After a series of three betas and one release candidate, the KDE
Project used the occasion of the first day of the Linux World Expo
in San Francisco, CA to
(alternate with fixed
table) the much-anticipated stable release of KOffice 1.1. KOffice
is a free, Open Source,
integrated office suite demonstrating the richness and power of the KDE
development environment. The announcement contains links to the
source and binary packages as well as a good deal of information about
the current features of the KOffice packages. A candid assessment by
yours truly follows.
Like all of KDE, the interface of each KOffice application is really slick
and gorgeous. The available functions are easy to use. The KOffice
developers have again demonstrated their canny ability to make the
transition from other office suites as easily as possible, but making
improvements and innovating where appropriate.
The feature set
is probably adequate for the great majority of users (and the price tag can't be beat!).
KPresentation is great and has many useful and snazzy features, but
lacks layers and the ability to easily reproduce layers across
selected pages. KWord is easily up to the task of generating nice letters,
letterheads, memos, faxes and papers, but lacks hyphenation,
mail merge (or any database integration) and endnotes/footnotes.
Similar stories for the other applications.
But, with all due respect to the diligent work of the filter developers, the biggest obstacle
to KOffice right now is the filters for MS Office documents. So while I will make
KOffice my primary office suite, someone who (1) has a repository of .doc
files; and/or (2) receives many .doc files by email; and/or (3) needs to collaborate on document production with someone tied to non-KOffice formats, and/or (4) has unusually
demanding office needs, will likely not be happy with KOffice as their exclusive Office Suite (yet -- things are improving quickly!). I hope all the Open Source office developers (Abiword/etc., KOffice, Open Office) can collaborate on writing filters for the extremely complex and poorly-documented proprietary formats into an intermediate, standard-based XML format).