Annual Report: LibreOffice in 2020

In 2020, LibreOffice celebrated its tenth birthday. Two new major versions of the suite introduced a variety of new features, while minor releases helped to improve stability as well

(This is part of The Document Foundation’s Annual Report for 2020 – the full version will be posted here on the blog soon.)

The Document Foundation announced two major releases of LibreOffice in 2020: version 6.4 on January 29, and version 7.0 on August 5. In addition, 13 minor releases were made available over the year:

RELEASE DATE
LibreOffice 6.3.5 February 20
LibreOffice 6.4.1 February 27
LibreOffice 6.4.2 March 19
LibreOffice 6.4.3 April 16
LibreOffice 6.3.6 April 30
LibreOffice 6.4.4 May 21
LibreOffice 6.4.5 July 2
LibreOffice 6.4.6 August 13
LibreOffice 7.0.1 September 3
LibreOffice 7.0.2 October 8
LibreOffice 6.4.7 October 22
LibreOffice 7.0.3 October 29
LibreOffice 7.0.4 December 17

Throughout the year, we held three Bug Hunting Sessions in preparation for new major releases. These typically took place on a single day between set times, so that experienced developers and QA engineers could help new volunteers to file and triage bugs via the IRC channels and mailing lists. The Bug Hunting Sessions for LibreOffice 7.0 were held on May 11 and July 6 – while the one for LibreOffice 7.1 took place on October 26.

LibreOffice 6.4

On January 29, LibreOffice 6.4 was officially released after six months of work. Developers at Collabora, CIB, Red Hat, SIL and other companies – along with volunteers – worked on many new features. For instance, a QR Code generator was added to the suite, making it easy to add QR codes (which can be read by mobile devices) to documents.

Hyperlink context menus were unified throughout the software to provide the following menu entries: Open Hyperlink, Edit Hyperlink, Copy Hyperlink Location and Remove Hyperlink.

Meanwhile, a new Automatic Redaction feature was added to hide classified or sensitive data in a document based, on text or regular expression matches, while the help system was reworked to provide faster and more precise search results – and many help pages were given localized screenshots for a better user experience.

TDF produced a video to explain and demonstrate many of the new features in LibreOffice 6.4. This was linked to in the announcement, and embedded into various web news websites that covered the release:

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LibreOffice 7.0

Later in the year, on August 5, TDF released LibreOffice 7.0. OpenDocument, LibreOffice’s native open and standardised format for office documents, was updated to version 1.3 as an OASIS Technical Committee Specification. Important new features included digital signatures and OpenPGP-based encryption of XML documents, with improvements in areas such as change tracking, and additional details in the description of elements in first pages, text, numbers and charts. The development of ODF 1.3’s features was funded by donations to The Document Foundation, and the implementation was done by CIB and other developers in the ecosystem.

Additionally, support for Skia graphics engine was added thanks to sponsorship by AMD, and was set as the default on Windows, for faster performance. Skia is an open source 2D graphics library which provides common APIs that work across a variety of hardware and software platforms, and can be used for drawing text, shapes and images. Vulkan is a new-generation graphics and compute API with high-efficiency and cross-platform access to modern GPUs. Luboš Luňák (Collabora) did a large part of the work to support Skia.

Many other features were added as well, and there were a large number of compatibility improvements.

As with the previous release, TDF staff worked with the LibreOffice community to make a video (PeerTube version here) to demonstrate the new features:

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  1. By Conrad Kalish

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