In this article, we’ll review ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors, an open-source office suite for those who need a free replacement for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
This is a free application that works on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Yes, we said an app. Singular. Unlike MS Office that delivers Word, Excel, and PowerPoint as separate applications that can be started independently, ONLYOFFICE unites text documents, spreadsheets, and presentation editors in a single interface. By default, documents are opened in new tabs. You can drag them to open a new window.
The interface itself is friendly. If you worked with Microsoft Office 2007 and you kinda miss it, you’ll be more than comfortable with this one.
There also are some customization options — you can enable Dark mode, scale the interface to 100%, 150%, and 200%, and hide the unnecessary panels and bars to make your working area larger.
Work with Popular Formats
The developers of this office suite claim that it has maximum compatibility with Docx, Xlsx, and Pptx formats. It means that the app was developed in accordance with Microsoft’s specifications and files in ONLYOFFICE and Microsoft Office should look exactly the same.
The suite also supports OpenDocument formats (odt, ods, odp), but through conversion. If you open, for example, an odt file in ONLYOFFICE, it will be converted to Docx and some of the original formattings might be changed. You can export them as odt later if you need to.
The older Microsoft formats — doc, Xls, ppt — can also be opened in ONLYOFFICE, but they will be converted to Docx, Xlsx, Pptx first and you won’t be able to save them in the old formats.
ONLYOFFICE is also able to export files as RTF, txt, pdf, fb2, epub, and Html.
Formatting Text Documents
ONLYOFFICE text C.P.U. is a mighty tool for working with docs.
It lets you manipulate fonts, paragraph formatting, page layout, as well as insert links (don’t forget to press Space after pasting or typing a hyperlink), and graphic objects (images, charts & graphs, shapes, equations).
You will be also able to add references, including table of contents and figures, foot- and endnotes, bookmarks, and cross-references.
Additional features are available via plugins that are equivalents to Google Docs add-ons. There is a bunch of pre-installed ones. For example, you can translate your text with Google Translator or search synonyms using Thesaurus.
Processing Data in Spreadsheets
ONLYOFFICE supports all the basic spreadsheet functionality and allows to store, organize, filter, and visualize data with colorful charts and graphs, as well as perform calculations using 455 built-in functions. ONLYOFFICE supports almost all Excel functions, only 30 are missing at the moment.
According to the developers’ blog, improving spreadsheets was the focus of the latest versions. In recent months, a lot of useful features were added, including data validation, pivot tables, slicers, Remove Duplicates option. Conditional formatting is also coming.
Work with Presentations
ONLYOFFICE presentation editor is rather basic. It allows you to create and format slides and then present your ideas to others.
The editor has a nice tool called Presenter mode that allows you to view your presentations with slide notes in a separate window while demonstrating it without notes on a big screen for your audience.
You can also use Timer to check to have much time you’ve been presenting and Pointer to draw your audience’s attention to something on the screen.
Although it’s nice to use, the ONLYOFFICE presentation editor lacks an important feature — animations. We hope that the developers will be added soon.
Connecting to Cloud
You may notice a Connect cloud section in the app’s menu. There you can connect the app to the online version. This way you can upload your local files to the cloud to store them online as well as share documents with your friends and colleagues to work together in real-time. Your collaborators won’t need to install an app or even register (if you choose to share a file via an external link) — they can just edit the document you shared in their browser.
ONLYOFFICE cloud is free for teams of up to 5 users, the paid version offers more security and customization features. There are also free apps for Android and iOS if you need to synchronize your files across all your devices.
Perks of Using an Open-Source App
ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors is an open-source app. It means that its source code is available publicly on GitHub and anyone can have a look at it and even suggest an improvement.
If you are not a developer, you can still benefit from that. The open-source community is usually very demanding, with many enthusiasts hunting for bugs and vulnerabilities, so it ensures that the app is safe to use.
Here’s a tip you can use when deciding upon an open-source app: check if it has an active community and how the developers usually respond to it. The coolest apps are usually on GitHub, so go to the project’s repository and check how many issues have been opened by users and closed by developers.
GitHub may also be a good way to get in touch with the developers when you want to request a feature or report a bug. Yes, you are allowed to ask if you don’t pay anything! But don’t forget to specify the app’s version and step-by-step scenario if you are reporting a problem.
Using ONLYOFFICE for free
As an open-source app, ONLYOFFICE desktop is distributed on terms of AGPLv3 license. This one allows using the app at home and in-office without any restrictions.
It also doesn’t include any ads and doesn’t ask you to purchase anything.
ONLYOFFICE Desktop vs LibreOffice
ONLYOFFICE Desktop is not the only open-source suite that you can use to replace Microsoft Office. There are two more called OpenOffice and LibreOffice that are also free.
Both suites were developed and maintained by the community of enthusiasts that rivaled against the Microsoft monopoly. Both use OpenDocument formats (odt, ods, odp) as the core.
How to choose between them? It’s easy! Definitely opt for LibreOffice, it still receives cool updates, while OpenOffice has been almost abandoned by its developers.
How to choose between ONLYOFFICE and LibreOffice? If you need Docx, Xlsx, Pptx compatibility, choose ONLYOFFICE. If odt, ods, and odp are choices, download LibreOffice.
Also, LibreOffice has a more complex interface and more features for professionals, while ONLYOFFICE is way more friendly for beginners.
The most important thing to remember is that if you decided not to purchase Microsoft Office, you have some cool options to choose from. ONLYOFFICE Desktop Editors is definitely one of them.