Quick Fixes

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View Your Libre/OpenOffice Documents On Android

Collabora, in association with the Document Foundation, is releasing an Open Source viewer that allows you to open text, presentations and other common office document formats on your Android device. Bigger things to come.

Read ODT and DOCX files and even see changes made to the original.
Read ODT and DOCX files and even see changes made to the original.

The app, called LibreOffice Viewer and available now from the Google Play store, allows users to view Open Document Texts (ODTs), Open Document Presentations (ODPs), Open Document Graphics (ODGs), DOCX files, and more.

You can also browse your spreadsheets.
You can also browse your spreadsheets.

Note that this app is work in progress and should not be relied upon yet in a production environment. It is just the first of a whole suite of LibreOffice apps for Android. The developers have recently implemented a spreadsheet viewer within the app, for example.

The current app is straightforward and simple: use the builtin file browser to locate your document, tap it, it will open. The end. Use your finger to move around, and use pinching and unpinching gestures to zoom out and in. When opening a spreadsheets, swiping your finger sideways from left to right will open a bar that allows you to select a different sheet in a multi-sheet document. Same goes for presentations: swipe right and pick the slide you want to see. One minor gripe here is there doesn’t seem to be a gesture for simply passing onto the next slide, which would make the app excellent for live presentations. Our guess is that new gestures (swipe up maybe?) will be implemented as development progresses.

Talking of which, this is what the development team is looking for right now: to engage a community of users to test and submit bug reports, as well as to suggest new features and improvements to move forward in the production of killer Open Document apps. Being still early days, it is easy for you to help by submitting feedback. In our tests, for example, we noticed that, while the app worked on Jellybean and Lollipop, it consistently failed on Honeycomb, opening, but immediately crashing. There are also some functionalities that are waiting to be fully implemented, such as the sorting options that pop up in the file browser when you hit Android’s menu button; or the ability to navigate beyond the internal storage to, say, files stored on an external SD card.

Despite these quibbles, this is clearly a step in the correct direction, a step towards much bigger things. An official Document Foundation-backed app (developed with the help of Collabora, SMOOSE and Igalia) in the Google Play store, along with the promise of many more functionalities and related apps, makes us hope that someday we will be able to use a fully functional, completely free and open sourced office suite on mobile platforms.

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