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Michael Meeks Says OO.o Project is "Profoundly Sick" 676

Posted by timothy
from the important-alternative dept.
unassimilatible writes "Michael Meeks, who works full time developing OpenOffice, writes in his blog that the project is 'profoundly sick.' 'In a healthy project we would expect to see a large number of volunteer developers involved, in addition — we would expect to see a large number of peer companies contributing to the common code pool; we do not see this in OpenOffice.org. Indeed, quite the opposite we appear to have the lowest number of active developers on OO.o since records began: 24, this contrasts negatively with Linux's recent low of 160+. Even spun in the most positive way, OO.o is at best stagnating from a development perspective.'"
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Michael Meeks Says OO.o Project is "Profoundly Sick"

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  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @06:58AM (#26248323) Homepage Journal

    I mean does *anybody* actually own Star Office?

    According to the article:

    Distance the project from Sun: perhaps less branding, certainly less top-down control, reduce the requirement to 'share' all your rights over to Sun before you can contribute to the project. Better still, share ownership of the code with a non-profit foundation to guarantee stability and an independent future for the code-base.

    ...Sun owns open office.

    There's such a thing as finished software.

    Yes.

  • by arotenbe (1203922) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:08AM (#26248377) Journal

    How about fixing some of the 12058 [openoffice.org] open bugs?

  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:5, Informative)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:34AM (#26248513) Homepage

    Easy. All they have to do is refuse to take contributions from the rest of the community. Kohei's solver module is a case in point. He had a fully functional solver, and what did Sun do? They wrote their own.

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:40AM (#26248547) Homepage Journal

    Its not like people are going to be rolling much OO code into their own projects - which is where the GPL licensing breaks down. The cost (giving up your entire codebase) is probably "high" when its likely a small fraction of OO code that is wanted (say some paragraph breaking logic).

    OpenOffice.org software is under the GNU Lesser General Public License version 3 [openoffice.org], which allows it to be combined with proprietary software. I don't see how use of LGPL modules in your code requires "giving up your entire codebase", unless perhaps you're on a platform that requires code signing and forbids end users to sign their own compiled apps.

  • by Computershack (1143409) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:46AM (#26248571)

    Then maybe you can answer me one question, and it's a honest one, I couldn't find it: How do you print in MSO 2007?

    You're shitting me...See the big fucking round button on the top left corner with the office logo on? When you click on it, a menu comes up with file and print functions....

  • by Computershack (1143409) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:48AM (#26248587)

    I am not a programmer, but I would probably go for something that's entirely web based, but that can also be used offline.

    Like you can in MSO2007 with the "Office Live!" add ins?

  • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:3, Informative)

    by cperciva (102828) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:55AM (#26248613) Homepage

    Firstly is a real word; and according to the Oxford English Dictionary, has been in use ever since 1532. Quotations include "Walke thou fyrstly, walke thou lastly; Walke in the walke that standeth fastly" (1562), "A most delightful [ballad]... which has been laid firstly to Pope and secondly to me" (1723), and "These objects are twofold: firstly, to promote [etc.]" (1857).

    Of course, in 1847 the word 'firstly' was accused of being a "ridiculous and most pedantic neologism" (falsely -- being over 300 years old, it was hardly a neologism), and I'll freely admit that it isn't a very *nice* word; but it's a word whether we like it or not.

  • by slugtastic (1437569) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:00AM (#26248629)
    Heres OO.o ToDo Page [openoffice.org]. Found some interesting things there.
  • by Mad Merlin (837387) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:07AM (#26248661) Homepage

    You know that OOo is primarily written in C++, right? Base (the database thingie that appeared in 2.0) and the help system use Java, but that's pretty much it. You don't even need Java installed to run OOo, try it, you probably won't notice the difference.

  • Re:Yeah, and... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MrMr (219533) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:08AM (#26248665)
    Very true, in fact, there are no real words in English that start with an 'f'.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:10AM (#26248673) Journal
    It is worth noting that the LGPLv3 is incompatible with GPLv2 (or, more accurately, GPLv2 is incompatible with LGPLv3), so it can not be combined with open source projects that choose this license and don't have the 'or later versions' clause.
  • by Matthieu Araman (823) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:15AM (#26248689)

    I find it funny that openoffice is in the situation mozilla was some years ago...
    - big code which takes time to clean up (There was some presentation made by an openoffice guy which explained all the work they have been doing to remove old code, factorize code, clean up...)
    - mostly contributors from one company, slow to gain external contributors
    - hard for external contributors as some stuff are naturally "inside"
    - patches sitting and not being integrated
    - need to release stuff and at the same time work on more architectural stuff
    - work needed on tools to ease distributed contribution and extension stuff

    the only difference is that as a product openoffice.org 3.0 is much more a success than early mozilla version so that should help drive developpers overcome the other problems...

