KOffice 2.0, The Vision

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

Dot Categories: 


by Pingwing (not verified)

Yeah, why not call it KDE Power Office 3000 Professional Plus, Xtreme Edition?

Maybe because in the free software world we don't care so much about cool names (except for the K-thing) and marketing blah-blah. We do care about good software.

by KDE User (not verified)

> we don't care so much about cool names ...

> ... (except for the K-thing)

Hehe :-)

by PC Squad (not verified)

> Maybe because in the free software world we don't care so much about cool
> names

Hm. plasma? solid? phonon? akonadi? pigment? flake? Those things used to be called "KDE Multimedia" or "PIM Storage Layer". Parts of KDE definately have started caring about cool names. I think that's good.

by Allan (not verified)

KDE PO000PP XtremeE?

Sounds good

by Martin (not verified)

All those strange versions dont work and are bad marketing. People will not know if this is a new version or not. There are only a few worldwide brands (like Microsoft) that can afford to do this because a new release is announced everywhere in the media. And then the gap between versions must be large enough.
Look up Dreamweaver in Wikipedia. You will find the version history at the bottom. My boss recently refused to buy Dreamweaver 8 at first because he thought we have already Dreamweaver MX 2004 which is newer. It's not. Did you expect that? I didnt until I looked it up on Wikipedia. Meaningless to say you will find nothing about this on their Homepage. If you already need an encyclopedia to look up which product is newer your marketing strategy is definitely flawed.

by Super-Root (not verified)

Why not call it "KO Round 2" ;)

by bb (not verified)

K O is a bad portuguese name. This is a brazilian slang that means "fake" or "lie" and also we have a genital lubrificant for maleXmale with this name at the drugstores.

by josel (not verified)

D'ont push it or someone will have the wonderfull idea to name it Koffice2 version 1,0. If i recall correctly this was schema was to be used on KDE2 until users protested.

by Roger F (not verified)


I commend the effort to add advanced functionality to Koffice.
But right now, Koffice is at a point where I -want- to use it but -cannot-.

Simply because it is too unstable and unreliable. You won't see me using Koffice before that is fixed, regardless of advanced new features. I suspect a lot of other people are of the same opinion...

by Superstoned (not verified)

Well, there are some very basic problems in Koffice right now, and hopefully these can be fixed by the Koffice 2 release. If they are, its very likely Koffice 2.0 (or 2.0.x) will be what you are looking for.

Many seem to think the Koffice guys just go for 2.0 because they want new new new lovely features. But it is also very much about a fundamental redesign to SOLVE some deep problems.

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

I hoped that it goes without saying that the stability and lack of features like tables and kerning are at the top of the list of things to do.
But I guess that the years of false promises by the software creators at large have skewed that perspective.
My fault for not expecting it. Sorry about that.

The creation of these two libraries move the development from several separate islands into one community with the positive effects that has with regards to peer reviews and code reuse (which means less code and thus less bugs).

Completely separate from this article, KOffice 2.0 will bring a new text engine for KWord to get rid of a lot of problems we had in previous versions. Including kerning and printing (wysiwyg).

This vision is not a list of features, its, well, a vision of the way we think it will look. We did not steal it, we are innovating. That does not mean that we don't care about stability and basic features.

Thanks for your feedback!

by Piotr Gawrysiak (not verified)

Yes, the same with me. Every time KOffice team releases bugfix release I install it and try to use, only to discover that with just casual use (editing some tables in KWord, embedding a formula etc. - usually not more than after 10 minutes :-) ) one of the apps (usually KWord - but not always) crashes. Ehhh... I can only hope that they would really do some QA on KOffice2 :-)

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

Exactly like the subject states; tables are a balance where I honestly wanted to remove tables completely in the 1.5 series of releases since they were not up to snuff.
But removing stuff (even if it crashes for some people) is a big no-no, so we let it stay.

Needless to say we (and by that I mean I) really wanted to get it right, but for that we need some of the features that 2.0 will bring.
I expect tables to be so much improved in KOffice2 that you won't be able to stop using KWord even after a hour of playing ;)

by Charles de Miramon (not verified)

Is flake going to solve the printing diabilities of KOffice ? I would love to use KSpread but I have always been seriously annoyed by the complexity to go from the screen to a nice A4 printed sheet.

Creating a well balanced set of printed sheets of paper is certainly not easy
but KOffice seems to have structural problems on this matter.

