LibreOffice: My birthday wish list

This post is a bit unusual. Let me explain: LibreOffice is a bit like my baby, and when I blog about it, I write with passion but also with the notion to get specific points across.
Now, it does not mean that this post will be different in this regard, but that what’s below represents my very own, personal view as a LibreOffice user who, just like many others, has a more or less long wish list for its favourite office suite. And yes I know: if I want something done, I should submit a patch: but I neither have the time nor skill to do it, this is why my post is not a rant, but only a wishlist. And besides, it’s my birthday in two days, so  bear with me.

  • Turn the LibreOffice HTML editor into a nice and powerful web editor

This is something anyone who even knows that LibreOffice has an embedded html editor will know: this tool (a subset of Writer) hasn’t gotten much love since… 3.0 something. Which means a very long time. It’s not just about improving the html editor itself, although that improvement alone would be nice. Rather, I was thinking that this editor could have HTML 5, CSS and Javascript added , and perhaps something like a live preview of the page that’s being worked on.

A possible question at this stage would be the reason for such an improvement: After all I don’t use LibreOffice to edit html pages (few people do). Why then? Because I think it’s a feature gap that LibreOffice ultimately suffers from, and it does not have to be excellent at it, but only being able to cater to most common needs in this field. Besides, LibreOffice has an actual IDE that one can use to develop macros and scripts in other languages. I think an improved web editor would complement the IDE just fine as well.

  • A Twitter client for Writer

Yes you’re reading that very well. A Twitter client for LibreOffice Writer would probably be a gadget to many, but a handy tool to some. The idea first appeared during FOSDEM 2013 when Chris Anintscyk, head of Open Source matters at Twitter came to the LibreOffice booth to pick up something (I don’t remember what actually), and we started to joke about that idea. But then I thought about it, and didn’t find the idea to be stupid at all, at least for Writer. The client would be integrated in Writer and be used to tweet entire sentences contained in the document opened by LibreOffice Writer at that moment. So instead of tedious copy and paste operation, the client would have a tool selecting the text and then posting immediately to Twitter. Think “quote of the day” twitter handles etc.

  • A true calendar for Calc

Calc is becoming really powerful with LibreOffice 4.2.x and we’re only discovering the crazy stuff we can now do with LibreOffice Calc. Yet I’m talking about something more “static” in this case. Of course, you can find several calendar templates online for LibreOffice (link) but that’s not really what I have in mind. the idea would be to have a calendar with the ability schedule and mark events, meetings, etc. and notify contacts directly from Calc. On top of this, Calc would be able to export calendard or events as .ics files.

  • STL file export for Draw

If you have never heard of STL don’t worry, only people who are in 3D printing have. (This STL file has nothing to do with LibreOffice STL files, by the way.) Basically, before printing anything in 3D, you need to design your object, and the way you do this is though software. Now I know that there are more powerful graphics and design software out there (the GIMP and Blender being two examples) but frankly today Draw can perform quite well in this field too. Once you have your 3D model of your desin on your computer you need to export it in a file format that will convey the required data for the layering process used by 3D printers. One of the most common, if not the only one, is STL. Ideally then, Draw would be able to have an export to STL, but also perhaps the ability to export to popular 3D modeling formats as well (AMF, DWG or Blender files) . That would not change the need to export everything to STL before turning the design into yet another format (a binary one) : GCode. But it could really be handy.

  • Pattern editor for Draw

I’m not done with Draw. We never seem to be pushing this graphics editor much although it is being actively developed but many people don’t try it and just think it’s something like MS Paint. Back to my wish: a pattern editor for Draw is a tool that lets you edit patterns, aka clothing designs. With these designs you can then start to procure clothing material and then move on to the actual knitting/cutting/ making of clothes. Why does it matter? I don’t cut and design my own clothes but I know many people around the world still do or would like to learn that. A Free and Open Source tool like LibreOffice ought to be able to offer that ability to, well, pretty much everyone out there with a computer and do it with open formats and standards.

All in all, this list would not significantly change the userbase of LibreOffice; but it would also position LibreOffice in places and circles where it’s not really used either, and I feel it’s a welcome set of suggestions that differ from the usual Android/iOS porting and cloud based office suite. On a deeper level, I think it also means that LibreOffice as a tool and office suites in general can change and grow to adapt to new usages even today.

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