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LibreOffice 5.3.4

Download PageRelease Notes

Released 26th June 2017

Contents

What’s New

Customising

Footnotes

Graphics

Macros

Add Ligatures

Remove Ligatures

Navigation

Styles

Tables

Toolbars

Windows

What’s New?

OpenType Support

At last, after many years or requesting support for OpenType features, it has been implemented in a new text layout engine. You will have to search hard to find it though, as OpenType features are enabled by typing some code in font selection fields. Required features like Standard Ligatures are enabled by default, so you only need to type some code to disable them. Below are some examples. Visit Microsoft Typography to learn more about OpenType Layout Feature Tags to use in font dialogues..

Acariya:pcap=1 (Enable Petite Capitals)

Kabala:onum=1&-liga (Enable OldStyle Figures, and Disable Standard Ligatures)

Pali:ordn=1&salt=1&dlig=1 (Enable Ordinals, Stylistic Alternates, and Discretionary Ligatures)

This is very far from being user-friendly, but it works well enough. If you design some paragraph styles or character styles with the features that you want, e.g. a Heading style with Small Capitals, then apply the styles to the text, it becomes easy enough to use once the styles have been set up. The code can also be typed directly in the Font Name field of the Text context toolbar in LibreOffice.

Go to Page Dialogue

Quickly jump to another page

Arrows Toolbox

New drawing tools were added (that were previously available only in Draw and Impress).

Table Styles

The "Table Autoformat" feature was extended from one-time formatting only to a full-featured table style: now when the table uses a table style, the style is preserved with edits in the table, including adding and deleting rows / columns / data.

Startup Screen

The new startup screen shows previews of recent documents and makes better use of the available space in the startup Window.

Single Toolbar Mode

Single Toolbar with the most used function.

Selection Filter in Cross-reference Tab

Type a few characters to narrow down the search results

Redesigned Bookmark Dialogue

Default bookmark name is taken automatically using "Bookmark N" pattern.

Displaying bookmark text, which is what follows, selection or precedes the bookmark.

SVG Import

The Writer module can now import Scalable Vector Graphics, and the Draw module can edit them. SVG is a vector format that can be viewed in modern browsers. Being fully scalable, it if well suited to maps and architectural plans that might be much larger as bitmaps.

32-Bit TIFF Import

Implemented import of alpha channel for RGBA .tiffs

Rotate Images in 90° Increments

Rotate images right or left by 90° increments.

Bundled Fonts

A couple of nice typefaces — Linux "Libertine G" and Linux "Biolinum G" — are included.

Embed Fonts in Documents

If the font license allows it, embed fonts in documents.

Shapes Can Include Text Boxes

Geometric shapes like rounded corner rectangles can include text and tables.

Small Capitals Size Change

Small capitals attribute now scales uppercase to 80% for Small Capitals. Not sure what it was before, but it was probably smaller.

Style Drop List Context Menu

Modify or update styles from the Style drop list.

Improved WordProcessor Import

Support for import of Lotus Word Pro, MS Works and WordPerfect.

Autocorrect Improvements

Corrections include word suffixes, dashes between numbers use en-dash, LaTex type corrections with superscripts/subscripts: e=mc^2 > e=mc² H_2O > H₂O,

Vastly Improved RTF Export

Fixes many critical bugs that involved loss of data.

Star Office Format Support Was Dropped

To open these old legacy files, use version 4.0.5 or earlier

Title Pages Dialogue

Makes it easier to set up page numbering to begin after several pages of front matter.

Customising

Menus, keyboard shortcuts, and toolbars can be customised easily. From the tools menu, select customise, and then select the appropriate tab. Events can also be defined, for example, to run a macro on starting a new document.

Customize Keyboard Dialogue

Change Icon DialogueShortcuts

The insert key will toggle insert/typeover mode by default.

If you find that this causes more trouble than it is worth, just assign the key to another function.

I assigned it to show and hide the Status line. This saves screen space, but the status line is easily restored if it is needed.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the Category pane you will find the macros in your current document, which can also be assigned to shortcut keys.

Icons for Macros

Macros that are assigned to toolbars won’t have an icon by default, but you can assign one by clicking on “Modify” and selecting “Change Icon...” You can choose one from the palette or import one of your own.

