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OpenOffice Could Soon Become Web-Based Apps 119

Posted by Zonk
from the googling-it-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Via Linuxtoday.com, a message from the OpenOffice Dev mailing list in which a new company is introducing the GravityZoo OpenOffice porting project. The unusually named group aims to bring OpenOffice to the Internet as a series of online apps. 'When OpenOffice.org is GravityZood, it will become a suite of productivity applications that are always available, online, via a broad range of devices. It will be possible to share and collaborate in real-time, to switch from one device (e.g. a PC) to another (Mobile) device. There will also be no need to save data, because everything you produce is saved automatically on the network. There is no need to download, install or update, the latest version is just available and accessible from any GravityZoo enabled client.'"
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OpenOffice Could Soon Become Web-Based Apps

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  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:05PM (#18814361) Homepage Journal

    OpenOffice Could Soon Become Web-Based Apps

    GravityZoo is NOT, I repeat NOT converting OpenOffice into a webapp. I don't really want to detract from their idea, so I'll try to be succinct. Basically, GravityZoo has a special client that interacts with the application running on the server. The application on the server is always available, and autostores your data in a GravityZoo Object Storage database.

    Supposedly, it's an actual conversion of the application to a networked form rather than a simple remote desktop concept. If I were to make a W.A.G. of the Day, I'd say they're probably going to bus the normal IPC communications over the network. Not revolutionary by itself, but possibly nice if they have a good framework.
    • So...uh...how is this not exactly like X?

      More specifically, if I installed a chrooted nxserver [nomachine.com], and then made a series of launch profiles that I handed out that launched openoffice rather than running anything specific, wouldn't that be the same?

      Or is this like that, but also tacking on something like UNO/CORBA/SOAP/DCOM?

      This topic seems to be one such that it may be worth mentioning jooreports. [sourceforge.net]

      If your goal is to do version control on your content while keeping your layout separate this is probably ideal.
      • This is my guess from the limited faqs
        From what I can see it expands upon X in three ways.
        1. It allows you to use it from any device without installing anything (besides a web browser I would assume).
        2. It has a collaboration security model. So multiple people can be on the same session some can read some can read and write.
        3. It uses less network bandwidth than X and heavily relies on browser cache.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          1. It allows you to use it from any device without installing anything (besides a web browser I would assume).

          They explicitly say that you need a client and that it is currently only available for Windows.

          3. It uses less network bandwidth than X and heavily relies on browser cache.

          FreeNX uses less network bandwidth than X, but it doesn't use the browser cache.

          • 3. It uses less network bandwidth than X and heavily relies on browser cache.

            FreeNX uses less network bandwidth than X, but it doesn't use the browser cache.

            NX still uses a cache, it just has its own.
          • I got the impression the "client" was the client in terms of X type client. It runs the applications while you view them remotely somewhere else. I'll have to do some more reading, its not really clear either way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xtracto (837672)
      Open Office code is famous for being a deformed beast without head or tail. It is by itself as an OS native app slow as a turtle...

      Yay, imagine the bloat of OpenOffice and Firefox together in one big horrible web based office suite :P

      On the other side, about the "would you use it?" question, I used to say "NO" until 2 months ago when I started planning my brother and mother's trip to the UK and our trip trough Europe. Google Docs is really a useful thing... of course it is more of a Wordpad than a Word repl
  • I have an Axim, and its great for a lot of things. Calendar, tasks, note taking, note recording, some light web surfing. But document creation. No. Even using Powerpoint on it is just horrendous. I have no faith that these apps with be nearly as enjoyable across devices that are not desktops.
  • These guys seem cool and all, but dude, get a proofreader
    "distributing Data, Information and Intelligence. A development that should not be dependent upon the whimp of a few very affluant and powerfull entities."
    http://www.gravityzoo.com/developers/openSource.py [gravityzoo.com]
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sheesh, you'd think they could at least run OOo's spellcheck before posting!
    • by griebels2 (998954)
      Why use a spelling checker if you can depend upon the affluant distributed yet powerful and informative intelligence of the Slashdot entity?

