Thank you for a splendid 2019

Christmas and the end of the year are a time to reflect on the events of the past months. We have come a long way together and would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers, partners and community for your great support! 2019 has been a big year with important new releases for mobile devices. We brought Collabora Office to iOS and released a complete rewrite of our Android app. Collabora Office, Collabora Online and CODE have seen significant growth in features and improvements in usability.

Our products now bring effective collaboration with maximum control for organizations. A truly Open Source product that gives users ontrol over their own data and privacy, with excellent Microsoft interoperability, on every platform. The team at Collabora keeps growing, and more people than ever before are benefiting from our products and code contributions. Of course, this all would not have been possible without our talented staff, our great partners and the engaged community of volunteers around LibreOffice.

You all have made 2019 a fantastic year. Here is a short summary of what we achieved together!

Collabora Online improvements

Collabora Online 4.0.0

In January, we celebrated the major release Collabora Online 4.0.0 including a completely fresh look. Collabora Online 4.0 Toolbar comparison from WriterIt featured a better, simplified and more appealing UI. It also marked the point where we started to bring more of the full functionality for important features available online such as custom headers and footers or rich table of contents management for text documents.

Screenshot of Collabora 4.0 bubble renaming document

Collabora 4.0 bubble toolbar

Collabora Online 4.0 also featured integration with Vereign. We partnered with the Swiss open source company to provide authentic documents bearing the qualified electronic signature of your hardened self-sovereign identity.

Screenshot of a dialog window requesting the user to scan a qrcode with vereign appScreenshot of Collabora Online 4.0: signing documents digitally with a logged session on Vereign app

Collabora Online 4.0.2 & 4.0.3

March brought two versions with notable fixes and updates. For example, when collaborating on a single document it really helps users to see the names being displayed over the caret of the people that are actively typing and moving through the document.

Collabora Online 4.0.4

This release in May added the feature to rename a file while editing.

Collabora Online 4.0.5

This release included packages for Debian 10.

Collabora Online 4.0.6

This version introduces new admin features and made integration easier via the reuse cookie option for WOPI implementations.

Collabora Online 4.0.7

In September, we added the opacity setting to configure tile Watermarks, as well as our regular set of interoperability improvements.

Collabora Online 4.0.8

In October version 4.0.8 provided different watermarks for each user for use with ownCloud’s ‘secure collaboration’ and Nextcloud’s ‘secure view‘.


Watermark view Collabora Online
Collabora Online can give each user it’s own watermark

Collabora Online 4.0.9


To improve security, and make them harder to ignore we added 45 degrees rotated user-watermarks for collaboration in these secure environments, as well as several fixes such as highlighting search results in read-only documents.

 

CODE 4.2.0 sets the bar for the next year

In December, we released a major refresh and upgrade of CODE, the Collabora Online Development Edition. CODE is perfect for home users that want to start to run their own online office suite and for tech-enthusiast. This CODE version is the base for the upcoming Collabora Online 4.2.0 release, due in early 2020. It has a fresh new look, with updated theming, and a refreshed toolbar, and we dare to say that it represents another huge step forward in features for online office productivity and collaboration!

One of the major improvements is the powerful sidebar. Changing properties of many elements and objects in office documents is now much while working in the browser, with close to the same feature richness that is available in Collabora Office on the desktop.

The sidebar and new dialogs support numerous advanced features.

Besides choosing a colour from a palette, you can also make use of the colour picker. The handling of links has also been improved.

Click to see some of the sidebar magic happen in Calc!

 

All the powerful functions of Conditional Formatting in Calc can now be controlled via the dialog.

 

Collabora Office 6.0.2 & 6.0.3 add new features

Un-float Table button in Writer
Un-float Table button in Writer

Collabora Office, our enterprise-grade, long term supported open-source office suite, sees major updates, new features and interoperability improvements every year. In January, Collabora Office 6.0.2 introduced the Unfloat Table button, making it easy to work with imported floating tables from Microsoft Word documents.

 

Another big ask from our customers was for redaction, so this year we created a built-in Redaction tool, and went on to extend that with fast and automatic marking of text.

