Reviewed: KOffice 2.2

KDE

Over the last 12 years KOffice has grown in scope and ambition pushing out both good and bad iterations and occasionally suffering from hyperbolic claims that it had no chance in hell of satisfying.

Version 2.2 of the suite, which comprises KWord, KPresent, KSpread, KPlato (project manager), Krita (image editor) and the prodigal Kexi (database), comes into a very changed world. Desktop applications now face serious competition from cloud-based offerings, Microsoft no longer seems indomitable, and mobile has become a vital platform. We put KOffice 2.2 through its paces - read on to find out more.

The KOffice interface opts for an Adobe-esque dock system rather than the Microsoft ribbon idea, and it works in a more sensible way than the multiple horizontal toolbars of its rivals.The docking system is vastly improved over the last version, with no more sections scrolling off the screen and far more consistency between applications.

Everything is quick to launch and snappy in use, though some of the more complex dialog boxes such as the Styles Manager take a few seconds to appear even on fast machines. In use it compares well with the equivalent applications from OpenOffice.org and beats MS Word hands down in most editing and creation tasks.

Kexi, the database application, makes a welcome return to the suite.

Kexi, the database application, makes a welcome return to the suite.

Importing documents from other applications is a little hit and miss but is much improved from the last versions. KWord even managed to accurately import a simple .docx file created in Word 2010 leaving both the layout and stylesheets intact. There were some strange screen artifacts that appeared when editing MS Word documents with complex styles embedded in them, but these resolved themselves during normal use.

Sharing files

The most reliable part of the KOffice suite in terms of interoperability is probably the Krita image editor, which tends to work with standard formats such as JPEG and GIF, though is unable to open recent Photoshop images. PDF import is also very good and gave a faithful rendering of extremely complex pages - faster than Photoshop manages the same job - though it loses bookmarks, hyperlinks and other interactive elements.

The re-introduction of Kexi is extremely welcome as it does small databases very well. The designer elements are not as comprehensive as OOo Base, but it is great if you want to create a database, build a usable form and begin populating it quickly. The use of tabs across the top to access the form designer, report designer etc makes for a intuitive experience. Some additional options to add more style to forms would be nice (end users like pretty things), but as a starting point Kexi is very impressive indeed.

Krita offers a decent set of tools and brilliant PDF support.

Krita offers a decent set of tools and brilliant PDF support.

This version of KOffice is much improved, but whether this is enough now, with the growth of online office options, is debatable. KDE's social strategy means that in the future, adding cloud options - whether that's working with Google Docs, MS Live Office or whatever Facebook comes up with - shouldn't be too problematic. With the input of Nokia, which is now supporting the project as part of its mobile strategy, the developers seem to be intent on consolidating what's available rather than adding superfluous fluff and online storage is likely to be a big part of that.

KOffice remains a work in progress and there are some parts that may not be 100% complete. With that caveat, we advise you to try it out and help the developers make it even better.

Our verdict: An improved suite that has one eye on the future while consolidating the tools available now. 6/10

First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

I think Koffice shows

I think Koffice shows serious promise for the future. Just like kde4 did.

Love the interface

I like a lot what I see here in the screenshots. The user interface looks a lot more logical than in OpenOffice.org and it also looks more modern. I also hear it is very fast and uses a lot less memory than OpenOffice.org. I'll have to check KOffice out as soon as possible.

KOffice works now

I have to say I like it a bit more than MS Office 2010 that I have to use at work, a virtual box. OOo is fast, I'll give you that but it also shows its age in it's interface. Has it ever changed? It works but now I wish it would embrace a better interface.
No KOffice I think, along with KDE4, has a pretty solid idea of how to make a good interface in terms of UX. It still has some work to do but it's improving. It's getting there I think.

Font Rendering

One of the biggest thing that prevent me from using koffice now is their horrible font rendering. Well, the developers are working hard to fix it now, so i will use it as soon as this problem get fixed.

@Melinda

everything is lighter than OpenOffice.

Every lighter than MS Office.

Back ground services of MS Office make it quite heavy.

Koffice holds promise alright. Don't forget using it in combination with OpenOffice is still an option. So giving a setup fully open source with almost all the main features of MS office enterpise.

M$ compatibility?

Can the current version open MS formated documents?
If not, how can someone open his email attachments?

I tested for a while the previous version (the kde 3.5 based), and although it was really good, I finally installed OO, only for viewing my mail attachments.

How this version behaves with formats like doc, pps etc. ???

Re: M$ compatibility? @Giorgos

Afaik much better than KOffice 1.x, because the filters were improved by Nokia sponsored development (Nokia uses KOffice as the base for their document viewers apps on whatever mobile device).

@Anonymous Penguin

Are they comparable to OO's though?

Re: M$ compatibility? @ Anonymous Penguin

That's GREAT news!!!
THANKS!!! :-)

G.

KSpread :(

I'm glad to see some work done on KSpread in changelog, but as for now it is still not usable even for home applications, not talking about office.
- Not sure if Open Office saves graphs in any non Open Document standard compliant way, but KSpread failed to load any of the graphs saved by OOo in ods file.
- Shortcut Ctrl-End is forgotten (Ctrl-Home works).
Some other are not compliant with other applications (like Ctrl-M for cell edition - instead of F2).
- Default layout needs to be changed (Cells tool dockbar should be on top rather than on side and should have configurable buttons for most common functions like Sum, paint related dockbars should be hidden, etc.)
- 32k rows are too small for any serious applications.
- Generally sheet view is little sluggish and poorly rendered on my Intel integrated card.
- Support for named cells or cell ranges is not complete.
- I did not found any support for pivot tables.
- After playing for about 10 min. with KSpread it eventually crashed.
Spreadsheet is one of the 2 critical applications in every office suite, while painting programs are very rarely used by typical office workers - I think they should shift priorities and give more love to spreadsheet in charge of Krita e.g. which is certainly good enough.

Much improved. But makes machines sluggish--or is it so?

KOFFICE with kexi is great I look forward to use it. I had a chance to install it on Ubuntu-10.04. Interface and opening open document for,at files and .doc, .xls etc no problem. The only thing it gets very sluggish, to the extent that I had to quit half-way.
As I saifd earlier effective components need to be created that are commonly deployed by OpenOffice, or Koffice, or gnu-office, or goffice etc., the main idea to be efficiency, and clean working.

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