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

> Is flake going to solve the printing diabilities of KOffice

Yes, it already makes printing a lot better for a lot of different issues. Flake will generate PDFs directly and solve lots of issues with regards to printing in one go.

I currently do not know how kspread will use flake, thats still in the future, but the printing issue will certainly be kept in mind when developers start to take advantage of flake.

by superstoned (not verified)

I'm sure Koffice 2 (based on KDE 4/Qt4) will be better in this area. But maybe you would like to elaborate about what is wrong, exactly?

by Charles de Miramon (not verified)

Look the TeX algorithms.

When you print a text on a sheet of paper, you often cheat with geometry (because your eyes will not see the difference). You squeeze a line a little more, expand there a little, zoom a little bit this graphic. The TeX algorithms use the concept of penalties. It is a different logic that representing something on a screen which is just an infinite space.

The danger is thinking that going from the screen to the sheet of paper is just applying a mathematical transformation.

I would argue to make it possible in KOffice 2.0 to plug in a page creation algorithm. Maybe somebody will step in at some point and write one taking inspiration from the published and tested TeX mechanisms.

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

I know the algorithms, sure. But I'm afraid I need a little more explanation on where you think Tex is usefull to get a kspread sheet on paper.
I only see the use for text areas, not for loads and loads of cells.

by Charles de Miramon (not verified)

Well, TeX works with horizontal and vertical lists of boxes with spaces between boxes that are called glue or coils (I do not remember) and then cut this list in pages.

I guess that similar algorithms could apply for printing tables in KSpread.

by hannes hauswedell (not verified)

what does this mean for cmpatability with OOo?
is this just an accessibility improvement, or does it result in special files?

i bet all office suits will use ODF, but each in its own "interpretation", which will result in same old incompatability....

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

We will make sure that ODF support will be maintained. If OOo does not implement some part of the spec then it won't work and you have a right to tell them to fix their application since they claim to have good support.

We are doing the same, one of the things that we need to do is to provide various features for ODF; we are doing exactly that.

by DS (not verified)

Read Linus' post about standards.
Standards are not replacement for developer communication, you shouldn't treat them religiousely. OOo people are fighting the same war as you, so it will be better to talk with the before implmenting some inconsistent changes in the format's support code.
When 1st 2 serious suites implementing format that is claimed to facilitate interopeability are incompatible with each other, the reputation is lost and every body looses in effect.

by Benjamin Huot (not verified)

I like Kpresent better than OpenOffice.org Impress because I like Koffice graphics better than OpenOffice.org's , but for text I like OpenOffice.org Writer because of the table of contents and bookmarks that can be done with the exported PDF.

I like having backup software in case I have problems with my main software and I also like to try out new software, so I would be really interested in how well Kword will open a lightly formatted ODT formatted document. I don't need advanced layout or specialized features, but I would like the simple stuff to be compatible. Is Koffice 1.5 at that level yet?

by Youssef (not verified)

What I would really like to see* in KOffice is tabs, like in Konqueror. I never saw an office suite that has such a simple but cool feature.


* Plus proper right-to-left support, at least like OpenOffice.org

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

Well, good thing for you since KOffice has been supporting both those features since 1.4 (at least). :-)

by Tuxa (not verified)

Well, the problem is that tabbing is only supported in the KOffice Workspace instead of providing tabbed documents in Kword itself. Mostly, I find myself working with different documents or different spreadsheets or different images and therefore do not like everything in a big overloaded application like the old Staroffice used to be.

Personally, I find the KOffice Workspace not an adequate solution as 1) switching between two Kword documents results in annoying flickering of the toolbars 2) switching between KOffice Workspace tabs is slow.

Furthermore, switching between two different applications such a Kword and e.g. a Krita is even more annoying as then the toolbars' positions and icons jump around even more.

by Matt Williams (not verified)

IIRC Lotus Word Pro had tabbed documents many years ago. Long before it became cool.

by Superstoned (not verified)

well, then, let me add my 'hope' for Koffice 2: nice versioning support, change management and all this cooperation-ready. Easy sharing of documents, being able to see what someone else changed, annotations to changes, being able to change a doc both at the same time (preferably real-time) etcetera. These things would writing documents in a company or for university/school much easier...

