Announcements at the LibreOffice Conference, held in Paris, October 12-15, included plans for LibreOffice Online as well as Android and iOS ports.

Less than one year after announcing its first stable release, the LibreOffice project provides an early look at its online prototype and its Android and iOS port project. The announcements were timed to coincide with last week's LibreOffice Conference in Paris.

libreofficeonline_demo_2011.jpg

An online demo video offers an advance look at LibreOffice Online, providing a brief overview of the office suite accessed via a web client. Developed by SUSE's Michael Meeks and built on Gtk+ broadway from Red Hat's Alex Laarson, LibreOffice Online is currently only a prototype that's not quite ready for prime time. The online prototype requires Firefox 4 with web sockets enabled and uses HTML5 Canvas, and, to reduce bandwidth, the online office suite transmits PNG compressed deltas.

The Document Foundation's Italo Vignoli says that there is still a lot of work to be done to provide basic services such as printing, and plenty of bugs fixes are required. He says the project needs sponsors to help pay developers, which would speed the process. 

We have many volunteers who would be able to devote more of their time to LibreOffice if paid to do so, while they now have to devote the bulk of their time to other paid activities."

So far, it's unclear how the LibreOffice Online office suite will compare to Google Docs.

Port Project

Based on work done by SUSE Finnish developer Tor Lillqvist, LibreOffice's Android and iOS port will bring the LibreOffice productivity suite to tablets and handheld devices. According to the conference announcement, the user interface hasn't been developed yet, but the bulk of the code is compiling.

Although it might sound like LibreOffice is late getting onto mobile devices, remember that the entire project forked from OpenOffice and rolled out its first stable release less than one year ago. The new online office suite and mobile versions won't be available to end users until late 2012 or early 2013. Vignoli says that, like LibreOffice Online, the port project progress will be slow without financial backing from sponsors.

Looking Ahead

Also announced at last week's event, several French government entities are moving from OpenOffice to LibreOffice on 500,000 desktops, and 800,000 USB keys loaded with LibreOffice and other free software were distributed to students in the Paris region.

Although LibreOffice made great strides around the world in its first year, the project has plenty planned for the near future. Vignoli says he'd like to see improved marketing, organization, and documentation, quality assurance and a stronger community. Also, look for new projects, such as certifications for professionals providing value-added services around LibreOffice.