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This page will be updated periodically as we test various releases of OpenOffice and LibreOffice on various Linux releases.

We have guidance related to the release of the office suite that should be used when creating and modifying templates, and the release of the office suite that can be used on the print server.


Office for creating and modifying templates

 6/22/2023: BP Forms does not care whether you use OpenOffice or LibreOffice for creating and editing your templates.  However, LibreOffice seems to be taking the lead from OpenOffice in terms of community and developer support.  Therefore, we prefer to use LibreOffice with the the following caveat:

To prevent superfluous <span> tags that can break BP Forms [placeholders].

We have received reports of users modifying template in LibreOffice experiencing strange behavior.  BP Forms customers provided their 'strange' templates to us for examination.  We found that their templates had superfluous <span> tags inserted into the middle of the BP Forms [placeholders] within the template.  We traced this issue, through the Libre Office forum to this article:

This documents the field reporting a bug that injects superfluous <span> tags into documents, exactly as we observed.  According to the this article, the solution is to set an option in the Libre Office writer settings for the installation of LibreOffice where you will be creating or editing a template.  You will find this option by calling up Libre Office then choosing menu: Tools > Options > LibreOffice Writer > Comparison and then UNCHECK (not like we have in the image below) the option which reads 'Store it when changing the document'.  This is reported to prevent the injection of superfluous <span> tags.


Please use caution!

  • Make a backup of your template before you attempt to edit it with Libre Office
  • Call up Libre Office and make the option change above then apply it and exit Libre Office
  • Call up Libre Office again and check the option to make sure that you properly UNCHECKED the option (and that it is persisting)
  • Be sure to test your template by producing a real output document via BP forms to ensure that your placeholders continue to work after you edit with Libre Office for the first time
  • If problems occur, please save your template to a new location so that you can send it to us for examination
  • Then revert to your backup copy

If your template is already contaminated with superfluous <span> tags, and you have no backup of the template, you can try to see if versioning is enable in your document and try to use it to 'revert' to an earlier state. However, I suspect that re-saving the document will inject the <span> tags once again.  You may be faced with the unpleasant task of re-creating your template from scratch.  You could try 'copy/paste' of the template into a new document with the option properly set.  I am unsure if the paste would bring across the extra <span> tags... but it's worth a try.

When we receive enough reports that this 'fix' from the Libre Office community allows for the safe use of Libre Office for editing templates, then we will update this page and make the use of Libre Office (which is desirable) the new official best practice.

Note that this issue does not impact Libre Office installed on the print server.  This is because the injection of the superfluous <span> tags only happens when editing a template, not when it is read by LibreOffice to render a document to final output.  For this reason, we highly recommend using Libre Office, without concern, on your print servers.  See the specific recommended release in this article.  If you have the courage to test later releases, and wish to report success, please let us know and we will make note of your success (and sing your praises) in this article.

8/11/2021: We recommend OpenOffice release 4.1.8.  We DO NOT recommend later releases of Open Office or any Libre Office suite. While we generally prefer LibreOffice and recommend it for use on the print server, we have encountered issues when using LibreOffice to create and/or modify templates.  The root cause seems to be a bug in LibreOffice that causes extraneous <span> tags to be inserted into critical areas of the template.  These extraneous <span> tags interfere with the templating engine's ability to parse the internals of the template when inserting the dynamic data from the MultiValue host.   We will continue to test new releases of both Open Office and LibreOffice and will update this document with its recommendations as new versions are tested.

Office for the print server

8/11/2021: We recommend LibreOffice for the print server.  We do not recommend OpenOffice of any version for the print server.  We have found several issues with OpenOffice when used in headless mode on the print server whereby the OpenOffice process will stall and hang. There does not seem to be much information on the OpenOffice forums about what might be happening.  LibreOffice seems to be very stable in headless mode and so we will recommend LibreOffice on the print server.

Caution: Do not summon LibreOffice on the print server and and use it to modify templates.  Use OpenOffice at the version recommended above.  This guidance may change as we test newer releases of both product suites and determine that the two projects have resolved the issues we have encountered.