I know there is a SOC project, but will it make these things possible?

by Boudewijn Rempt (not verified)

The SOC project is just about making this stuff available for KWord, minus the real-time editing, but we're already researching that topic, too.

by Josh Taylor (not verified)

I bet KOffice users hear this all the time, but why not just use OpenOffice? Sure, it's big and all, and some hippies may complain about it using Java, but at least it's fully-featured and supported. I tried KOffice a couple of times and it left me at the most unimpressed.

by Boudewijn (not verified)

Josh, you're perfectly welcome to use OpenOffice. I use OpenOffice myself, from time to time. Even though you would probably call me a "hippy" in the sense that I care about free software and don't give a fig about open source.

But, well, OpenOffice is not an interesting topic for developers and users of KOffice. KOffice can go places; we can innovate. It is impossible to innovate with OpenOffice because it's committed to be a carbon copy of Microsoft Office. And innovation is fun, and may well give users something worthwile.

by Sum Yung Gai (not verified)

True, Boudewijn, that's what Freedom is all about--choice. Like you, I too care more about Free Software than Open Source. I hope that your work continues. It's a shame that Microsoft's proprietary, closed file formats are so damned ubiquitous. When ODF becomes a major player, I would have no problem using KOffice regularly, and I sincerely look forward to that day. Then, the choice of office productivity suite won't matter except strictly on its merits.

OpenOffice.org is very important for exactly what you "accuse" it of here. Its job, at this point in time, is to be as "MS Office-like" as possible. A really big part of that is its excellent MS Office file format compatibility, which, BTW, took some serious engineering. We thus have a major weapon in our arsenal to get MS Office users to consider migrating to something that supports ODF, and thus perhaps KOffice in the future. OpenOffice.org is the bridge that is enabling this to happen. *That* is its chief "innovation", and boy, am I thankful for it.

by ac (not verified)

OpenOffice has more features currently than KOffice, but KOffice integrates much more nicely with my desktop than OpenOffice.

I believe KOffice will be able to fix all of its shortcomings before OpenOffice can fix even half of its shortcomings. I'd love to be proven wrong about this, but I seriously doubt it.

by Janne (not verified)

Well, why use OpenOffice, why not use MS Office instead?

Seriously: KOffice integrates better with KDE. KOffice is relatively lightweight and fast, whereas OpenOffice is not. And maybe some people simply prefer using KOffice instead of OpenOffice? Obviously there are lots of people using KOffice all the time. And before you say "Yes but OpenOffice has a lot more users than KOffice!". Well, MS Office has a lot more users than OpenOffice, so what's your point? And it's even MORE "fully-featured" and "supported" than OpenOffice is! Clearly we should all drop OpenOffice and move to MS Office instead!

I use MS Office (at work). I have also used Koffice and OpenOffice. And I found both of them to be quite enjoyable. So why shouldn't I use KOffice?

I don't understand this "We should all just use this one particular piece of software!"-mentality that seems to be creeping in to the Free Software community.

by Sum Yung Gai (not verified)

First, MS Office is not, and probably never will be, Free Software. OpenOffice.org and KOffice pass this test; MS Office fails.

Second, I refuse to use an office productivity suite whose native file formats are not truly open. MS Office fails that test; both OpenOffice.org and KOffice pass it.

Third, MS Office does not run natively on my platform (GNU/Linux). Yes, I know about WINE and CrossOver Office. I said *natively*, though, meaning "the developer supports Free Software platforms." Both OpenOffice.org and KOffice pass this test, too.

I use OpenOffice.org at work, in a dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft shop, instead of KOffice or AbiWord/Gnumeric, because I need really good MS Office proprietary file format compatibility (I am one of two exclusively Free Software users). KOffice looks like it has some potential, but it just doesn't cut the mustard for handling MS Office files. I look forward to the day that ODF becomes a sufficiently major player that corporate offices will *have* to use applications that can correctly handle them; then, perhaps, I might be able to consider KOffice. But not until.

In the meantime, OpenOffice.org does the trick very well for me. For those for whom it's feasible, or even preferred, to use KOffice, by all means do so; it, too, is Free Software. That's what matters to me most for any tool that I choose to use; it must be a Free-As-In-Freedom tool that does the job that I need.

by Janne (not verified)

"First, MS Office is not, and probably never will be, Free Software. OpenOffice.org and KOffice pass this test; MS Office fails."

The original poster was talking about functionality.

"Second, I refuse to use an office productivity suite whose native file formats are not truly open. MS Office fails that test; both OpenOffice.org and KOffice pass it."

It's fileformat is also the de facto standard, and it's support for .doc-files is overwhelmingly superior when compared to OO. And that was something very important to the original poster.

