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The Uncertain Future of OpenOffice.org

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the nothing-is-for-certain dept.

Sun Microsystems 259

eldavojohn writes "What's the biggest threat to the success of OpenOffice.org? Is it Microsoft Office? Is it the simple fact that Dell doesn't offer it with computers? Not according to some participants in the 'open' source project itself, they say the biggest problem with OO.o is the fact that Sun codes, owns & makes all key decisions for the project when it should be more community oriented. A professor who participates in the project itself said 'enough developers are frustrated by both the technical and the organizational infrastructure at OpenOffice.org' and cites this as 'a real problem that is weighing on the project.' Other members of the community agree like Michael Meeks who asked 'At what fraction of the community will Sun reconsider its demand for ownership of the entirety of OpenOffice.org?' Hopefully with IBM's entrance into OO.o participation we will see the product become more community controlled & accessible. Has anyone else experienced this when developing for OO.o or another 'open' source project? Is it a good idea to criticize a company when they've put so much effort into a project that is technically open source and completely free? Is Sun trying to control OO.o like Java? Do they have good reasons or evil underlying intentions?"

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In order... (5, Funny)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668211)

Not continually improving both feature- and UI-wise, yes, no, around 3/5, yes, yes, probably, and both.

Now that we've cleared that up, anything else I can help with?

Re:In order... (4, Funny)

shawnce (146129) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668301)

I think that wraps this thread up... direct and to the point... well done.

Why this? Why now??? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20669251)

It's funny to see those questions being raised out of the blue, just after OpenOffice released OOo 2.3.

It looks someone is trying to spoil the party.

Re:In order... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668317)

Is it a good idea to criticize a company when they've put so much effort into a project that is technically open source and completely free?

If they are doing a bad job of managing it, then yes. Releasing it under an open source license is good, and they should be recognized for that. However, doing so doesn't automatically excuse other problems they may have.

Re:In order... (4, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669075)

This sounds like more Sun bashing rather than any real issues. Consider Linux. Only a few people have commit privs. Any forked version is pretty much guaranteed to die by the wayside due to the momentum of the parent. And if you have good ideas there's a reasonable chance that they may be copied by a more established kernel dev and checked in under their name. Look at Firefox, only a few people can participate. Both are arguably less open than OOo and yet we don't see anybody pissing on them.

Re:In order... (4, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668341)

Exactly, except the fraction. Either the community owns it, or it doesn't... There's no 'partially community owned'. It doesn't REALLY matter, though, since the project is open source. If Sun gets stupid, fork time - 'Completely Amazing Office' has a nice ring to it. The fact that the initials CAO is pronounced 'cow' should not be taken into consideration. ;)

Re:In order... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668375)

Maybe suns control is a bit of an issue, but I would say one thing about it.

StarOffice, prior to making OpenOffice, was horrible. It sucked, swallowed and asked for seconds. Within one or two releases of OpenOffice, it was actually a good product, 99% of the stability was already removed.

Maybe Suns heavy control is inhibiting it a bit (much less so than their full control and development), but it is in a better state than pre OSS.

The reason MS always wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668809)

The reason MS always wins is because they are the only company which doesn't self-destruct. Look at their competitors: with OS/2 Warp, IBM let their success go to their head, self destructed, and paved the way for Windows 95 to conquer the computing world. Novell self destructed, and paved the way for Windows NT 4.0 to rule the server world. IBM again self destructed with Lotus Notes, and the path for MS Exchange was laid. Then Lotus 1-2-3 and Word Perfect imploded, clearing the way for MS Office.

Each time the market leader destroyed themselves by taking their market share as a fiat to do (or not to do) whatever the hell they wanted. Contrast that to MS, which maintains it's leadership by asking customers what features they want, what they like and dislike, spending money analysing how people work and think... MS is a company unwilling to rest on it's laurels.

And THAT is why all it's competitors hate it. FOSSies, Mozilla, Google, all these other MS haters have the old school mindset that, if only they put out their crappy product, eventually MS will do something wrong, and they can just move into the market since they are there. It's way harder to compete on the basis of quality, so the MS haters have to try litigating their way to success.

I wish you all the luck SCO had on that one. BWAHAHAHA!!!

Teh Lunix will always fail, because that's all the people creating it know how to do. Everyone helping with teh Lunix, or OO.ugh, or Mozilla, or whatever else are entirely stocked to the gills with people who are still bitter about losing to Microsoft. But they SHOULD be bitter at themselves, since Microsoft could have never succeeded had these guys been putting out quality software.

These companies lost to MS on merit... and that's the thing they will never admit. And that's the reason why they can never beat Microsoft. Admitting you have a problem is always the first, required, step to solving the problem... but the MS-haters will never admit they are the reason MS continues to win.

Re:The reason MS always wins? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20669001)

There is a grain of truth in what you say: the ever moving target of Microsoft keeps all the FOSS projects on their toes - which is a good thing. What is also a good thing is that the closer the FOSS projects get the Microsoft's standard, the harder Microsoft has to work to stay ahead of the game. It's all very healthy competition in my eyes, and we software users can only win if this continues unchanged.

