October 17, 2006

New KOffice release focuses on image editing and DBMS

Author: Lisa Hoover

KOffice 1.6, an update to the integrated office suite featured in the popular KDE desktop environment, is now available for download, and includes several significant enhancements. KOffice 1.6 also contains feature releases for its image editor Krita and its desktop database application Kexi.

For a complete look at what's new in KOffice 1.6, see the project's changelog.

Krita now supports full scriptability and offers color model independency, magnetic selection, and layer masks. Several new filters have also been added to Krita, including lens correction, random pick, and random noise. A tool for manipulating curves, developed by Emmanuele Tamponi during Google's Summer of Code, has also been incorporated into the image editor.

Kexi, the KDE Project's answer to Microsoft Access, boasts more than 270 improvements since the release of KOffice 1.5. Kexi now supports macros and scripts and offers many enhancements to the database connectivity library. Improvements have been made to the Table Designer, which now includes drop-down boxes and a data-aware "image box" widget.

According to Inge Wallin, marketing coordinator for KOffice, this release focused primarily on Krita and Kexi because those are the component that have seen the most rapid development, mainly as a result of the projects' large development teams.

Developers also made a number of improvements to KFormula, the mathematical formula editor. It now natively supports OpenDocument and MathML, and OpenDocument has become the default file format. Project management tool KPlato includes PERT calculations and lists overbooked resources in the task tooltip, while KChart boasts an improved data editor and a handful of bug fixes. Support for OpenDocument was also planned for KChart, along with some new chart types, but Wallin, who is the application's maintainer, was unable to spend as much time programming this summer as he had hoped. "On the other hand, KFormula has seen much more development than we ever anticipated, which sort of evens things out," he says.

Wallin acknowledges that despite the numerous improvements to KOffice, there is still room for improvements, particularly in the suite's basic applications, KWord and KPresenter. "At the same time as 1.6 was developed, many of the team were concentrating wholly on 2.0, which will build on KDE4 technology. We hope that we will be able to release this version during spring 2007, and when we do all these weaknesses will have been addressed.

"KOffice has had two heavy years now, with first a complete switch to the OpenDocument file format, then a switch to Qt4 and KDE4. After those two great rewrites are done, feature development will start anew with renewed speed. The competition will really have to look out at that point!"

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