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Contributed Features

This document gives an overview of the additional features that are included in Lotus Symphony, beyond what is in Apache OpenOffice 3.4 The items below are considered to be the enhancements that Lotus Symphony has to offer. More than 30 items are listed in the following table, including new features, performance increases, interoperability improvements, G11n and BIDI enhancements, accessibility support and more.
See the following article for details.

General Features
Performance and reliability enhancements
Presentation Features
Spreadsheet Features
Document Features
OOXML Support enhancements
RTF Support
Globalization and BIDI enhancements
Accessibility Support



General Features

New sidebar & 13 property sections (productivity enhancement)

New Sidebar - Panel Management:

  • All panels can be managed on the new sidebar:

There are many floating and docking panels in Lotus Symphony, such as the Properties, Style list, Clip Art, Navigator, Slide template, and DataPilot panels. Lotus Symphony manages all floating and docking panels in a sidebar. This is a bar which contain icons. Users can access the panels by clicking these icons.

  • The status of the panels can be managed, including initialization, status preservation, and context switching.
  • Users can perform actions on the sidebar such as: switching panels, dragging panels to dock them in other spaces, or floating the panels.

Properties panel:

  • The new Properties panel consists of the object property groups frequently used in IBM Lotus Symphony . You are able to set properties for the selected objects, such as text, page, or graphics, easily with Properties panel.
  • The Properties panel is divided into several sections. Each section is a group of properties for an object. The availability of the property sections in Properties panel is context sensitive. The sections and functions available depends on what object is selected.

To learn more about the new sidebar, watch this video for more details: Symphony Sidebar Video

Sidebar of Symphony
properties sidebar

Look and feel of the visual design

The visual design of the tab bar is improved:

  • In presentations, users can switch to different views easily and quickly by using the tab bar and clicking the buttons below the editing area, for example, users can click Normal, Outline, Slide Sorter or Notes to switch the view. Users can also switch between the Normal View and Master View by clicking.
  • In presentations, users can easily tell which view is selected by the tab bar. The selected view tab is highlighted and underlined.
    View tab

    In spreadsheets, when users click the sheet name on the tab bar, the sheet name tab is also highlighted and underlined.
    Tab Bar
  • The tab bar color has a higher contrast that provides a better look and feel.

The visual design of the Page Thumbnail in presentations is improved:

  • When the slide is selected, a rounded rectangle displays around it with a shadow to indicate that the slide is selected.
  • When users hover over a slide, a rounded rectangle displays around the slide without a shadow to highlight it.
  • When the slide is in normal state, a shadow with a width of 2px displays behind the slide.
  • The background color of the Page Thumbnail is improved.
  • The arrow to hide the Page Thumbnail is more obvious to users.
    Page Thumbnail

More obvious row and column header color

In spreadsheets, the row and column headers have a more obvious color compared with the white color of the normal rows and columns. Users can easily tell the difference.

The ruler background and Ruler Left/Right Gray Rectangle become more visible.


The background color of the three applications are blue that shows a high contrast with the editing areas. It looks more vivid.

More structured context menus and refined UI strings

  • The context menus have been logically organized in this release. Users can easily identify the function entries in the context menus.
  • The UI strings have been refined to reflect the meaning of the UI controls. And the terms are consistent in menus and dialogs.
Context Menu

Well-designed templates (20+) and clip art gallery (500+)

20 new templates and 500+ Clip Arts

Lotus Symphony 3.0.1 has more than 20 document templates from which users can quickly create documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Additionally, users can insert more than 500 pieces of art from the Clip Art gallery.

Templates and gallery

Numbering and bullets function and usability enhancements

The Bullets and Numbering window layout has changed to be more logically organized with a better visual design enabling you to set list styles more easily.

  • The layout for the Bullets and Numbering dialog has been re-designed, the focus is context sensitive when opening the dialog, and the default items can be customized and saved.
  • Numbering and bullets entries are available on the sidebar and they are context sensitive too.
  • Restarting and continue numbering behavior is enhanced. For any paragraph which contains numbering, users can use the continue numbering function.
  • To improve the interoperability of the chapter numbering, users can add list level attribute to style:style according to ODF1.2. For detailed information, visit this Wiki page.
  • The inherited paragraph styles of Headline style can be associated with outline numbering style.
  • The numbering and bullets can be moved to a new page or column when creating a new page break or column break.
Numbering and Bullets Dialog

Continuing numbering

Style list dialog usability enhancement

Usability Enhancement:

  • When users open the Style List window by pressing F11, it is docked on the sidebar by default. Users can also drag it to other places.
  • Users can select style types easily form the drop-down list in the Style type field.
  • The Apply, New, Modify, and Load Styles buttons are more visible to users.
Style List

Connector support in documents and spreadsheets

Connectors are enabled in Document and Spreadsheet editors.