Another really useful feature, particularly for web integration of spreadsheets is the Page per sheet PDF export we implemented for Calc, allowing users to see apparently non-paginated spreadsheet previews.

 

Collabora Office 6.2: The best in features, interoperability and support in open source

And right before the end of the year, we made another huge step. Not only concerning the release points, but also in features and interoperability. Version 6.2 came just in time for Christmas.

This includes many features from ourselves and the community, such as the enhanced printing dialog, and improved Help which make working with Collabora Office even more efficient and user-friendly.

Collabora Office new Print dialog

Collabora Office new online Help

Collabora Office on Apple iOS

In 2019 we delivered our first version for Apple’s tablets. In a huge joint effort together with Adfinis SyGroup, started in 2018, we brought Collabora Office to iOS (beta). It is now available through Apple’s app store for free.

Collabora Office on iOS for editing spreadsheets.
Collabora Office on iOS for editing spreadsheets.

Creating presentations in Collabora Office iOS
Creating presentations in Collabora Office iOS

Composing texts in Collabora Office iOS.
Composing texts in Collabora Office iOS.

Making the app easier to use: The sidebar contains contextual features and makes good use of the wide screen of the iPad.

Working with tables in text documents.
Working with tables in text documents.

Including pictures in Writer documents
Including pictures in Writer documents

Selection of cells in a spreadsheet
Selection of cells in a spreadsheet

Collabora Office on Android

Shortly after the release of Collabora Office on iOS, we released a complete re-write of Collabora Office on Android. This is now based on the same technology as Collabora Online. More than just a viewer it allows the editing of documents with a new phone-friendly UI. The beta version is available from the Google Play Store.

Text file with spreadsheet embedded – Collabora Office for Android

Image handling in text document – Collabora Office for Android

Community & LibreOffice

We love to work alongside with, and contribute to the LibreOffice community. We were pleased to sponsor the LibreOffice Conference 2019 that took place in Almería, Spain.

One day before the conference we organized a special team building day for our staff, partners and customers and went snorkelling in Cabo de Gata. Big fun!

Conference Slides

2019 has also been a year full of traveling, conferences, … and of course slides. Here are just a few examples of talks held by Michael Meeks, Andras Timar and Jan Holešovský held this year. They and many others are available for download.

LibreOffice Developer Bootcamp in Ankara

As part of our community building investment we sponsored a LibreOffice Developer Bootcamp in Ankara. Here, Collabora Productivity Developer Muhammet Kara is teaching enthusiastic students of the Hacettepe University about C++ and developing LibreOffice. Pranam Lashkari has also been training students in India:

Summary

In summary, it has been a busy year here at Collabora Productivity. We can only present a small part of what we got up to with a few pictures and links in this overview. We have advanced our mission to make Open Source rock; giving users privacy and businesses control over their data, with our open products. Not only has our work produced excellent results, but we have also had a lot of fun. If you’d like to get involved its easy to partner with us, buy from us, or to get involved in the awesome LibreOffice community. We are full of energy and have lots of new ideas and plans in the pipeline for 2020. We would like to thank the whole team, particularly our great partners, and customers who make our work possible, and the community who make it fun, and we look forward to continuing the successful work with you in 2020!

Thank You!

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Collabora Office 6.2

Cambridge, December 20, 2019 – Today we release Collabora Office 6.2.0 providing businesses and professionals with the best features, interoperability, LTS and custom support in open source as well as respecting user privacy and company data security. Changes in Collabora Office 6.2 also support new and enhanced features in Collabora Online.

The Best of Features, Interoperability, and Support in Open Source

We’ve selected the following of the new possibilities and improvements, available in the new release of our office productivity suite.

Writer 6.2

  • Better language support and exchange with Word documents including support for bottom-top left-right text direction.
  • Extended support of the legacy type Microsoft form fields.

  • Table-size actions involving column/row size now behave more in line with expectations.
  • HTML export has an opt-in mode to write the ReqIF subset of XHTML.

