LibreOffice 3.6: New Features Galore

by Paul Arnote (parnote)

Ever since the Document Foundation forked development of OpenOffice to LibreOffice, the development team has forged steadily ahead with improvements to the OpenOffice code base.

Initially, most improvements were to clean up the code by removing unused sections of code that still existed, removing outdated and seldom used functions, and improving the structure of the remaining code.

Now, several releases later, the LibreOffice development team has hit full stride. With the August 2012 release of LibreOffice 3.6, there are many enhancements to the open source office suite that has become the favorite of office suite users around the world.

Below is a rundown of many of those enhancements. To update your LibreOffice installation on PCLinuxOS, simply re-run lomanager and follow the prompts. New features and improvements that were labeled as being exclusive to either Windows or OS-X users have been omitted. You can view the entire list of features and improvements here.

Featured Updates

  1. Support for color scales and data bars. Import from .xlsx and import/export from/to .ods in ODF 1.2 (extended). Warning: Some limitations still apply which will be fixed in 3.7.0.
  2. Added Word Count to status bar.
  3. PDF Export with Watermark option.
  4. 10 new Impress master pages.
  5. Support for importing Office SmartArt.
  6. Import Filter for Corel Draw documents.

New Writer Features

  1. Format paintbrush can now differentiate character automatic formating applied to paragraphs from those applied to text portion inside the paragraph.
  2. Support for contextual spacing.
  3. VML import now handles lines, rotations and flips.
  4. DOCX import now handles GetExpression and SetExpression fields.
  5. RTF/DOCX import/export handles document zoom settings.
  6. Pressing "Ctrl+[" will decrease or "Ctrl+]" will increase the font size of the selected text, respectively. (Note that this function is not available for all localizations but will soon be updated to offer full support to all.)

  1. Updates to Word Count. Added Word Count to status bar. Fixed two miscounting bugs.
  2. Table AutoFormats now record the following table-level properties: Break, Keep with next paragraph, Repeat heading, Allow table split across pages, Allow rows to break across pages, Merge adjacent line styles, Table shadow.

  1. Shows Text Boundaries depending on the choice to display unprintable characters.
  2. Support for importing Office SmartArt.
  3. Extension of label definitions with form (paper, page) size. Labels which are not centred on the form are created correctly.
  4. All 1700+ predefined label definitions have been modified to include the form size and obsolete definitions have been removed.
  5. Recalculation of label positions on the form. Label definitions with gaps between labels that are wider than the right margin now produce correct documents. Existing user defined labels are automatically extended with form size.
  6. The form size can be entered/modified in the wizard dialog.

New Calc Features

  1. "Ctrl+D" fills down in more familiar ways, filling with contents of the cell above if no cell is selected, and, filling down multiple cells with larger selections.
  2. New option to specify a custom sheet name prefix in new documents.
  3. Merge cells option added to right-click menu.
  4. Sheets can now be hidden and/or shown by using the sheets tab context menu.
  5. Improved error message for invalid sheet name.
  6. Export conditional formatting to .xlsx.
  7. Improved CSV file import, including: handle lines with more than 64k characters, differentiated different error messages, better handling of broken CSV files where generator didn't follow RFC 4180 quote rules, import numbers in scientific notation without having to check "import special numbers," better initial default separators, comma, semicolon and tab.

  1. Added a "Save cell formulas instead of calculated values" option to CSV export.
  2. New spreadsheet functions as defined in ODF OpenFormula: DATEDIF, IMTAN, IMSEC, IMCSC, IMCOT, IMSINH, IMCOSH, IMSECH and IMCSCH
  3. Added support for field items in cells.
  4. Calc now allows sorting of data from the autofilter menu.
  5. Calc now supports allowing pasting only text, value, or formula from the context menu.
  6. Detailed configuration options for formula calculation. You can now configure the reference syntax for built-in function: INDIRECT.
  7. The limitation of 3 sort entries has been removed.
  8. Default number of sheets for new spreadsheets has been changed to 1.
  9. Support for X errorbars  in scatter and bar charts, importing and exporting to .xls and .ods when using ODF 1.2 (extended).
  10. Support for color scales and data bars. Import from .xlsx and import/export from/to .ods in ODF 1.2 (extended). Warning: Some limitations still apply which will be fixed in 3.7.0
  11. New dialogs for conditional formats to support color scales and data bars.

New Impress Features

  1. Added widescreen format for Impress slideshows.

  1. Impress now correctly detects the external display and puts the presenter console on the local display.
  2. 10 new Impress master pages.

New Math Features

  1. Format dialogues (Font, Font Size and Spacing) and the Symbols dialogue (Tools -> Catalog) now have a button linking to Help.

“Other” New Features

  1. Basic IDE: Docked Object Catalog pane.
  2. Filters: ODF Export now comes with a "ODF 1.2 Extended (compact mode)" that gives better interoperability with older consumers of the Open Document Format.
  3. Added Lanczos algorithm for resizing of images.
  4. Macro recording can be activated with a separate option: Tools -> Options -> General -> Enable macro recording.
  5. Support for Japanese postcard paper size in all applications.
  6. Recent Documents list is updated on Save, Save As and Close.
  7. Allow for editing of read-only documents.
  8. Added "Support for assistive technology tools" to installation process.

New GUI Features

  1. Rulers are now much cleaner and more lightweight.
  2. New Splash Screen.
  3. A redesigned "About" dialog for a cleaner look.
  4. New artwork for the Start Office.

  1. Clicking the ">>" overflow button will not show toolbar options anymore. The full options can be shown by right-clicking the toolbar.
  2. GTK themes are now able to render background gradient.
  3. GTK themes now have a way for tab prelight rendering.
  4. Writer and Calc now use split color buttons making it possible to apply the last used color with one mouse click for font, background, border and highlight colors.
  5. GTK theming is implemented for fixed lines and frames.
  6. Support for Trinity Desktop Environment integration.
  7. Dictionary choice removed in spellchecker when there is only one dictionary active.
  8. Zooming now is based on a geometric progression.

New Localization Features

  1. Implemented locale dependent date acceptance patterns for input of incomplete dates. This prevents erroneous detection of dates in Calc and Writer cell inputand CSV file import.
  2. Added en-MW locale data.
  3. Added myv-RU locale data.
  4. Improved language tools (spellchecker, thesaurus and hyphenation patterns): updated pt-BR spellchecker, updated Swedish spell-check dictionary, updated French spell-check dictionary and thesaurus, updated Czech thesaurus, greatly improved German language tools with over 30,000 new words added to the German spell-check dictionary and over 7000 new symbols added to the German thesaurus, hyphenation patterns are also improved, substantial improvements to the Danish spellchecker and thesaurus.
  5. The default locale is now the default locale of the operating system.

New Performance Features

  1. Substantially improved simple .doc/.docx import.
  2. Large document scrolling/re-layout/interactive editing improvements.
  3. Large autocorrect lists handled around twice as fast.
  4. Improved performance for pivot tables in Calc. Refreshing of pivot table should be 35-50% faster than 3.5. In addition, the memory footprint of the pivot table is greatly reduced.
  5. Improved performance of raw cell value import from .xlsx spreadsheets.
  6. Improved performance of merged cell and matrix range import from .ods files.
  7. Embedded HSQLDB databases are now size-minimized before being saved because Base uses "CHECKPOINT DEFRAG" instead of "CHECKPOINT". This means that the space occupied by deleted rows is really freed up.