But let's face it, anyone keeping up with the ODF/OOXML race will have noticed that Microsoft don't exactly fight fair, which makes the FOSS projects work all the harder.

Dont think so. (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668217)

Not necessarily. The beauty of the license allows for forking. Just like you have the OS X variation. So OO will probably never die, but it might be forked and morphed under a different name eventually.

So would they call it... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668255)

OpenOffice.ne--- nah, didn't think so.

oh please please change the name (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668429)

Come up with a product name which doesn't sound like a URL when you say it. The current name makes me look like an idiot that is answering the wrong question. Next worse thing would be naming your kid "Ten Years Old".

Re:Dont think so. (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668461)

The fork shall be called IceOffice or IceBucket.

(people that have no clue, go look for Firefox and Thunderbird and Mozilla in Debian)

Re:Dont think so. (4, Funny)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668607)

or OfficeWeasel?

Kind of has a ring to it ... sort of like calling Major Frank Burns (M*A*S*H) ferret-face.

Re:Dont think so. (5, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669259)

Nononono - if we're gonna fork the thing, let's give it a good and proper name:

OfficeSpace

I mean, lookit: the clueless would look and go "oooh, cool name - space to do my docs n' stuff!"

The rest of us will simply giggle when we get asked why the app suite insists on showing a red stapler on the splash screen.

/P

Re:Dont think so. (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668555)

"Eventually" should be "today." Open Office has a lot of good stuff, and allowing plugins is a very good move, but overall it seems to not be improving like it should be. Fork it, put it on Sourceforge, and strip it of all unnecessary functionality and implement what you strip out in plugins. New improvements that are unnecessary should be created as new plugins.

Re:Dont think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668721)

Sun has the power to control OOo because Sun is the main contributor to OOo.

If Sun is not doing a good job, anyone can start a new project -- just like Firefox started from the Mozilla project, and then dominated the market: because it was smaller, faster and smarter.

BTW, I'd love to see such a fork in OOo, so we could be able to choose between the full suite or a set of smaller specialized applications.

Hopefully... (1)

hokiejimbo (751496) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668223)

Hopefully having 35 full time developers at IBM contributing code back to the project will really help this situation. OO.o is great software and I'm quite happy with it

naw (4, Funny)

mevets (322601) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668249)

Sun will contribute 35 managers...

Re:naw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668601)

Along with 76 marketing people, who will suggest that they should change the name and perhaps re-version it while they're at it.

Re:naw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668691)

And after a year of research, they'll determine the initials of the product need to change to OON instead of OOO, despite the product name being the same.

Re:Hopefully... (1)

Hawkeye05 (1056362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668269)

But then who will make the Mainframes, THINK OF THE MAINFRAMES!!!

Re:Hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20669227)

Considering the incompetence of most IBM developers I would not count on it.
My bet is that they will hurt it far more than they will help.

Why not? (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668253)

"Is it a good idea to criticize a company when.."

Is it a good idea to lie to a company or not provide any (constructive) feedback on negative issues just because they're being nice? If nobody is honest with them then their product may start off well and then head south quickly due to the pandering masses.

Damned if you do... (5, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668263)

Sun gets bad press for not developing free software...

Sun gets bad press for developing free software...

Tough crowd.

You must be new here (only Apple,Google=good) (3, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668427)

You must be new here. On Slashdot, only Google's "black box" search engine (and related products) and Apple's proprietary OS and hardware are considered "good". All other products and companies (with some rare open source project exceptions) are considered bad and/or evil.

Re:You must be new here (only Apple,Google=good) (1)

dstiggy (1145347) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668527)

You must be new here. On Slashdot, only Google's "black box" search engine (and related products) and Apple's proprietary OS and hardware are considered "good".

My thought's exactly. Just look for a Slashdot article on Moonlight. I feel like there is someone with the exact comment except replacing Sun with Microsoft.

Re:You must be new here (only Apple,Google=good) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20669249)

Apostrophe police! Your thought owns an exactly?

Re:You must be new here (only Apple,Google=good) (2, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668725)

Lets see ... I must be doubly evil, since I'm running openSUSE both at home and the office ... and don't have a single piece of apple gear.

Sun isn't perfect, and neither are Novell, but they've done some of the major heavy lifting, and we should try to sound bit more appreciative, because we're not perfect either.

Otherwise, we just end up sounding like a bunch of fickle myspace bloggers.

Re:You must be new here (only Apple,Google=good) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20669081)

You must be newer than me. We've been making fun of trolls like you since before Google existed.

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668553)

I don't think it is a tough crowed as much a different crowds coming out of the wood work.