      It has been corrected! Thank you!
  • I like the internet, I use it an awful lot, but for most uses I cannot see needing an Office package to be online.
    It will be nice as a compliment though for those very rare occasions.
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:57PM (#18815183) Homepage Journal
      "I like the internet, I use it an awful lot, but for most uses I cannot see needing an Office package to be online."

      I'm with you...I'm a bit queasy about keeping any mail I use on Gmail...but, since Katrina forced me on the run awhile back, I've not been able to set down roots and set up my email server again yet.

      However, in general, I just don't want a bunch of personal docs out there on a webserver, and I can't imagine a business with any kind of security concience would want to trust a web based office application with their work and possibly trade secrets.

      I'm just kind of amazed that there is a market for these web based office applications. I mean, if you've got a computer with you....don't you generally have your document processing software with you too?

      • by peragrin (659227)
        what if your on some one else's machine? There are countless time before I bought a laptop where I wanted to access a document I had stored at home.

        I use gmail to store all my mail, but I also download it all to my laptop. Online or off I have access to that data now. I hardly ever use a full "office" sweet at home. all I really need is done with a simple spreadsheet, and word processor. of those two I use about 10% of the features found in each. So I consider Open Office bloated for what I use, but ha
        • by misleb (129952)

          what if your on some one else's machine? There are countless time before I bought a laptop where I wanted to access a document I had stored at home.


          scp?

          -matthew

        • Better yet, what if you have no machine?
          I can see this being a boon to those with less resources in the world. Cyber cafe, library, makes no nevermind. While you and I may not want our data on "teh intarweb" I can think of an entire class of computer user for whom this makes sense.
          -nB
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hobo sapiens (893427)
        Am I glad to see you guys. Two other people who think this is a lame idea.

        First, can you imagine how much javascript code it would take to replicate OOo online? Ack! That's a lot of non-compiled code running on a multitude of platforms. So you are on your freeBSD / KDE box using Konqueror, happily typing away at your 65K "word" doc, and crash! Not fun. As someone who does a lot of AJAX development (w/prototype), I have to say I love ajax. But making an html document/javascript app (or whatever you wa
        • by misleb (129952)
          Fortunately the company that is doing this "OpenOffice port" is not going to use the browser. Sounds like they're using something more like X11. So I suppose it could work. Although it is still of limited usefulness. You STILL need to download and install something. I'd almost rather have regular OpenOffice (or perhaps something more stripped down) that runs locally and (optionally) talks to a common data store like Amazon S3. No, it most likely wouldn't run on mobile devices, but who wants to compose a doc
      • by bigpat (158134)

        I'm just kind of amazed that there is a market for these web based office applications. I mean, if you've got a computer with you....don't you generally have your document processing software with you too?

        I think that's what google docs got right, they aren't trying to replace a desktop app so much as adding collaboration functionality with versioning to a document repository. Businesses need document repositories and it just makes sense that you would be able to edit some documents web based without having to do a check in or check out. But you also want to be able to take a document with you to edit on the plane or if you just want less lag and a more feature rich application to work through. Google d

    • I agree with you totally about the public internet, but in a business environment with local servers, 'hosted apps' makes a lot of sense.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:07PM (#18814421) Journal
    From www.gravityzoo.com: The GravityZoo Framework employs patent pending technology to achieve its goals. It can be divided into three major components, all fulfilling a special and important task:
    • by bky1701 (979071) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:28PM (#18814745) Homepage
      Or they just used "patent pending" as a synonym for "good" without even realizing the phrase has a meaning, like so many people these days.
    • by bkr1_2k (237627)
      Patent pending does not imply they won't keep the technology available to use on other projects. I know nothing about GravityZoo so they may or may not be "evil" in the sense of patent abuse, but just because they have applied for patents doesn't automatically mean they are.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Most small companies cannot afford to battle big players in endless patent suits. The problem of the broken patent system is that you need patents to cover your arse from the big players who have the money to do so.

