In response to Bastián and Charles:
To Bastián: It isn't clear whether “author” in your reply “whimsical and
uninformed comments from the author” referred to the author of the PC
Magazine (and this is certainly a Windows-centric publication) article or
the author of the posting (me), but no matter. I hope I'm whimsical,
although both Mr. Mendelson (whom I've never met, by the way) and I have
been using word processors since pre-DOS days. I've been reading his reviews
and other articles since the mid-eighties. We may both be “wrong” but I
don't really believe either of us is uninformed.
I should point out, however, that your listing of “some articles with facts
showing quality and low error” all discuss 'code quality' as opposed to
'application quality' – often related, but not at all the same thing. To
provide a simple example, suppose that someone writes a snippet of code to
add two integers together: we can consider at least three outcomes when
reviewing this code:
1) The code provides wrong answers, and has a significant memory leak;
2) The code provides correct answers, but has a significant memory leak;
3) The code provides correct answers and any memory leaks have been
corrected or never existed.
Providing the correct answer would be a measure of 'application quality',
while avoiding memory leaks would be a measure of 'code quality.'
The articles you reference deal (in my silly example) only with the question
of code quality (the memory leak). And, yes, it is generally acknowledged by
everyone that the TDF team has made enormous strides in this regard. But
this is only tangentially related to 'application quality' (which also
includes a variety of things like “usability,” “documentation,”
“interoperability” and a host of other factors.
Another thing to consider is somewhat more intangible, and descends into
what might be closer to opinion than measurement: since any reviewer would
suspect that the code described above is redundant (one would assume that a
library call to add two integers is available), the application in which my
mythical code exists might well be architecturally deficient. That may or
may not be a flaw depending on your opinion, but such things, e.g.
unnecessary redundancy, certainly don't promote quality.
But, although (as I said) I don't agree with Mr. Mendelson's
characterization (that LibreOffice is unstable), it seems to me he is
discussing the “correct answer” portion of the code example I give – which
is appropriate for his audience, most of whom wouldn't have the foggiest
idea what a memory leak was and wouldn't notice the effects of such a thing
until the inevitable crash. And, for many users, connecting the crash to a
specific memory leak might never happen. In fact, the articles you reference
point to the reasons why the software is more stable now than when TDF began
attacking it. As you say, there is “still much more to do” but I have to
think that the steps taken so far are/were exactly the right way to begin.
With regard to specific use cases in which Writer specifically is
inadequate, I'll refer you to
https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=92655 for one very
narrow example: that of using multiple languages simultaneously in a single
document. There are two very detailed pdf documents attached to that closed
bug report which detail the issues. I freely acknowledge that multi-lingual
documents are a “fringe” use case, and I also know for a fact that many of
the difficulties I describe go back to some of the original Star* code
(great-grandparent of the current LibreOffice code base). Nonetheless, there
is still much potential design and development that could be done. For this
SPECIFIC use case, MS Word just happens to be much better than Writer. Even
AbiWord is superior in this regard, although it doesn't hold a candle to
LO-Writer in most other areas.
My main quibble with the whole idea of a consumer magazine comparing
LibreOffice to MS-Office is that these applications are designed and
developed in utterly different ways and with entirely different financial
models. As I said, however one chooses to compare them, *most* people are
getting a much, much better deal with LibreOffice (all things considered).
Also, I would point out that for some period of time I lost the capability
of reading my old Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets, WordPerfect wpg graphics, etc.
until LibreOffice added these. I'm not convinced that any of my particular
spreadsheets from those days are worth preserving for prosperity, but I'll
bet that this is a boon for some organizations, and certainly isn't
something you'll get with Microsoft Office.
AND YET ANOTHER REVIEW:
For yet another take on LibreOffice 5.x, there is a review on page 19 of the
October 2015 issue of Linux Format Magazine by Shasank Sharma. Mr. Sharma's
review is more specific and informative, and gives the suite an overall
rating of 8/10. His summary at the end reads “A polished must-have upgrade
with visible improvements that lays the foundations for future development.”
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