Babelmap IconTo create an icon to launch an external program like Babelmap, for example, open the executable in IrfanView and resize the icon to 16x16 pixels, then save it as a PNG.

Footnotes

Page Style Dialogue: Footnotes TabThe implementation of footnotes in Open Office is well thought out. There are powerful options to quickly format notes. However, endnotes are a bit awkward to work with. They could do with an option to place them wherever the user wants — at the end of a chapter or before the Bibliography or Index.

The amount of space occu­pied by footnotes is part of the current page style. You can edit it on Format, Page, Footnotes. Here you can also edit the separator line and spacing to text. Because these settings are part of the page style, you can define different options for different page styles. For example, on the first page of a chapter, where a lot of space is taken up by a masthead, you could reduce the maximum footnote height to a few lines so that any long notes get forced to the next page.

Footnote Settings DialogueFrom Tools, Footnotes, you can edit the numbering, counting, position and con­tinu­ation notice. The page number will automatically be inserted after the con­tinu­ation notice. You can add text before or after the footnote character to appear in the note:

In the style list (F11), Character styles, you can edit the size of the super­scripts or fonts used for the footnote anchor, and foot­note character

In the style list, Paragraph styles, you can edit the font used for the footnote style

While editing footnotes in the document, you can scroll through them with the text cursor to the previous or next note. When the cursor reaches the last footnote, it will continue to the first endnote. When you scroll up through the endnotes and reach the first endnote, the cursor will jump to the last footnote.

Each index number in the text is a hyperlink to the note. Each index number in the note is a hyperlink to the index number in the text. Click on the index numbers to jump back and forth between text and notes.

Footnotes in Columns

It is not possible to do automatically, but as usual there is a viable workaround if you are determined to do this. The problem with such workarounds is that they make a lot of extra work, especially if you need to edit the document later.

When you have finished all editing, and are ready to do the final formatting for print or producing a PDF, then on those pages where you have several short notes you must manually insert the note references, note numbers, and copy/paste notes into note 1, deleting notes 2, 3 etc., as I have done here to demonstrate.

Footnotes in  Arranged in Columns

  1. Divide the width of your page by the number of note columns you want to use. In this case, my A5 page with 0.5" margins is 4.83" wide, so I have three columns of notes, each 1.61" wide.
  2. In one footnote, set tab stops for the second and third columns of notes, at 1 .61" and 3.22" in this case.
  3. Update the footnote paragraph style so that all footnotes have the same tab stops.
  4. At the end of footnote 1, tab to the first tab stop, type “2” and format the number with the “Footnote Characters” character style.
  5. Cut and paste the text from note 2.
  6. Tab to the second tab stop, type “3” and format the number with the “Footnote Characters” character style.
  7. Cut and paste the text from note 3.
  8. In the document text, delete note 2, type a “2” and format it with the “Footnote Anchor” character style.
  9. Delete note 3, type a “3” and format it with the “Footnote Anchor” character style.

Edit Footnote DialogueIn Open Office, you can scroll down quickly through the notes throughout the whole document using the cursor keys. You could perhaps record a macro or two to automate the format note number, and cut and paste actions.

Though this workaround is rather labour intensive, there may be some documents where this kind of work is justified. Obviously it can save a lot of pages, and that saves money when it comes to printing.

Edit Footnote

Select a footnote index anchor, right-click, and select Footnote to edit footnotes, change them to endnotes, or change the numbers to characters. Click on the … button to insert special characters

Use the scroll arrows to scroll right through the document, editing each footnote in turn. This is an easy way to change footnotes to endnotes.

Page Style Background GraphicGraphics

Graphic Borders

To insert a graphic as a border, from the Format menu, select page, and click the Background tab. Select “As Graphic,” and click on browse to choose a suitable graphic.

You should select a graphic of the right size for the maximum printable area of the paper that you are using. However, if you want to use a texture it can be tiled.

Logos or signature graphics can be placed at top, bottom, sides, or corners of the page.

Fills

Instead of a graphic, you can select a uniform fill. Format, page, background, and choose a colour from the palette.

