Overview of productivity software

After assessing your user needs, you now have a better overview of the functionality which parts of your organisation and audiences require. Now you need to make the match with practical solutions that will allow you to to support ODF in your IT environment.

There is a variety of different applications available that work with ODF 1.3 out of the box. In many cases you can also change the regular behaviour of an existing application by means of a plugin, add-on or extension. Of course you just want to continue operations as usual, but a change like this is also a rare opportunity for your organisation.

Changing a file format across an entire government is not a small task, and doing so requires a significant investment in time and effort. With IT moving from being product-driven to standards based, you can use the opportunity to diversify and deliver better solutions and leaner, more efficient workflows. The availability of open source solutions that can deliver deep customisation is a significant factor in that.

From evaluating the needs of our users, there will be possibilities to streamline processes in a way that assists your users. It is important to move your organsation to support the ODF 1.3 standard as soon as possible, in order to be able to choose the best solutions for each situation.

Below you will find a non-exhaustive list of productivity solutions that allow you work with ODF.

There are also some other types of solutions that could be relevant:

  • web viewers like viewerJS that allow you to make documents accessible on your website
  • software libraries that allow automated document access like ODF Toolkit that allow to read, create or change existing ODF documents
  • metadata removal software like Datadistiller, MetaClean and Metadata Assitant

Detailed discussion of such auxiliary products, projects and services is out of scope of this document.

AbiWord

AbiWord is a lightweight word processor that is fast and requires only a small amount of computer resources, so it can even run on old computers from the previous millenium. It sports some unique features such as the ability to do *real-time collaboration* across a number of different channels including a server-based solution as well as direct connections between computers which allow people to collaborate without a connection to the public internet. Its feature set may not be as wide-ranging as some of the other solutions in the market, but it does pack the features the average user needs (and quite a few more) in a user-friendly solution.

  • Current release: 3.0.5 (2021)
  • Release schedule: feature driven
  • Type: text editor
  • Platforms: Linux, UNIX, Windows, Minix, ReactOS, QNX
  • Website: https://www.abisource.com
  • Customisation allowed: yes, entirely open source
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.3
  • Font embedding: no
  • Change tracking support: yes
  • Unique features:
    1. private collaborative editing
    2. extensive RDF metadata support
    3. low hardware requirements

Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice (AOO) is a modern community-driven open source productivity suite available on many different operating systems, under the aegis of the not-for-profit Apache Foundation. Apache OpenOffice consists of a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet application (Calc), a presentation engine (Impress), a drawing and flowcharting application (Draw), a database and database frontend (Base) and mathematics editing (Math). The software looks and feels familiar and is reported by many to be instantly usable by anyone who has used other common office products. From the start, Apache OpenOffice was designed as a single complete office package. Its different components share the same elements, so you learn once and use everywhere. At the end of 2016 over 200 million copies of Apache OpenOffice have been downloaded by users from all around the world. Custom bespoke releases are available from multiple parties.

  • Current release: 4.1.14 (Feb, 2023)
  • Release schedule: twice a year, custom bespoke releases
  • Type: office suite
  • Platforms: Linux, BSD, Windows, Mac OS X
  • Website: https://www.openoffice.org
  • Customisation allowed: yes, entirely open source
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.3
  • Font embedding: yes
  • Change tracking support: yes
  • Unique features:
    1. rich ecosystem of hundreds of extensions
    2. Interactive image Crop Feature
    3. iAccessible2 accessibility framework
    4. SVG support

Bread

Bread is a fully responsive HTML5 based collaborative document editing platform that runs in the browser, without any plugins/ ActiveX /Flash/Java Applets. The client is supported by all major browsers, devices, tablets and phones. The server part of Bread can be installed on any Windows or Linux OS, and is available as a hosted solution as well.

The web client can be embedded within any application making it a fully document editing software and co-authoring solution. Bread consists of a word processor (Docs) and a spreadsheet application (Sheets).

