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LibreOffice 5.3 introduces collaborative editing and user interface tweaks

Why it matters to you

The addition of collaborative editing functionality and a ribbon-like interface will help LibreOffice compete with Microsoft's Office suite.

Thanks to services like Office 365 and Google Drive, there are more ways than ever to work on documents in collaboration with other users, whether they’re sitting in the same room or situated halfway across the country. Now, the latest version of the LibreOffice suite introduces support for collaborative editing to the popular open-source software package.

Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a catch. Unlike the hassle-free collaborative editing functionality offered elsewhere, users will need to set up LibreOffice Online on a server in order to allow multiple users to edit the same document, according to a report from Liliputing.

This isn’t an ideal situation for most, and will perhaps put off users who are simply looking for a straightforward collaborative environment along the lines of the services offered by Microsoft and Google. However, this particular feature set isn’t aimed at the average individual user.

More: LibreOffice’s free Microsoft Office competitor is getting its own “ribbon” interface

Instead, the collaborative editing tools included in LibreOffice 5.3 are intended for organizations that have the resources to set up the necessary environment, and reason to fine-tune its implementation for their own usage. The developers expect large companies and enterprise users to benefit from the functionality.

However, that doesn’t mean that LibreOffice 5.3 is devoid of new features aimed at individual users. It also introduces a new user interface known as My User Friendly & Flexible Interface — or MUFFIN for short — which is optional for now, but could be the standard going forward.

The update also brings a number of other tweaks and improvements, including the ability to apply table styles in Writer, a new set of default cell styles in Calc, and a simplified method of managing the color palette. A full list of changes can be found in the blog post announcing version 5.3 published by The Document Foundation.