Sun uses OO.org in their star office and shares some developments between the two. It makes sense that they want to keep some resemblance of control in order to maintain control of Star office development. When asking if the community should control it more then Sun, you have to answer the question of who is the community. By most definitions it would be everyone participating in open source software but depending on who you ask in specific, they would claim specific loyalties like the FSF followers and the likes.

So Ideology aside, is OO.o open source enough and controlled by the community? Yes. It just isn't the parts of the community that would make RMS fans happy. And when the license allows for forks when people don't like the direction things are going in, and people ignore that to impress the community control idea, you quickly see the motivations behind it.

I have heard that OO.o's code base is so messy that it would be almost impossible to hack on it. This may or may not be true, there seems to be an effort to complain about it but there doesn't seem to be an effort to fix it.

Re:Damned if you do... (5, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668559)

The open source "community" doesn't exactly have the best track record developing complex GUI intensive applications. There is Gimp which is OK but not great. Firefox isn't exactly doing much as far as UI goes. KDE and Gnome both have ... issues ... in particular the fact that there are two desktops in the first place fragmenting application development and massively duplicating effort.

There are times when its not exactly bad to have one entity, whether it be a company or an individual, who puts an end to the bickering, makes a decision, sets the direction, imperfect though it may be, and makes everyone pull in the same direction. Linus serves that role for the kernel, SUN does it for Open Office.

Debate is good, expressing different views is good, one entity with poor vision dictating direction is bad. But, a project with a hundred chiefs and no Indians, and design by committee is not a always a prescription for success.

Re:Damned if you do... (4, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668671)

The open source "community" doesn't exactly have the best track record developing complex GUI intensive applications.

And the "greatest understatement of the year" award goes to.... *drum rolls*

Re:Damned if you do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668745)

Linus serves that role for the kernel

I didn't realise there was only one.

Re:Damned if you do... (5, Insightful)

richcoder (539438) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668807)

Firefox isn't exactly doing much as far as UI goes.

Some could successfully argue that Firefox contains a HUGE amount of UI work. The entire app is one large UI system.

Re:Damned if you do... (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668817)

The commercial "community" doesn't exactly have the best track record developing complex GUI intensive applications. There is Photoshop, which is not affordable for 99% of potential market. Internet Explorer isn't exactly doing much as far as web pages appearance, standard compliance or security. Windows and MacOSX both have ... issues ... in particular the fact that there are two desktops in the first place fragmenting application development and massively duplicating effort.

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669099)

I can think of any case where the OS community has developed a good GUI.
I can think of a few closed source that are. Does any OS GUI implement modern Gui technique's? How about implementing good human interface techniques that have been thought about, but computers haven't been powerful enough to implement?

OSX does. No I don't own a Mac.

Has there been any human interface innovations at all on the OS community? The potential is there, and I would like to see some, but based on the track record it doesn't seem likely. I think it's because there isn't really any move to get people who understand those principles involved in an OS project. Very few developers are any good at innovative GUI work. I have been studying a lot of human interface/interaction, usability principles, theories and techniques. In the first month I realized an important aspect.
I would get involved, but at this point of my life I am a selfish bastard and spend all me free time with my kids. Maybe when they go to college I'll gt involved again.

Yes this post points out some current failing of OS, but it isn't a 'dig' against it. I want to see it florish.
\

Re:Damned if you do... (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669287)

Funny you should say this, because to date, the only radial menu system I have ever encountered was an open source window manager. I would say that counts a massive step forward in UI design (I live for the day when radial menus are the norm, but like Dvorak keyboards, it probably won't happen).

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

loafing_oaf (1054200) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669109)

Anakin, is that you?

Re:Damned if you do... (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668633)

Yep and if these developers really don't like it why not work on Koffice?
I am sure that some people are frustrated. I know as a user I am frustrated over some of OOs short comings.
However I think it is a pretty dang good system so far.

Misrepresentation (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668731)

Sun isn't getting bad press for developing free software.

They are getting bad press for developing it badly.

Re:Damned if you do... (1)

mcshicks (1139509) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669041)

No duh. It's free instead of $400 or whatever MS wants for office these days and it works for the vast majority of what people want to do (write a document, create a basic spreadsheet).

How many people are going to continue to shell out $400 for a word processor and spreadsheet program for there new $1000 laptop they bought there kids? Not many when the realize a reliable free alternative is available and it lets them open the word files people send them in e-mail.

I would say the only advantage MS has is there are so many spreadsheets people have made that make extensive use of macros and VB, which open office doesn't support.

Crying wolf.. (5, Insightful)

downix (84795) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668297)

This is a panic piece, trying to rile upfeelings, almost trolling. Relax guys, Sun hasnt shown the steps that is being worried about here. When it does, then let us begin discussing. Till then, it is useless speculation and little better than FUD.

Re:Crying wolf.. (2, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668481)

I don't think it's even a panic piece. The "uncertain future" isn't whether it will be developed or not. It's just uncertain how much control Sun will maintain, and whether developers displeased with Sun will bother to make a fork.

Either way, OpenOffice will continue to exist, continue to be developed, and continue to be used.

