Collabora mentors students on LibreOffice projects during this year’s Google Summer of Code
Summer is synonymous with the opportunity to participate in beautiful projects. Let’s look at the students who work in improving LibreOffice during the Google Summer of Code. This year, four of the approved GSoC projects for the LibreOffice community are mentored by Collabora developers. Find out about the improvements they are currently implementing!
Tests for the VCL graphic backends
The Visual Class Library (VCL) tests identifies if a graphic backend works correctly. This is especially important if the backend depends on the client hardware or drivers (like e.g. on Skia/Vulkan). This task’s main objective is adding more test cases to the pre-existing tests, and implementing a usable UI for users to test the graphic’s feasibility themselves. This project can be considered as of medium difficulty and requires C++ knowledge. It has been taken over by Akshit Kushwaha who is being mentored by Collaborans Tomaž Vajngerl and Luboš Luňák.
Creating a powerful Text Style deck
The current styles deck sidebar is going to see a redesign. The paragraph and character styles will be merged into a single Text Style deck, as illustrated in the mock-up to the left. Furthermore, Anshu Khare, who has picked-up this project, does also want to rework the filter workflow. Anshu Khare is being mentored by Collaborans Tomaž Vajngerl and Mike Kaganski and Heiko Tietze from the LibreOffice design team.
Making SVM format independent of the VCL Metafile
The SVM file is a 1-to-1 pullout of the content of the VCL Metafile. We mentioned the VCL already before. It is a complex code area and since the SVM should not change, stay consistent, modernizing and updating VCL is very hard. Now after this task, there will be a test for the SVM format. And there will also be new classes, making it easier to update/improve VCL. This project can be considered of medium difficulty. It is being taken over by Panos Korovesis who is being mentored by Tomaž Vajngerl and Miklos Vajna.
100 paper cuts
100 Paper Cuts is a versatile and multifaceted project in which Bayram Çiçek will be implementing enhancement requests and solving some issues on the UX side of LibreOffice. This requires knowledge in C++ and the ability to read other peoples code. Due to its nature, the difficulty of this project can vary. Bayram Çiçek is being mentored by Collaboran Muhammet Kara and Heiko Tietze from the LibreOffice design team.
More Projects – Boost.Gil 2D convolution and correlation
Apart from those for the LibreOffice project, Collaboran developers participate in other Google Summer of Code projects. For the Boost C++ Libraries organization, a 2D convolution and correlation algorithm aligned with existing 1D convolution and correlation is to be implemented. Prathamesh Tagore will improve the existing prototype and make it ready for release. He is being mentored by Collaboran Pranam Lashkari, who was himself a successful GSoC scholarship holder a few years ago.
We wish all participants an equally successful and insightful summer and would like to thank all mentors for devoting the time necessary for the success of these projects. At Collabora, we believe that the sharing of knowledge is an essential part of open source and also a driver of progress and innovation.
Searching for a mentor? Join us GitHub!
Google Summer of Code is an excellent opportunity to learn to work in many open-source projects. But where to find mentors during the rest of the year? We suggest you to take a look at the code of Collabora Online on GitHub and join the growing community there, with easy hacks to get started and regular round-ups. Community Mentor Muhammet Kara and the rest of our team of open-source developers are there and willing to share their vast experience.
The new Collabora Office 21.06 release enhances the productivity of all users and improves interoperability
Cambridge, June 28th, 2021 – Today we are pleased to announce the availability of the new major release of Collabora Office. By enhancing the productivity of all users with design improvements, as well as smoothing document interchange through improved interoperability, better performance and more, this new release makes migration even simpler for organizations.
Collabora Office, for Mac OS, Windows and Linux, is an enterprise version of the worlds most popular open source office productivity suite LibreOffice. This forms the foundation for online collaboration as Collabora Online, and powers apps for iOS, Android and Chrome OS. The whole suite offers businesses and professionals the best features, interoperability, LTS, and custom support in open source, while respecting user privacy and corporate data security. With this release, we unify the version numbers to a more user-friendly scheme based on release year and month.
Pick the interface that is more familiar and effective for you
Collabora Office has a great choice in user interfaces: a tabbed NotebookBar (for users familiar with recent Microsoft Office versions), as well as a traditional menus and toolbars. In addition we provide an optional side bar tool palette that makes best use of available horizontal screen space. With easy access to tools users can quickly find what they need. An additional feature of Collabora Office 21.06 allows you to see a preview of the Graphical User Interface style to help you to choose the one that best serves your needs and habits. Certain new features, such as the new Style Preview widget discussed below, only fit inside specific UI modes.
