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OnlyOffice: the office suite for collaborators who like flexibility

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

Visit the Office category on any Linux distro that organizes software into categories, such as ones with the XFCE or Cinnamon interfaces, and the applications that compose LibreOffice will be found. The suite is the most popular for Linux users, and many Mac and Windows users also have installed it on their computers.


LibreOffice is not the only alternative to Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac that is available to Linux users as well, however. There is another that has several capabilities that LibreOffice and Microsoft Office 365 don’t have.

OnlyOffice's desktop applications, packaged as an integrated suite, runs on most Linux distros, as well as Windows and Mac OS. It is free to download and install.


Users also can access the same applications through any Web browser on any computer, as long as they or the organization they work for has a cloud service account. The price for an account is free, and there is a business tier that organizations can subscribe to on a monthly or annual basis.


OnlyOffice doesn’t have as many settings and features as the well-known office suites, but it is more flexible than they are. This article will compare it with LibreOffice and Microsoft Office, as well as give an overview of its user interface and the file formats it can handle.

Versus LibreOffice

The advantage OnlyOffice has over LibreOffice is that is was designed to work online and people can collaborate on documents through it. The organization behind OnlyOffice has made online accounts available for organizations and businesses, so their employees can work with each other and have a central document management system for the organization.

OnlyOffice, Google Drive, Dropbox, and several other types of syncing services can be connected to an OnlyOffice account, allowing users and organizations to work on documents stored in multiple services. LibreOffice cannot connect to these, and it doesn’t currently allow for real-time collaboration through its desktop applications.

LibreOffice gives users the ability to open documents on several online services and save documents to them. It offers connections to Google Drive and OneDrive, but connecting to these usually doesn’t work. Users typically experience the errors when connecting to them. The other services LibreOffice can connect to are ones a corporation needs to set up on its own servers.

For OnlyOffice, an account can be set up on OnlyOffice’s servers, or corporations can download versions of the software and install it on their own servers. Through either way, OnlyOffice’s document manager can be connected with Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, and several other popular syncing services.


Documents in these systems can be viewed in the OnlyOffice document manager, which can be accessed through the desktop editors that can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux distros. It also can be accessed through any Web browser.


Besides services like Dropbox, OnlyOffice users also can connect to other popular accounts directly through the desktop editors. NextCloud, ownCloud, and Seafile are other accounts that users can connect to. Simply click the Connect to Cloud in the left column of the desktop editors application.


While OnlyOffice doesn’t have all the features that LibreOffice has, and it can’t create the same variety of documents, it is much better for users to collaborate with each other on, and it can connect to popular services that users are most likely already using.


Versus Microsoft Office

Like LibreOffice, Microsoft Office for both Windows and Mac has more capabilities than OnlyOffice, and it can create more types of documents. Users also can collaborate with each other in all the versions (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Online), as long as the documents are saved in a OneDrive or SharePoint account.

Microsoft Office users on Mac OS and computers running Windows can collaborate on documents stored in OneDrive. OnlyOffice users can collaborate on documents in OneDrive if they have an OnlyOffice account. However, OnlyOffice’s desktop editors can also be connected to three other services without an OnlyOffice account. OnlyOffice users have more options for collaboration than Microsoft Office users.

OnlyOffice, however, allows users to collaborate on documents stored in services other than Microsoft ones. As mentioned in the Versus LibreOffice section, organizations can create an OnlyOffice account and connect it to Google Drive, Dropbox, as well as OneDrive and several other accounts. NextCloud, ownCloud, and Seafile are other accounts that users can connect to.


Microsoft reserves its most feature-rich version of Office for Windows users. Mac users have access to a version with less features. Linux users are ignored, and they must login to an account on Office.com and use the Online version through a Web browser.


The desktop editors for OnlyOffice are made to work natively on most Linux distros. There are Flatpak, Snap, and AppImage versions, and the application stores for several distros make OnlyOffice’s editors available. These have the same features and capabilities as the desktop editors for Windows and Mac.


Users for the three system types have the same software, and they can collaborate with each other on a documents through them. While it doesn’t have the features that Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac has, it has a similar user interface, and it can handle several different file formats.


User interface

The different functions are organized into ribbons that are similar to Microsoft Office’s applications.


Word Processor



  1. File

  2. Home

  3. Insert

  4. Layout

  5. References

  6. Collaboration

  7. Protection

  8. Plugins

Spreadsheet



  1. File

  2. Home

  3. Insert

  4. Layout

  5. Formula

  6. Data

  7. Pivot Table

  8. Collaboration

  9. Protection

  10. View

  11. Plugins

Presentation



  1. File

  2. Home

  3. Insert

  4. Transitions

  5. Animation

  6. Collaboration

  7. Protection

  8. View

  9. Plugins


File formats

OnlyOffice’s default formats that it saves documents in are Office Open formats: DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX. The desktop editors installed on a computer can save a document in several different formats. The version of the editors that you access through a Web browser will only create documents in the office open formats: DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX.

The image shows the Save As tab in the File ribbon. There are 11 formats that can a document can be saved in. The spreadsheet and presentation applications also have several formats.


Word Processor

  1. Word 2007 Document (.docx)

  2. Document template (.dotx)

  3. OpenOffice Document (.odt)

  4. OpenDocument Document Template (.ott)

  5. Rich Text Document (.rtf)

  6. Plain Text (.txt)

  7. Web Page (.html)

  8. FictionBook File (.fb2)

  9. Mobipocket e-book (.epub)

  10. PDF File (.pdf)

  11. PDF/A File (.pdf)

Spreadsheet desktop

  1. Excel 2007 Spreadsheet (.xlsx)

  2. Spreadsheet template (.xltx)

  3. OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods)

  4. OpenDocument Spreadsheet Template (.ots)

  5. Comma-Separated Values (.csv)

  6. PDF File (.pdf)

  7. PDF/A File (.pdf)

Presentation desktop

  1. PowerPoint 2007 Presentation (.pptx)

  2. Presentation template (.potx)

  3. OpenOffice Presentation (.odp)

  4. OpenDocument Presentation Template (.otp)

  5. PDF File (.pdf)

  6. PDF/A File (.pdf)

There are numerous formats that the desktop editors can open, in addition to the formats they can create. The versions that are accessed through Web browsers have to convert most documents to DOCX, XLSX, or PPTX to edit them.


Conclusion

OnlyOffice is an excellent office suite to replace Microsoft Office and LibreOffice. It also can be used to augment them. The advantage it has over the two feature-rich suites is its flexibility in collaboration. Users can store their documents in a number of services, such as Dropbox, and work with others in real time on them. They are not relegated to OneDrive or SharePoint, like Microsoft Office users are.


Users also have flexibility with OnlyOffice. They can install the desktop editors on Windows, Mac, or just about any Linux distro and have the same features and experience. Even if they are using a computer is not their own, they can use OnlyOffice through a Web browser, and the features and interface will be the same as the desktop editors.

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