This page aims to collect information on Collaborative editing and Reviewing in LibreOffice, particularly for Writer. This includes Track Changes, Comments, Comparison of Documents, and Real-time Collaboration. There is currently no development on improving this feature.
"Track changes" is a feature that allows Writer users to keep track of the changes that they or other users make to a document as well as the comments of users. All changes are recorded and are visualized in order to ease the review of a document. Changes can be accepted or rejected by the user. This feature is especially important for those who use Writer in workgroups.
Writer's implementation of track changes is functional but needs improvement in some areas, such as visualizing and printing of tracked changes, efficient detection of changes made to a document, tracking changes in tables and frames, formatting and printing of comments. Real-time collaboration is available in LibreOffice on-line only.
Related issues and requirements
Visualization and printing of change tracking:
- Use margins to track changes: tdf#34355. Please also see related AOO bugs: i#9661, i#92154,i#88879,i#66293.
User interface for change tracking: tdf#32699.
Accepting more recorded changes in one step: tdf#39366.
Visualization and printing of comments:
Issues in change tracking core functionality:
- The severe limitations of change tracking functionality are summarized in: Bug 34355, Comment 6.
- Compare Document does not compare only differences: i#54195.
- Compare Document erroneously highlights unchanged words as changed: tdf#44847.
- Table, frame, header, footer, graphic structure (delete, insert) not changes tracked (redlining): i#76935.
- Undetected changes with change tracking: i#17922.
Enhancements to change tracking core functionality:
- Add "Hidden" as attribute for Changes tracking display: i#61570.
- Ability to limit tracking to textual content changes: i#58838.
- Display changed text by a different color: Setup for that does exist. This is related to accessibility settings - see here
Partial acceptance / rejection of the changes: tdf#58723
New User Experience effort 2015:
Partially implemented features:
- Merge enabled change tracking (Peter Rakyta, 2013-11-15), currently developed by EuroOffice, Multiracio.hu.
- Design & demo of collaborative editing in LibreOffice. Presentation by Michael Meeks (2013-10-09): "Collaborative Editing, Status & Future ..." (PDF). Demo for LibreOffice Calc.
- The internal algorithms when comparing documents have severe limitations. The Google Summer of Code 2009 project Improve Writer's compare function produced a patch to improve the comparison algorithm which was never merged with OpenOffice, though: Improve Writer's compare function. For further details, please see Tzvetelina Tzeneva's blog and Thorsten Behrens' blog GSOC 2009 Wrap-up.
- DeltaXMLODTCompare. Extension that compares two documents and vizualizes changes made between the document versions, comparison includes tables. (2011-03-27)
When working on the Notes2 feature (current Notes in Writer) the aim was that Notes and Change tracking "fits together":
- Idea for Tracked Changes on the Notes Sidepane, some more details on Notes2 Other Ideas Page.
- Notes Anchors for Special Objects (e.g. for change tracking of graphics / tables)
- Filters, such as: "Do not display any changes made earlier than my last review of the document" or "Do not display changes that are older than xx days" or "Do not display changes of person xy and person xz, because I trust them very much"
- Versioning: Display and render a version of the file with a certain set of changes applied (by author, by date) but not the others. Allow saving the rendered copy.
Support for Track Changes in the OpenDocument (ODF) format:
- Currently, ODF supports track changes, but the specification is limited (e.g. lacking track changes in tables). The office collaboration at OASIS has developed a first draft of comprehensive support for change tracking: Working Draft for ODF 1.3. Part 5: Change Tracking (Svante Schubert, 2013-12-17). See also Office-collab mailing list archive.
Web-based / cloud software:
- EtherPad: Collaborating in really real-time
- GoogleDocs: Track changes and revisions. Youtube video How to Track Changes on Google Docs.
- Xopus XML editor: Release notes Xopus 4 with track changes feature
- IBM Smartcloud Docs: Instant, real-time co-editing. IBM SmartCloud Docs lets you simultaneously edit a document with other contributors, greatly improving the simplicity and efficiency by which teams build documents.
- OwnClowd Documents / WebODF: Collaborative editing on OpenDocument files. Blog: Welcome "ownCloud Documents". Blog: Bringing OpenDocument to the web, collaboratively
- OX Text: OX Text lets teams of people come together and work on the same document in real-time., Test drive accounts.
- Buzzword (Adobe):
Buzzword is advertised as being able to instant collaborative editing. It uses some different concepts compared to other word processors. The document can be shared with other persons (classified either as co-author, reviewer or reader), who can be invited via email in order to work on the same document.
The standard view always displays the most recent version and changes are not marked. However, it is possible to access the So-called "History" which makes it possible to easily navigate on a time scale through all changes made by all authors. Insertions are underlined in the colour of the respective co-author. Deletions are displayed as "Interactive markers" that display the deleted text if the mouse cursor is over the interactive marker.
Desktop software - with online real-time collaboration capabilities:
|Microsoft Word 2003 (word processor): Word displays the changes made (deletions and format changes) in bubbles in the right margin of the page. The changes of different users are displayed in different colours. The user has the option to choose, whether he/she would like to see the changes of all other authors or only of a few of them. The pages can be printed as displayed on screen.
- Abiword: Real-time collaboration with AbiCollab.net server or through direct connections via TCP or XMPP.1,2 Track changes feature very similar to LibreOffice (deleted text is displayed struck through, inserted text is displayed underlined).
- Apple Pages: Track changes feature similar like Microsoft Office. Please see: Track Changes in a Page Document, Video on track changes in Pages,Keep track of changes in pages, How to enable revision edit tracking in Apple Pages and Screenshot 1 of track changes in Apple Pages, Screenshot 2. Track changes is also available Pages on iOS. Collaborative editing was extended to iWork for iCloud.
Other desktop software with track changes feature:
- Calligra Words: Change tracking specifications. Calligra 2.8 will support comments.
- EIOffice: Track changes feature is nearly an exact copy of the Word 2003 functionality (no screenshot needed)
- Textmaker 2008: track changes feature very similar to LibreOffice (deleted text is displayed struck through, inserted text is diplayed underlined).
Press Coverage and blogs on track changes
- Tutorial on using Track Changes with Writer: Change a document (Red-lining or tracking changes) (2009-03-14)
- Brendan Scott’s Weblog: OOo Compare: Inadequate (2009-03-14)
- Brendan Scott’s Weblog: Wdiff compare - Good! (2009-03-20)
- Brendan Scott’s Weblog: Docdiff compare - Good! + Roundup (2009-03-24)
- Brendan Scott’s Weblog: Real World Test – Wdiff Best (2009-07-15)
- Max Odenthal Weblog: Notes2 Progress (2010-01-14)