 consumer interfaces is straightforward.

That is necessary. The ribbon interface requires adjusting to navigating across the choices in every of the workplace modules. It is typically extra handy to make use of the standard dropdown menus from the absolutely populated toolbar.


FreeOffice 2018 TextWriter ribbon interface

The ribbon interface features a toolbar-style menu. Switching between the 2 consumer interfaces is straightforward.


The ribbon interface makes use of a tab line on the prime line of the appliance’s window to open menu classes. The precise choices in every class show within the second row.

A 3rd row gives just a few fundamental operate icons that don’t change. These are icons to create a brand new doc, open an present file, save the present doc, and a dropdown record of undo/redo earlier typing.

These menu icons additionally have keyboard shortcuts displayed. You can add/take away further icons for extra toolbar choices.

How the Ribbon Menus Display

The first merchandise on this third-row toolbar is a button to open a two-column cascading menu of all choices. That record accommodates the keyboard shortcuts for most of the menu objects. This retains the ribbon interface energetic whereas supplying you with a option to bypass the ribbons with out switching to a extra conventional menu setting.


FreeOffice 2018 productivity suite

The FreeOffice 2018 productiveness suite enables you to simply change between conventional and extra fashionable ribbon menu kinds.


The File tab ribbon gives instructions to open, shut, save/save as/save all, epub export, PDF export, print choices and entry properties for the file. The Options and Customize buttons show settings panels.

The Home tab ribbon holds all the file formatting choices for font, character, paragraph and magnificence picks. The Insert tab holds web page break, desk, image, textual content body, feedback, hyperlink instructions and extra.

The Layout tab has the ribbon controls for setting web page margins, orientation, chapter markers and different structure and web page design controls. The References tab opens the ribbon choices for setting attributes for fields, footnotes, and desk of contents. The Mailings tab shows ribbon settings for file-specific attributes to automate mailing lists for database output.

The Review tab reveals spell test and hyphenation settings, a feedback pane, and controls for monitoring and dealing with textual content modifications throughout the doc. The View tab gives ribbon controls for Display Views, Forms, Fields, Grids/Guides/ ruler selections, Zoom and Windows show choices.

The Latest Improvements

The FreeOffice 2018 suite for Linux is up to date to revision 934. All three workplace modules have new options that embody format painter, the flexibility to insert feedback and footnotes, improved help for encrypted docx paperwork, and a brand new device for reporting errors within the Linux model of the Office suite.

The newest release runs on any PC-based Linux distro, both 32 or 64 bits. The workplace suite is optimized for touchscreens. You can change to the touch mode with bigger icons and elevated spacing between user-interface components. You can do that each with ribbons and with the traditional menu-based consumer interface.

TextMaker combines straightforward use with a variety of options. Formatting textual content is far easier with the quite a few new template catalogs and drop-down components. Its superior positioning and text-wrapping choices allow you to create any model structure.

Master pages allow you to watermark every web page and place repeating objects in your doc. Character and paragraph kinds add a constant look to your paperwork. TextMaker helps spell-checking utilizing Hunspell dictionaries. The Assistant characteristic lets you create PDF information and EPUB e-books straight from throughout the software.

PlanMaker enables you to create advanced calculations, worksheets and charts effortlessly. It consists of greater than 350 features and all kinds of study options. Easily insert footage, drawings, textual content frames or spectacular charts in 2D and 3D.

Choose from a big catalog of engaging cell kinds which can be appropriate with Microsoft Excel 2016. PlanMaker helps massive worksheets with as much as 1 million rows and 16,384 columns and pivot tables. You can export worksheets as PDF paperwork or in a specified print format. You can choose from 5 totally different scaling strategies in order that it suits on a specified variety of pages. You can print 2, four, eight or 16 pages on one sheet of paper.

Other PlanMaker options embody pivot tables that show information in a focused option to meet particular person specs, and the flexibility to create database ranges inside worksheets. You can also use a top level view view for information grouping, type by as much as 64 columns, and apply auto filter and particular filters.

Presentations is a strong device for creating spectacular slide displays. It is straightforward to mix textual content, photos, tables and paintings to make engaging slides. You can apply a spread of animations and slide transitions utilizing OpenGL graphics acceleration.

Among its huge number of design and drawing features are the flexibility to Insert photos, drawings and textual content frames, and apply sort results by utilizing the TextArtwork or quite a few different design templates. You can also insert static objects, motion pictures and sound results into displays.

Bottom Line

TenderMaker’s FreeOffice 2018 is a high-end productiveness suite that’s worthy of consideration. The TextMaker phrase processor module is likely one of the closest merchandise I have utilized in Linux to being able to dealing with web page design and publication features.

I usually use it for design pages as an alternative of
Scribus for desktop publishing duties. The PlanMaker and Presentation modules are equally adept at rounding out workplace paperwork wants.

However, FreeOffice 2018 has just a few quirks. One of them is the spelling characteristic. The English language model is meant to be included by default. It will not be within the put in package deal. As a workaround, I downloaded the Canada English Hunspell dictionary from the Softmaker web site. No U.S. English dictionary was out there for obtain.

Another oddity is the proper panel that has a present/disguise button. In every of the three modules, the proper panel shows helpful recommendations on utilizing a number of the core options.

At the underside are media buttons to maneuver ahead or backward by a slide-like presentation. Every time you click on within the panel, the appliance robotically switches to a Web browser display screen to view upsell particulars from the TenderMaker web site.

A 3rd challenge is doubtlessly extra troublesome. You can set the auto-save (restoration) interval within the File/Options/Fields of the menu, however there is no such thing as a auto-save characteristic. You should keep in mind to avoid wasting content material incessantly otherwise you would possibly lose info.

For instance, I had saved the up to date file as I accomplished writing part of this evaluation and continued with a brand new paragraph. About two minutes later I clicked on a menu merchandise. The software crashed. I declined to fill within the pop-up crash report immediate.

The window reported that the appliance recovered my file. When I reopened the file, nevertheless, the latest additions that I entered after final saving the file had been gone.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software program software or distro you’d wish to counsel for evaluation? Something you like or wish to get to know?

Please
e mail your concepts to me, and I will contemplate them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments characteristic beneath to supply your enter!



Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His most important areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open supply applied sciences. He has written quite a few critiques of Linux distros and different open supply software program.
Email Jack.

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