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Pros Tips for Extending LibreOffice

  
  
  

LibreOffice is the best open source office suite available today. In a recent Wazi article comparing it with the venerable OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice was the clear winner. The free, LGPL-licensed LibreOffice offers spreadsheet, word processing, presentation, and database functions that stack up well even to proprietary products like Microsoft Word.



By itself, LibreOffice is worth every penny you pay for it. But you can make it even more useful by adding extensions, templates, and fonts. Here are some tips on what items to look for and how to add them to your LibreOffice installation.



Enjoy the Extensions



Like modern web browsers, the LibreOffice suite supports a range of extensions to expand the software's functionality. You can find a host of extensions on the project's Extensions page. When you find one that interests you, download its .oxt file to your home directory. Open LibreOffice, and from the menu select Tools -> Extension Manager. Click the Add button, browse to your home directory, then select the .oxt file you downloaded. LibreOffice will add and activate the extension.



Some extensions change the look of LibreOffice. For instance, OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs displays five new buttons on your toolbar. With extensions that add items to your toolbar, you have the option of leaving them docked with the rest of your toolbar functions, or undocking them. To undock functions from your toolbar, roll your cursor over the left side of your toolbar options until the arrow changes to what looks like a hand. Hold down your left mouse button and drag the selected toolbar downward as to detach it. Should you ever wish to reattach the toolbar, you can simply drag it back into place.



Which extensions can help you the most? Here are the must-have extensions I recommend.




    • Export as Images allows you to take existing Draw or Impress pages and export them as JPG, PNG, BMP, or TIFF files.


    • LanguageTool corrects common spelling and grammar errors. Though it works well with LibreOffice 3.4, it seems to have issues with LibreOffice 3.5. Once you've installed it, open up Writer, choose Tools -> LanguageTool -> Configuration, and select the options you want. After you click OK, restart Writer.


    • OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs, which I mentioned previously, lets you import and export your office suite from and to Google Docs and Zoho Office. Once it's installed, you can configure it by opening Writer and choosing File -> Google Docs & Zoho -> Configuration. Then, when you need to send a document to Google Docs or Zoho, go to File -> Google Docs & Zoho and select the service to export to or import from. You will need to enter your Google Docs username and password.


    • MultiSave helps you save different format versions of the same document – .doc, .odt, and .pdf – with a single save command. Install it, then go to File -> MultiSave and select the directory where you want the documents saved, along with a file name and the formats you want to save the document in, and click Save.



Templates for Your Documents



While extensions can add handy functionality to LibreOffice, templates provide a quick way to format frequently used types of documents. You can browse a good selection at the project's Templates page and download any you like. To import a new template, open any LibreOffice program, choose File -> Templates -> Organize, and select the destination category for the new template. Move your cursor to the right of the window, use the Commands pull-down menu, and select Import Template. In the window that comes up, use the lower pull-down menu and change Templates to All Files. Browse to the location of your downloaded template, then highlight and double-click the file. It should then appear in the destination category you selected.



Once you have successfully installed a LibreOffice template, how do you use it? In contrast to the installation process, working with a LibreOffice template is simple. Just open any LibreOffice program that corresponds with the template you installed and choose File -> New -> Templates and Documents. Select Templates on the left, then the template you wish to open on the right, and click Open. The correct program for the template you want will open automatically with a blank document.

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Fonts for Better Readability



Templates are a good way to set the look and structure of a document; fonts set the typeface of the text. The fonts provided with LibreOffice are more than enough for most users, but you can install additional fonts with relative ease. Just make sure the fonts you want are legal to use, since many times there are licensing considerations involved. Perhaps the best source for legally available fonts is the website dafont.com. Its terms of service allow for free access to all its fonts for personal use.



The process of installing new fonts varies depending on your operating system. Under a Linux distribution such as CentOS, you can quickly install a font you downloaded. From a terminal window while running as root, do the following:




    1. Create a new font directory with the command

      mkdir /usr/share/fonts/fontname

    1. Change to the directory that contains the new font you downloaded.

    1. Copy the new font into the font directory with the command

      cp ./*.ttf /usr/share/fonts/fontname

  1. Finally, use the command below to install the new font so that LibreOffice can use it, then reboot.

    fc-cache -f -v


LibreOffice by itself offers a solid office suite for multiple operating system platforms, and it's easy to enhance by adding extensions, templates, and fonts. If you have any favorites that we didn't mention, please share them in the comments below.




This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
Creative Commons License.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
Creative Commons License.

Comments

LibreOffice Draw is often overlooked for diagramming because of its limited library of shapes. This is starting to change, but if you are looking to create diagrams of IT networks, there is an extension that adds a bunch of equipment icons available from <a> href="http://www.vrt.com.au/downloads/vrt-network-equipment">VRT Systems (creative commons licensed). It has recently been added to the LibreOffice extensions site too if you prefer to use the extension manager to load it, but the link provided above gives a better preview of the gallery contents.
Posted @ Monday, April 21, 2014 2:43 PM by Anon
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