LibreOffice 3.3 gets first stable release

The Document Foundation, the non-profit group formed from ex-OpenOffice.org contributors, has reached a milestone today with the first full release of the LibreOffice productivity suite.

The open-source project was formed by contributors to the OpenOffice.org project after they became disillusioned with the way the project was run under new corporate overload Oracle. Since its formation, the community behind LibreOffice has grown from around twenty to more than a hundred active contributors.

This rapid growth, achieved in a mere four months, has allowed the Foundation to bump up its release schedule - meaning that we get the full release of LibreOffice 3.3 now, ahead of time.

For those who have played with the release candidate version, there aren't that many surprises. If you're more used to OpenOffice.org, however, the team behind the project has introduced a number of enhancements and improvements over the original OpenOffice.org code on which LibreOffice is based.

The primary improvements include the ability to import and edit Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) files, an improved Navigator Tool in word processing package Writer, enhanced ergonomics in spreadsheet package Calc, and the ability to properly import Microsoft Works and Lotus Word Pro documents.

Changes to the back-end functionality have also taken place, with this release testing out a change to the Windows installer that makes the amount of data the Foundation needs to ship to mirror sites significantly smaller - 11GB instead of 75GB.

Florian Effenberger, founder of The Document Foundation, claimed in a release: "Thanks to the high number of new contributors having been attracted into the project, the source code is quickly undergoing a major clean-up to provide a better foundation for future development of LibreOffice."

Caolán McNamara, employed by RedHat but one of the leaders of the LibreOffice development community, explained of the release: "We are excited: this is our very first stable release, and therefore we are eager to get user feedback, which will be integrated as soon as possible into the code, with the first enhancements being released in February.

"Starting from March, we will be moving to a real time-based, predictable, transparent and public release schedule, in accordance with Engineering Steering Committee’s goals and users’ requests."

With LibreOffice 3.3 containing all of the enhancements of OpenOffice.org 3.3, plus the above-mentioned improvements, it looks like the project is starting to really pile the pressure on Oracle.

This stable release comes ahead of the launch of Ubuntu 11.04 'Natty Narwhal,' due in April this year, which Canonical has confirmed will ship with LibreOffice in the place of OpenOffice.org.

LibreOffice 3.3 is available for free download now over on the official site.