Team Blog: LibreOffice Online technical background

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Michael Meeks writes:

One of the key realisations behind LibreOffice On-Line is that much of document editing is not the modification itself; a rather large proportion of time is spent reading, reviewing, and browsing documents. Thus by exposing the workings of document rendering to pixels squares (tiles) via LibreOfficeKit we can cache large chunks of the document content both on the server, and in the client’s browser.

Read the rest at Michael’s Blog

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IceWarp and Collabora Are Working on LibreOffice Online Document Editing, an Open Source Alternative to Google Apps, Office 365

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Collabora CloudSuite is available for early access demonstration!

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Through a project contributed by IceWarp on the principles of Free Software, LibreOffice Online will become the trusted free alternative to proprietary solutions

Springfield, Washington Metro Area and Cambridge, United Kingdom – March 25, 2015.

Collabora, a leading contributor to the popular LibreOffice productivity application, has partnered with IceWarp, the provider of global messaging and collaboration solutions, to jointly develop web-based document editing technology and contribute these to the thriving Free Software community around LibreOffice.


  • IceWarp identified a growing demand for web-based and cloud-based document editing and collaboration, and selected LibreOffice as the leader in open standards productivity applications.
  • LibreOffice started the development of its rendering engine optimized for internet usage in 2011 and was on the lookout for a practical application, with the goal to provide the same quality of working with documents as on the desktop, but using just a web browser.
  • IceWarp with its enterprise solutions background and over 14 years of expertise will help LibreOffice to accelerate the development towards a real product which can be reused by the open source community in a wide range of deployment scenarios.
  • By creating a free alternative that any provider can implement without restrictions, the companies aim to restore fair competition to a market dominated by monopoly suppliers, to drive innovation, compatibility and interoperability through open formats, across all platforms and for everybody.

The lightweight document management features already built in the collaboration and messaging solution IceWarp Server allow users to store, manage and preview Office documents in the web browser, without having any office suite installed on their computers. To edit the documents, IceWarp provides a seamless connection between its web-based storage and productivity applications installed on user’s computer. The growing popularity of these features lead IceWarp developers to consider how best to do without an Office suite completely, and move it into the browser.

While there are several cloud-based solutions that can edit native Office formats with various degree of compatibility, none of them provides the same core values and format compatibility as LibreOffice, now being used by over 80 million active users around the world. Another challenge is that the online collaboration market is under a tight vendor lock-in, and all existing commercial API offerings are merely a window into a provider-owned cloud service. LibreOffice on the other hand, in its mission to eliminate digital divides and promote global electronic free speech, has already set to work on bringing the free Office suite into a web browser as early as 2011, but hasn’t materialized the technology into a product that everyone can use.

IceWarp and Collabora 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. This will jump start document integration across services where it wasn’t possible before, bringing a whole new way of interactivity to how everyone works in the cloud.


“It is wonderful to marry IceWarp’s vision and investment with our passion and
skills for LibreOffice development. It is always satisfying to work on
something that, as a company, we have a need for ourselves. I’m looking
forward to using this myself, as well as our work together as a team.”
— Michael Meeks, Vice President, Collabora Productivity Ltd

“Creating alternatives is in our DNA. In the same way customers were looking
for Exchange alternatives and made IceWarp what it is today, they will be
seeking Google Apps alternatives and we will be ready.”
— Adam Paclt, IceWarp CEO

“LibreOffice Online will extend the availability of LibreOffice to the cloud,
adding collaboration features which have been asked for by many users. In the
future, a LibreOffice user will be able to seamlessly switch from the desktop
to mobile and to the cloud without leaving his free software environment of
choice.” — Thorsten Behrens, Chairman of The Document Foundation


  1. IceWarp Server
  2. LibreOffice
  3. LibreOffice Next Decade Manifesto
  4. Infographic
About IceWarp
IceWarp is a leading provider of comprehensive messaging solutions for every
business class, size and niche. Building upon a decade of enterprise e-mail
platforms experience, IceWarp offers organizations an all-in-one messaging and
collaboration solution that enables their workforce to communicate through any
platform, be it e-mail, mobile synchronization, chat, SMS, voice or video. The
highly scalable system is used by organizations of all sizes, from SMBs to
large corporations like Marriott International, Verizon Communications,
Inmarsat and Toyota.
About Collabora Productivity
Collabora Productivity delivers LibreOffice products and consulting. With the
largest team of certified LibreOffice engineers, it is a leading contributor
to the LibreOffice code base and community. LibreOffice-from-Collabora
provides a business-hardened office suite with long term multi-platform
support. Collabora Productivity is a division of Collabora Ltd., the global
software consultancy specializing in providing the benefits of Open Source to
the commercial world, specialising in automotive, semiconductors, digital TV
and consumer electronics industries.
About The Document Foundation (TDF)
The Document Foundation is an independent, self-governing and meritocratic
organization, based on Free Software ethos and incorporated in Germany as a
not for profit entity. TDF is focused on the development of LibreOffice – the
best free office suite ever – chosen by the global community as the legitimate
heir of OOo, and as such adopted by a growing number of public
administrations, enterprises and SMBs for desktop productivity.
TDF is accessible to individuals and organizations who agree with its core
values and contribute to its activities. At the end of January 2014, the
foundation has over 190 members and over 3,000 volunteer contributors

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Celebrate Document Freedom Day: new theme for LibreOffice and Firefox

Today Collabora joins freedom advocates around the world to celebrate Document Freedom Day 2015. To help spread the message about the value of Open Standards we’ve rebranded our website, commissioned a special theme for LibreOffice, Firefox, and Thunderbird, and lined up an important announcement for lunch time today.