Biggest threat? (5, Insightful)

TopSpin (753) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668343)

What's the biggest threat to the success of OpenOffice.org?
That's easy; Microsoft suing Sun for violating patents for MS Office 'inventions'. You know it's coming.

As far as Sun's dominant position over OOo goes; as long as they keep performing I don't see the problem. New 2.x releases have been appearing every few months and each is a notable improvement. They're doing a good job and while they keep doing it they'll remain in control. Their latest release provides a platform for extensions; go develop your miracle feature and let Sun keep cranking on the core platform, as they have been.

Re:Biggest threat? (3, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668459)

That's easy; Microsoft suing Sun for violating patents for MS Office 'inventions'. You know it's coming.

When they do that, it'll just mean that OpenOffice.org is ready for primetime.

Re:Biggest threat? (4, Insightful)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668473)


For real.

You're not happy with the direction of the project?

Fork it. It's LGPL'd. Take the code, release it under your new project, and make improvements that "the community", whatever the heck that means to you, will approve of.

Sheesh, as a previous poster said, tough crowd. Sun can't do anything right in the eyes of slashdot smitties.

~X

Re:Biggest threat? (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668503)

Microsoft suing Sun for violating patents for MS Office 'inventions'. You know it's coming.

I doubt MS wants to legitimize OOo in that way. Even more importantly, I don't think MS wants to risk having their dubious patents nullified in a court. They'd much rather rely on their expertise as FUDsters and the threat of patent litigation to try to derail OOo. Actually going through with that threat is a huge gamble that MS probably doesn't want to risk unless absolutely necessary.

Re:Biggest threat? (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668529)

M$ won't sue just as they have to keep the Mac version of office alive. Something to do with being a monopoly. OOs next problem is do they spend a couple of months rewriting the interface to look like Office 2007? Menus are so old fashioned and the new ribbon thing is smart.

Re:Biggest threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668655)

I would have said "the sad, sorry state of the OOo codebase". Each is an improvement, which is kind of miraculous, but I'm always disappointed that they're not *significant* improvements.

Go on, try to do something with the OOo codebase. I tried, but apparently I didn't spend as many years studying C++ and German in college as I should have.

Re:Biggest threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20669095)

Sun and Microsoft cross licensed all their patents as part of the $2B java lawsuit settlement a few years ago, so for once, that (patent suit) shouldn't be a problem.

Diffuse or Focused? (4, Interesting)

Frumious Wombat (845680) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668355)

The question becomes does the community want another diffuse, nobody really in charge project, or do you want a benevolent dictator ensuring focus and quality control? Sun should be commended for sticking with OO for so long, when they could have just dumped all responsibility and let it drift aimlessly. They obviously have an interest, because with a few other tweaks they sell (or give it away to proper channels) as StarOffice, so it's doubtful they'll want to let go too much. Unless the Linus of OfficeSuites steps forward, then I'd rather see Sun or IBM maintain final say, to keep it on track.

From reading the comments here for years, the biggest issue with contributing seems to be that the code is a behemoth, and takes time and skill to understand. This hasn't stopped the NeoOffice folks from getting it running on Macs, and Sun's continuing final say shouldn't stop anyone from adding some missing features (such as a decent reference manager, or spell and grammar checker).

Re:Diffuse or Focused? (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668477)

the code is a behemoth, and takes time and skill to understand.

Last time I wanted to do some development on openoffice (some years ago) the documentation was amazing.

Same as Java really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668361)

Look love or hate Sun they are doing what they think is best. This is the same thing that went down with Java. Everyone here is free to (and most people probably do) disagree with Sun's strategy such as it is. At the end of the day though I think that Sun is crusading for an open path, and if Java is any indication it's working if not necessarily succeeding. OO.o will one day leave it's chrysalis and become a beautiful butterfly of open source software but for now Sun want to keep the reigns tightly in hand. As facile as it is to say in this context, if you don't like it go donate your time to Abiword, make your own office suit, or better yet try to look at the situation with an ounce of objectivity and try to see the larger plan here, namely to make a product that enterprises will see as an option to Microsoft.

Perhaps this explains a few things... (1)

skogs (628589) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668367)

perhaps this inner turmoil and frustration is the blinking indicator light of why things don't get done. I've wanted good envelope and label support for quite some time, and with recent releases it has gotten better - but not really. It is sort of like a stub article in a technical wiki...we intend to put something more substantial here notice.
Management is getting in the way of simple upgrades and additions?
Never worked for a company like that before.

cough cough

Oh really? (0, Offtopic)

methuselah (31331) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668383)

Why do so many people make such authoritative declarations that are totally unsubstantiatable unless you first accept that the declarator is omnipotent?

Sun Bashing (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668409)

Why all the Sun bashing? Opensolaris is open source. Java is almost fully open sourced now. OpenOffice is open source. What the hell is wrong with Sun wanting to maintain some influence over the projects they started?

