KOffice is working on its future, one based on KDE4. KOffice is starting new initiatives with libraries like Flake and Pigment that are going to be used for all KOffice applications. For the users of KOffice those changes are invisible until the 2.0 previews actually start to appear some months from now. Therefore the KOffice crew wants to show you their goals of what KOffice 2 is going to look like. Read more for the whole story.
When I first saw a paper on KOffice back in 1999 it showed the concept of embedded documents which allows me to have a formula or chart in my paper and allow me to update my charts by just altering some cells in my spreadsheet.
The idea that an open source and good looking office suite does that brought me into KOffice.
Now, many years later, we are moving to the next level. KOffice will define so called 'shapes' which can be anything from a simple triangle to a multi-layered image and allow those to be used in all KOffice applications as the building blocks of a document just like they are shapes that the application provides itself. So no more embedded documents which are always square and always start from the top-left corner. This allows for simple things like KWord finally providing simple lines to be drawn, but much more exciting are new features like being able to rotate or skew a KWord text frame. And not only being able to do that in a KWord document, but also in a Krita or a Karbon document.
In KOffice each application will have a specific media that it will specialise in. KWord will obviously specialise in text frames while Karbon will specialise in all sorts of vector graphics. The difference is that the applications will put all that in a Shape and a Tool.
Consider a user who wants to write a paper and have a nice vector graphic in the header of his document. He would be able to load an svg graphic and place it in his KWord document. For tweaking the loaded graphic he can just click on it and at that point KWord will see that the shape is a vector one. KWord will then supply a tool in the toolbox (which is the normal 2-columns toolbar type thing Krita already has) that allows the user to alter the internal vector graphics right inside his KWord document. But without the annoying flickering and replacement of menu and toolbars that happens if the shape was really an external document being edited.
KOffice 2 will still have the most applications there are combined in any single office suite, and on top of that those applications will show an integration that's unparallelled in the industry. Each application really does make the whole more complete by literally making the other applications more powerful.
Every application that uses the Flake library will provide a shape-type that the other applications can use. Want to use that 1 cool Kivio-shape in your Krita painting, go ahead. But the most exciting part is that the shapes come with so called 'tools'. Where each application can use the interaction model for that shape type. And since its determined per shape-type, its the same across all the KOffice applications.
We already see the advantage with a basic interaction-tool that allows moving, rotation etc. of all shape-types. It has features like scaling with the control button down, reserving the aspect ratio of the shape. Unlike in KOffice 1.x that single interaction-tool will be used in all KOffice applications stopping the application from reinventing the wheel, they are literally all running the same code and thus all applications will work consistently towards the user. Definitely a good thing for usability.
Flake in KWord 2