"Third, MS Office does not run natively on my platform (GNU/Linux). Yes, I know about WINE and CrossOver Office. I said *natively*, though, meaning "the developer supports Free Software platforms." Both OpenOffice.org and KOffice pass this test, too."

It runs on about 98% of desktops out there. And we WERE talking about functionality and fileformat-support. Both are areas in which MS Office excels.

FYI: I'm not REALLY advocating the use of MS Office, and my reasons mirror your reasons. I'm just arguing the "OO does this better than Koffice, use OOS instead!". MS Office does just about everything better than OO, so why not use MS Office then ;)?

Koffice does do some things better than OO. And it "feels" different to OO. So some people simply prefer it to OO.

by paul (not verified)

Sure, Koffice is still at early development stage, but at least it is considering office work from a new point of view and stating, at this early stage, the basis of a good design to support all innovative stuff it will bring. AFAIK, this gives better results on the long term than jumping in the buffer and typing lines and lines of code, then hacking them. OOo actualy has a long history of code then think that leaded to the actual situation : Less than 10 people in the world are casual devs, the remaning being professional employees of companies doing it at full time. The reason ? It is a BIG stack of hacks not understandable for the non-fulltime dev.
In the meantime, at the time being, OOo is the most powerfull tool available for office tasks - I consider it sincerly better than MSOffice - , then I use it happily and everyone probably do the same. But they are struggling to maintain it and paying for the lack of good early stage design.
By and large, I am very confident about Koffice on the long term, and I don't really see an emergency need for the short term, so thank you KOffice people, and take your time to make good choices. :)

by Uno Engborg (not verified)

The problem with K-Office is that it isn't ported to windows. Even if the K-Office developers will make an amazing KOffice 4, it doesn't help. Organizations will not like to train their staff on two different office suits. This would of course be a problem for only have KDE throughout their organizations. Unfortunately such organizations are quite rare.

Of course now that QT is GPLed for windows as well, a windows port would be possible. That would probably boost the interest in KDE and help make ODF a must to implement for every vender that sells an office suit.

by Corbin (not verified)

KOffice 2 will have native (as in no need for X11 or other 'extra' layers) ports for both Windows and OS X (OOo still doesn't have a native port to OS X last I tried).

by fast_rizwaan (not verified)

"Times New Roman" and other MS TTFs are not printed nicely with KWord :( But other fonts like "Century" fonts look awesome. Please fix Printing (font issues). I still have to use MS Word for better printouts :(

also the one of the nicest fonts "Bookman Old Style" is rendered bold always :(

by Raphael (not verified)

Fonts are pretty much broken because they are broken in Qt3 (so we couldn't fix it in KOffice 1.x even if we wanted to).

The font issue is one of the things that will be fixed with KOffice 2.0 simply because it is already fixed in Qt4. Another one of these bugs that will be fixed because of the overall redesign.

by Fast_Rizwaan (not verified)

This Bug report shows KDE fonts printing problem and some solutions.

by Chase Venters (not verified)

Please keep going ahead, full speed. KOffice is fantastic -- lightweight and innovative. I look forward to further compatibility, stability and functionality.

by Malcolm Dean (not verified)

"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."

In these incoherent sentences, are you claiming that KOffice is responsible for bringing this concept to office automation software? I'm sorry... we had some fabulous DOS applications which did this, and frequently did it better.

by Aaron J. Seigo (not verified)

the key phrase i think you're skipping over is "open source".

by ferdinand (not verified)

every application (kword, kspread, kpresenter) has a different way to define and / or to present the header/fotter setup.
IMHO this should be unifyed

by ferdinand (not verified)

As long as kspread does not update the formulas as other spread sheets do, it has a very limited user base.

see http://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=58652

by KDE User (not verified)

Oops, yes that's a serious limitation.

At least it should be possible to choose.

by ale (not verified)

Why all those strange names? Kexi? Karbon14?

Why not continue using the easy and catchy K-standard. Kbase, Kpaint, Kdraw, kplan etc. Much easier, sounds more professional

by ac (not verified)

People have asked, myself included, and the short answer is that the people who make those apps actually like the weird and inconsistent names, and so there's really very little chance that they'll ever be changed.

In my opinion, that's a shame. But that's where it stands. My personal preference is to drop the K-conventions altogether, but my second choice is your suggestion--to pick one convention and use it everywhere.

Also: saying things don't look "professional" seems to drive people batty, even though I certainly know what you mean. Stick to less value-loaded terms like "consistent" and you'll at least get a polite rejection.