  • Current release: unknown
  • Release schedule: unknown
  • Type: text editor, spreadsheet
  • Platforms: Browser (platform agnostic)
  • Customisation allowed: no
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.2
  • Font embedding: no
  • Change tracking support: no
  • Unique features:
    1. built in automated versioning
    2. real-time collaborative editing
    3. available as both on premise and in cloud
    4. integrated chat
    5. share & embed document in webpages and public locations
    6. Full API for easy integration

Calligra Suite

Calligra Suite is a young open source office suite for desktops and tablets with a fresh take on the user interface. It bundles a number of classical tools such as a text editor (Words), a spreadsheet (Sheets), presentation software (Stage), database (Kexi) with the other free creative tools inside the Calligra suite such as Krita, an award-winning free and open source digital painting application.

It is produced under the aegis of the open source KDE technology team, one of the largest open source developer communities in the world. Its focus is to provide a powerful and easy to use experience for everyone without being the specialized tool for any specific group of users. The suite also offers a number of desktop publishing features.

Calligra is very modular, and is built around the open source Calligra Office Engine that contains many freely reusable components that can be used to embed any of Calligra's capabilities inside bespoke applications. Besides the classic desktop Calligra recently started a new series of applications called Calligra Gemini, a touch-friendly tablet app version of Calligra’s word processor and presentation application.

  • Current release: 2.9.0 (Feb, 2015)
  • Release schedule: monthly updates, bi-annual release
  • Type: office suite
  • Platforms: Linux, BSD (preliminary support for Windows, Mac OS X)
  • Customisation allowed: yes, entirely open source
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.2
  • Font embedding: yes
  • Change tracking support: (temporarily not available)
  • Unique features:
    1. strong RDF metadata support
    2. ebook editor (Calligra author)
    3. creative whiteboards (Calligra Braindump)
    4. touch-friendly tablet versions (Calligra Gemini series)
    5. support for Google Docs, so you can link to and open Google document for editing on your desktop.
    6. integrated globe
    7. music notation editor

EtherCalc

EtherCalc is a collaborative web spreadsheet that allows multiple users to do real-time editing on a shared spreadsheet. Everybody's changes are instantly reflected on all screens, and also tracked in a complete audit trail that can be seen by all participants.

Ethercalc is a Free Software project led by female software engineer Audrey Tang. It is based on the open source javascript spreadsheet engine SocialCalc, which was created by a team led by the famous Dan Bricklin who helped pioneer the field with the worlds first spreadsheet Visicalc in 1978. Bricklin was also part of the ODF TC Formula subcommittee that drafted the ODF 1.2 standard.

Inspired by the wiki model, EtherCalc aims to combine the authoring ease and multi-person editing of wikis with the familiar visual formatting and calculating metaphor of spreadsheets.

  • Current release: continuous releases
  • Type: spreadsheet
  • Platforms: Web application, can be self hosted on any OS
  • Customisation allowed: yes, entirely open source
  • Supported ODF version: 1.2
  • Font embedding: not yet
  • Change tracking support: provides an audit trail
  • Unique features:
    1. private collaborative editing when self-hosted
    2. no setup required for hosted version, runs inside the browser

You can read about the creation and design of EtherCalc in the free online book "The Architecture of Open Source Applications".

EuroOffice Professional

EuroOffice is a modern, integrated office suite running both on Windows and Linux systems. EuroOffice is an open source project, containing a text editor, spreadsheet, presentation software, database, drawing and other tools. EuroOffice is built on an enhanced code incorporating code from OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice and Apache Open Office, as well as joint R&D work of MultiRáció and Szeged University. EuroOffice 2014 Professional includes technical support and a number of special plugins called extensions: a number of professional language tools including a real-time dictionary, professional map charting tools to create map diagrams, mathematical solvers for linear, quadratic, non-linear and Hungarian algorithm optimization problems. EuroOffice also contains an extension creator to allow easy creation of custom extensions.

