KDE KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8

Another contender in the cross-platform free office suite space

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KDE KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8
  • KDE KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8
  • KDE KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8
  • KDE KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8
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Pros

  • Easy installation

Cons

  • Sluggish on Windows XP, the odd crash (but it is an alpha version)

Bottom Line

KOffice looks like it has a great future on all three popular desktop operating systems. The developers need to focus on optimisation and stability for it to be a real hit.

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One of the release goals of the next-generation KDE office suite, KOffice 2, is to make the package run on Windows and Mac OS X in addition to Debian Linux.

Just this week KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8 was the first KOffice release with binary packages for all three operating systems, and TechWorld decided to give it a run to see how it is taking shape before the final 2.0 release.

Installation

The good news for people new to KOffice is the integrated installer makes downloading and installing the required software a breeze, even on Windows.

Linux users are well acquainted with downloading many packages at a time from the Internet in order to install software, but this experience is less frequent on Windows, where users tend to download a monolithic package or install software from a DVD.

KDE's Windows team has done an excellent job of making the KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8 installation as seamless as possible. Simply download and run the installer script and all the required packages will be calculated, downloaded from the repository, and installed on the computer. TechWorld tried the installer with Windows XP.

Take a look at the screenshots to get an idea of how easy it is. The only manual step is to choose the install location.

What you get

KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8 ships as a suite of applications.

In addition to the familiar word processor (KWord), spreadsheet (Kspread) and charting (Kchart), and presentation applications (KPresenter), KOffice has a wealth of tools for content design, manipulation and display.

For the creative professional, there's Krita a fully-fledged graphic design and image manipulation tool, Karbon14 a Scalable Vector Graphics editor, and Kivio for flowcharts and diagrams.

Also included is Kexi for database development (touted as "Microsoft Access for Linux"), and KPlato for project management. Other tools are KnetAttach, a network folder wizard, Kformula for mathematical formula editing, and a thesaurus.

What's new

According to its developers, Alpha 8 is a work in progress and the release introduces improvements in almost all the components as well as in the common infrastructure. With all the applications undergoing big changes — bug fixes and new features.

With KOffice 2.0 under "heavy development" it is not meant to be used for any real work and may crash at any time.

Among the technology developments are improvements to the OpenDocument format, particularly the text shape that is the base of KWord thanks to the full-time work of the NLNet-sponsored Girish Ramakrishnan. KOffice can now save and load images and KPresenter has support for playing sounds. This means that a presentation will be able to contain sounds that will be played during a presentation.

KPresenter also now has support for notes.

However, according to the developers not all of the new technologies will be fully implemented in the first release, 2.0.

First impressions

KOffice 2.0 Alpha 8 is quite sluggish on Windows XP, even more so than OpenOffice.org on the same computer. This performance is unlike that for Linux where KOffice is well regarded as being faster than OpenOffice.org.

As this is alpha software you can expect it to be a little unstable and the odd crash was experienced with this release.

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