Helping users understand their use of styles
Styles make it easy to quickly create beautiful consistent office documents of all kinds: presentations/drawings, spreadsheets and text documents. However, some users are confused by styles and prefer to use direct formatting such as ‘bold’ or ‘italic’ which is then hard to adapt to style the document consistently. To overcome this hesitance the new Collabora Office offers users the new features Styles Inspector and toolbar Style Preview.
Style Inspector: a powerful tool to understand your Writer documents
The Style Inspector allows the user to inspect the rich hierarchical detail behind the styles (and direct formatting) applied to a cursor position in a Writer document. That makes it easy to diagnose the cause of unusual formatting in text documents and to clean it up.
This feature was developed in different phases, having been part of a Google Summer of Code (GSoc) 2020 project that had been mentored by Collaborans. For those interested in a fuller account of this phase of the work please see this earlier blog entry or the final report of the scholarship holder. Naturally, you can also modify any style through the Style Inspector.
Style Preview: easily select the styles you want
The appealing new Style Preview widget gives you a visual feedback about the currently applied style in the selected area of the Writer document. The selected style inside the widget always follows the cursor position. This makes it much easier to create attractive looking headings and document structure that can be later styles to taste in addition to the existing power-users keyboard shortcuts of <ctrl>-1,2,3 etc. to select heading styles.
This feature was first made available in our flagship product Collabora Online in the browser and has now been brought to the desktop Notebookbar. It is available in the home tab of the “Tabbed” User Interface.
Improved interoperability across the board
Collabora Office is known for excellent support of all file formats, from legacy binary formats to recent Microsoft Office XML documents. Even so – corner cases pop up where we can improve and to help our users and customers migrate. There have been more improvements here than we can list but we show a few highlights of the various ways in which Collabora Office 21.06 improves interoperability. Improved PPTX filter, special effects on shapes, better spreadsheet formula, margins and much much more.
Improved PPTX import
Collabora Office 21.06 includes many improvements around importing PPTX files. As you see in this example, you can now import images that were cropped into custom shapes and they will be displayed as expected. The new PPTX filters improve the import of several types of cropped images with transformations such mirroring and greyscale conversion.
Glow and Soft Edge effects for shapes
Collabora Office 21.06 introduces further features to manipulate shapes according to your preferences. Once a shape is selected, you can choose the radius of the Glow effect and its Soft Edges within the sidebar using the Effects parameter. Furthermore, you can select the colour and the degree of transparency of the effect. This function can be applied to all shapes across Writer, Calc, Impress and Draw.
Improved interoperability & printing with gutter margins
A good example of the many improvements to Writer’s interoperability is the addition of an extra space to the side margin, top margin, or inside margins of documents. This gutter margin makes sure that the text of a printed publication is not obscured by the binding. Implementing this feature improved interoperability with Microsoft Word documents that use it. You can find the relevant settings via the Page Style dialog.
Many Excel compatible formulae improvements and extensions
Many functions have been improved both to extend interoperability with Excel, and to add new functionality. Support for sheet-local scoped names has been added to INDIRECT(), and both TEXT() and OFFSET() have been is adapted to various corner cases to behave identically to the competition. TEXTJOIN() and CONCAT() now handle array & matrix arguments row-wise for improved compatibility. In addition functions that use powerful regular expressions now correctly honour case-insensitivity flags.
Accessibility checking on PDF export
A new feature has been added to make documents more accessible. PDF/UA or ISO 14289 is a specification that defines requirements for accessibility in a PDF document. When exporting a document to PDF you can now run a test that is helpful in checking various features against the Universal Accessibility standards requirements. You can also run the Accessibility Check independently from the Tools menu. This feature was sponsored thanks to the Dutch Standardization Forum. Find more details about which checks have currently been implemented in Tomaz Vajngerl’s blog but do keep in mind that not all requirements can be checked automatically.