      The whole RIM debacle actually is more an exception to the rule. Verizon v.s. Vonage is how the real game is played. If Vonage had filed for some trivial patents which were abused by Verizon, they could have counter sued and settled without ever going to court.

      The current IBM seems to be good exa
    • by cnystrom (1007893)
      If you want a true open source solution check out my NewI\O [newio.org] project.

  • Licensing Unclear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:09PM (#18814455) Homepage Journal

    As per "Open Source [gravityzoo.com]" at the GravityZoo website [gravityzoo.com], [...]"this requires the involvement of a global community of Information Analysts, IT architects and Engineers from both the Open Source and Commercial environment. Open Source because to achieve an egalitarian development of tomorrow's information society requires the free flow of Data Information and Intelligence to those in need. Commercial because certain developments require upfront investments and thus risktaking, a step the Open Source community is not always willing or capable to take. In the latter case the risktaking should be rewarded by limiting the access on a for Pay basis.
    It is therefore that The GravityZoo Company from day one decide to implement a Dual Licensing model.
    More information about our Open Source projects and activities will be available at this page soon."

    Until they clarify their licensing, I refuse to be interested, let alone excited.

    There is also so far only a Windows client. They don't even have a beta for other platforms. So I'm not interested in that way, also.

    Also: if it requires a special client, it is not (repeat not) a web-based app. I don't fucking care how it's delivered. The web is browsed with a web browser - see how that works?

    • by griebels2 (998954)

      Also: if it requires a special client, it is not (repeat not) a web-based app. I don't fucking care how it's delivered. The web is browsed with a web browser - see how that works?

      GravityZoo never claimed to be a web app, it's just that Zonk needs to get his glasses realigned. There is a huge difference between bringing something to the browser and to "the net". The latter can be done with all kinds of technologies. GravityZoo is a much more generic approach than most standard client-server based technologie

    • by cnystrom (1007893)
      My own competitive technolgy is open source, and we have linux and MS Windows clients. Check it out NewI\O [newio.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I seem to recall that Sun attempted to do this with Star Office a few years back.

    They gave up on it after a while, most likely because (1.) it took more in the doing than they thought and (2.) the marketoplace didn't show the expected interest.
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squoozer (730327) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:10PM (#18814489)
    This has about a much chance of flying as your common or garden stone. Aside from the fact that the article appears to be fundamentally flawed who would really want this functionality? Networks are just too slow for this to really work well. Even dumb terminals have lag and they are generally connected via a high speed network with minimal hops. Factor in the Interweb and this is just another web 2.0 pipe dream. Why is there this obsession with putting everything on the network even when it's not suitable for it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by afidel (530433)
      Have you ever used Google Applications? Because I have and I have to say they enable collaborative editing in a way I have never experienced with bolt-on products. I'm not sure that the first iteration of this would accomplish that kind of ability, it seems more an alternative to Citrix, but I'm fairly confident if it's open source something similar will eventually be added.
  • I was GravityZood last year...it was horrible. The...the nightmares! I...my...my wife left me, my therapist committed suicide, my dog *SOB* I can't talk about it any more. Run! RUN! While you still can!
  • Business plan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:21PM (#18814639) Homepage

    1. Put open source desktop app on server.
    2. Sell as web service.
    3. Profit!

    Another great Web 2.0 concept.

    Some days I think the Web peaked at HTML 3.2.

    • Some days I think the Web peaked at HTML 3.2.

      That's because it did. Everything since is at best a veneer. Useless animation, cute tricks, and advertising delivery platforms. I don't think there is a single site I visit that has a feature that actually benefits me that isn't trivial in Netscape 3.0.

      The part that caught my eye was "patent pending', which my cynical self read as locking up OSS software into a for profit container. Not that they shouldn't get credit for doing something unique, but I'd wager wha
  • I can't see how this is different to what you can do already with FreeNX, except that FreeNX is available now, and this is vapourware.
    • by griebels2 (998954)
      FreeNX is a "terminal based" solution. This means running your application on a server and getting your screen output over-the-wire. It's a cheap alternative to Citrix, Terminal Server and works a bit better than plain-old-X.

