LibreOffice has included an important feature that has been broken for years. Jack Wallen takes on the task of not only calling out the problem but calling on developers to resolve the issue.


Image: Jack Wallen

I’ve been covering LibreOffice for a very long time. Over the past couple of years that coverage has slowed to a crawl as traditional office suites have become a bit antiquated. In the place of the tried and true, locally installed office suites, cloud-based options like Google Workspace and Office365 have taken over. And with good cause.

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Just take a look at my use case. I am a professional writer. I spend most of my day writing and sometimes go from machine to machine to do so. Because of that, I need access to whatever I’m working on from anywhere. On top of that, I need a reliable backup solution. Yes, I could make a locally installed solution like LibreOffice work, but it would take considerable effort for it to include the features I depend on with Google Workspace.

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One of the biggest issues is saving a file from LibreOffice to the cloud. This is a feature the developers baked into the software some time ago. However, it hasn’t worked for a long time. I remember, years ago, trying to get the LibreOffice Remote Save to work with Google Cloud. The feature is available, but I don’t know that it has ever worked.

Over the past few years, I’ve revisited the topic, and every time I find the feature still doesn’t work. Google it and you’ll find the same complaint dating back 3+ years ago. Three years is a long time to have a feature not work in a piece of software. It makes one wonder why the developers have continued including it.

A few weeks ago, I reached out to LibreOffice about this very issue. Their response was straightforward: They don’t have a developer to work on it.

This is quite common within the world of open source development. When a team consists mostly of volunteers, it’s hard to find help. And when a feature isn’t critical to the functionality of the application, it’s going to get sidelined. 

Thing is, the remote save feature should be considered critical. People have migrated to the cloud. The masses depend on the likes of Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox. So when an office suite, such as LibreOffice, teases a feature that could help make it (somewhat) integrate with the cloud, that’s exciting. To be able to save files directly to Google Drive or open files from Google Drive could move the likes of Linux closer to mass appeal.

Consider this: If LibreOffice gets that functionality working, the office suite could be one step closer to feeling (at least somewhat) cloud-native. At least it would be cloud-adjacent. And that’s important to modern-day users who’d rather keep their data in a cloud drive than local storage.

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So what’s a team like the LibreOffice developers to do? Even though I feel I’m pretty well connected with the open source community, I don’t ever remember the LibreOffice team calling out to developers across the world to say, “Hey, we need a developer who can help fix our remote save functionality! Anyone interested?”

Guess what … I’m going to do it for them.

If you’re a developer who feels as though you can step in and finally fix that remote save feature in LibreOffice, head over to the Start hacking LibreOffice today! page and reach out to the team. Let them know you’re interested in helping, so this must-have feature can finally function as expected.

It shouldn’t be this hard. Yes, I get it: Developing software is a challenging profession. But finding quality developers for a project as important as LibreOffice shouldn’t be a task that requires Herculean effort. The onus for this is on LibreOffice. Although developers should be in the habit of reaching out to a team (to get involved), projects such as LibreOffice should always be promoting tasks that require help, especially when said feature could really help bring the suite in line with modern-day use cases.

So, what do you say, developer world? Are you ready to step up and help LibreOffice make good on a promise to allow users to save and open files to/from Google Drive (and other cloud services)? If so, what are you waiting for?

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