To define a fill that will apply to the whole page, set the page margins to zero, add a border of the same colour, and set the “Spacing to contents” to the value you want for the margins (less the width of the border).

Watermarks

There is no option to shade the watermark when using images for page back­grounds. However, one can do this easily with a Draw object. From File, New, select Drawing. Then either create a text object or insert a picture from file. Choose a light colour for the text and export the drawing as a graphic.

Then, in Writer, use the exported graphic as a page background.

Macros

Find and Replace

I often need to update old documents to use Unicode fonts. In the old days, we invented our own encodings to make Pāli fonts using the limited characters available in the ANSI character set. This macro provided by JohnV on the Open Office Forum is very easy to modify to suit your own needs. It uses two arrays: one to hold the characters (or text strings) to find, and another to hold the characters (or text strings) to replace them with. You can add more, but I expect that  there is a limit on how many you can add, and how long the strings can be. You can rename the subroutine as you like.

Sub SktToUnicode

oDoc = thisComponent

aFind = Array("  ", "Æ","æ" ,"Ø", "ø" ,"Þ" ,"þ", "Ð", "ð", "²", "¬", "¡", "¹", "º", "µ", "¤", "¼", "£", "³", "®", "¶", "¾", "½", "±", "ª", "©", "¢", "¿", "¥")

aReplace = Array(" ", "Ā", "ā", "Ī", "ī", "Ū", "ū", "Ḍ", "ḍ", "Ḥ", "ḥ", "Ḷ", "ḷ", "Ṃ", "ṃ", "Ṇ", "ṇ", "Ṅ", "ṅ", "Ṛ", "ṛ", "Ṝ", "ṝ", "Ṣ", "ṣ", "Ś", "ś", "Ṭ", "ṭ")

aRayCount = 0

FandR = oDoc.createReplaceDescriptor

FandR.SearchCaseSensitive = true

FandR.SearchRegularExpression = true

While aRayCount <= uBound(aFind)

 FandR.setSearchString(aFind(aRayCount))

 FandR.setReplaceString(aReplace(aRayCount))

 aRayCount = aRayCount + 1

 oDoc.ReplaceAll(FandR)

Wend

End Sub

Updated to include support for regular expressions (30/11/2005)

The above array values will replace all line-breaks with a space.

The following is an example of the modified code to replace CSX Encoded Pali fonts with Unicode.

Sub CSXtoUnicode

oDoc = thisComponent

aFind = Array("  ", "ò", "ñ", "§", "â","à" ,"ä", "ã" ,"æ","å", "ô", "ó", "ÿ", "þ", "ì", "ë","î", "í", "ý", "ü", "ö", "õ", "¥", "¤", "ð", "ï", "è", "ç", "ê", "é", "ú", "ù", "ø", "÷")

aReplace = Array(" ", "Ṭ", "ṭ", "ṁ", "Ā", "ā", "Ī", "ī", "Ū", "ū", "Ḍ", "ḍ", "Ḥ", "ḥ", "Ḷ", "ḷ","Ḹ", "ḹ", "Ṃ", "ṃ", "Ṇ", "ṇ", "Ñ", "ñ", "Ṅ", "ṅ", "Ṛ", "ṛ", "Ṝ", "ṝ", "Ṣ", "ṣ", "Ś", "ś")

aRayCount = 0

FandR = oDoc.createReplaceDescriptor

FandR.SearchCaseSensitive = true

FandR.SearchRegularExpression = true

While aRayCount <= uBound(aFind)

 FandR.setSearchString(aFind(aRayCount))

 FandR.setReplaceString(aReplace(aRayCount))

 aRayCount = aRayCount + 1

 oDoc.ReplaceAll(FandR)

Wend

End Sub

The following Macro will convert Unicode text to use the BPS Pali Font (CSX) encoding:

Sub UnicodeToBPS

oDoc = thisComponent

aFind = Array(" ","Ā", "ā", "Ī", "ī", "Ū", "ū", "Ḍ", "ḍ", "Ḷ", "ḷ", "Ṃ", "ṃ", "Ṇ", "ṇ", "Ṅ",

