LibreOffice 3.5: Time for a Word Count

LIbreOffice From the ‘Why Are You Using Anything Else?’ files:

As a long time user of, it really is just thrilling to see the innovation present in LibreOffice 3.5, which was officially released today.

As a writer, this release has at least one update which quite literally will change the way I work, (hopefully for the better). In my business, word counts – count. In older versions of LibreOffice (and OpenOffice), I’ve always had to first write then select what I’ve written to get a word count. It’s a two step process, that when repeated over the course of a day (I write at least 4 stories a day), week, month and year takes a real toll on wrists and arms (can you say Carpal Tunnel?)

With LibreOffice 3.5, the good folks at The Document Foundation will quite literally save me a pile of pain. Writer now has a real-time word count window. Yeaah I know a simple idea and one that did exist waaay back in the WordPerfect days but now it’s back and it’s good (so thnx to the developers that think of us poor writers trying to hit word counts..).

Word count in Writer today is available in a separate window, so it’s not quite as integrated as I’d like (i.e in the bottom bar, but I suspect if I was a better coder I could figure something out)

Now real-time word counts are really just a simple thing, but it’s a good example of where LibreOffice is really doing things right. Another great example is the new Microsoft Visio import filter (how many times has that tripped me up..)

Ever since the effort was created it has removed the ‘cruft’ from the code (which now actually starts somewhat faster even on my old hardware) and added in new features that users can really notice and benefit from.

“We inherited a 15 years old code base, where features were not implemented and bugs were not solved in order to avoid creating problems, and this – with time – was the origin of a large technical debt,” Caolán McNamara, a senior RedHat developer who is one of the founders and directors of TDF said in a statement.

I don’t think that LibreOffice has yet paid off that ‘technical debt’ but with the 3.5 version it’s clear that they’re making real progress.



Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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