Calc 6.2

 

Full-Sheet Previews option on the PDF Export Dialog

  • Copy & paste of spreadsheet data directly in text document tables.
  • Data Validation now supports custom formula.
  • Multivariate regression analysis is possible using the regression tool (DataStatisticsRegression).

  • Also, many more statistical measures are now available in the analysis output.

Impress/Draw 6.2

  • A whole series of improvements in animations.
  • In Draw the attributes to display and protect layers, are now compliant with ODF specifications.
  • Many layer improvements.
  • There is now a Table sub menu to menu Format.

Miscellaneous 6.2

  • The Help is improved, nice looking and completely available online, making finding information on many topics easy and fast.

Collabora Office new online Help

  • Redaction feature, with automated finding of targets, to remove sensitive content before sharing documents.

  • The new Print dialog makes handling all print tasks easier.

Collabora Office new Print dialog

  • Encryption improvements for OOXML-documents.
  • Signature Lines can be used in combination with (a signature) image and are now available in Calc too.

Integration, business

  • Improvements in COLEAT, for integration with business applications written in Microsoft Office Visual Basic.

 

  • File locking in mixed environments with Microsoft documents improved.
  • Better integration with SharePoint 2010 via ActiveX.

Series interoperability improvements

  • Microsoft OOXML charts.
  • There are many improvements in interoperability, of which quite some may look as minor, but that all together make a real difference.

User interface

  • There is a rich choice in toolbar layouts – a solution for every need and each preference via menu View > User Interface.

Collabora Office 6.2 - Rich choice in tool bars

  • Nice and clear new icon sets.

Mobile improvements 6.2

We only mention a few items here: better support for HiDPI displays, improved performance, enhanced Document signing with Verisign.
Most important are a huge amount of improvements that show in better integration on small devices, more powerful features online, better look and user-friendliness. We recommend our information on Android, Apple iOS and CODE 4.2.0 (showing what will be in Collabora Online).

About

Collabora Office 6.2 provides businesses and professionals with the best features, interoperability, LTS and L3 support. Based on upstream LibreOffice 6.2 source code, the project in which we are happy to cooperate and where all our code is contributed, and extended with improvements and backported stable features from newer releases, or features for our customers that are not yet available in the stable upstream branches.

Migrate with our demo of Collabora Office 6.2

You can try Collabora Office 6.2 yourself! Just head to the Collabora Office page and request your demo today, or just click the button below.

Try the Demo

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New: Collabora Office for Android

Great new interface and editing – in beta

We are excited to announce a complete new version of Collabora Office for Android, available now in Google Play, with the following main improvements:

  • A great looking interface, easy to use with just one hand on your phone
  • Editing of complex office documents, not just viewing
  • Now re-uses the same technology as Collabora Online.

In common with other Collabora Productivity products, this new Android release enables people to edit their documents without compromising on privacy. There is no longer a reason to hand over your data to get rich mobile editing.
The new release marks the end of a period of rewriting important parts of the application. We now share much of the code and user experience from Collabora Online’s collaborative editor as well as Collabora Office 6.2 for displaying the documents.

 

  (minimal version Android 5.0)

What it looks like

Text file and image details – Collabora Office for Android

Typing in a text document – Collabora Office for Android

Inserting and editing tables – Collabora Office for Android

More great interface details

Text file with spreadsheet embedded – Collabora Office for Android

Image handling in text document – Collabora Office for Android

A new front end, re-using Collabora Online

The technology under the hood has changed almost completely, with only the LibreOffice core for rendering the documents remained. We removed the previous Fennec tiled renderer, and moved to re-use a our Collabora Online web view. This means our Android app can share the same features as our flagship product Collabora Online. The recently released Collabora Office for iOS uses the same approach. As a result, features and improvements and fixes made foor one solution (online, mobile, desktop) often enhance all the others. The Javascript and CSS base makes contributing to and developing and debugging the app much simpler for people to get involved with.

