KOffice 2.0

The long-awaited upgrade to KOffice has arrived. It looks good and provides a great base for its future evolution.
The Possible Reception

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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KOffice 2.0

bharadhwaj's picture

As usual viewpoints are varied as there are no of people who look at these, since this is more of a community (having a completely varied Likes & Dislikes). But, the people who are in the KOffice Project - are not working for the entire community, right ?? they are trying to improve what they have, to what they want, and ultimately what THEIR customers (users of LINUX & KDE environment) want.

Who are we to judge them, and instead, wish them good luck ?? Who ever is working on to improve what they have, are doing fine & do justice to them.

I am a new converted to Linux (have Ubunty (Jaunty) and Gnome - with OOO 3.0. Like most of the new ones, I like everything about LINUX. And PSSSST..... dont let your animosity between the TWO BIG GAINTS (GNOME & KDE) shown to us newbees.

To all the LINUX community - THANKS PEOPLE.

reinventing the wheel?

Anonymous's picture

Diversity in open source is always a good thing. There is no problem with "reinventing the wheel" because these various projects *Borrow from each other*! That's the beauty of open source. You don't see that in closed-source environments. With FOSS, everybody wins.

Why KOffice is a good idea, even though we have OpenOffice.org

Terrell Prude', Jr.'s picture

I understand the arguments for focusing on OpenOffice.org. It's a mighty fine office suite, and it lets us deal with those closed MS Office file formats (I use it every day). However, OO.o does like a lot of DRAM.

KOffice is better on less powerful gear, for example, these new netbooks. Why? It does that shared library thing really well. I've run KOffice on a 256MB, 400MHz Power Macintosh, and it was considerably snappier compared to OO.o. Way less swapping to disk.

Less feature-filled than OO.o? Yup, no doubt. No contest there. But is KOffice good enough for *most* people to do basic office productivity tasks (reports, spreadsheets, presentations) and such? Before, I'd have said no, because KOffice used a KOffice-specific file format (open, yes, but still KOffice-only). But now that it supports OpenDocument Format, my position has changed. Now I say, yep, it's good enough.


Does it make a sense?

Steffen's picture

Why do we need a other free office package?

KOffice lacks a lot of useful and needed features Open Office already provides. At the same time Open Office is suffering from missing developers. And could not be a real competitor of Microsoft.

The open source community should concentrate on one project and face the real challenge.

Well... We were there first

Anonymous's picture

Not actually totally the first: that was Andrew. Then came Siag. If you know about those two, you won't be surprised that people started working on a modern office suite for KDE. So KOffice got started.

Then we got Gnome Office (well, abiword and gnumeric), and then, finally, Sun opensourced StarOffice as OpenOffice.

And that's only the historical timeline: there are other differences:

* KOffice developers are almost all volunteers. (Recently a company was founded that now has two developers working on KOffice, but until a few weeks ago, it was 100% volunteer hackers having fun.)

* We have a small, agile codebase, so we can do weird experiments. KOffice is about 1.000.000 lines of code, or ten percent of OpenOffice -- for all our applications. Experiments are cool because then you can see whether another interface approach works.

* We help ODF "stay honest": we are the other independent free software implementation of ODF next to OOo, and that helps the standard improve a lot

* We have a different strategy: OOo is mostly a Microsoft Office clone. We want to create something that is more fun, more flexible and more geared towards the home user. Like Apple's iWork, though we don't copy anything from Apple directly.

* By now we have a great set of flexible core libraries. We are in the process of turning those libraries into something you might call "OfficeKit" -- a base to develop new apps on.

* We have some features nobody has, like the music shape. Other office suites allow you to add editable mathematical formulas to your document. We got that, but we also give you editable musical notation. That's unique -- and adding something like that is within the scope of a single summer of code project. Our API's are that easy.

* We have a unique set of applications that OOo doesn't have, like Krita, KPlato or Kivio (well, that one is in disrepair)

Does this satisfy you?

Boudewijn Rempt, Krita maintainer

Because OO sucks hairy

Anonymous's picture

Because OO sucks hairy donkey bawlz?

MCSE Alert!

Anonymous's picture

Like the title says....

forget it, BillG, this is Linux

Anonymous's picture

LOL, right, One Everything to Rule Them All! There are also too many clothing and shoe sizes, too many brands of bottled water, too many streets and highways, too many different vehicle types and brands, too many kinds of cute kitty cats and puppy dogs, and certainly too many diverse people. In fact I think we should take this a step further and have a Global Dictator who eliminates all choices in everything, and tells us what to do.

I'm starting to think this whole ridiculous "Linux has too many choices!" silliness is an organized astroturf campaign, just one more attack on Linux by a convicted illegal monopolist whose fundamental survival and business plan is based on destroying as many customer choices as possible.

The article itself is an excellent review of a good office suite that deserves more attention, and is surviving the complex KDE4.x migration in good shape.


Tuxly_Tuxford_McTuxtington's picture

I definitely agree with the second poster. Linux would have died a quick, quiet death long ago if it wasn't for the great range of choices that it offers. If everybody puts their weight behind Debian, then there would be no Ubuntu or Mint (Mint especially wouldn't fit with the Debian philosophy). Competition is great for innovation. Gnome vs. kde pushes everything ahead, as does rpm vs deb (mainly because I hate rpm and would probably shoot myself if forced to use it :). We can use linux on old computers because we've got the choice to run Openbox / XFCE / IceWM / whatever. On the other hand, eye candy junkies can load the latest kde.

If I didn't have the great choice that linux affords me, I'd stick with Windows (eww, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little).

Because I'm poor.

Anonymous's picture

Yep, living in poverty. So, some of us get a PIII with 128Mb RAM as our primary computer... And, as has been said - Oo sucks donkey bawlz on such a system. Emacs treats us well enough, but for some reason the professors in my web-based Information Science program don't like assignments coming in in plain text. Stupid Web 2.0 nutlickers, I know, I know. Anyway - Linux and FOSS is awesome because I can eat food instead of making payments on a new Dell...

Yes and no

KiL's picture

While having a lot of diversity is a Good Thing™ I also see the point that if there are too many people trying to reinvent the wheel, we might be wasting resources.

I don't think that KOffice is an office suite too much, but sometimes I wonder how utterly awesome the Linux desktop could be by now if we could combine the creativity and productivity of the GNOME and KDE community for one fully integrated desktop (and how cool it would be if all Linux application would have a really consistens look and feel).

Now we have the two big environments GNOME and KDE, and I think both are great and have their unique philosophies behind them, but now we also need to programme every application thinkable at least twice if we want to give it a truly "native" feel for either environment. I just can't help feeling that we do waste some resources there.