Improved performance in Calc
Collabora continues to put a lot of effort into enhancing the performance of the software. As an example the streamlining of the Find & Replace functionality in Writer resulted in a 50 percent performance improvement. Another would be the scrolling and opening speed of large XLSX files which has been much improved. In Collabora Office 21.06, we have fundamentally revised the way spell checking is done in Calc with a new spell check that prevents continual re-rendering as strings are processed, while also caching spell-checking information yielding considerable performance improvements. Similarly AutoFilter searching is much improved for large numbers of unique records.
Highlight elements of your mathematical formulae with colour
Collabora Office 21.06 provides access to the complete HTML colour palette for displaying elements in formulae and equations within Math. In addition to the basic colours, which can be selected under attributes, there is an easy-to-use palette of colours available in the pane. This useful function comes from LibreOffice 7.1 and was developed by Dante Doménech.
Improved language handling in Writer
The core model of language annotation in LibreOffice is that languages are explicitly assigned to regions of text. This can easily lead to unexpected results when documents that have been created in one local language (without specifying it further) are opened by another user with a different local language setting. Instead of a powerful but potentially confusing “multi languages” result, Writer now resets the language to the user’s UI locale if no document language had been defined. This more consistent behaviour was previously introduced to Calc and Impress and is now also available in Writer.
More attractive and realistic, interoperable shadow effects
In earlier versions, shadows used to be rendered as solid copies of objects. The new Blur option adds more realistic shadows to them. The feature is available through the Shadows tab in the Area dialog or directly through the corresponding setting in the Sidebar. This feature was initially developed during a GSoC20 project by Ahmad Ganzouri and mentored by the Collaborans Tomaž Vajngerl and Miklos Vajna, who later implemented further refinements to it.
Shadowed tables in Impress
Shadow effects are a great way to add depth and appeal to elements. They are available for many objects, such as shapes, and have recently received feature enhancements such as the blur effect. For tables within presentations, shadows are now also available through the Table Properties dialog. The newly added feature incorporates all these extended presentation features including blur.
Making it easier to find and install extensions
There are many useful extensions created to extend both Collabora Office and LibreOffice and make users more productive for certain tasks. These use the thousands of powerful and extensible UNO scripting methods that we export. However these have been more difficult to find and install. In Collabora Office 21.06, without having to leave your workflow, you can easily find them near where they are used wherever you see the download-extensions icon. Users can easily search and add extensions from a store like interface. This feature was proposed by the LibreOffice design team and was a GSoC 2020 project mentored by Collabora. You can access the feature through the icon (a yellow star with a download arrow) in the Templates dialog, the Icon Style option or from the Gallery located in the sidebar.
Please click on thumbnails to enlagre.
21.06: The Collabora Office of the year
It’s obvious that this major version of Collabora Office not only introduces lots of benefits for users and enterprises, but also changes our versioning scheme. In the past, the numbering was based around the LibreOffice numbers. The new system now, makes it easier for users to recall the pedigree of their version, when it was originally released and to be more aware of our annual version refreshes. The first two digits of the scheme refer to the year, the last two to the month of the initial release. Smaller subsequent updates will be denoted with an appended digit, and a further nano release.
About Collabora Office
Collabora Office is the LibreOffice Technology-based suite for professional, mobile, and online use. Collabora Office 21.06 provides businesses and professionals with the best features, interoperability, LTS and L3 support.
Collabora is privileged to work with so many great contributors to the LibreOffice project and appreciates all the amazing work done by so many that is included into Collabora Office 21.06. This, our annual release, contains much work that was contributed to LibreOffice 7.0 and then LibreOffice 7.1, for a deep dive on detail and credits please do peruse these.
Its easy to migrate to Collabora Office 21.06
You can try Collabora Office 21.06 yourself! Just head to the Collabora Office page and request your demo today!
Collabora has invested significantly in bringing many new features and functionality to this latest release, and accounts for a significant volume of contributions. However, we want to acknowledge all of our friends and colleagues who helped to contribute to this and the upstream LibreOffice Technology. Find the details in either the release notes above or the LibreOffice community credits. We cannot thank everyone involved enough for their passionate work! LibreOffice is a friendly community offering many ways to get involved. Alternately, if you are interested in joining the Collabora Online community, you will find several easy ways to started inside our community hub – we look forward to
With the release of Collabora Online 6.4.9, it is now possible to import CSV files or structured text any way you like on any of your devices. We included a new dialog that makes the import process just as convenient as you are used to it on full-screen interface of your browser. This update does also include several performance and UX improvements.