 

Shape editing – Collabora Office for Andoid

 

Spreadsheet in Collabora Office for Android

 

Rich documents in Collabora Office for Android

 

Getting involved

Once you have got Collabora Office (Google Play), your feedback is much appreciated. Report any problems you find to the bug tracker, and attach any documents related to the issue so developers can investigate. You can also checkout the Online code and build it yourself.

Rich history and community growth

The road to the current version of the Android app was a long one, one with many companions and some detours. The first version that brought LibreOffice to the Android platform was released in 2011 after an intensive process of cross-compiling and a number of bug fixes. This version was rather a proof of concept and by no means suitable for productive work.

Two years later, in 2013, the application had developed into a document viewer rendering entire pages and including basic user interface to handle pages. During the years 2014 to 2015, the rendering was changed to split the pages into „tiles“, the same way as other applications like Mozilla Firefox were doing. We have extracted the Mozilla’s compositing from their code and reused it in our Android app – still only a viewer. Later in this period, editing was added as an experimental feature.
Between 2016 and 2018 further features and functions were implemented thanks to community involvement, however the vision of a full editor was not realized.

In 2019 we decided to do a complete rewrite of everything above the LibreOffice rendering core. Inspiration for this was the development of the new Collabora Office for iOS app, which Collabora is driving forward together with our Swiss partner Adfinis SyGroup. The current, newly developed Android app benefits greatly from the Collabora Online code base and work for the iOS version and includes also features implemented this year during the GSoC, mentored by our engineers.

Thanks to everyone that contributed

This new Office app for Android obviously came by a huge investment from Collabora.  As with all open source projects, it has also been made possible by the open source community as a whole, by many organizations and the personal dedication of many individuals that contributed. Specifically, for this Android app we want to mention the initial Android port funded by SUSE. The initial app used the tiled rendering funded by CloudOn, and was driven by Smoose, IceWarp and many customers of Collabora Productivity. The Document Foundation’s donors also funded the initial basic editing functionality.

Without ever doing justice to the entire crowd of supporters, we would like to thank a few people whose performance in this development has been outstanding. At this point, we would like to mention the pioneering work of our fellow two collaborators Tor Lillqvist and Michael Meeks and on the initial version of the App that among others included a first loader developed by Iain Billiet, during his GSoC ‘12 program and other components by Matúš Kukan.

Tomaž Vajngerl contributed to the already mentioned tiled rendering to the app in 2014/2105. Miklos Vajna’s efforts made editing possible at that stage. Christian Lohmaier, Ximeng Zu, and Mert Tumer have made important and substantial contributions by adding more features to the toolbar in the last few years.

Tor Lillquist was also responsible for the development of the Collabora Office for iOS app, which had a significant influence on the version for Android, and was made possible thanks to the great personal commitment of Nicolas Christener of Adfinis SyGroup. Thank you to Kaishu Sahu for his large amount of features programmed during the GSoC this summer, while our team member Jan Holesovsky has been the main developer of the current release.

Would you like to be part of the story ? get involved today.

About Collabora Productivity:

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 @CollaboraOffice on Twitter.

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Discover and test new 4.2 features in the regular Collabora Online snapshots

Discover and test the new Collabora Online 4.2 features in our regular snapshots!

The next big point release of Collabora Online is approaching. With version 4.2.0 we implement a lot of new features. Be among the first to experience and try them out in our latest snapshot. The quality of new software depends largely on the valuable feedback from users like you. So do you notice anything unexpected? Something does not seem to work as it should? Please be so kind and tell us about it! Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Happy testing!

Some of many new features

The 4.2.0 release of Collabora Online will include many fixes and a lot of new features in terms of design, functionality and usability. The sidebar will see major updates and improve working with documents both from desktop and mobile devices. The list of new functions is long. Here are just a few of the new features already included in the snapshot we would like to point your attention to.

Features

  • Table manipulation in sidebar

In Collabora Online 4.2 you will be able to access many of the options to manipulate tables in writer documents from a new “Table” panel in the sidebar. You are able to insert and delete columns and rows, merge and distribute cells, adjust height and width.