  • Current release: EuroOffice 2014
  • Release schedule: annual
  • Type: office suite
  • Platforms: Windows, Linux,
  • Customisation allowed: limited to core platform
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.2
  • Font embedding: (as of EuroOffice 2015)
  • Change tracking support: yes
  • Unique features:
    1. Adaptive interface that changes the size of menu items according to usage frequency
    2. Many different plugins for sparklines, statistics modelling, physics simulation, mail archiving, linguistic, mathematical and map charting tools, measuring writing progress
    3. ExtensionCreator Pro

Gnumeric

Gnumeric is a versatile and powerful spreadsheet, created and is maintained by the open source GNOME project. It is fast and stable, and packs a huge amount of features. It is used in a wide variety of environments. The project puts in a lot of energy to assess the mathematical correctness of the calculations, and claims to have surpassed the competition in this field. It strives for a minimal cost of transition, so that a user's familiarity with other applications will still apply and in addition offers new features in an intuitive manner. Gnumeric also benefits from a highly configurable importer and exporter which ensures that data can be transferred smoothly, and which allows many old as well as new formats to be added easily as plug-in software routines. The core architecture is designed to ensure that Gnumeric can comfortably scale to moderately large loads (1 million cells) while remaining usable on older hardware.

  • Current release: Gnumeric 1.12.55 (feb 2023)
  • Release schedule: feature driven
  • Type: spreadsheet
  • Platforms: Linux, Mac OS X, BSD (Windows version is possible, but needs a sponsor)
  • Customisation allowed: yes, entirely open source
  • Supported ODF version: 1.3
  • Font embedding: not yet
  • Change tracking support: not yet
  • Unique features:
    1. Unique analytics capabilities
    2. Low hardware requirements
    3. Offers programmatic utilities for instance for automated comparing and converting of spreadsheets

Google Apps

Google Apps contains a collaborative web text editor (Docs) and spreadsheet application (Sheets). Google Apps allows multiple users to do real-time editing on a shared document. Both products can also be used through dedicated apps running on two mobile platforms: Google's officially branded version of Android and Apple iOS devices.

Google Apps is a commercial online application, for which registration is mandatory to users. Registering an account is in some European countries not allowed for persons under the age of 16 years, due to privacy protection of minors. Instead of track changes, Google Docs lets users make suggestions that the owner of a document can accept or reject later. These 'Suggested Edits' are available for anyone with commenting access, but cannot be exported for use in another application.

  • Current release: (no version published, continuous releases)
  • Type: text editor, spreadsheet
  • Platforms: Web application, supports most browsers
  • Customisation allowed: no
  • Supported ODF version: 1.3
  • Font embedding: not yet
  • Change tracking support: provides history and "Suggested Edits", cannot be exported to other applications
  • Unique features:
    1. offline editing and remerging capabilities
    2. no setup required for browser version, installable app version available as well
    3. offers a number of api's for accessing documents programmatically
    4. online Google forms offer convenient data collection in online spreadsheets

kotype

Kotype is an open source collaborative editor. It is part of the WebODF family of open source ODF tools. kotype provides a clutter-free editing solution that can be used from any modern browser to work with multiple people simultaneously on the same document. kotype was designed around the ODF standard, to create high quality and fully interoperable ODF documents.

  • Current release: 0.9 (2015)
  • Release schedule: unknown
  • Type: text editor (spreadsheets and presentations can be viewed, not yet edited)
  • Platforms: Browser based
  • Customisation allowed: yes
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.2
  • Font embedding: yes
  • Change tracking support: no
  • Unique features:
    1. Lossless round-trip editing for ODF text documents
    2. Collaborative editing
    3. Server can be installed on premise

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a modern community-driven open source productivity suite available on many different operating systems, under the aegis of the not-for-profit Document Foundation. LibreOffice consists of a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet application (Calc), a presentation engine (Impress), a drawing and flowcharting application (Draw), a database and database frontend (Base) and mathematics editing (Math). LibreOffice fits into your existing IT environment, it works together with Microsoft SMS Server, Novell ZENWorks, IBM Tivoli, Citrix, etc. There are custom versions available with enterprise in mind, offering features such as MSP patch files and Group Policy Object management. Official releases are made twice a year, custom bespoke releases are available from multiple parties.

