FINALLY! LibreOffice Writer doesn't mangle character spacing!

I think LibreOffice is a great alternative to Word, but for years I’ve had serious problems using it for more than just finishing projects. The reason was its terrible character placement, which I found intolerable. Basically its legacy layout system used integer values and this caused characters to jump pixel boundaries depending in zoom / size and totally screwed the font’s kerning tables. There were many bug reports but as this required such a low-level change it was hard to prioritise in such a big and complex open-source project.

But finally at least with V7.5 the font kerning seems as good as Word and Scrivener. Open source word processing users, rejoice!


Those of us on Mac have been rejoicing for years - free and a great almost DTP word processor in Pages. :grinning:

Plus - it doesn’t introduce as many issues as Word when doing cut and paste.


I’ll give LibreOffice a try. Been using OpenOffice, but it is an older app these days.

1 Like

:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: fair enough, however the fact that Pages has a a fully closed ecosystem with limited interoperability and locked-in file formats makes it unusable for some of us mac users, as cute as the UI may be…

1 Like

I don’t understand.

It can import and export in the common formats, making it essentially interoperable.

As for the ‘closed ecosystem’ complaint, I consider that mere open-source marketing BS.

All the major ‘quality’ applications (anything Adobe, Affinity, etc) would qualify as a ‘closed ecosystem’. Even an industry standard such as .doc/x is somewhat closed. All the applications that can import and export in Word format are not 100% compatible. They essentially export a ‘close enough’ on all the major points.


For what I’ve seen, Pages has been very compatible with the standard formats. And has given me none of the incredible amount of issues of the previous version of LibreOffice.

Last year, I ended up purchasing a license of MsOffice, to do some work that was not possibile to do with LibreOffice. It could be done with Apple applications, but it required some cosmetic editing at each file exchange, so I preferred to go for the original. In any case, with LibreOffice it was not possible to do the work at all.

I value very much the quality of the working environment, and Pages (as is with Numbers) is not simply ‘nice’, but inviting to work.


1 Like

But try and open a Pages file in another app. You can’t. That is a deal breaker for many organisations. Both Word and LibreOffice can be opened as a zip and all textual and formatting data easily extracted. What happens to your files if your macbook breaks and you transition to a PC? I suppose the web interface overcomes this if you keep an iCloud active, but this still highlights the fragility of a locked data format…

Try to get a power tool like Pandoc to support Pages? You can’t. Because Apple do not make their format available. Pandoc supports both DOCX and ODF because these formats can be easisly examined, their structure analysed and easily transformed. You can utilise templates, activate TOCs or fields, cross-links etc all via clearly understood markup.

Try to submit an academic paper in Pages native format? You can’t, in part because of the dominance of the big gorilla MS, but Apple has not made it possible for publishers to post-process a pages file so you must convert to an open format. Why couldn’t they just utilise an open format when they rewrote their app?

Want to install a plugin for a reference manager like Zotero? You can’t, because Apple add and remove any interface with impunity, hobbling developers who would like to offer tools that may help their user (like removing Applescript in 2013). It is not impossible to do some minor automation, but nowhere like with the “other” word processors around…

Want to offer an app with some features that provide consistency with Pages? How about improve Scrivener with some of the nice tweaks in Pages layout editor? You can’t because Apple hobbles developers by only offering a reduced public RTF-based toolset (that Scrivener and other native tools use), but refuses to dogfood its own API and locks their own tweaks into a private interface that developers like @KB can’t benefit from.

I use macOS with pleasure, and Pages for sure has a simple UI and a bit-of-everything feature set. But there is a reason Pages is still a marginal to non-existent tool in professional environments. Apple could and should do much more…

And all those same arguments could be made about any Affintity, Adobe, many other apps, including Word. MS is notorious for not giving access to every last tweak. There’s also the ongoing issue with Word cut and paste into apps like Scrivener - that ‘open standard’ that silently screws with you from time to time in a not so open way.

I’m not saying Apple is by any means innocent, but their iWork apps offer sufficient for interoperability.

Pages is more than a simple UI, it’s actually a very powerful app. Same with the underappreciated Numbers that has some nice features not found in Excel, and a lot less bloat.

We could go on all day (and night) on what started out as a tongue in cheek ‘poke’ and pretty ordinary ‘open source’ apps.

1 Like

Sorry for coming off as so grumpy, it wasn’t my intention :face_with_peeking_eye:. I agree other developers may have a clear vested interest in lock-in. I think in this case I do hold Apple to a higher standard because they are not just some random software company whose livelihood depends on market X, but they are the guardians of the whole OS and hardware ecosystem. It benefits them and us to maximise interoperability far more than Affinity et al. They invest in Applescript, then remove it from their “professional apps” when they should be making workflow across all apps on their OS a key advantage…

I value compatibility and future reuse very much. For this, I’m really annoyed by Apple’s tendency to abandon compatibility with the older file formats of their own apps. At the same time, I depend very much on their software, so I need a strategy, that can be extended to other brands.

As much as possible, I keep saving a copy of my data in a tested interchange file format, like DOCX, RTF or IDML. In case this is not possible or doesn’t make sense (for example, with Logic Audio), I resave the older files into the newer file format after a few years/versions.

Standard formats may change on the years. Some are standard only on paper – take ODT, for example, that has even an endorsement from the EU, but is not even generally adopted by the EU.

LibreOffice+OpenOffice, while open and free (but good chaps contribute from time to time!) should be not much more widespread than Apple iWork apps, and this may vary depending on places. For example, Pages seems to be very common in the schools in the USA. LibreOffice is in public administration in Germany. The publisher with which I’m currently doing a work makes no difference between Word and Pages (they are Mac based, and in any case anythings ends up in InDesign).

Google, whose apps seem to be now the dominant ones in the business, removed the idea of file entirely. Their apps are in a mysterious format in the cloud. If you want a copy of your documents, you have to choose an interchange file format, most likely DOCX for text documents.

So, in the end, it will be not much different than writing with any app you like, and save a copy for archival in a (de-facto) standard format.


1 Like