  • Handling of hyperlinks

Version 4.2 of Collabora Online brings nice enhancements when working with hyperlinks. Whenever the cursor is located next to or on a link, you will be notified by a dialogue. You can access the linked URL directly from that pop-up window with a single click.

  • Chart properties in the sidebar

Many chart properties can now be modified from the sidebar. The chart type and various other elements from the chart wizard can now be selected and adjusted there.

  • Quick / Bottom toolbar

The bottom toolbar has been re-designed. It does now look more appealing, features a new icon design, and enables quick access to the language selection and  zoom magnitudes.

  • Colour pickers

The colour picker has been added for various properties both in dialogs and in the sidebar.

  • Rich table of contents handling

The dialog with settings for the table of contents is available online now, giving you full control over all the important details while working online.

  • Powerful new function wizard

The powerful functions wizard now is available for spreadsheets online. Start it, fill in the arguments, investigate the formula’s structure and let the magic happen.

  • Conditional formatting

Conditional formatting online has been extended enormously. Apart from the direct menu choice, the full options of the dialog now allows you to add (almost) any formatting condition.

Start using and testing the new features

You can get a snapshot of Collabora Office and try it right now – and we love to hear your feedback. Regular updates will be released – so stay tuned!

Get & Test Snapshot

For more information

Follow @CollaboraOffice on Twitter or send us an email to hello@collaboraoffice.com

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Collabora Office available as first free open source office app for iOS

Effort by Adfinis SyGroup and Collabora bringing open source office to the world of Apple iOS and iPad

For the first time there is a free / open source office suite available on iOS: Collabora Office, thanks to the efforts led by Adfinis SyGroup and Collabora. What started back in around 1992 as the well-known StarOffice, then was OpenOffice.org and now lives on as LibreOffice, is finally available on every relevant platform including (but not limited to) iOS, iPadOS, MacOS, Android1, Chrome OS, Windows, Linux and also in the browser.

There is a lot we want to tell you about this first open source office app for iOS. In this blog we write a bit more on the technical part; the blog at Adfinis, has more focus on the interesting history.
But let us first show how it looks!

Collabora Office on iOS for editing spreadsheets.
Collabora Office on iOS for editing spreadsheets.
Creating presentations in Collabora Office iOS
Creating presentations in Collabora Office iOS

 

Composing texts in Collabora Office iOS.
Composing texts in Collabora Office iOS.

 

Get Collabora Office on iOS from the App Store

There are currently two possible ways to get the app:

  1. Download Testflight through the Apple Store and use this link to join:
    This will give you the latest releases – which are not fully tested, and available to just try and test

  2. Download the app through the Apple Store.

Over the past months, more than 60 versions have been released and the number of improvements and enhancements is for more than a hundred!

Built with online innovation

Collabora Online is built on technological innovation. And on a rich history, starting more than 30 years ago by StarOffice, following OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice. We suggest you to read the blog post at Adfinis with interesting details. The innovative part was already mentioned in our first blog post. Collabora Office for iOS is built on the technology that was developed by Collabora to bring LibreOffice to the cloud. An important part of this technology is called LibreOfficeKit. This is a layer allowing to use the LibreOffice we all know on the server side and from there publish documents in the browser. And since LibreOffice is capable of opening the largest possible set of documents, Collabora Online has the same capability in nearly every modern browser!

And there is more that is interesting: the document on the screen is published as tiled images, which means that it doesn’t leave the server, which is especially useful for working online securely. The UI itself, for different platforms, is build with HTML/JS, on top off the VCL, the LibreOffice Visual Class Library. This enables the Collabora app to use many elements of the extensive functionality of LibreOffice’s UI.

A really nice advantage of this approach is that we cover three major scenarios with essentially this one solution:

  • Online — see e. g. Collabora Online

  • iOS — what we are presenting you now

  • Android — work in progress, available through the Android Beta channel

This means that future improvements that are implemented for one platform will also benefit the other implementations.

