Is it a bird? Is it Microsoft Office? No, it's Onlyoffice: Version 7.2 released

The latest point-release of Onlyoffice, a free Microsoft Office-compatible suite, is here with multiple small improvements and better support for Asian and African writing systems.

Despite Microsoft's seemingly unassailable hegemony, Office does still have rivals other than Google Docs. There's more than one free-and-open-source productivity suite out there. Onlyoffice has a few points in its favor, and the new version 7.2 increases its appeal.

Onlyoffice 7 came out at the start of the year and this is the second point-release. This version has improved font support, notably for handling ligatures - the combined characters created by joining two (or more) letters together. This isn't a big deal in English; it's useful for some words of Latin origin, such as anæsthetic. However, for some alphabets, where most or all letters join together, it's critical, so this means Onlyoffice 7.2 now has much better support for Bengali (বাংলা বর্ণমালা) and N'Ko (ߒߞߏ), among others.

There's improved specification of data-entry fields in forms. Spreadsheets can be inserted into other documents as OLE objects, meaning that they remain live and can be edited and updated. The suite's user interface now can be displayed in Portuguese, traditional Chinese, Basque, Malay, and Armenian. There's also an updated plugin manager.

Not only does it have Dark Mode but now there's a Dark Contrast view. There are other, smaller UI improvements, too, around select, cut, paste, paste special, and linking charts to their source data range in spreadsheets. The Navigation panel has been renamed to Headings, and there are new options for sharing documents, listing co-authors, and more. As well as the normal Edit mode, there are also Commenting and View modes, and the View mode can now show the changes made by other contributors live in real time.

Native builds are available for Linux, Windows, and macOS, free of charge, plus mobile versions for Android and iOS, or check out the AGPL 3.0-licensed source here.

Onlyoffice is relatively new, first appearing just a decade ago. Because it was implemented in JavaScript using the HTML5 canvas element, Onlyoffice can also run inside a web browser. You can sign up for a demo online, and the company's own hosted version is free for up to five users. You can also host your own version, either directly on a Linux server, in Docker, or in a cloud VM, and this edition can interoperate with files held in NextCloud, OwnCloud, Confluence, SharePoint, and various other online file-storage solutions. In this mode, the suite rivals the cloud-based Collabora Online suite.

As such, its competitive position up against the other free office suites is that Onlyoffice has a more modern ribbon-based interface, and claims the best Microsoft Office file compatibility around. The modern user interface, and strong compatibility with Microsoft Office, are both also true of Kingsoft's WPS Office - but while that is free for personal use, and even comes pre-loaded in some Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu Kylin Pro, it's not open source.

Onlyoffice's developers pay for all this via their commercial Docs Enterprise and Workspace offerings. Workspace adds considerably more functionality to the suite, including email, calendaring, customer relationship management, and project management.

Here on The Register FOSS desk, we actually prefer the old-fashioned menu-driven UI of LibreOffice and its relatives, but if you prefer something that looks more like Office 365, and perhaps has rather better file compatibility with it, Onlyoffice is shaping up strongly. ®

PS: Yes, we know it's spelled ONLYOFFICE. But we didn't feel like SHOUTING all the way through the ARTICLE TODAY.

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