  • Current release: 7.5.4 (June 8, 2023)
  • Release schedule: two releases per year
  • Type: office suite
  • Platforms: Linux, BSD, Windows, Mac OS X
  • Customisation allowed: yes, entirely open source
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.3
  • Font embedding: yes
  • Change tracking support: yes
  • Unique features:
    1. Microsoft Visio reader / viewer and import support
    2. Google Docs compatible (import / export, read / write)
    3. CMIS protocol support to access Document Management Systems
    4. rich ecosystem of hundreds of extensions
    5. iAccessible2 accessibility framework
    6. for a more comprehensive list see the projects own feature comparison with Microsoft Office 2021 / 365

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is internationally one of the most well-known productivity suites, with a history spanning over three decades. The suite consists of presentation software (Powerpoint), a spreadsheet (Excel), a text processor (Word), a database (Access) and as well as a number of smaller applications. Office offers an extensive feature set that closely integrates with other product offerings from the American software house Microsoft. There is a great diversity of possible pricing plans, subscription and licensing models. Enterprise deployment support is available. Typically new releases are made every three years, but announcements have been made that this release cycle is due to change as of the next release.

Office 2013 for Windows supports ODF 1.2, this does not include change tracking and ODF spreadsheet formula support (OpenFormula).

  • Current release: "15" / Office 2013 (Feb, 2013)
  • Release schedule: new release per three years
  • Type: office suite
  • Platforms: Windows
  • Customisation allowed: no
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.3
  • Font embedding: no
  • Change tracking support: no
  • Unique features:
    1. convenience functions such as Quick Analysis, Flash fill and Chart recommendations
    2. SmartArt diagrams
    3. Ink annotations
    4. Editing of embedded video's
    5. Includes auxiliary applications such as email and note-taking (no support for ODF, only legacy formats)
    6. Hosted web version of apps with collaborative editing, including messaging
    7. Digital signatures without need to install plugin

Microsoft Office has official support for ODF 1.1 in Office 2007 for Windows (as of Service Pack 2), Office 2010 and Office 2013. Users of versions of Office from Office 2003 can also use the ODF-convertor add-in, which supports ODF 1.1 and has basic change tracking support.

None of the released versions of Microsoft Office for Apple OS X have had support for OpenDocument Format at the time of publication.

OX Text

OX Text is an open source collaborative web text editing solution that allows multiple users to do real-time editing on a shared document. OX Text is part of a modular open source cloud based solution that also offers spreadsheets, calendaring, address books, mail, messaging, storage and time management. It offers centralized document sharing with version control inside the browser. OX Text backend is licensed under a GPLv2 license and frontend under a CC BY-SA-NC license, see the FAQ. Commercial support is available, a subscription based hosted version is also available as a white label. Track changes information is currently limited to legacy formats and cannot be imported or exported for use in another ODF application.

  • Current release: 7.6.1 (2014)
  • Release schedule: twice a year
  • Type: text editor, spreadsheets
  • Platforms: Browser based, see the system requirements
  • Customisation allowed: yes
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.2
  • Font embedding: no
  • Change tracking support: only legacy formats
  • Unique features:
    1. Lossless round-trip editing for ODF documents
    2. Collaborative editing with exclusive editing rights
    3. Re-use paragraph and table styles imported from the original ODF documents
    4. Auto-save feature saves all document changes automatically

Wodo.TextEditor component

Wodo.TextEditor is perhaps the most light-weight and generic editing solution in this overview. You can conveniently use it from any device lacking ODF support, to quickly view and perform basic edits to ODF documents. Open the webpage containing Wodo, select your file and start editing. Wodo.TextEditor works directly in the browser without any dependencies, so there no need for any server support. Wodo.TextEditor is part of the WebODF family of open source ODF tools.

Wodo is named a TextEditor component because it allows to add an OpenDocument Text editor with just a few lines of JavaScript to your website or intranet application, or to your mobile or desktop application. It is open source so you can install it anywhere and customise it to fit any purpose. The barebones Wodo is fully functional and usable even on the public demo.

  • Current release: 0.5.5 (2015)
  • Release schedule: feature driven
  • Type: text editor (spreadsheets and presentations can be viewed, not yet edited)
  • Platforms: Browser based
  • Customisation allowed: yes
  • Supported ODF-version: 1.2
  • Font embedding: yes
  • Change tracking support: no
  • Unique features:
    1. Lossless round-trip editing for ODF text documents
    2. Easy integration with websites and mobile/desktop applications
    3. Documents do not leave your computer while editing