LibreOffice 5.3.3 and embedded documents

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As our lab is entirely Ubuntu/Linux (with a smattering of windows machines for hardware where there is no Linux alternative), one of my bugbears is going to meetings where the agenda is sent out as a MS Word file with all of the documents for the meeting embedded in the agenda.

LibreOffice has not been able to open all of the embedded documents reliably in my experience, which has meant that the only way to access all of the embedded documents (usually PDF and DOCX files) was to unzip the Word Agenda file, and then trawl through the debris to work out which file was which. For example, PDF files would unzip as “word/embeddings/oleObject1.bin” which meant renaming to include a .pdf suffix. This was a particular problem with PDF files, and as this process doesn’t keep the original names, it was not always possible to determine which file was related to the appropriate agenda item.

Well this week I saw something on OMGUbuntu which implied that compatibility with MS office was much improved, so I downloaded the latest 5.3.3 release.

Whilst the release notes do not mention embedded improvements, it turns out that some of the documents I received in the last week with embedded PDF files now work (I’m using Ubuntu 16.04 with LibreOffice 5.3.3) - just double click on the embedded document and up pops the PDF in evince.

Embedded MS Word files have always been a bit hit or miss for me. There are two different scenarios I’ve been used to with 5.2.3 and which continue to work with 5.3.3:

  • Embedded documents which, when I double click, open up in a tiny little window. The solution to these files is to right click on the attachment and select “Save Copy as”, then save it.
  • Other Word type files would usually (not always) open more reliably from a double click.

It’s not clear to me what the difference is between these two word formats at the moment, but at least now there is a way to open all of these formats including PDF from within libreoffice 5.3.3.

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