Development of LibreOffice Online was first revealed in late 2011, but the software was never released, despite progress improving the desktop versions of the open source competitor to Microsoft Office and Google Docs.
But now two companies have joined the effort to develop a Web-based version of the productivity software, bringing hope that a release will really happen. IceWarp and Collabora said today they "will work alongside over a thousand existing LibreOffice contributors to implement the whole online editing portion of the software, including the server-side provided by LibreOffice, and the client front-end based on HTML5 technology. The result will be a fully mature server solution, which any other provider, individual, or project in the community can utilize for their applications and services."
Collabora is an open source consulting firm that offers an enterprise-ready build of LibreOffice, while IceWarp makes a business mail server and collaboration platform for Windows and Linux.
There's still no release date. "The availability of LibreOffice Online will be communicated at a later stage," The Document Foundation, which oversees LibreOffice development, said in an announcement. IceWarp said to expect a release by the end of this year.
"Development of LibreOffice Online started back in 2011, with the availability of a proof of concept of the client front end, based on HTML5 technology," The Document Foundation wrote. "That proof of concept will be developed into a state of the art cloud application, which will become the free alternative to proprietary solutions such as Google Docs and Office 365, and the first to natively support the Open Document Format (ODF) standard."
LibreOffice developer Michael Meeks, who works for Collabora, wrote that enabling collaborative editing across multiple platforms is a challenging problem, but one the development team believes it can solve.
A mobile version of LibreOffice is also still in the works. The Documentation Foundation announcement said a version of LibreOffice "is currently under development for Android." That version has also been under development since 2011 and was said to be "frustratingly close" to release two years ago. There was no update on plans for a native LibreOffice application for iOS.