Re:Sun Bashing (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668469)

You're damn right. Anyone who doesn't like it can go fork it themselves.

If you don't like the community around OO.o, fork it and make your own community. If you think the codebase is too unwieldy to fork, there are plenty of other open source office suites you can contribute to.

Re:Sun Bashing (2, Insightful)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668669)

I agree. The alternative is they might never have open-sourced StarOffice at all. Cut Sun some slack.

Re:Sun Bashing (0)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668715)

I agree, you just have to change "OpenOfice.org" with "linux" and "Sun" with "Linus" to see how hypocrite the open source community tends to be...

Why Not Fork? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668419)

If this complaint is a groundswell, then why not fork? Call it FreeOffice or GnuOffice ? Does licensing prevent a good fork (btw I love xemacs)?

Can anyone... (2, Insightful)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668431)

...more proficient in programming than me explain why OOo uses its own inbuilt font rendering and toolkit? Aren't these things already provided by all modern guest OS's?

IANAPBPKEAITBD [I Am Not A Programmer But Probably Know Enough About It To Be Dangerous] but if cross-platform-ness is a big thing, would it not be easier to have a series of OS-independent libs in the background with native frontends in win32, GTK, Qt, etc? This would also make it easier to make the user interface more "friendly" by way of familiarity and not sticking out like a sore thumb? To my mind the problems users see with OOo, aside from some user unfriendliness in some sections such as mail merge, are that it's slow as hell to start up, even from warm, the GUI is sometimes unresponsive/laggy and it looks (superfically) different from most apps they're used to (apparently this is "allowed" for stupid flashy apps, but a big no-no for "serious" apps).

Chances are I'm barking up the wrong tree and my knowledge of OOo is hopelessly wrong, but for non-developers these things can be tricky to understand.

Re:Can anyone... (5, Interesting)

domatic (1128127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669019)

As near as I can tell, OOO has two major problems. Once upon a time, StarOffice actually had it's own mini-desktop from which the major pieces of the app like Writer and documents could be started from. This desktop even had its own widget set called VCL. Sun wisely did away with the goofy Desktop UI but OOO's UI is still implemented in this widget set. Whenever OOO is ported to a new environment, the major sticking point is that a binding layer has to be created from VCL to a widget set in the environment. Being a C++ widget set with more or less conventional semantics, VCL mapped well to GTK2 and Windows so Linux and Windows are easy ports in that regard. It is a very poor impedance match to Cocoa on Objective C and still appears to be hosing a truly native Mac port to this day. The NeoOffice guys use Cocoa through Java which makes a thin shim programming wise but a pig memory and resource wise as they have to have Java active and resident in memory for their VCL -> Cocoa mapper.

The other problem is that OOO isn't well divided up internally. It was designed to load as a huge glop o' code back in the StarOffice days and still does. I once argued about this until I was blue in the face with a OOO developer on NewsForge. I could not get it through his head that I wasn't talking about splitting off Writer, Calc and so-forth into separate apps. I understood that OOO's "apps" are developed from an internal common set of objects (which also means an equivalent to MS' COM system is also loaded with the main app). I was talking about being smarter about which objects to load initially and then loading others on demand. This would get the startup time and usual memory usage down. It would also make it easier to use OOO as an API the way Office is used as an API.

Every big project needs a dictator... (1)

y86 (111726) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668453)

they say the biggest problem with OO.o is the fact that Sun codes, owns & makes all key decisions for the project when it should be more community oriented.


So SUN drops certain ideas and keeps others--so does Linus! If you want to develop your own openoffice make a fork. You need someone to point a project in direction or it will go nowhere fast. The last thing this office suite needs is a big committee slowing development, it's just started getting good!

Re:Every big project needs a dictator... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668955)

"The last thing this office suite needs is a big committee slowing development, .."
So they are moving away from Java?

ZING!

It's fine by me (0, Offtopic)

ewhenn (647989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668485)

All I need is basic abilities for word processing and the occasional spreadsheet. OO.o does this just fine for me. No need to shell out $200+ for MS office, at least in my opinion.

Just closed source shills complaining (0)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668507)

Most of the complainer are just closed source shills who wants to use the normal divide and conquer method to try and alienate different open source grounps against each other.

IBM just added 30+ developers to Open Office.org and OopenOffice.Org just released 2,3 of course closed source shills are out to spread damaging rumors about one of the most successful open source project in existance.

Is is just me or have we not seen a large increase in astroturf shilling recently ?

Re:Just closed source shills complaining (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668659)

Odd, looks to me most of the complainers are the RMS Free Software folks that don't like a commercial business in charge of the program.

Re:Just closed source shills complaining (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668697)

"...most successful open source project in existance."

What, Apache? oh you must mean Linux? Bsd?

Most successful open source project my ass.

"Is is just me or have we not seen a large increase in astroturf shilling recently ?"
Nope, just you.

Re:Just closed source shills complaining (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669021)

Most successful open source project my ass.