"ṅ", "Ṛ", "ṛ", "Ṝ", "ṝ", "Ṣ", "ṣ", "Ś", "ś", "Ṭ", "ṭ")

aReplace = Array(" ","Á", "á", "Ì", "ì", "Ú", "ú", "Ð", "ð", "Ÿ", "ÿ", "Í", "í", "Ó", "ó", "Ò",

"ò", "Š", "š", "ª", "º", "Å", "å", "Ø", "ø", "Þ", "þ")

aRayCount = 0

FandR = oDoc.createReplaceDescriptor

FandR.SearchCaseSensitive = true

FandR.SearchRegularExpression = true

While aRayCount <= uBound(aFind)

 FandR.setSearchString(aFind(aRayCount))

 FandR.setReplaceString(aReplace(aRayCount))

 aRayCount = aRayCount + 1

 oDoc.ReplaceAll(FandR)

Wend

End Sub

Add Ligatures

This version of the search and replace macro will search a document for common ligature groups and replace them with ligatures. Be aware that this will cause problems with spell-checking as words like “effect” or “difficult” will not be recognised when they contain ligatures. Some fonts do not support ligatures, so if the Mandala font is not installed you may see the notdef character rectangle.

Sub AddLigatures

oDoc = thisComponent

aFind = Array("ck", "ct", "fj", "fr", "fft", "ffy", "fty", "ft", "fy", "sp", "tr", "tt", "ty", "tz", "Qu", "Th", "ffi", "ffl", "fi", "fl", "ff", "ſt", "st")

aReplace = Array("", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "" , "", "", "", "", "", "ffi", "ffl", "fi", "fl", "ff", "ſt", "st")

aRayCount = 0

FandR = oDoc.createReplaceDescriptor

FandR.SearchCaseSensitive = true

While aRayCount <= uBound(aFind)

 FandR.setSearchString(aFind(aRayCount))

 FandR.setReplaceString(aReplace(aRayCount))

 aRayCount = aRayCount + 1

 oDoc.ReplaceAll(FandR)

Wend

End Sub

Remove Ligatures

If you change your mind, or change the font, and wish to revert to regular text, this version of the macro will undo the effects of the previous macro, replacing ligatures with plain text.

Sub RemoveLigatures

oDoc = thisComponent

aFind = Array("", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "", "ffi", "ffl", "fi", "fl", "ff", "ſt", "st")

aReplace = Array("ck", "ct", "fj", "fr", "fft", "ffy", "fty", "ft", "fy", "sp", "tr", "tt", "ty", "tz", "Qu", "Th", "ffi", "ffl", "fi", "fl", "ff", "ſt", "st")

aRayCount = 0

FandR = oDoc.createReplaceDescriptor

FandR.SearchCaseSensitive = true

FandR.SearchRegularExpression = true

While aRayCount <= uBound(aFind)

 FandR.setSearchString(aFind(aRayCount))

 FandR.setReplaceString(aReplace(aRayCount))

 aRayCount = aRayCount + 1

 oDoc.ReplaceAll(FandR)

Wend

End Sub

Navigation

Navigation FlyoutThe Navigation Fly-out

Navigator PaletteClick the round blue button at the bottom of the scroll bars to pop up the Navigation fly-out. By default, the two scroll buttons at the bottom of the scroll bar are black, and are used to scroll to the next or previous page. The navigation fly-out offers further options to navigate to the next or previous heading, the next or previous bookmark, graphic, table, frame, note, etc. When we change the option to one of these, the black scroll buttons change to blue and the tool tips change to remind you what they now do. Open the fly-out and click on the page icon to revert to the default function.

When you use the Find function from the main toolbar, these icons will also turn blue, and the scroll buttons will find the next or previous search term.

The Document Navigator

The document navigator is toggled on and off with the F5 key, or can be docked at either side of the Window. It lists the objects in the current document or, if you use the rop list at the bottom, objects in other open documents.

If you name your tables, sections, and frames, it helps you to navigate more easily to any object in your document. You can also use the palette to rename, edit, or delete objects directly.


