Craig Lambert, author and FLOSS advocate

Doing it all with open-source software

First impressions of Calligra Author 2.8.1 (and a short story!)

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FLOSS includes an abundance of writing tools, from basic text editors to elaborate office suites that rival (or exceed) Microsoft Word. Many are cross-platform (Linux, Windows, and Mac), and for the most part I’ll report on my experiences with those.

Probably the best-known FLOSS office suite is OpenOffice, which was forked to LibreOffice after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, which owned OpenOffice. I used OpenOffice and LibreOffice to write Children of the Ice, and I’m using it to write my next book.

Today, however, we’re going to look at a component of another office suite: Calligra. Calligra began life as KOffice, part of the KDE desktop environment with a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program. Over the years, it has developed into a very capable office suite, picking up a vector graphics component, a full drawing program, database front-end, a project planning program, a mind-mapping component, a program to create flowcharts, and now, a spin-off of the word processor, intended for authors.

This last component is called Calligra Author. Currently, it’s a word processor with the features most commonly required for writing books, and none of the other distractions. It’s targeted for writers of novels and textbooks, but it should be useful for whatever you want to write.  It is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac, but the non-Linux versions are currently less full-featured than the one for Linux.

A welcome feature is the ability to export your work as PDF (nothing new there, but still useful) and as MOBI and EPUB formats for Nook and Kindle. In the past, I’ve had to use Calibre to get a manuscript into one of the e-reader formats, so this is great.

Future plans, as I understand it, include a tool to help plan your books. Maybe if all the components were integrated into one suite, I’d be better about outlining. I’ll keep an eye on the betas and try it out when it happens.

I took Calligra Author for a spin and wrote UNIVERSE, which you can find under the STORIES tab on the home page.  Calligra Author formatted it properly.  WordPress has thwarted my attempts to keep the formatting (proper indenting, no blank lines between paragraphs).

All in all, I’m impressed with Calligra Author.  If I were to choose to switch (which I might do), it would be easy, because Author saves its output in the Open Document Format (.odf), as does LibreOffice.

Craig

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