Thursday, June 01, 2006

libwpd 0.8.5 "reward for your patience" in the wild

It has been almost 6 months without a libwpd release. So, after you waited for it patiently, the libwpd developer community has the pleasure to announce you that libwpd 0.8.5, "reward for your patience", has been released today (1st June 2006) just to throw some shadow on the rather insignificant event of Ubuntu Dapper release.

So, what has been done:

  • We added some new items in the list of converted features for WP5 and WP3 formats. Font information (face, size, colour), headers/footers and footnotes/endnotes for WP5 and headers/footers for WP3 file-format.

  • We fixed some bugs (from which one crasher) and annoyances.

  • We are now having the page/section/paragraph margins right even in multicolumn sections, which allows us to know which absolute position corresponds to which column and to count the relative position from the begining of the column. This is also allowing us to count correctly tabulator positions in multicolumn sections.

  • We are now preventing -- inside the document body -- negative paragraph margins that were resulting from page margin change in the middle of a page which removes the ugly text border lines running across the text in some WP documents opened inside Although, it is still possible to craft a document the way that there will be negative margins --in header and footer --, it is very unlikely to find something like this in the real life.

  • We are avoiding closing page spans and/or sections inside a paragraph which used to add paragraph breaks where they were not supposed to be. We defer now the page span change to the end of the paragraph.

  • We added to the wpd2text tool an option switch "--info"; if called with this switch, wpd2text will not convert the document in plain text, but dump the document meta-data instead. This feature could be used in a beagle WPD indexer if designed as a wrapper of wpd2text.

Future plans:

  • A fine hacker known from several FOSS projects, Ariya Hidayat, is sponsored by Google to work on the wpg2odg converter. Which means that the conversion of images in WP documents is not an abstract issue anymore. Welcome to Ariya and thank you to Google.

  • As for me, I would like to implement tabulators in WP3 and WP5 file formats for 0.8.6 as well as to try to bring all the formats to the same level of features converted. Which means add multicolumn sections for WP5 and list styles for both WP3 and WP5. In the same time, I would like to stuff a little bit the WP42 parser.

  • One of my other objectives would be to motivate someone with a copy of WP 5.x to do the QA of changes in this file-format. I would like to thank in the same token Smokey Ardisson for his great QA work of WP3 changes. Without Smokey it would not be possible to arrive so far in the WP3 support. Thanks, Smokey, for being my eyes :-)

Bottom-line: With this changes, the libwpd based filter is more powerfull than the proprietary WP filters shipped with StarOffice 8. A time to get rid of stale, unmaintained, proprietary binaries, isn't it?