Styles

Style List PaletteParagraph Styles

The first icon in the style palette lists paragraph styles . The drop list at the bottom can be used to limit the styles displayed to those already used in the current document. Double-click on the name of a style in the list to apply it to the selected text. Right-click on the style name to modify the paragraph style, or right-click in the current paragraph to edit the current paragraph formatting only.

Character Styles

The second icon lists character styles, which are automatically applied to footnote anchors and footnote characters, for example. If you want to modify the size or position of footnote or endnote numbers in the text or notes, the style palette is the right place to do it. Then all notes in the document will be updated to match.

Custom Frame Style With Graphic BorderFrame Styles

If you want to use frames in your document to hold illustrations, tables, or for callouts, you can define frame styles to keep them all looking alike. Set the border, text wrap, position, etc., in the frame style, and apply the same style to frames with the same function that you insert later.

You can use a graphic in one corner of a frame, on one side, or as a textured background. The Frame style on the left was created by using the toolbar image as a background in the top left corner, setting a hairline white border on the left with 0.5” spacing to the contents, and a 1 pt border on the right with 0.06” spacing to the contents. You could use a graphic background for the whole frame area too, but the graphic would need to be the right size to suit the frame, which would need to be a fixed size.


Page Styles

Page styles are used to control text flow and page layout. Many documents require different page layouts for different sections: title pages, front matter, table of contents, preface, chapter title page, left page, right page, illustration page, index, and bibliography. Some layouts require no page numbers, while others need page numbers left, right, or centre. Some pages use two or more columns, while others need only one. The fourth icon in the style palette lists some common page styles, any of which you can modify and rename.

Page styles are linked: that is the style that follows a page break is defined as part of the style. Right pages are usually followed by left pages, and right pages are usually followed by left pages. To break that sequence, insert a manual page break, and select the page style you want, e.g. to force the first page style for a new chapter.

Page styles can also be applied by double-clicking on the style name in the style list. Since the style is linked to itself or another style, changing the style for one page will change the rest of the document. Don’t panic! This is supposed to happen because the page styles are linked. Just insert a manual page break, and decide which page style you wish to follow the current page.

Tables

Table AlignmentResizing Tables

Open Office is different to many mainstream word-processors. You can resize a table by dragging columns and rows, but I don’t recommend it. You will find it very frustrating. Instead, use the Table Properties dialogue.

First off, you need to learn that the first table row is repeating by default. Repeating header rows are useful for long tables that span multiple pages, but if you don’t need repeating headers, turn them off.

Then, the first row uses a Table Heading paragraph style by default. Typically, this will be bold and centred. Change the style from the Style Palette (F11) to “Table Contents” if you want it to be the same as other table text, or choose another paragraph style if you prefer.

By default, tables are the full width of the page, and text cannot normally wrap around tables as in other programs. To resize a table to less than the table width, or to centre it, click on the “Table” tab of the Table Format (Table Properties) dialogue, and choose alignment “Left” “Right” or “Center.” Then you can set the width to what you want. If you check the “Relative” check box you can set the table’s width as a percentage of the page width between margins.

To adjust table column widths, click on the “Columns” tab, and enter the widths that you want. If the “Relative” check box is selected on the Table tab, the column widths will also be expressed in percentages, and the overall table width cannot be changed. However, if you go back and uncheck the “Relative” width check box, the columns are then specified in inches or centimetres, and the options “Adapt table width” and “Adjust columns proportionally” are now available for selection.

This dialogue box method may be unfamiliar to younger users, but it is just as efficient as the graphical approach — though a bit less intuitive. Those of us who began learning to use computers with DOS programs don’t find it difficult. Now that you have seen the dialogue box options you may understand better why you couldn’t adjust the columns by dragging, quite how you expected.

Resizing of row heights can be done from the Table menu, Autofit submenu. Either by distributing rows and columns evenly, or by setting the size of selected columns and rows.

Text Wrap Around Tables

Text cannot be wrapped around tables, but it can be wrapped around frames. So all you need to do is place the table inside a frame. Position the frame wherever you want on the page, turn off the borders and reduce spacing to contents to zero. Set the text wrap options that you want. Then on the frame dialogues “Type” tab uncheck the Autosize options to prevent the frame resizing to fit the contents. Then you can fit the table tightly to the frame.

