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Are other office suites as riddled with problems as LO?

asked 2018-05-11 05:21:41 +0100

appreciatethehelp gravatar image

A question for those experienced with other office suites such as MS office, Apache Openoffice etc.

I find LO to be rather frustrating and difficult to use due to the number of issues, bugs and inconsistencies in the program. Even the most basic functions tend to have problems surrounding them.

I have no experience with other office software.... Is it an open source thing? Or are other, "closed source"/purchased software programs like MS office also plagued by a veritable swarm of issues?

Admittedly I am a layperson of sorts, not a programmer. Am I better off with a more user-friendly office suite? Any recommendations? Just trying to gauge whether or not, as someone who doesn't know how to code and thus fix issues/customize LO to suit me, I'm wasting my time with Libreoffice and should try something tidier, with less issues...


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This is a place for questions and answers about LibreOffice. For other programs, go to respective forums or mail groups.

gabix gravatar imagegabix ( 2018-05-11 07:15:01 +0100 )edit

Which are your use cases? Perhaps you do not need a rich featured office suite, but applications like MS WordPad would be sufficient.

Regina gravatar imageRegina ( 2018-05-11 20:17:23 +0100 )edit

@gabix Yes, that has occured to me; I shouldn't post questions about other software here. However I can't think of a better place to obtain knowledge about LO vs. other programs than on a LO forum, as I know for sure there are plenty of users here who have experience using both LO & a multitude of alternative office software.

Also I hope that other LO users will find the answers to my question useful, making this question all the more appropriate to be asked here.

appreciatethehelp gravatar imageappreciatethehelp ( 2018-05-13 04:41:40 +0100 )edit

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answered 2018-05-11 08:57:29 +0100

ajlittoz gravatar image

Notwithstanding @gabix' remark, I'll try to answer.

User expectations about document composition have become very high with time. User now requires very complex things from his suite.

Speaking only for Writer I know best, we now want not only visual variations in text (font face, size, weight, color) but also structural organisation (paragraph rendering, headings with auto numbering, lists, cross-references -- including header/footer capturing excerpts from main text flow --, etc.).

There are only two ways to handle this from user point of view:

  • the "programmatic" way

    User salts its raw text with instructions/macros (a markup language) to tell what to do. This is LATEX approach.

  • the UI way

    The markup is hidden under a plethora of pre-cooked menu items or buttons. This is the WYSIWYG approach of common office suites.

The first approach offers end user full control at the expense of a tedious programming which explains why specific-domain layers (APIs) have been developed to ease paper writing in various situations.

The second approach tries to leverage access to document writing by offering so-called "intuitive" use after developers have chosen which features they shortcut through menu items and buttons. It becomes "intuitive" after you've fully understood the basic principles they've applied. Unfortunately, these primitives are rarely made clearly explicit.

To make matters more complicated, user expectations increase with the success of office suites and features are added to address new requirements. The main source of trouble is this dynamic nature of specifications. Some new features must be added anyway to keep abreast in competition versus other suites, despite the number of pending bugs. Due to the limited number of developers (in FOSS as well as in closed/commercial apps), there is a trade-off between curing known bugs and adding awaited features.

Also, office suites are used by millions (billion?) people with diverging needs. What is surprising is suites succeed in coping with such contradictory needs and workflows. Of course, this is not optimal for everyone but the result is impressive.

I personally find the case of LO is acceptable. Of course, I'd prefer it to be bug-free, but compared to M$ Office, I can file bugs and get feedback about them. There is some reactivity (of course, I'd prefer a shorter time-frame but not being a contributor I can't complain for a free app solving 99% of my needs), reactivity completely lacking with M$ Office (take it as is or don't take it).

To fully appreciate the "swarm of issues", I'd like to read the code (or some part of it) but the entrance fee is rather high. I have not found any architecture document which would help finding my way through this huge code base. I'm afraid the synthesis document I dream of doesn't exist. Its maintenance cost would anyway be tremendously high.

Another cause of problems is standardization. Many bugs or feature requests are discarded with "ODF incompatibility" reason. Even questions here are ... (more)

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+1: A very deliberate anslysis!

Lupp gravatar imageLupp ( 2018-05-11 10:14:24 +0100 )edit

answered 2018-05-11 17:06:53 +0100

Jim K gravatar image

updated 2018-05-11 17:49:07 +0100

I agree with what @ajlittoz wrote, and like him, I prefer LibreOffice.

However, I am told that MS Office really does have fewer glitches. If you're looking for a smoother experience, then that might be it. Some of my colleagues prefer MS Office, while others prefer LibreOffice.

To see whether it's for you, try the basic online version of MS Office for free. It requires creating an account, and there are many limitations such as no ability to run macros.

The only other serious players I hear much about are alternative types such as LaTex or XMLmind. Many of my colleagues recommend XMLmind. Neither of these sound like what you are looking for.

To me, the choice between LO and MSO comes down to your preferred style of working. Closed source requires trusting that the application developer has designed and provided instructions that meet your needs. I often find this frustrating because it makes it difficult to get information on how exactly it works, or how to get it to do what I want it to do.

The MS formats such as .docx are more widely accepted, and while LO can save as .docx, it causes many problems. My recommendation is either save as .odt with LO, or save as .docx with MSO. For reading only, either suite can open either format.

A big reason that I promote LibreOffice at work is ownership requirements. <rant> Many of my colleagues are from certain parts of Asia where mostly pirated versions of MS Word are used. Why would anyone do that when LibreOffice is available? Not only is this unethical, but such versions tend to have bugs and viruses. More than once I have had to fix someone's PC because of pirated MS Office. </rant>

Also, LibreOffice works well on Linux. And a personal preference: The MS ribbon interface makes me feel that it's impossible to find anything. I'm happy, though, that LO is developing MUFFIN for those that like it.

As a programmer, I am more comfortable with Java and Python than C# and VB_dot_NET, so again, LibreOffice is a better fit for me. This is not an issue for you, however.

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Thanks for the link & some very useful info! You make a good point about the MS Word pirating, it almost sounds like pirating for the sake of pirating when considering the many issues faced & existence of LO!

appreciatethehelp gravatar imageappreciatethehelp ( 2018-05-13 04:47:16 +0100 )edit
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Asked: 2018-05-11 05:21:41 +0100

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Last updated: May 11 '18