Numerous usability enhancements for all editors


  • When copying objects, corresponding animations on these objects are also copied.
  • Support for importing Microsoft PPT files that contain linked spreadsheets.
  • When playing a slide show on multiple displays, the page on the main view is synchronized automatically with the screen show page.
  • In normal view, Lotus Symphony 3.0.1 automatically hides the scroll bars when they are not needed. If the vertical and horizontal scroll bars are always displayed, it wastes UI space.
  • All paragraphs within objects can be bulleted or numbered together by clicking the Bullets and Numbering button on the toolbar.
  • Users can resume a slide show after switching to other applications.
  • To insert a new row, press Tab in the last cell of a table in the presentation.
  • Users have the following ways to insert new slides:
    • Insert new slides from external files.
    • Press Enter in the Thumbnail panel.
    • Press Ctrl+M.


Tab behavior enhancement:

When users select one or more paragraphs, press Tab, an indent is added before the paragraph. Before, the selected text was replaced by a Tab character.

Tab behavior enhancement

Section creation refinement:

When creating a section, the default cursor is in the next new line below the section area. And this new line is always reserved even when pressing Backspace to move the cursor back to the section area. Here is an example:

Step 1: Create a new section, the cursor is automatically in the next line below the section area.

Step 1

Step 2: Press Backspace, the cursor moves back to the section area. But the next line is still able to input text.

Step 2

Step 3: Manually move the cursor to next line and users can start to type new text.

Step 3

Page boundary enhancement:

  • The document page boundary is not displayed by default. It greatly improve the online readability of documents. This improvement also avoids overlapping borders between tables and documents.
  • Users can select to display the page boundary by selecting File > Preferences > Symphony > Color Scheme, and then select the Text boundaries check box.
Page Boundary


  • Users can filter, sort, and do subtotal operations for different source data in one sheet.
  • Users can move rows or columns easily by dragging row or column headers.
  • Users can get instant filter query result on status bar.
  • Row headers of the filtered items are indicated with blue.
Filtered Items

Supported VBA APIs

VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is a programming language used in most Microsoft Office applications. You can run Microsoft VBA code directly in Lotus Symphony.

More than 200 VBA APIs are available for users.

For more information on our VBA support please look at this document Visual Basic Documentation

Performance and reliability enhancement

Performance enhancement

Using asynchronous loading

Two steps to load Symphony documents:

  • Load (filter): Read the data from the disk and construct the content model in the memory.
  • CreateView: Construct the view model according to the content model and display the contents to the users.

To improve the loading performance, the above two steps now are executed in two threads, so the user can view a part of the document content while the document is loading, which is called ‘Asynchronous Loading’ For more information, please refer to the Wiki page: Asynchronous Loading Information

Quick save in ODP files

In ODP files, page is used as the saving unit, when loading the file, the start and end offset can be recorded. When saving the file, only the changed part needs to be exported. The unchanged part can be directly copied from memory. This improvement can greatly reduce the time it takes to save a presentation file.

Autosave enhancement

  • The checkpoint of autosave has been redesigned. The redundant saves have been eliminated when there is no change made since the previous autosave.
Presentation Features

Support speaker notes in normal view

In normal view, users can not only view speaker notes for slides in the presentation, but also set simple properties:

  1. On the View menu, select Normal. The presentation switches to normal view.
  2. Below the slide editing area, users can type notes in the speaker notes box for the current slide.
  3. On the sidebar, users can set text and paragraph properties for these notes. If users want to set more properties for notes, users can switch to the notes view.
  4. Speaker Notes

Undo and redo support in text objects

Stability and quality enhancement:

Eliminate the crash and freeze during the undo and redo actions. Improve the quality when doing the undo and redo actions.

Title master page support

Lotus Symphony supports both the title master page and content master page.

Title Master page support

Insert slides from an external file

Users can insert slides from files in presentations by selecting Create > New Slides from File or using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+I.

Rendering and usability improvement on thumbnail slider


The rendering quality on the Thumbnail panel is improved.


When the cursor focus is on the Thumbnail panel, users can create a slide quickly by pressing Enter.

Stability and usability improvements for table

Improved Stability and quality for tables

The stability and quality is improved when implementing table-related actions.


The usability of tables has improved: e.g. using the "autocolor" style as the default table border style. The default color of the table borders can be automatically adjusted according to the current color schema.

Better animation effects and interoperability with Microsoft PPT files

Improved stability and quality of existing animation effects:

When playing the slide show, the animation effects can now play successfully with high quality, for example, the Change Font Size effect and some Entrance effects that play after the Exit effects.

Better interoperability with Microsoft PPT:

The interoperability with Microsoft PowerPoint is improved. For example, if a .ppt file contains the Light Speed entrance effect, the attributes are kept when loading it into Lotus Symphony. All shapes can return to the original position after playing the effects.

