LibreOffice 5.1 shows first signs of a new user interface

The open source office suite is finally getting a long-awaited design makeover.

The Document Foundation today announced the release of LibreOffice (LO) 5.1.  With this release, LO is moving toward a totally reorganized user interface.

In earlier conversations with LibreOffice developers and The Document Foundation whenever I would ask about modernizing the UI they told me that their first priority was to clean up the code they inherited from OpenOffice. And once the codebase is clean they would start to focus in UI.

That day has finally come.

Jan Holesowsky, a Director at TDF, and a member of the design team said in a press release announcing LO 5.1 that “LibreOffice's third development cycle is leading us to a new user interface concept, where the user will be able to choose the best layout of the elements on the screen for his own needs, to leverage desktop space in the best way."

The most notable change a new menu added to each of the LibreOffice apps: Style (Writer), Sheet (Calc) and Slide (Impress and Draw). Many icons and menu commands have also been repositioned.

libreoffoce compare Swapnil Bhartiya

LibreOffice 5.1 above and LibreOffice 5.0 below. 

Compatibility with competing office suites such as Microsoft Office and Apple’s Pages has been one of the main priorities of The Document Foundation. With this release, LO has added filters for Apple Keynote 6, Microsoft Write and Gnumeric files.

Users can now open files stored on remote file servers such as Google Drive, OneDrive, FTP server, etc. Just go to the Files menu, then select ‘Open remote files’ and add a service from the long list. It will ask you to enter username and password and then you are all set to read and write files to that storage right from LibreOffice.

libreoffice remote Swapnil Bhartiya

You can directly open files stored on a remote location. 

Besides these visible changes a lot of work has gone under the hood to improve the codebase powering this open source office suite.

The new office suite is available for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux distributions. While you can immediately download the Mac and Windows version, you may have to wait for your Linux distro to make it available through official repositories. It’s not yet available for my Arch system, but I was able to install it on openSUSE Tumbleweed.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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