Is Calligra A Great Alternative to LibreOffice?

LibreOffice may be the most popular open-source Office Suite around, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other good open source office suite that you can use. If you are looking for a simpler, yet equally powerful office suite for your Linux system, Calligra might be a good alternative to LibreOffice (or is it?) Let’s check it out.

Calligra Suite is a graphic art and office suite by KDE created from KOffice in 2010. It is available for the Linux and FreeBSD system and there are preliminary support for Mac OSX and Windows as well. It contains applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, databases, vector graphics, and digital painting.

Calligra is mainly created for the KDE desktop manager, but it will work in Gnome and all other DEs as well. However, for non-KDE system, you will have to install a bunch of KDE files for it to work.

In Ubuntu, you can install it via the command:

Other Linux distro can check out the Calligra Installer page for the relevant packages.

Like LibreOffice, Calligra comes with a series of applications that you can use. There is the Calligra Words for word processing, Calligra Sheets for spreadsheet and Calligra Stage for presentation. There is also the Calligra Flow for flowchart creation and Plan for project management.

calligra-apps

Opening the Calligra Word, it will first prompt you to select a template. Once in the document area, you will notice that the interface is different from LibreOffice and any other office suite. Instead of displaying several rows of toolbar at the top, you now have a Ms-Word ribbon like interface at the side of the document. Clicking on each tab displays the relevant area. Overall, the whole interface is cleaner and allows you to focus more on your work.

calligra-template

calligra-word-interface

After using Calligra for a while, I actually prefer its interface to LibreOffice. Most of the tools are well-organized into its respective section and searching for the functions you need is often an easy task.

One thing though, it doesn’t support saving to Ms-Word .doc and .docx format. It only supports the Open Document Format (ODF). You can open, view and edit .doc and .docx file, but you can only save to .odf format.

calligra-no-msword-format

Calligra also has support for Google document, so you can link to and open Google document for editing on your desktop.

calligra-google-docs

calligra-google-docs-signin

The project management app – Plan in the Calligra suite is also a useful app that allows you to set project range, add tasks, set date, allocate resources, and even view reports. In Microsoft Office suite, you will have to purchase the Microsoft Project to have these features, but in Calligra, you get it for free.

calligra-plan

Calligra Sheets:

calligra-sheets

Calligra Stage:

calligra-stage

Calligra Flow:

calligra-flow

I haven’t used Calligra long enough to be able to say that it has everything LibreOffice or Microsoft Office have, but for the few documents and spreadsheets I have created in Calligra, it has all the tools I need. As mentioned above, the biggest limitation is the inability to save documents in doc or docx format.

Calligra also includes Kexi (a database management program similar to Microsoft Access), Karbon (A vector graphics editor), Krita (an image editor) and Braindump (a notetaking and mindmapping application) which I didn’t review in the article. If you add up all these application together, Calligra is actually more useful and versatile than LibreOffice.

If you have no issue with the limitation (unable to save in .doc and.docx format) and doesn’t require any LibreOffice-only or MS Office-only features, then Calligra is definitely a good alternative, particularly if you are using the KDE desktop manager. What do you think?

Calligra

7 comments

  1. Only thing I dislike about Calligra is it’s bad/blurry font rendering in the documents you’re editing, especially in Sheets and Words (ie the only Calligra apps other than Krita I use).

    • Mike they changed the way Calligra handles the fonts. So if you are using the latest version of Calligra and use KDE 4.8 it should be fixed now.

      The problem was they applied “hinting” after the font was rendered, which in theory, should have made a better looking screen. Qt also uses hinting on fonts so they double effect caused the blurring.

  2. I switched to Calligra a month ago and I love it. Small, fast and has modern user intefrace. Great job. And i don’t even think not being able to save documents in closed and patent-ridden formats is a minus, I don’t want to be helping imprison our data, quite the opposite I want to liberate imprisoned data into open formats like OpenDocument or PDF. And it is not such a problem these days, Even MS Office has plugins to read OpenDocument Format and if I’m not mistaken even Wordpad in Windows 7 can open them. And it’s not like anyone can’t download LibreOffice for free and use that.

    • I am glad you love calligra so much. Regarding Open Document Format, it is still not wisely adopted yet, so it could pose a problem for many who are not tech-savvy or are used to MsOffice native format.

        • Hi Marc, thanks for clarifying it. Does it work for older version of Ms Office as well? I remember I tried opening it on Ms Office 2000 (on my dad’s PC) and it didn’t work.

  3. If it can read DOC and DocX and can include RTF support, I might give it a shot. RTF is the one format I can be sure every version of Word can open. You can’t count on people being able to install plugins nor using the latest versions of the OS. And HTML support in Word was always bad.

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