There are only very few software packages that can claim to be as feature-packed as LibreOffice. The thing is, sometimes it is even possible to forget about everything you can do with it. I’m not necessarily talking about the avalanche of features and improvements you can see listed on our wiki after each major releases; I’m rather pointing out that there is a little understood value in bundling and integrating various applicative uses together. This is the case for instance with Emacs (wait, am I actually blogging about LibreOffice and Emacs at the same time? That’s crazy!). I’m only one of the many users of Emacs that started using it with org-mode, text and code editing -so far, that’s what it says it’s supposed to do on the box- and ended up relying on this text editor for things such as IRC, email, rss feeds and document viewing. My point is that when it comes to LibreOffice, everybody thinks about its word processor, its spreadsheet module, perhaps Impress as well, but what about its vector graphics module Draw? Now that’s an interesting part of LibreOffice few people talk about.
… And yet, it’s not because there are others, more powerful Free Software for graphical design and drawing out there: The Gimp is available of course, and perhaps more in line with Draw, Inkscape, Scribus and Krita all do a wonderful job. But have you ever given Draw a try?
LibreOffice Draw will not let you redesign a picture of a posing model so that it may go to print in a magazine. I doubt you will design the next generation of Airbus planes with it. But I can tell you it will go a long way in enabling you to draw charts, complex industrial schemas for plans and processes, and more simply, design graphical stuff anyone needs at some point in a business or a household (cards, menus, branding elements, process mapping, etc.)
There are really two sides to LibreOffice Draw’s own value:
- Draw is powerful: the breadth of the things you can do with it, from the simplest skteches to the more complex charts, the use cases are really broad: brochures, 3D designs, photo galleries, process and org charts, there’s a lot you can do. And I should point out that the now famous LibreOffice Magazine is entirely designed with LibreOffice Draw!
- Draw is fully integrated within LibreOffice: this means that your learning curve is reduced thanks to a familiar interface, and that it is possible to gain time if you do not have access to other tools such as Inkscape, or do not really know how to use them. Also, integrating files and images produced by Draw within other documents opened and edited by LibreOffice is possible, easy and really useful.
At the end of the day, I won’t claim that LibreOffice Draw is the best vector graphics editor out there. It clearly isn’t. But then it’s not MS Paint either, and it is not put to shame by its Visio and Inkscape counterparts either. Give it a try, especially if you rely on LibreOffice to work on your documents. You will be pleasantly surprized by how much time you can save and how creative you can be.