KOffice 2.0 Released: Alternatives to OpenOffice Survive

It’s always good news when a major desktop Linux project hits a milestone release, and so it is with KOffice 2.0.0 being released this week. The KOffice team realized the tremendous opportunity for reinvention offered by its KDE 4 parent community, and have worked to make this suite more usable and compatible.

The biggest transformation in KOffice 2 is the Flake Shape concept, described as something

as simple as a square or a circle or as complex as a chart or a music score.
With Flake, any KOffice application can handle any shape. For instance, KWord can embed bitmap graphics, Krita can embed vector graphics and Karbon can embed charts.

This could be very cool.

It’s also an excellent decision to standardize on the Open Document Format (ODF) as the default output. KOffice 1.x had its own default format that was widely ignored when other applications built filters, making it very difficult to share KOffice docs with anyone. The move to ODF should largely solve that problem, and it won’t hurt that a Windows port (thanks to the Qt4 base) is also available.

As with KDE 4.0, KOffice 2.0 is viewed by its development team as very much a work in progress. The announcement is strewn with phrases like “first preview,” “first of a long series,” and “not aimed at end users.” I’m going to withhold judgment until we get a more stable and mature release, probably next year. The team projects a version 2.1 in late fall 2009. But I do intend to play with the new KWord and the other components in the coming days.

While the vast majority of folks who even have a mental picture of an “open source office suite” think solely about OpenOffice.org, open source (as I so often say) is really all about choices. So it’s good that KOffice continues to pursue its vision, independent of any company. One hopes that continuing success in building an alternative suite might even persuade the folks involved in the GNOME Office project(s) to revive their integration efforts to provide yet another alternative.