Screenshot of Document Freedom Day theme of
Our special web theme for today’s celebration

LibreOffice’s new clothes

If you’re using LibreOffice 4 then you can install new themes with just a few clicks. Today we release a Document Freedom Day theme for LibreOffice — follow the simple instructions below to install it. Many of this year’s Document Freedom Day events will demonstrate LibreOffice as an ideal entry point to ODF document editing — look out for the theme at an event near you!

LibreOffice using Collabora's Document Freedom Day theme
The new LibreOffice theme in action

Theme installation

LibreOffice themes uses the same system as Mozilla Firefox. To install the theme in LibreOffice simply:

  1. Click on the “Tools” menu in LibreOffice
  2. Select “Options”
  3. In the pop-up window that appears click “Personalization” in the left pane under “LibreOffice”
  4. Under “Firefox Themes” select “Own theme”
  5. Click “Select Theme and paste the following theme address into the box:

The theme also works for Firefox and Thunderbird – just visit the link above and click “Add to Firefox”.

Screenshot of LibreOffice setting up a new theme
Selecting a new theme in LibreOffice

More to come

More news is on it’s way — check back this afternoon for a major announcement that’s set to change open productivity.

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LibreOffice Online questions answered: what, who, how, and when

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Collabora CloudSuite is available for early access demonstration!

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  1. Complete fidelity between LibreOffice desktop and LibreOffice Online
  2. All Writer, Calc, and Impress supported file-types supported
  3. Initially will include a basic HTML5 user interface
  4. Open development process from start to finish
  5. Expected by the end of the year

Questions and answers: all the details

What will the new application be called?
Provisionally it will be called: “LibreOffice Online” (LOOL)
Will it be hosted by The Document Foundation?
Yes: It will be hosted by The Document Foundation, and contributed to the LibreOffice project in the normal way, as was done for the Smoose / Collabora LibreOffice Viewer for Android, in accordance with Collabora’s open-first development policy.
Who will maintain LOOL after launch?
Collabora will maintain it alongside the LibreOffice community, and all are welcome to contribute to development.
How will document support compare to LibreOffice?
LOOL will include complete full document fidelity with LibreOffice desktop versions. All file types supported by Writer, Calc, and Impress will also be supported by LOOL, including OOXML and tens of other formats. No online office suite has achieved complete document fidelity across versions and devices. LOOL Would be the the first. Fidelity is achieved by using the same rendering engine as LibreOffice desktop (via LibreOfficeKit).
How will features compare to LibreOffice?
Editing features will initially be similar to LibreOffice Editor for Android. They will provide a subset of the features available in LibreOffice desktop versions.
What will be released at launch?
A new standalone LOOL server application, capable of serving a basic HTML5 web UI for viewing and editing documents.
When will LOOL be publicly released?
An initial release is expected by the beginning of 2016. Collabora has an open-first philosophy, all development work will be done in public, and can be followed and contributed to it as it develops.
What is the current status of LOOL development?
Work has already started and the results of this initial work will be shared shortly following this announcement.
When will the first public demos be available?
Video demonstrations are expected to coincide with the announcement on the 25th or shortly after.
What components will comprise the LOOL server?
1. LibreOfficeKit – an existing toolkit used by LibreOffice for Android and other LibreOffice projects, which houses the core document tiled rendering, layout, and calculating functionality of existing LibreOffice desktop applications.
2. An all-new tile server which communicates tiled images of documents to the browser, and manages the lifecycle of LibreOffice worker processes and cached image tiles.
What platforms will LOOL server support?
GNU/Linux will be supported at launch.
What languages will these components use?
Both LibreOfficeKit and the new tile server are written in C++.
What components will comprise the web client?
The web client will re-use and build upon the Leaflet JavaScript library for tile management and display, and shall be extended to show cursors and in-document selections. Other aspects of the user interface will be built upon Collabora’s existing Android UI work.
Will the web client require any addons or plugins?
No, the web client will use only JavaScript and HTML5.
What platforms will the web client target?
The web client should run on any device with a modern standards-compliant web browser.
What software license will LOOL use?
We anticipate uniform MPLv2 licensing for entirely new code, inline with The Document Foundation’s licensing model; although we are re-using and building on the Leaflet library which is BSD licensed.

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