Improved Usability with the implementation of Start Screenshow from Current Slide (shift + F5)

Linked spreadsheet support in presentations

Coping data from a spreadsheet as a link

  • Users can copy cells that contain data from a spreadsheet and paste them in slides. The cell range is treated as an OLE object and you can navigate to the original sheet by double-clicking the object.
  • When data in the cell range that is copied from the source spreadsheets changes, you can update these changes in presentations.
  • Users can also import Microsoft PPT files that contain linked spreadsheets in Lotus Symphony.
Inserting OLE object
Spreadsheet Features

DataPilot enhancements in the areas of: UI, functionality, and performance

DataPilot Enhancements:

  • A new DataPilot panel for users to easily modify the DataPilot table including the layout and structure.
    DataPilot Panel
  • A new member selection window in the DataPilot table.
    Member Selection Window
  • Improved visual design for an empty DataPilot table.
    Empty DataPilot Table
  • After users change formatting of cells in a DataPilot table, the formatting is preserved no matter how users change the DataPilot table layout and structure. Picture 1: Users set a background color for the the sum amount of product 4, CHN.
    Set format

Picture 2: After users change the layout of the DataPilot table, the cell formatting is preserved.

Format is preserved

  • The Field Option window is more direct and user friendly.
    Field Option Dialog
  • Users can enable Automatically resize column width in the DataPilot Table Options window. When adding fields to the DataPilot table, the column width is automatically resized.
    Automatically resize the column width
  • Better support for group in a DataPilot table.
  • The performance is improved when loading .xls files that include Pivot tables.

Click here to watch the video for details.

Excel wildcard character support in formulas

A list of the wildcard characters are supported in the formulas in Excel files that open with Lotus Symphony.

  • Users can correctly load Excel .xls or .xlsx files with formulas that contain wildcard characters.
  • Users can edit formulas that contain wildcard characters for Excel .xls or .xlsx files.

Improved usability and function of importing external data

  • Users can import data from .txt. .csv, and .ods files by using the same window.
  • Import Data
  • When importing .txt and .csv files, users can specify to link to the source files and set the specific linked position.
  • When users import data, they can select to import data to a new sheet or to an existing place.

Enhancements on instant filter, sort, and formulas

Support Sort Ascending and Sort Descending in Instant Filters

  • Above the separator, two options are added: Sort Ascending and Sort Descending.
  • Below the separator, All, Top 10, Standard Filter and ascending data is listed.
  • All, Top 10, Standard Filter are round bracketed.
  • Sorting in instant filter

Document Features

LotusNotes link

Users can copy a link from Lotus Notes, and then paste it in Lotus Symphony Documents. When users click the link, the linked document opens in Lotus Notes.

Select all enhancements

Enhancements of selecting all

Ctrl + A:

If a document contains tables in the beginning, press Ctrl+A and the table and the contents outside the table can both be selected. Then, users can move, delete, and copy and paste the selected objects.


Users can also select the table by hovering the cursor from the end to the beginning of the table. If the table contains nested tables, . Then, users can move, delete, and copy and paste the tables.

Page numbering enhancement


Steps for adding page numbers to a document:

  1. Create a header or a footer in the document
  2. Create a page field.
  3. Insert the page number


Users can do this with one single step: Select Create > Page Numbering.

Memorize the file path when inserting objects into editors

When inserting an object, the path of the previous object displays in the path field. Users don't have to find the pictures from the root folder.

Audio&Video Problems and Enhancements

  • When sharing a document with others which contains linked audio or video files, if the relative path changes, the changes can be automatically recognized. Other users can still find the audio or video files.
  • The UI for creating linked objects and embedded objects are consistent.

Default TOC can jump

  • When users create a TOC by default, the TOC can jump.
  • When loading a binary Microsoft Word document that contains a tables of contents into Lotus Symphony, the TOC is reserved. If the TOC can jump, the jumping function can also be preserved in Symphony.
OOXML support enhancement
  • For MS Word 2007/2010 files

Symphony added support for more objects including: VML shape support, Cross-reference, OLE, Revision, Form field and Header & Footer.

  • For MS PPT 2007/2010 files

Symphony added support for more objects including: Page Style, Line spacing, font color enhancement.

  • For MS Excel 2007/2010 files
  • Symphony added support for more objects including: Comments enhancement, Conditional formatting.
RTF support

Enhanced the interoperability of customshape, table, shape properties (wrap, alignment, border, etc.) and bullets in RTF files.

Globalization and BIDI enhancement
  • Lotus Symphony provides better CTL text support by enhancing the text layout.
  • Supports BIDI controls and complex expression. Improve the interoperability of Microsoft Office documents with BIDI features.
Accessibility support
  • Support IA2 and enhanced the shortcut keys.
  • Support JAWS and NVDA tools on the Windows platform.
  • Overall stability improvements when running in ACC mode.
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