    I think some of the above problems seems to have been partly adressed but as the number of sun developpers decrease, it complicate integration of needed new developpers...

  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:5, Informative)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:32AM (#26248781)
    I don't know what their deal is, but the grand-parent's comment about Sun not playing nice with volunteer developers is not a new one. The guys over at NeoOffice also started by trying to contribute to a Mac port of OO.o, except Sun rebuffed them much preferring to write their own which is OO.o native mac port. Here's a quote [neooffice.org] from one of the two developers for neooffice in response to some comments by a Sun employee:

    While it is wonderful that Sun has put so much work into the Windows, Linux, and Solaris ports over the years (and I have no criticism with that), their behavior in the Mac area has been quite aggressive towards us over that last few years. We've taken Sun's open source license, implemented a huge hole in their code, and made no attempt to proprietarize the code. What did we get in return, lots of very negative pressure from the OOo managers and volunteers. So you are surprised when we view their grand magical Mac port as competition?

    For a long time now, Sun has been pulling a bit of a bait and switch. They claim that they are open source friendly, etc. etc., but then they do everything they can to prevent any outside interference. That's they whole reason why NeoOffice exists, the guys who made it got tired of Sun giving them the run-around.

  • by markdavis (642305) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @09:21AM (#26249015)

    OO is far from "finished". It is a great suite, but there are *hundreds* of things that need to be added and *thousands* of things that need to be fixed. I have reported a dozen requests for useful features over the years that I and my users really need. Only one or so has ever made it to light.

    Want an example? In Writer, you can convert all text to uppercase or lowercase. But there is no function for "Initial Caps". WordPerfect and MS-Word both have that feature, and have for many, many years. Then add some salt to the wound: Calc doesn't have the ability to convert cases AT ALL. When I reported this oversight, there were many supporters, and many duplicate reports. SEVEN YEARS PASSED and it is still not implemented!

    That feature is hardly "bloat". I use it all the time when converting data from one type of use or system to another. There are hundreds of similar types of improvements that need to be made.

    "Finished"?? Absolutely not.

  • by Klivian (850755) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @09:45AM (#26249147)
    Native KOffice for Windows and Mac are already exist, they are in beta just as the native X11 variant.
  • by Chapter80 (926879) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @10:18AM (#26249337)

    Exactly! Print is hidden! How stupid!

    The Properties are hidden too! (Personally, I take issue with Microsoft's logic that they are going to embed hidden properties (specifically, Title, Author, and Company name) in a place that they can't easily be found, so that when I post a document (or send it to someone), it can't easily be anonymous.) Now that I have found Properties, I routinely check it on documents sent to me, as it's always a source of entertainment, especially on Resumes.

    For the record, Properties are conveniently located under "Windows Orb / Prepare" of all places!

    ... or how about the "Find" button. Holy shit, I have spent cumulative HOURS looking for that in each Microsoft Ribbon product, BECAUSE IT MOVES AROUND! In MS Word, it's on the Home tab, under Editing (but if the window is maximized then it appears to the right listed *separately*. If it's not maximized, then you have to click on "Editing" to discover it.

    Oh, but in Outlook, in the Inbox display, I see "Find" under the "Edit" menu item (not sure why I don't see a ribbon, but I am thankful). Until I want to read an email - then the Ribbon appears, and "Find" is hidden to the right. This time, it's on the "Message" Tab, on a "Find" button, not an "Editing" Button as it was in Word... Until you press Reply. Then it's GONE. Of course, it's now moved so that it's under the "Format Text" tab under an "Editing" button.

    But wait, there's more: In Excel, it's on the "Home" tab, under "Editing", "Find and Select". Intuitive!

    Don't get me started about Excel. Want to insert a row? Oh there's an "Insert" tab - let's look there. Our options are..."Pivot Table", "Table", "Picture", "Clip Art", "Shapes", "SmartArt", "Column", "Line", "Pie", "Bar", "Area", "Scatter", "Other Charts", "Hyperlink", "Text Box", "Header & Footer", "WordArt", "Signature Line", "Object", and "Symbol". Is ANY ONE OF THOSE used more than INSERT A ROW??? NO!

    I would say that Inserting a ROW is a FUNDAMENTAL Spreadsheet option, done (by me) more frequently than EVERY ONE OF THOSE options combined! But where is it?

    Turns out "Insert a Row" is not on the "Insert" Tab! How intuitive! It's on the "Home" tab! Brilliant! And it's under "Cells / Insert". ("Cells Insert" can insert cells, sheet, sheet rows and sheet columns.) Clearly something is mislabeled: "Cells/Insert Cells" vs. "Cell/Insert Sheet Rows" makes no sense (that is, if inserting rows belongs under "Cells", then clearly it belongs under "Insert Cells" as well.)