      GravityZoo isn't based on "terminal technology", it's based on "distributed objects". A plain-old terminal based solution would never scale beyond a limited number of clients.
  • by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:26PM (#18814711)

    'When OpenOffice.org is GravityZood, it will become a suite of productivity applications that are always available, online, via a broad range of devices.
    ...and when that fails I hear there is good money to be found in verbing nouns.
  • Firefox (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dan East (318230) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:27PM (#18814719) Homepage Journal
    What I'm looking forward to is a web-based version of Firefox.

    Dan East
  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:31PM (#18814777)
    Ok, we all kind of understand that there will come a time when bandwidth allows profile concepts to be moved to a universally accessible secure location. But it will have to be a highly secured and trusted service or user created server service. (i.e. A home BSD box or even Windows Home Server for example for home users.)

    However, I don't want my personal documents stored on their servers, and I know most business policies will not allow documents to be stored in this manner.

    Also, why are they 'reinventing' the wheel with patented technology to do this? There are many known and secure remote app technologies that could be already put into place for something like this.

    I'm open to ideas here, but I don't see how this is 'Open' or a good thing...
  • What's the difference between this and what google is already doing? Except google's doing it for free.
    • by xENoLocO (773565) *
      Sounds like it to me... and it wouldn't suprise me. Makes me want to develop an "Open Slogan".

      Open Source -- Innovating where others have already innovated before.
      or maybe
      Open Source -- We'll have that feature soon, too.

      Open Source -- So many cooks that no one has been fed in years (except the cooks).
  • Although the title of this story is a little misleading, I should point out that it is possible for something like a web-based OpenOffice to come into existence.

    OpenOffice is built using a retargetable GUI framework -- that's what allows it to work on both Windows and Linux without the need to resort to cheap and sleazy WINE tricks. So, theoretically at least, it's possible to build a front end to OpenOffice that targets the browser as a remote desktop.
    • by jhfry (829244)
      Err... no... not really.

      An html/css/javascript frontend could be written for it... POSSIBLY
      The core code can support hundreds of users accessing it via a web interface... NOT LIKELY

      I think it would be safe to say that this is far from a simple GUI replacement.

      I like the idea of web based apps... but don't so much care for storing my data on a 3rd party's servers. I wish Google would create an apps appliance (I'm sure they will someday)... or even release their code so that I could freely install it on my o
  • Can't do it (Score:4, Funny)

    by ichthus (72442) on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:03PM (#18815269) Homepage
    I just can't use a product associated with the name "GravityZoo." GravityZoo sounds too much like GravityGlue... which sounds too much like CavityGlue... which sounds just a little too close to CavityJew... which reminds me of the dentist (sorry for the anti-Semitism -- I needed this for the joke to work. I love you guys. Shalom!) Anyhoo, so... the dentist. I don't like the dentist, and so, logically, I don't like GravityZoo. QED.

  • Google Docs (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Too little, too late. I'm pretty sure that Google Docs is using OpenOffice code for a large portion of Google Docs functionality. (Take a look at the Google spreadsheets help and also note the producer tag on its pdf output.)

    That said, any spreadsheet application needs to be able to perform regression and factor analysis at a minimum to be useful to me. Google Docs has no such advanced statistical functionality, Excel is satisfactory, and SYSTAT is preferred. Fancy formatting be damned, it's actual function
  • Somebody has found a way to make OpenOffice slower! I am in awe.
  • Don't we pretty much have this with think free?
  • Gravity Zoo is very promising, i can think of many applications that could be enhanced by it (OO included, imagine it in a corporate environment), but it is not there yet. It is between proof of concept and betas. Lots to be done before i can really think about including it in a production environment. Congratulations and best of luck to the Gravity Zoo people.
  • Common data store (Score:3, Interesting)