Did you miss the "one of the" or are you deliberately ignoring it?

I would say that Linux, Apache, GCC, and FF at the least are more successful, but OO is up there.

Re:Just closed source shills complaining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668733)

a_n_d_e_r_s 1,0 seems to have an i18n bug: it's 2.3 dammit. I hope this will be fixed in a_n_d_e_r_s 1.1.

Re:Just closed source shills complaining (1)

fast penguin (910736) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669161)

Did you miss the fact that the people complaining are the new developers joining the project you speak of (like Michael Meeks from Novell)?!

Fork to Opener Office (1)

astrotek (132325) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668515)

Time to fork open office? I think so. This time without java please.

Then fork (5, Insightful)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668535)

If you can do a better job coding, owning, and making key decisions, then fork the project and demonstrate.

If you can't fork because you need Sun's expertise, then maybe you should admit that Sun deserves to participate on their own terms, just as you participate on yours.

For years I've been amazed at how people will whine and whine about the direction an Open Source project is taking, rather than just demonstrating that another direction is better. The people doing the work are exercising their freedom to do whatever they want however they want it done. If you don't like it, not only is nobody making you participate, but lots of people have invested lots of work in giving you the freedom to do it the way you want to, instead.

It worked for EGCS and X.org. But 99% of the time, it's just whiners whining that they don't have control. Power and control don't matter in Open Source; we all have equal power. You have the power to control your own version, and if that's truly holding the project that you're whining about back, then obviously once you unleash your new vision of project management yours will blow away the one you're whining about.

Re:Then fork (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668675)

"If you can't fork because you need Sun's expertise, then maybe you should admit that Sun deserves to participate on their own terms, just as you participate on yours."

It is a logical fallacy to say that someone only has a valid complaint against someone if they can do it better.

"we all have equal power"
No, we don't. It is perfectly valid for someone who can't code to complaing about a bug or the lack of a feature, or the fact that it is slow. Just like a automobile owner can complain if their breaks don't work. No one is going to say to them to shut up unless they are willing to build there own car.

Illogic (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668891)

I think it is invalid to complain about a bug or lack of a feature if you don't use the dang product. Of course, that would mean that 15% of slashdot wouldn't ever be able to complain about Microsoft.

Seriously, they would have to shut the site down or sumting.

Re:Then fork (1)

IQgryn (1081397) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668999)

On the other hand, when a mechanic complains that his brakes don't work, most people would tell him to go fix them. Regular users can (and should!) complain when something is broken. Programmers can, too, but they should at the very least submit a detailed bug report. If they have a pet peeve that never gets fixed, then they should by all means fix it. Otherwise, they should decide to accept the leadership decision (and stop complaining), since they aren't bothering to fix the problem even though they have the means.

Re:Then fork (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669245)

You ever hear the phrase "beggars can't be choosers"? While it's totally legit for non-development participants to bitch and whine about a free product, it's even more legit for the people who are putting their time and money into creating that free product to ignore the cry babies.

The reason people say "there's the source, fix it yourself" is because they aren't your slaves. They don't have to work for you without getting paid. If you want to have some influence in the product's development take a substantial role in that development or provide some substantial financial incentives for the people who are doing the lifting to pay attention to you.

Re:Then fork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668831)

If you can do a better job coding, owning, and making key decisions, then fork the project and demonstrate.
Okay. But if someone were intending to do just that, a good first step would probably be to get some feedback from the community, so as to gage how many other people are going to be interested in supporting this "fork."

A first step in that direction might be to post a "question to the community" to a high-traffic discussion-based website that many of the community members read and contribute to.

Though not worded as such, this could be the first step along a "should we fork?" discussion...

Tell me about open source... (4, Insightful)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668537)

Open Office is that, right?

I just think OO.o lacks a focus. As other Slashdot members had said earlier, it seems to be over engineered and not thought out enough in a 'direction.' An engineer says "Java is a good idea to have" so they add Java... and bring other woes.

While I know some people may dislike the new Office 2007, after using it for a while now, I can say honestly that it's the best version yet. The usability and UI are greatly improved (once you get used to them). Open Office lacks the 'polish' that a Microsoft Office delivers. This isn't about document format wars folks -- it's about the sheer usability of one platform over another. You cannot invent a similar animal as a MS Office, and then go your own direction even if it's smarter. You have to adopt the platform, and make it your own. That's how Firefox has taken off so well. They came in as a web browser, same functions, and built upon it.

Open Office (and I haven't checked out the latest version) comes in and says that it's a replacement for MS Office... but it does things its own way. Some shortcut keys are similar, but a lot of stuff is different. It's usable for sure, especially for /. users, but for the average Joe who has used Office everywhere else, OO.o is a different animal. And it's uglier and slower.

Make it pretty, make it similar... then build upon it. Not before. Just my thought anyway... maybe Sun will take it to heart. I don't see any benefit or disadvantage to having more control in the community hands, because like they say.. too many cooks spoil the broth. And we will have a LOT of cooks all trying to make feature decisions, instead of a focused core of people that guide the direction of a project.

