Monday, July 29, 2019

A better LibreOffice than LibreOffice

Turning LibreOffice users into happy LibreOffice users.

After readings and advises from other IT directors, one of my customers and strong supporter of LibreOffice, noticed that just switching programs and teaching user to avoid pitfalls in interoperability is not enough for a smooth migration, and something more than following the migration best practices has to be done for a successful switch. He then asked me to deliver a better LibreOffice than LibreOffice.

Challenge accepted. Together we started to investigate the needs of his organization, a civil company with strong military ties and with significant part of the workforce serving the military. We discovered a set of employees with repetitive tasks, usually performed by reusing old documents and updating them. The straightforward solution was to define a set of document templates and deploy it in the user computers.

But that was not enough. LibreOffice templates are accessed by a bunch of clicks with dialogs navigation, a sequence that needs to be memorized. Besides, templates dialog covers all kind of documents types and more clicks to narrow the selection. There had to be some easier way to get a brand new document from a corporate controlled template. Also, my customer also wanted to let a fingerprint in the solution and he wanted the solution to bear the company logo when user access it, including the high ranked military.

The solution was to create an extension that added a new menu to LibreOffice, specially crafted to address the needs of the workforce and help them do their job as quickly as possible.

So we packed the templates, a Basic macro needed for their document handling in an extension. The Basic macro was used to create a simplified template dialog, allowing a 2-click selection and other internal document handling macros. All new features are accessed from the top menu and a specific toolbar, with icons representing the company brand.

Thanks to the extension mechanism, the “better LibreOffice than LibreOffice” became a reality. The extension used all nice features of versioning, updating, as well as easy of deployment and maintenance. A few days after the news were spread, other departments such as engineering, legal, contracts, human resources and others asked to include their templates into the solution, turning more and more users happy to use LibreOffice.

Happy extensioning!


  1. I'd love to know more about this.
    Achei muito interessante.

  2. This can be an enhancement to LibO that can make a big difference between LibO and others.
    Will this extention be allowable in some way to the rest of users?

    1. I'll blog on the contents of the extension and give some insights on how to hack it.