    Want to change the "Format" of an email that you're about to send? Change the "Format" from Plain Text to HTML? Clearly that'd be on the "Format Text" tab. ooooooh no. it's not. It's on the "Options" Tab, under "Format". Why would "Format" not be on the "Format Text" tab? What the hell!???? (probably no room for it there, because "FIND" is taking up space)

    Who organized this shit? Usability experts my ass!

    </rant>

  • Re:Barriers to Entry (Score:4, Informative)

    by slashbart (316113) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @10:50AM (#26249525) Homepage

    Exactly!

    I've tried to build OOo, and after hours of installing all kinds of dependencies and compiling it turned out that the thing would not compile a working binary. There was some sort of circular dependency in it, with a compile bug in one, and when I removed that supposedly optional configure item, something else would fail.

    I'm far from inexperienced, but the OOo build setup is too complicated! I had this idea to make a sort of stripped version of OOo, to fill the niche that Framemaker used to have, but I gave up on it due to the non-functional build process.

    If the OOo team would like to have an open-source community around it, it would have to put major emphasis on fixing and documenting the build process.

    Bart

  • by Seraphim_72 (622457) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @11:11AM (#26249649)
    To add a little icing to that cake I can tell you that your school paid for that copy of Office for you, all you paid was for the shiny CD/DVD it came on. Admittedly they get a great cut from the retail price, but they still paid money for it. Lastly something the GP misses entirely is that he (and perhaps you) have never read the EULA for your copy. Though long, boring and wordy there is a reason it is called a 'student' copy of Office. To shorten it up for you, never type up something official on it, like a document for work or a legal anything, do either in any form and you have broken the license. So much as writing your accountant about your taxes on it with a spreadsheet of your monthly cable bill is enough to break it. In short it was made to write papers for class on, that is all.

    Sera
  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @02:17PM (#26251095)
    The tool you're looking for is called 'LyX'. I've used it for years to edit various people's LaTeX documents, especially those from college professors who learned their craft in the early 1980's and aren't interested in updating their documents.
  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @02:21PM (#26251121) Homepage
    Kohei wouldn't sign the copyright over to them. Try writing an addition to emacs or gcc and submit it to the FSF without a copyright assignment and you'll get exactly the same response.
  • by Al Al Cool J (234559) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @02:38PM (#26251257)

    While I agree with the problem of Initial Caps in writer, I don't understand your critism of calc. You change case with =UPPER(), =LOWER(), and =PROPER(). Using functions to perform operations seems perfectly reasonable to me for spreadsheet software.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@s[ ]hdot.fi ... m ['las' in gap]> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @02:49PM (#26251335) Homepage

    Is there not a printer icon on the ribbon? OO.o certainly has one on the default toolbar.

    What could be more obviously related to printing than a word that originally referred to the act of storing paper in a cabinet

    You say this in a sarcastic manner, but it's true, you have to print it out before you can file it away in a cabinet...

  • Re:It depends (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @06:00PM (#26252773) Homepage

    If you look back there where serious players in XFree who were talking about breaking off into a fork which induced them to kick some people off commit. Those people represented Suse and RedHat. That caused public outrage and a the fork to actually form. XFree86 then changed the license so their code couldn't get pulled into the fork and it was after that that distributions like debian sided with the Suse / Redhat guys.

    So the story is a bit more complicated.

  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:3, Informative)

    by jbolden (176878) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @06:02PM (#26252785) Homepage

    Open office exports to TeX

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:59AM (#26258377) Homepage

    Please, read the TextCursor API page linked above, and then see if you can quickly understand what properties and methods a TextCursor object has.

    Okay, I've never once looked at the OO.o API document, but I can tell you right now that, as a developer, those docs are completely understandable. The TextCursor object implements a whole series of interfaces. If you want to know what those specific interfaces do, then hit the links for them. For example, here's the doc for the XTextCursor interface:

    http://api.openoffice.org/docs/common/ref/com/sun/star/text/XTextCursor.html [openoffice.org]

    As you can see, it has a bunch of methods for moving the cursor around. The other interfaces do essentially the same thing, but at the sentence and paragraph level. Meanwhile, the XPropertySet interface, described here:

    http://api.openoffice.org/docs/common/ref/com/sun/star/beans/XPropertySet.html [openoffice.org]

    Gives access to the TextCursor state. This is the one problem I see with the documentation. Because the XPropertySet interface exports a generic property provider interface, there isn't actually any doc to describe the properties that are applicable to a TextCursor instance. 'course, the easiest answer is to hack up some test code to emit all the properties and see what's there, but that's certainly not ideal.

    So... what was it you were complaining about, again?

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