LibreOffice sees new platforms, more users

Online, Android, and iOS versions on way

Meanwhile, in Paris, the LibreOffice Conference is in full swing, with significant news being released, including the news of the launch of online, Android, and iOS versions of the open source office suite.

There have been no formal news releases from the conference yet, and no reporters seem to be on the ground there. But the glimmers of news that are coming out of the conference thus far are quite interesting. What we know is just coming out of the conference via Twitter and Identi.ca, but there's still quite a bit. Here's a round up of the conference announcements thus far:

  • Plans are in the works for a browser-based version of LibreOffice, LibreOffice Online.
  • Ports of LibreOffice to the Android and iOS platforms are in the works.
  • Région Île-de-France (the region where Paris resides and itself a premium sponsor of the conference) will be distributing 800,000 USB keys loaded with LibreOffice and a cloud plugin to that region's students. Parisian students and their families will be getting heavy exposure to the LibreOffice application.
  • The French government will be shifting 500,000 Windows users from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice. This will increase the installed base of LibreOffice Windows users by five percent in a single migration.

I reached out and contacted Italo Vignoli, spokesman for The Document Foundation, the German non-profit that manages LibreOffice, for more information on the new versions of LibreOffice. Speaking to me this morning from the conference, Vignoli provided more details on the news.

The LibreOffice Online Prototype, developed by SUSE Linux developer Michael Meeks, will be based on an HTML5 canvas and a GTK+ Broadway framework developed by Red Hat's Alex Larsson. The prototype is not ready for public use yet, but a demo video is available (Note: Your browser needs WebM support, such as Chrome's). Vignoli estimated the Online project will be ready in about a year's time.

The port of LibreOffice to Android and iOS has basically been completed, but only in terms of the code being compiled to the new platforms. Vignoli emphasized that these flavors of LibreOffice were assuredly not ready, because their user interfaces were still based on the current LibreOffice interface and therefore useless in Android and iOS. At least, for now. The LibreOffice ports to Android and iOS is based on the voluntary work of Tor Lillqvist, a SUSE Linux developer from Finland who was instrumentatl in porting GIMP to Windows.

"The LibreOffice Android and iOS port has the objective of bringing the office suite to iPads and Android tablets, and eventually smaller devices," Vignoli said. He added that the user interface conversion has started, but the Document Foundation would certainly welcome the participation of any commercial entity that wanted to expedite the development to get LibreOffice ready for one of these platforms.

Vignoli emphasized more than once that these are still very early projects that will become products sometime in late 2012 or early 2013.

LibreOffice seems to be doing very well in the future-plans department. Any one of these announcements points to a very active LibreOffice community and a growing deployment base. Something OpenOffice.org will need to re-create, and soon.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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