Re:Tell me about open source... (2, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668743)

While I know some people may dislike the new Office 2007, after using it for a while now, I can say honestly that it's the best version yet. The usability and UI are greatly improved (once you get used to them). Open Office lacks the 'polish' that a Microsoft Office delivers. This isn't about document format wars folks -- it's about the sheer usability of one platform over another.

Not a popular position here, but I'm forced to agree.

I'm genuinely glad that there is an Open Office and people who work constantly to make it better. I'm sure Microsoft doesn't see it as competition, but it does provide a limit / sanity check on them; if the price of MS Office rises or it stops improving, OO is always out there as an alternative.

But at the same time, it puzzles me. Microsoft does a thousand things, many of them not well. There are as many niches to get into and build a better mousetrap. But Office? That's one of the things they actually do really well. Many have argued that a large part of MS's continued dominance of the desktop is because of Office, and it's hard for me to disagree. Why pick that of all windmills to tilt at? I can't deny that it's an interesting/challenging project, but...

Re:Tell me about open source... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20669045)

I agree that OOo must be polished.

But the real problem is OOo becoming so bloated. It's pretty much like Mozilla, until Firefox appeared and transformed the game: it was an instant winner, not because it had more features, but because it was faster and simpler. (Mozilla had all the features, but was heavy and bloated.)

I'm still looking for OpenOffice's equivalent of Firefox.

Since when does Open Source mean... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668579)

that anyone who wants to contribute code is guaranteed that their contributed code wil be used?

"OpenOffice.org has a very central business process of controlling what comes into the source base and by that very system misses the point of Open Source development," said Ken Foskey, an Australian open-source developer who volunteered for OpenOffice.org for three years. He left in 2005 after becoming "increasingly frustrated" with the organization's bureaucracy.


Once a project reaches a certain size and a certain number of users who expect the program(s) to remain usable then some sort of quality control has to come into play. This means that some code contributions will be rejected for various reasons.

Contributors whose code is rejected in such a manner don't need to fly into a snit and have a hissy fit about the project rejecting them. They're entirely free to incorporate their code into their local sources and compile and use the program(s) as they see fit. They can even distribute the modified sources and executables to anyone who wants to use them as well.

That's supposed to be the point of Open Source is it not? The freedom to have the code and modify the code and compile the code and run the programs.

Not the freedom to insist that your code be accepted and incorporated into the main source tree. (Well actually you're free to insist on this but the maintainers of the main source tree are equally free to ignore you.)

The beauty of free software.. (1)

nikhil_ketkar (865685) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668581)

Clearly, OO has a large enough user base and developer base. Suppose the Sun is infact trying to control OO and that this becomes evident in future, then we will see a fork. If not, and Sun is actually fair and just, then there is no problem at all. Once a free software project has a large enough user base and developer base nothing can get in the way.

LOTUS SMARTSUITE? (2, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668597)

This is why IBM should find a way to resurrect and rejuvenate Lotus SmartSuite, particularly Lotus WordPro, Lotus Approach, and Lotus 1-2-3.

Re:LOTUS SMARTSUITE? (0)

simong (32944) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668695)

*points down*

It's almost dead. Hasn't been updated since version 6 about five years ago. That was a shame as it was sometimes well ahead of MS Office.

Re:LOTUS SMARTSUITE? (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669203)

Maybe you missed this announcement from IBM this week about its new, free Lotus Symphony product:

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/18/1155252 [slashdot.org]

The beta is available for download here: https://www14.software.ibm.com/iwm/web/swerplotus/LotusSymphonyPick.html [ibm.com]

You'll need to register to get a copy, however.

Perhaps if ... (1)

AlanS2002 (580378) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668619)

Sun weren't trying to act all warm and fuzzy about open source one second and then siding with SCO the next and then shutting their mouths when it looks like SCO is going to get a smackdown and acting all warm and fuzzy about open source again, people wouldn't be all suspicious about their intentions.

I dont get it.. (0, Redundant)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668641)

Its simple really - If you dont like it, fork it - see if you can do any better. I can fully understand Sun wanting to call the shots on the #1 version - not too different from Linus. Note that they still make a closed source version of "Star Office" - maybe that gives them a need to keep control of the coding process. Good for them, I say..

Same as MySQL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20668651)

I see the way Sun does it as MySQL or the free software foundation with respect to GCC. The code is open source. Anyone can modify and branch, distribute as they wish. However, if you want your code to be distributed by MySql/Sun/FSF then you have to give them the copyright, or share copyright with them. I think it's a fair trade off. They paid so much, they need to get back something, so they can sell it with different license, or have support for it. Also, one owner is a great thing actually. What if in the future there's something that needs to be changed with respect to the license. Do we need to contact a million developers, scattered all over the world, and some in heaven and some in hell, to get them into another license, because the current license forbid such use, but the move is very important to mankind? The one owner of the software can do this, for some money, or free, but it's there.