    by misleb (129952) on Friday April 20, 2007 @04:41PM (#18816787)
    Ok, it seems to me that the single biggest draw for these online desktop-like apps is to have access to your files from anywhere. Assuming that is correct, they why aren't we seeing more traditional apps that are capable of drawing from a common network data store such as Amazone S3? I know Amazon provides an API. Seem like you could extend OpenOffice to talk to S3 (or similar) directly and you'd have your "documents just about anywhere" feature that everyone (on Slashdot) seems to think is so useful. Really, it is such a relatively simple solution considering compared to trying to coerce a web browser into doing things God never meant it to do.

    -matthew
    • by cnystrom (1007893)
      Your suggesting is a good one, but we might be able to do even better. Your suggestion solves part of the problem. However, network apps also have the promise of portability. Write the app once and it works on all platforms. With my own project we use standard messages between client and server to achieve this. For more info check out my project NewI\O [newio.org].
      • by misleb (129952)
        The promise of portability has been fulfilled by Java for the most part. But as it turn out, the average user just doesn't care. The only people that seem to care about portability are developers. Users are generally only on a single platform. The fact that their favorite app just happens to run on another platform is meaningless. This is one of the reasons why Java really hasn't taken off on the desktop. The only people who really USE Java apps seem to be Java developers (Eclipse, Netbeans, InteliJ, etc).
        • by cnystrom (1007893)
          Thank you for your reply.

          Actually I think users do care about portability. If there is a MS Windows program you need to run, and you have a Mac, then you care about portability.

          Being able to write one app for the entire user base instead of one small segment of computer users has to be of some value. Someone can write a Cocoa app that might be beautiful, but being able to write a Cocoa app is a very specific skill (Objective C) for a relativley small market.

          On the other hand if you write a NewI\O app y

          • by misleb (129952)

            Actually I think users do care about portability. If there is a MS Windows program you need to run, and you have a Mac, then you care about portability.

            This isn't nearly as common as you think. Like I said, Java addressed this a long time ago, and the reality is that users are not clamoring for portable Java apps to bridge the gap. There are enough native OS X apps such that portability between OS X and WIndows remains a special case... and generally not worth the sacrifices in usability and integration.

  • There is absolutely a big market for this. That is what 37signals [37signals.com] and Google [google.com], among others, are proving with their web apps.

    The benefits of web office apps are many and great. I do not intend to discuss them here, since it is too long a topic. For instance, the same site links to a very interesting article on the subject [gravityzoo.com].

    What is holding this evolution of the systems right now are the genuine security and confidentiality concerns from managers and sysadmins. As many stated, most companies will not tru

  • Putting a web app front-end on Open Office makes good sense, especially if the application server is already in your pocket. We currently tote around several electronic gadgets, and yet can only access "serious" applications through stationary desktops and bulky laptops. As electronics shrink, all of this must converge to a single platform. Since pretty much all applications require comms, and mobile phones provide this, they will probably end up being the platform that we converge onto. They will carry
  • At least TiVo just stops you from running modified software on their hardware, what these guys will be doing is attempt to circumvent the LGPL by interfacing an LGPL server program using a proprietary client, thus by not distributing it they are not bound by the LGPL. Of course, LGPL programs are not the only ones vulnerable to this. Even the GPLv3 will run into problems with it. The Affero approach won't solve the problem because it will be a hassle for many free software developers, and quite frankly, it
  • by realinvalidname (529939) on Saturday April 21, 2007 @07:34AM (#18822733) Homepage

    ...when it was called ThinkFree Online [thinkfree.com]. Oh wait, we have to hate ThinkFree because it's written in Java. Even though it works well, lets you use your own fonts and printer, opens and saves real MS Office docs, and installs into the JVM cache faster than an MS Office or OpenOffice install.

    Oh well, trying to write an Office suite in Ajax has kept people busy for a few years, now they can try to get the native OO.o app working in a browser. Maybe next we can port it to Flash. That'll be fun.

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