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LibreOffice to Go Mobile

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LibreOffice to Go Mobile

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For mobile users who don't want to be constrained by commercial office suite:  LibreOffice, a similar application to OpenOffice, is heading to Android devices.  This has been a long time coming, as the plans for mobile and cloud versions of the application were announced in 2011, but now we have some substantial developments in the project thanks to Michael Meeks.  His reputation precedes him, as Meeks has worked on GNOME and OpenOffice as well.  According to his recent blog post, during his talk titled "LibreOffice: on-line and in your pocket," Meeks provided the first Android prototype screenshots and demo of LibreOffice.

According to the powerpoint of Meeks' talk, the LibreOffice team are intent on cross-platform code sharing. They the failed attempts mobilizing complex office suites including MicroPro's Wordstar and Corel Office as being due to trying to "rewrite" entire applications.  Some of the benefits of cross-platform code sharing include:

  • Rendering bug fixes occur across platforms
  • All platforms benefit from interoperability
  • Increase in performance for small devices.
  • UI improvements

In the new mobile/cloud version of LibreOffice, rendering will be done using HTML5 Canvas, and cloud communication will be driven by Web-Sockets, which provides low bandwidth for simple tasks.  Meeks also provides suggestions for further LibreOffice development, including the following:

  • A native UI / wrapper
  • Add limited in-document editing
  • Exploring other mobile/tablet platforms

If all goes according to plan, it looks like the LibreOffice team could give commercial office suites a run for their money, although Microsoft is already one step ahead, having provided a mobile version of Microsoft Office for Windows Phone 7.  It will truly be interesting to see whither this open source Android-based iteration of the office suite will sink or swim.  

For further information about LibreOffice, check out the link to Meeks' Powerpoint presentation here.

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