LibreOffice is perhaps the most popular open source alternative to Microsoft's Office productivity suite, and most importantly, it's completely free. The latest version, LibreOffice 6.2, brings even more parity between it and Microsoft's paid productivity software, namely with a new Notebook bar that is LibreOffice's equivalent of Microsoft's "ribbon" interface.
Not everyone is a fan of the ribbon style, which essentially breaks up the various options into tabs. As such, the same will likely be true of LibreOffice's Notebook bar. The Document Foundation took this into consideration though, and made it an optional feature. It's not even turned on by default—users have to manually select it.
For those who are interested in the Notebook bar, they'll find three different layouts available. They include Tabbed, Grouped, and Contextual, each with a different approach to the menu layout. The Tabbed layout is the closest to Microsoft's ribbon interface, while the Grouped option allows access to 'first-level' functions with a single click and 'second-level' functions with two clicks.
The latest release is an extension of the MUFFIN user interface concept introduced in 2016. MUFFIN, or My User Friendly & Flexible INterface, focuses on three primary goals—building a personal UI with different options that people can adapt to their needs, making the UI as user friendly as possible, and making it flexible to accommodate different screen sizes, resolutions, and platforms.
LibreOffice 6.2 advances each of those categories. As it pertains to flexibility, The Document Foundation says it improved interoperability with proprietary file formats, meaning better compatibility with Office documents. That includes old versions that have been deprecated by Microsoft.
"The focus has been on charts and animations, and on document security features, with agile encryption and HMAC verification," The Document Foundation says.
LibreOffice 6.2 is representative of a joint effort between The Document Foundation and a large community of code contributors—the bulk of the commits came from developers employed by companies sitting on the Advisory Board, such as Collabora, Red Hat, and CIB.
These include contributions both big and small. For example, the help system now offers faster filtering of index keywords, and context menus are now neater and more consistent across platforms. It's also better looking, with visual overhauls to the icons and other elements.
LibreOffice is available now for Windows, Linux, and MacOS.