Import CSV through browsers on mobile devices
Collabora Online allows you to access documents trough browsers of any kind of device. No matter if you are using it on a large monitor, laptop, tablet or smartphone – the flexible interface will provide you with a feature rich and consistent user experience. Collabora Online 6.4.9 introduces a new dialog allowing to import CSV files through mobile devices.
The dialog will show up whenever you access a CSV file or any other type of structured text through the browser of your mobile device. Inside the dialog you can adjust various settings for the import process:
Define character set
Define import starting row
Specify separator options
Edit string delimiter
See a preview of the imported CSV
More features and improvements
There is more in to discover in this new version. Elements you might not notice at first glance, but do add substantial value to your workflow.
Performance improvements in Calc
Performance improvements in Writer (table editing)
Collabora Productivity is the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the cloud, providing Collabora Online and a range of products and consulting to enterprise and government. Powered by the largest team of certified LibreOffice engineers in the world, it is a leading contributor to the LibreOffice codebase and community. Collabora Office for Desktop and Collabora Online provide a business-hardened office suite with long-term, multi-platform support. Collabora Productivity is a division of Collabora, the global software consultancy dedicated to providing the benefits of Open Source to the commercial world, specializing in mobile, automotive and consumer electronics industries. For more information, visit www.collaboraoffice.com or follow Collabora Office on Twitter .
Version 6.4-33 of Collabora Office introduces the new Gutter Margins feature developed by Collabora to the desktops and includes several fixes regarding the PPTX import, improving the way Collabora Office handles shaped Bitmaps.
The latest developments around our business-hardened and supported LibreOffice distribution are documented inside the release notes. Learn more about how Collabora Office can help you to control your data and business in our 6.4 announcement; or order a free demo!
Improving printed publications with Gutter Margins
The Gutter Margin feature has first been published in Collabora Online 6.4.6. The new Writer feature adds an extra space to the side margin, top margin, or inside margins of documents. The gutter margin makes sure that the text of a printed publication is not obscured by the binding. Since the Gutter Margins feature is also available in Microsoft Word, this feature is an interoperability improvement, too.
How to use Gutter Margins
Access the Gutter Margin feature via the menu option Format > Page Styles… and select the page tab. Alternatively, you can access the Page Style though a right-click or via a left-click on the style button in the status bar at the bottom. Inside the Page Style dialog you will find several new options to adjust the size and the position of the gutter.
PPTX import improvements for shaped bitmaps
Collabora Office 6.4-33 includes various code stability fixes and improvement regarding the import of shaped bitmap images created in MS Office. Earlier, shaped bitmap graphics of PPTX presentations could be rendered inaccurately, or in some cases the shape could get lost. Thank you to SUSE for sponsoring this work. This is fix is another great interoperability improvement that will also become available in the next version of LibreOffice.
The latest version of the Collabora Online Development Edition (CODE) 6.4.7 brings major improvements and great new features. A completely new application, Draw, has been enabled online allowing you to work with vector graphics. Inside documents (if enabled by the administrator), it is possible to run macros from the newly introduced Macro selector. With our VBA compatibility that’s particularly useful for spreadsheet formulae. This version also includes many UI improvements, for instance a reworked Style preview in the NotebookBar.
Please checkout the latest features – and give your feedback
CODE gives you the latest and greatest features in online collaboration earlier than our supported version Collabora Online. Of course, we would love to hear about your experiences. Please leave your feedback on CODE in the community forum or report any possible issues on GitHub.
Draw has arrived in Online
People familiar with Draw from the desktop, will recognize the tools for creating or editing flowcharts, technical drawings, posters, photo galleries or brochures. If you don’t know Draw yet: have a play with a vector graphic drawing online!
CODE 6.4.7 brings new elements such as the Connector Toolbox and the Vertical Textbox hosted in the ‘Home’ and ‘Insert’ tabs. Other drawing features such as Basic Shapes, Fontwork, Lines, Images, Charts and Tables were already available in Online. Currently, Draw Online is the only component allowing you to create the connectors, though re-using them in Writer, Calc and Impress is possible.
Accessing a .odg file from your file storage solution will automatically take you to Draw online. Given the shared code between Draw and Impress, you will discover similarities in the structure of the two user interfaces.
