In these technological advancing times, digital data documentation has become the heart of businesses and education, and health systems. More than a trillion files and documents are maintained, shared, and modified every day. From the local shop owners to multinational companies, and from submitting a school assignment to managing health records in hospitals, every sector is dependent on a smooth-running platform that enables the creation, modification, and sharing of these files. Many researchers, scientists, and software developers have constructed tools enabling seamlessly file creation and data management, and thus a lot of office suites, incorporating different tools for file and document creation and management have flooded the market since the launch of Microsoft Office in 1988. However, not all office suites are free, open-source, and cross-platform compatible. This article discusses and incorporates a list of the top best office suites that are feature-packed and at the same time, are free, open-source, and cross-platform compatible.
Launched in 2012 by the Information Technology (IT) industry giants – Apache Software Foundation, the Apache OpenOffice is a free and open-source office suite that incorporates a number of tools enabling easy, flexible, and efficient data creation and management capabilities. Apache OpenOffice is cross-platform compatible and offers a seamless user experience for Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows users across the globe.
Apache OpenOffice incorporates six different tools or components that allows users to create and manage a different kind of data. These components are Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, and Base. The Writer component is a Microsoft Word alternative that enables users to perform similar activities and tasks with an intuitive interface. Calc, like Microsoft Excel, is a tool for performing calculations, creating, and applying formulas to data. Impress enables users to create interactive and creative presentations and offers a similar experience to Microsoft PowerPoint. Impress offers compatibility with the Flash player and so any system with a Flash Player installed can support Impress created presentations. Draw is a vector graphics editor that offers Microsoft Paint-like features for drawing. Math tool or component enables users to create different formulae with more efficient features and capabilities offering an experience similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. These formulae can then be embedded in other Apache OpenOffice documents. Base is an alternative offered for Microsoft Access. With Base, users can perform numerous database management activities with Base acting as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including MySQL, Access databases (JET), PostgreSQL, and ODBC data sources.
Get it now from https://www.openoffice.org/download/index.html
Released in 2011, LibreOffice is another most efficient and intuitive free and open-source office offering numerous features and functionalities. LibreOffice offers a wide cross-compatibility, it is compatible across Linux, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Haiku, and Solaris paradigms. The tool enables users across the said paradigms to benefit from the most enhanced, feature-packed, and efficient document management tool that enables seamless data creation and management tasks.
Like Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice offers similar components and applications to ensure seamless data creation and management capabilities. LibreOffice has Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, and Base applications for handling and dealing with different kinds of data. The Writer component is a Microsoft Word alternative that along with providing an interface for creating different text documents also acts as an intuitive text editor. With Writer, the users can also draft forms via PDF or the Forms tab. Calc, like Microsoft Excel, is a spreadsheet tool enabling users to create graphs based on the information or data added by the user. Impress enables users to create interactive and creative presentations and offers a similar experience to Microsoft PowerPoint. Impress offers support for PPTX, ODP, SXI, and SWF files and is also compatible with the Flash player. Draw is an efficient vector graphics editor and raster graphics editor. The tool enables users to experience Visio-like features and compatibility for creating interactive and most illustrative diagrams. Math tool enables users to create and edit different mathematical formulae. These formulae can then be embedded in other LibreOffice documents. Base is an alternative offered for Microsoft Access. LibreOffice Base allows users to create and manage different databases, generate database content-related forms and reports, create small, embedded databases that are stored within the document files. Also, users can perform numerous database management activities with Base acting as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including MySQL, Access databases (JET), PostgreSQL, ODBC, JDBC, MariaDB data sources.
Get it now from https://www.libreoffice.org/download/download/
Developed by the KDE – the experts at developing free and open-source software, Calligra was released for the public in 2000 making it the most ancient in the list of the office suites discussed here in this article. As discussed, Calligra is a free and open-source office suite that offers cross-platform compatibility and is, therefore, an optimal solution for Unix-like, Windows, and Android operating system users.
Calligra offers a wide list of enhanced and diverse components enabling its users to perform numerous actions on different types of data. Calligra offers 10 components, which are Words, Sheets, Stage, Kexi, Plan, BrainDump, Flow, Karbon, Krita, and Author. Words component is a word processor that allows users to create word documents along with providing the ability to import the word documents in the application. Sheets, as the name suggests, is a tool for handling and creating spreadsheets. The component, Stage, enables users to create the most interactive presentations with an enhanced list of features. Kexi provides a visual frontend database that is similar to Microsoft Access. Plan component provides users a project management application that is capable of creating interactive and most eye-catching Gantt charts. Braindump is a notetaking and mind mapping tool that enables users to create random notes offering an experience similar to Microsoft OneNote. With the component, Flow, users are able to create flowcharts using the integrated stencils enabling an efficient flowchart creation process. Karbon is a vector graphics editor allowing users to create different diagrams and illustrations. Krita offers allows users to edit images and add different effects that bring a new life to the images. Finally, the Author provides users an e-book platform providing an experience quite similar to the iBooks Author.
Get it now from https://calligra.org/download/
The expert developers at Ascensio System SIA, in 2009, started a project named TeamLab that enabled team collaboration on Wiki, Blogs, etc. This project was rebranded to “OnlyOffice” and launched for the public with its open-source code available at SourceForge in 2014. And finally, the desktop office suite, a feature-packed alternative to the Microsoft Office was released in 2016. OnlyOffice is a free and open-source office suite that offers compatibility with Linux, Microsoft Office, macOS, iOS, and Android.
Get it now from https://www.onlyoffice.com/en/download-desktop.aspx
The article summarizes and provides a list of the most efficient, free, open-source, and cross-platform compatible office suites. Apache OpenOffice tops our list of the best office suites available in the market, however, the paradigms to follow, i.e., LibreOffice, OnlineOffice and Calligra also offer a competitive user experience and list of features. All the discussed paradigms incorporate a wide list of integrated tools that allow users to create, maintain and edit any kind of data, e.g., Calligra offers an enhanced list of ten different components (or tools) that allow users to almost do anything they want, from taking random notes to creating mathematical formulae, all features are provided in one enhanced and feature-packed paradigm. Microsoft Office is though a great competitor to the here discussed office suites, however, the paradigm is neither free nor open-source which makes its feature limited. The open-source paradigms offer a continuous platform to extend capabilities and functionalities thereby providing its users an unending sea of features and functionalities. Hence, the discussed office suites, we believe, are the best options for free and open-source software lovers and enthusiasts.
Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications including CCNA RS, SCP, and ACE. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various websites.