Click outside the frame to deselect it, then inside again to insert the table. Define the table as you want and resize the frame to make it fit.

Table Borders

Setting table borders is also a bit different to what you may be used to.

On the Table Format, borders tab, there are five icons for common presets:

  1. Set no borders
  2. Set outer border
  3. Set outer border and horizontal lines
  4. Set outer border and all inner lines
  5. Set outer border without changing inner lines

If none of these presets is what you want to change, click on the diagram below the icons and set User Defined options for the borders to modify. To set the table borders above, first I set “Outer borders and all inner lines” to 0.50 pt black. Then I set “Set outer border without changing inner lines” to 2.50 pt black. Finally, I selected the horizontal lines in the User-defined field, and set all horizontal lines to 5.00 pt Turquoise.

Then select a line style, and spacing to contents (cell margins).

Use the Up and Down arrows to change the order of the toolbar icons. Begin new groups with separators to divide them into logical sections, and select the check box to the left of the items that you want to be displayed by default. When you’ve finished adding commands to the toolbar, click on “Close” to return to the Customise Toolbar dialogue.

Organising Toolbars

Toolbars can be displayed or hidden from the View menu. To view your new toolbar select it from the View, Toolbars submenu.

Some toolbars are context-sensitive. The Table toolbar will be shown if the cursor is placed in a table, the Frame toolbar will be shown if a frame is selected, etc.

Standard ToolbarTo minimise on toolbar use, drag the Standard toolbar just slightly to the right of the docked toolbar area.

Table ToolbarInsert a table to display the table toolbar. Drag the table toolbar to the left of the Standard toolbar.

Frame ToolbarInsert a frame to display the frame toolbar. Drag the frame toolbar to the left of the Standard toolbar.

Bullets and Numbering ToolbarInsert a list to display the bullets toolbar. Drag the bullets toolbar to the left of the Standard toolbar.

Page Preview ToolbarWhen in page preview, you don’t usually edit the text, so only the page preview toolbar is needed.

This saves screen space by displaying just the tools that you actually need at the moment. If you normally work with Open Office maximised, as I do, this single toolbar may be sufficient for most tasks, with the Frame or Table toolbars popping up only when they are needed.

Fullscreen Toolbar

Fullscreen ToolbarFrom the View menu, or from a custom button as on my customised toolbar, you can select the option to enter a fullscreen mode that turns off the menu bar and Windows Title bar. This alone saves a worthwhile bit of space, but the floating fullscreen toolbar gets in the way. Move it to the bottom of a vertical toolbar or to the right of a horizontal toolbar, where it is less obtrusive. To escape from fullscreen mode, press the Escape key or click on the fullscreen toolbar button.

I have renamed it to F11 because I am accustomed to using F11 to enter and leave fullscreen mode in Opera. I have also assigned the F11 key to a macro that enters fullscreen mode, and turns off the Status bar and Rulers.

Windows

Tiling Windows

Open Office uses a Single Document Interface (SDI) rather than a Multiple Document Interface (MDI) more usual for word-processors. This has pros as well as cons. It is not possible to have two documents in the same window, but on the other hand, it is possible to have different interfaces for each window.

A common question is “How do I tile two documents to see them both together?” With SDI this is not possible, except by using the Tile option from the Windows task bar, which can be used to tile any two or more running Windows applications.

Windows Taskbar MenuTiling Two Documents:

You can tile two views on the same document in the same way by selecting “New Window” from the Windows menu in an Open Office document. This is useful, for example, if you wish to view the Table of Contents or a diagram on one page while editing other pages in the same document.

To save space when two windows are tiled horizontally, you can turn off the toolbar in the one window and turn off the status bar in both.


Page last updated on 11 July 2017


LibreOffice is a fork from OpenOffice.org. Oracle announced in April 2011 that it was terminating the commercial development of OpenOffice.

LibreOffice continues to develop, and has improved substantially with the latest update.

I only use Writer, so this review is only about Writer. The suite includes a spreadsheet (Calc), database (Base), presentation (Impress), and vector drawing programs (Draw), which can open WPG and PDF files.

I use LibreOffice even more rarely now, so I am out of touch with the most recent developments.