Enabling VBA compatible macros for online
CODE 6.4.7 introduces the possibility to use macros in your favourite online collaboration suite. These macros run on the server inside a secure container that is specific to your document and we are confident in our containment. However giving you control of the attack surface is important, so this functionality is hard disabled by default, and has to be explicitly enabled by admins in the loolwsd.xml configuration. Once enabled, users can choose to explicitly allow macros in the documents they are loading.
Macros extend the functionality of the office suite by accessing the programmable interface of Collabora Office. They can be useful when you have to repeat the same task in the same way over and over again.
On the NotebookBar, users find the macros command in the “burger” menu in the top-left corner, following the path Tools > Run Macros. On the classic toolbar, the same Macro Selector dialog can be accessed via the Tools menu.
Running macros in the online documents has several limitations, most of them are due to the nature of editing the documents online. For example, the macros cannot access additional documents (other than the document edited by the user running the macro), use the Shell command, call external programs, and similar functionality. In addition the VBA APIs were never designed with collaboration in-mind, so their use is ideally limited to cases where a single user is editing a document.
All details of macros, settings, limitations, are published in this How-to post.
Style previews in NotebookBar and even more UI improvement
This version of Collabora Online adds several improvements to the appearance and usability of the user interface. In the NotebookBar the scrolling of the style preview has been improved, making it easier to recognize and pick the style you need.
The new Style preview makes it easy to recognize & pick the style you need
It is no longer necessary to click on navigation arrows, and you can navigate through the styles using the scrollbar or the mouse wheel. Various UI improvements, including a new top bar comment icon (Thank you to Umut Bayramoğlu, easy hack #202), have been developed by community members.
Initial canvas rework and UI improvements on mobile devices
Previous versions of Collabora Online have started to use the HTML5 canvas for rendering of spreadsheets on the desktop browser. This version takes this to the next level. The HTML5 canvas is now used for all the applications (Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw) on all the form factors (desktop, tablet, mobile).
To achieve that, large parts of Collabora Online have been completely reworked. This solved a number of corner cases in the user interface with some browser settings, and removed a large amount of legacy code re-writing it into cleaner, more maintainable TypeScript where possible. Furthermore, it also let us enable the Freeze Rows & Columns functionality on phones and tablets, while also making the rendering faster. We do expect some rough edges at the time of releasing CODE 6.4.7 – for example the pinch-to-zoom behavior is still sub-optimal, you can expect a bit of a flicker when the zoom has finished. Please do update to the latest 6.4.7 and report your findings, we will do several smaller iterations with fixes for CODE 6.4.7. Please refer to the Feedback section above to see how to help out.
Comment handling on mobile phones has also experienced a major usability improvement. These are not part of the document any more; instead, users can see a list of comments with just a single tap on the icon in the toolbar and handle them much more conveniently (thanks Rashesh Padia for all the help here).
Freeze Panes functionality on a tablet displaying the NotebookBar
Customize your Shapes
Shapes have become more flexible. It is now possible to customize them according to your needs.
By moving the control adjustment points you can now easily round corners, modify the diameter of arrows… or bring a smile to a sad face.
Export Spreadsheets as CSV
It is now possible to export your spreadsheets directly to CSV, making it more convenient to work with the CSV text file format. The new export option is available through the File tab both in the new NotebookBar and the classic toolbar. Thank you to Rizal Muttaqin for the icon design (easy hack #1020).
Look and feel selection per-user
In previous versions, we allowed administrators to choose whether they had a classic (menu + toolbars) UI, familiar from Google Docs, or a Notebookbar UI, familiar to MS Office users.
In CODE 6.4.7 the integration that embeds Collabora Online can choose per-user as they construct the iframe, which they want to select. If you are interested in implementing an option in your integration, please check how to use UIMode in the Theming of Collabora Online part of our SDK.
Integrations can go even further, and allow the users to live-change the UI by passing the Action_ChangeUIMode postmessage from their webapp to the Collabora Online iframe. Thank you to Gabriel Masei of 1&1 for this implementation.
CODE is the Collabora Online Development Edition. It contains the latest developments and is perfect for home users. It enables them to regain control of their own online documents and to host them themselves in a secure and private environment. For tech-enthusiasts, it is a low-threshold way to get involved and familiar with our online office solution. CODE will be improved continuously and our next supported and maintained Collabora Online product will be built from it. All of our code is Open Source, and a vibrant community in participating in growing Collabora Online. Would you like to be part of the story? Join the community!