The community led LibreOffice software suite has been in development for quite a while since it split from the well known Linux based OpenOffice.org community. The software suite supports over 30 different languages and a good selection of operating systems, but sadly not Android.
A small group of developers have been hard at work for over a year attempting to port the open source office suite over to Android, and they are on the verge of having at least part of the project ready for release.
In a recently interview LibreOffice developer Michael Meeks discussed some of the issues he is having finishing the project. The most prominent problem simply being a lack of resources; most of the developers are focusing on updating the desktop version of LibreOffice and working with business customers.
There’s an awful lot of work to be done porting everything over to mobile devices, and with just Michael Meeks and fellow developer Tor Lillqvist left to do virtually everything themselves in their free time, progress has been understandably sluggish.
LibreOffice for Android is on the verge of releasing the document viewer, but is running into problems when trying to implement mobile functionality with the rest of the office suite.
“The problem is getting the input stuff working, the minimal gestural interface, integration done, so you can swipe pages and pinch to zoom and so on. That takes a little bit of effort. It’s a bit further out I would say.”
Finishing off the full software suite is expected to take a few months more, but development is not only being slowed by labor constraints, it also seems that the Google Play store is hindering development.
Meeks stated that the current Play Store apk limit of 50Mb was pretty much the only thing preventing him from releasing the document viewer.
“The problem is getting it to be packaged into the app store … we need to create a small Java wrapper to download the rest of the app from somewhere else”
Frustratingly the application currently sits at 54Mb, just a fraction over the Google Play imposed limit. Working around these small problems is clearly irritating for the already stretched developers.
As an additional note, the LibreOffice team are currently looking for help from Android developers to help push the project out faster. If you or anyone you know might be interested then feel free to hit them up with an email to Libreoffice@lists.freedesktop.org. If they can get all the help they need, the developers hope to push out the first part of LibreOffice at some point later in the year.