A look at LibreOffice’s new 6.3.0 “fresh” release

An Ubuntu Xenial LTS system, showing the system base version of LibreOffice (5.1.6) as well as the newly snap-installed 6.3.0. [credit:
Jim Salter ]

The open source office suite LibreOffice released its version 6.3.0 last week. This was a major release that added many new features, as well as interoperability enhancements (read: better import and export of Microsoft Office documents) and performance increases. LibreOffice 6.3.0 is a “fresh” (not long-term support) release that may be downloaded directly—or, if you’re a Linux user, you might choose to install it from the Snap Store instead. Ubuntu (and probably most Linux users) will get a separate installation of LibreOffice 6.3.0 regardless of whether users install natively from download or install from snaps; Windows users who download the new version will have their existing LibreOffice version (if any) completely replaced upon installation.
The release notes for 6.3.0 boast of several performance improvements related to loading and saving documents in Writer and Calc. We were able to confirm these performance improvements—but only when installing LibreOffice natively. When we tested LibreOffice 6.3.0 installed from the Snap Store, performance was fine when actually inside the app and working on a document. But application launch times were significantly slower.
Document redaction
LibreOffice 6.3.0 offers several entirely new features—such as a FOURIER() function in its spreadsheet app Calc—but the new document redaction tools (which are available across the entire suite of apps) are probably the biggest standout. For the uninitiated, “redaction” refers to the black bars you see across sensitive passages in documents that are only intended to be partially released, and getting redaction wrong can lead to extremely serious consequences. Having a purpose-designed tool to help people get the job done right is a good thing—but unfortunately, there are still some obvious rough spots in LibreOffice’s redaction tool.
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