LibreOffice Online and ownCloud

Impress

The online version of the presentation module can handle most formatting, animations, and transitions, and in our lab displayed ODP and PPT(X) files without any trouble. Only the sound and video files caused difficulty.

The same thing applies for presentations as for text documents: Documents you did not previously format cleanly on your computer, won't look good in the Collabora Cloud Suite.

The order of the animations needs to be correct, which means you need to define the backgrounds on master slides correctly. If the slide master uses a different background for the title slide than for the remaining pages, then backgrounds might overlap – an ugly effect that occasionally occurred in our lab.

At the bottom is a control bar that inserts, duplicates, and removes slides (Figure 4), and the icon on the left starts the presentation in full-screen mode. Impress did not display all the transitions cleanly in the uploaded files, but this is something you might be able to live with. Overly elaborate animations will just confuse viewers and the default transitions work well. More effects are planned. If you are interested in comparing the list with Microsoft Office Online and Google Drive, see the online comparison [8].

Figure 4: The online edition of Impress is quite impressive, pardon the pun. The little icons at the bottom give you access to the most important control functions.

Formatting options are no different from those for Writer: The online Impress only offers basic functionality. Users can again insert images via the icon in the toolbar. Changing the size of graphics happens, as previously, by dragging the handles.

Many options are also accessible via keyboard shortcuts, which are revealed by clicking on the question mark icon. The typical Impress commands for selecting items in the slides are especially well implemented. Changing and adding text also worked well in the test. Keep calm, though, because not everything runs smoothly.

Calc

The online version of Calc has no problems with tables prepared on the desktop or with the examples included by the developers. All charts and formatting in the imported ODS and XLS(X) files looked just as they did on the desktop computer. The spreadsheet also transferred formulas without grumbling.

However, if you want to insert formulas later on, you cannot rely on the wizard to help; even simple sums have to be entered manually. In the online suite itself, formatting options and numerous shortcuts have restrictions, which the online help explains.

The spreadsheet left us with a slightly worse impression than the word processor and presentation tool. Calc accepted input on the test computers far too slowly or not at all. Also, the Undo/Redo function refused to work from time to time – the two arrows were grayed out – and the Ctrl+Z and Ctrl+Y shortcuts showed no effect.

The slightly offset cursor that occasionally appeared in Calc (Figure 5) is also ugly. In these cases, the cell itself was not selected, but the frame slid down a few pixels. The phenomenon appeared on all Windows systems and in OS X and Linux in different browsers.

Figure 5: A crazy cursor and manual entry by hand – this could be better. So far, it's still not a convincing spreadsheet, but it's on the right track.

Teamwork

Collaborative editing in real time is not currently possible; the developers have announced the feature for the second half of the year. However, you can still work together in the current development version.

To do so, you need to share folders and files to other users or groups. In the list view, select the object you want to share and then click the Share icon. In the box below, enter the name of the user or group; ownCloud automatically completes the information.

Using the checkboxes, owners define whether others are also allowed to edit the document. If you unfold the small arrow, you can decide in a targeted way whether to allow others to create, modify, or delete (Figure 6). The trash can icon lets your revoke the share. An ownCloud account is required for this kind of sharing.

Figure 6: Users are allowed to share documents and folders with other users or groups. The owner determines whether others can only read or also edit.

The Share link option is different. The Collabora Cloud Suite creates a temporary URL that you can share with others. You can optionally set a password and an expiration date for the public link and allow editing.

Additionally, you can open documents shared with others at the same time. Whoever opens first, sees an EDITING tag in the status bar at the bottom and can edit the file. The other users see a VIEWING tag in the bar – they can only keep track of the changes made by the first user. Everything happens so fast that it looks like real time. If a second user is authorized to edit the file, they can take over by clicking on the small icon with the stylus. This user then sees an EDITING tag and all other users see VIEWING tags.

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