LibreOffice gaining momentum, heading to Android, iOS, and the Web

LibreOffice logoLibreOffice, a community-driven fork of OpenOffice.org that was founded last year, is gaining considerable momentum. An announcement made this week at a LibreOffice conference in Paris revealed that a number of French government agencies plan to adopt the open source office suite.

The LibreOffice development community is also working on a number of ports, with the aim of bringing the software to mobile platforms and making it accessible through Web browsers. These efforts could help further expand the LibreOffice audience.

The French government's deployment of LibreOffice will include half a million Windows computers. According to a LibreOffice representative who informed us about the news, that deployment represents a five percent increase in the software's user base on the Windows operating system. LibreOffice is currently believed to have 25 million users worldwide.

The administrative authority of Île-de-France (a region that consists largely of Paris) has officially joined the advisory board of The Document Foundation (TDF), the independent governance body behind the LibreOffice project. They plan to distribute 800,000 USB keys with LibreOffice and other open source software applications to students in the region. The move could help to improve LibreOffice's mainstream visibility.

In addition to these major announcements, the developers behind LibreOffice have also revealed plans to deliver mobile ports of the office suite. Android and iOS versions of LibreOffice are under development and are expected to arrive late in 2012 or early in 2013. The initial porting effort will focus on the tablet form factor, but phone versions could be developed later.

The mobile ports are based on the efforts of Tor Lillqvist. He discussed the challenges of cross-compiling LibreOffice for other platforms in a blog post earlier this year. The strategy he lays out is to port underlying implementation code, but create platform-specific user interfaces. He has already successfully demonstrated that it is possible to compile LibreOffice code for iOS in Xcode.

Another impressive project that the LibreOffice development community is undertaking to expand the availability of the office suite is LibreOffice Online, which allows users to run the office suite in a Web browser through the Canvas element. It uses Broadway, an HTML5 backend for the Gtk+ development toolkit. Because it depends on WebSocket and the Canvas element, it doesn't work in all mainstream browsers yet. Michael Meeks, the Novell developer who is prototyping LibreOffice Online, has published a compelling demonstration.

LibreOffice and TDF were originally founded in September, 2010 by former OpenOffice.org (OOo) developers. The fork was partly a response to concerns about Oracle's community-hostile stewardship of OOo and a number of long-standing procedural and governance problems that existed even before Oracle's acquisition of Sun. LibreOffice celebrated its first anniversary last month.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: LibreOffice, OpenOffice

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