Native look and feel & finger usage

Apple has put a lot of effort into creating great UX guidelines and great GUI widgets for iOS. However, VCL (the GUI toolkit used within the LibreOffice core) was born long before iOS and it doesn’t look and behave like a native iOS app. And even though development took the path of LibreOffice online, a lot of effort was needed in order to make VCL look, feel and behave more like an actual iOS app.

The sidebar makes settings easily accessible

A very important feature to make the app easier to use, is the sidebar. The sidebar contains contextual features and makes good use of the wide screens of the iPads.

Working with tables in text documents.
Working with tables in text documents.

 

Including pictures in Writer documents
Including pictures in Writer documents

 

Selection of cells in a spreadsheet
Selection of cells in a spreadsheet

 

Finger sized resize and rotate handles

Many tasks can be done with the fingers: resizing or rotating an image, change the size of a row or column in a table, etc.

The whole team has put a lot of effort in developing and testing those things work. And honestly we think that the result is quite nice.

Integrating iOS spellchecker

iOS offers spell checking as part of the basic system functionality. We integrated this functionality into the app. So now Collabora Office on iOS nicely uses the system spell checker in order to eliminate misspelled words!

Spell checking in Collabora Office on iOS
Spell checking in Collabora Office on iOS

GUI widgets in iOS style

Drop down menus and check boxes have their own style in Apple iOS and so we make the widget in Collabora look similar as much as possible. The result is nice and we’ll try to improve even further. This thanks to the work of for example Collabora developers Szymon Kłos, who wrote a blog post2 about the work of using native widgets in the future, and Tomaž Vajngerl, who gave a presentation about Custom Widget Themes during the LibreOffice Conference 20193 in Almeria.

Rich features in user interface
Rich features in user interface

 

Handles to select text in iOS style

The text handles look like those of a current iOS app. Currently they behave a bit differently and we work on improving this. That however turns out to be far from trivial.

Selection handles in Collabora on iOS
Selection handles in Collabora on iOS

Inserting pictures through the iOS camera / image gallery

Inserting pictures behaves like in any other app. You can either take a picture with the device camera or select one from your image gallery.

How this helps LibreOffice on Android

As already described above, Collabora leads the effort to use the same approach we use in the iOS app to deliver a new Android app.
During GSOC 2019 Kaishu Sahu did a great job and improved the Android app a lot. Jan Holesovsky (Collabora) is working to improve the situation even further and we should see a public release not too far in the future.
If you’re interested to learn more about the Android efforts or how to join, please contact Collabora.

What’s next for Collabora Office?

While we all work on further improvements, we there are very good reasons to be happy with what has been achieved so far 😉 And of course the good news is that you can experience that yourself.

For the near future, we already have the following things in mind:

  • Create shiny templates

  • Implement native widgets / improve UX

  • Reduce latency

  • Better support hardware keyboards (and shortcuts)

  • Fix more rough edges

  • Make more core features accessible (math formulas, image cropping, …)

  • Reduce number of needed clicks for simple things (change cell background in a writer table, change text wrap of a picture, …)

Note that these points may change — this list is not a road map!

It’s your turn: you can help to make this better!

If you plan to use LibreOffice in an enterprise environment, whether on the desktop, on Android or on an iPad, we strongly recommend the enterprise ready version offered by Collabora. You’ll enjoy the advantages of an SLA, long-term support and last but not least it is a very good way to enhance the development of things like this iOS app!

Let’s be frank: money is very helpful to further speed up the development. So, if your organization plans to use LibreOffice on iOS (or any other platform) we’re happy to get you on board! Please don’t hesitate to contact Adfinis directly or Collabora Productivity to discuss possible ways to support the development.

Some words of thanks

This fantastic work would not be possible without the strong support and investment of Collabora and Adfinis SyGroup pays. Thanks to the entire crew that works hard every day to provide more free / open source solutions to the people out there!

 

(1 The Android App is still in Beta. The release is expected later this quarter.

2 http://eszkadev.blogspot.com/2019/09/native-widgets-on-mobile-for-online.html

3 https://conference.libreoffice.org/2019 )

 

 

For more information

Follow @CollaboraOffice on Twitter or send us an email to hello@collaboraoffice.com

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