KOffice 2.0 does have new features that stand on their own, such as additional functions for KSpread and the option to encrypt files while saving them. However, such enhancements seem minor compared to those in the interface. While altering KOffice under the hood, its development team also has made serious efforts to enhance the interface—so much so that the user experience is almost completely different in 2.0 from that of earlier releases.
Some of these changes work better than others. In particular, some of the names could be better chosen, at least in English. Apart from the potential confusion from having two dockers called Styles, some, such as the shapes library called Funny, simply seem inappropriate. Then too, the name dockers itself is always going to set North Americans to thinking of business-casual pants.
Still, KOffice 2.0's final release is less likely to be met with the same hostility that KDE 4.0 encountered. True, the possibility of some missing features remains strong—barring a last-minute coding blitz—and some users will complain about any changes.
However, although KOffice 2.0's changes are impossible to miss, they are far less radical than KDE 4.0's. They are not so much changes in the basic concepts you need to use the office suite as improvements in usability. Provided users are not immediately intimidated by the array of dockers, they should find KOffice 2.0 more accessible and quicker and easier to use than those of previous releases. These improvements make KOffice 2.0 a joy to use and more than justify the long wait for the final release.
Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for the NewsForge and Linux Journal Web sites.
-- Bruce Byfield (nanday)
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