I think Sun controls it a bit tighter than needed, but this is purely speculation, I don't have facts. I think Open Office progress, but slow actually for a company developed software. If you look at how overnight, Apple get BSD kernel into the OS X shape. That's amazing. To have OpenOffice quickly take market share from MS, it needs to lift in term of usability, performance, etc. to the level of MS Office. I have seen so many people switch over to OOo, then back to MS Office. There's a good reason there, and they all said compatibility and usability.

I think they should copy all the goodness of MS Office functionality and styles. I mean goodness, not bad stuffs. As long as it's not an infringement. Some people said that why copy, why not invent something new, something unique. Common, if you can't do the basics of usability, compatibility and good performance, why do something more? Stick to the basic. Keep it simple Sidney!

Fork it (0, Redundant)

Boap (559344) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668685)

If you do not like the direction that Sun is taking Open Office then fork it and run with your improvements.

Something is wrong - bugs not fixed (2, Interesting)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668739)

While I greatly appreciate the work that is done on OOo, there does seem to be something wrong when it comes to getting bugs fixed. For example, cell notes became badly broken in oocalc 2.x because they no longer move when their cells are moved (e.g. by sorting). The bug [openoffice.org] (yes, I filed it and I am biased) has remained open for nearly two years, and the developers have classified it as an "enhancement" rather than a "defect" even though it worked fine in version 1.x and is apparently causing problems for quite a few people with no work-around. I don't mean to whine, but leaving such obvious and problematic bugs unfixed for so long isn't good for the project. I don't know if this happens because they are understaffed or if there is a problem with how things are being managed, but getting the OOo people to pay attention to bugs seems to be a problem.

Bugs are fixed when you fix them (1)

eknagy (1056622) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668985)

Almost the same story with me. The solution is to fix the bug [openoffice.org] yourself.

Switching theses (1)

nkrgovic (311833) | more than 7 years ago | (#20668749)

Not according to some participants in the 'open' source project itself, they say the biggest problem with OO.o is the fact that Sun codes, owns & makes all key decisions for the project when it should be more community oriented. A professor who participates in the project itself said 'enough developers are frustrated by both the technical and the organizational infrastructure at OpenOffice.org' and cites this as 'a real problem that is weighing on the project.' Other members of the community agree like Michael Meeks who asked 'At what fraction of the community will Sun reconsider its demand for ownership of the entirety of OpenOffice.org?' Hopefully with IBM's entrance into OO.o participation we will see the product become more community controlled & accessible.
Am I the only one to see the problem here? OOo is, supposedly, troubled by the fact that Sun codes it, so the "solution" is to have IBM code it?


IBM is not the community. IBM is not even a company well known for open sourcing anything. In fact, they were the first IT company to be investigated for monopoly abuse, back in the day... Once they opensource AIX, and start playing nice, I'll consider them again. For now Sun is much more trustworthy than IBM.

Future of OO.o (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669007)

The future of OpenOffice.org most probably lies in a straight-GPL fork (which is allowed, since one of the licences under which OO.o is distributed is the LGPL -- and the LGPL allows for any work covered by that licence to be relicenced under the full GPL).

As a consequence of a recent EU ruling, Microsoft will soon have to be releasing documentation of their proprietary file formats. If a library is written for properly parsing these, in good time, and released under the full GPL (not the craven "yoohoo-guys-here's-my-arse" LGPL with its attendant pandering to the closed-source brigade) then this will help true Free Software projects and thwart Open Source pretenders.

The only ones who have anything to lose are the StarOffice people with their proprietary, closed fork and I say good riddance to them.

I think the only thing Sun could do wrong... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669009)

...that would actually lead to a revolt is if they clearly cripple OpenOffice so that they can sell StarOffice. Even with the most dysfunctional management, the golden rule applies. And Sun has the gold paying for a lot of developers. Almost all the cases I can remember where the community took over the company was dead or dying, or the project was being abandoned. I think they'll come around the more people that share the effort (in forms of money or code, really), because they'd be fools to let this slip away from them.

Sun is the biggest problem? (4, Interesting)

ryanw (131814) | more than 7 years ago | (#20669205)

Weird.... why is it then that other projects like AbiWord, KOffice and the various other open source office utilities haven't taken over the market?

The main problem is OpenOffice isn't 100% compatible with MS Office documents. I have tried using Openoffice as a replacement to MS Word and Excel several times. Each time I end up getting burned because some executive pencil pusher thinks my layout sucked and looked bad. So in my attempt to use OpenOffice, I end up looking like a moron.

SO sure, I can use openoffice for my own documents, and then open it in Word or excel and format it completely when giving it to others, but comon. I don't have enough hours in the day to use something just to "stick it to microsoft", because honestly, the company I work for already has site licenses for Office and all other microsoft products. So in reality my attempt to use Open Office won't ever "stick it to microsoft".
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