KOffice 2.0

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The long-awaited upgrade to KOffice has arrived. It looks good and provides a great base for its future evolution.

More than a year after KDE 4.0 unveiled a radically revised desktop, KOffice 2.0 is preparing to release an equally revised office suite, which should be released before this article is published (KOffice 2.0-RC-1 was released in April 2009). What users will see is not an extensive new feature set, but only a few additions here and there. Instead, just as KDE 4.0 provided the foundation for future developments on the desktop,

KOffice promises to provide a solid basis for future improvements. Reflecting changes in the toolkit and library, the newest version of KOffice delivers a common interface across applications, enhanced graphical capacities and new accessibility to existing tools—all wrapped up in a look and feel proving that eye candy can be as much about usability and functionality as about superficial aesthetics. These changes are especially visible in major applications like KWord, KSpread, KPresenter, and Krita and Karbon14 (the main graphics programs), although they are evident in other KOffice applications as well.

This emphasis means that those who were hoping KOffice 2.0 would finally allow the office suite to match the rival OpenOffice.org feature for feature are going to be disappointed. If the late beta I am working from is a guide, KPresenter still will not have the ability to use sound or video, and KSpread will continue to lack filters and pivot tables. In fact, some features of KOffice 1.6.3, the previous official release, such as comments and expressions (autotext) in KWord or tables in KPresenter, may not find their way into KOffice 2.0 either. When you do find new features, they are apt to be fundamental ones, such as more printing options for KSpread.

However, this focus does not mean KOffice is lacking in scope. By any standard, KOffice 2.0 is an ambitious undertaking. With 11 applications to OpenOffice.org’s six, and a considerably worse ratio of programmers, any release of KOffice is an exercise in logistics second only to a new version of KDE itself—and version 2.0 is more challenging than most releases. The new release not only marks KOffice’s transition to the Qt 4.x toolkit, like most KDE-related software, but also new ports to OS X and Windows. If that were not enough, version 2.0 also marks the first use of two major libraries: Flake, which introduces a new concept of shapes, together with tools to manage them; and Pigment, a color management library. No wonder, then, that the release is happening 16 months after the KDE 4.0 release and has staggered through ten alpha and seven beta releases. But, when KOffice 2.0 finally reaches release, the result promises to be a revamping that will allow the project developers to add smaller enhancements in point releases.

Source of Information : Linux Journal Issue 184 August 2009

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