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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 John Sokol (109591) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:37AM (#26248257) Homepage Journal

    What more do you want them to add.
    The rest of the stuff Microsoft has, no one cares about enough to add it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:38AM (#26248263)

    No one can compete with M$ for bloatware and useless feature exploits... so why try?

    I'm of the somewhat biased opinion that if an app gracefully does what it's supposed to do, it's done.
    OO does this, in my experience. Why try to feature-add anything but security improvements?

  • by Tatarize (682683) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:52AM (#26248295) Homepage

    How likely is that conspiracy theory? I mean does *anybody* actually own Star Office? And if they did, what feature could it possible have that Open Office doesn't? In fact other than worthless bloat what does OO.o lack period? Microsoft Office finished in 98 or so, and just adds bloat. OO.o is to that point now.

    There's such a thing as finished software.

  • But as a word processor and a spreadsheet I find them irritating and clunky to use. I vastly prefer to use Abiword [abisource.com] for anything where I don't care whether or not I can work with MS Office format files. And I prefer gnumeric [gnome.org] for a spreadsheet.

    I don't like Office. I don't like how it's all one big gigantic tool. I want separate tools that I can pull out and replace if something better comes along.

    OpenDocument plus things like Abiword and gnumeric are what I want.

  • Barriers to Entry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jekler (626699) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:02AM (#26248343)

    Like so many Open Source projects, it's not easy to get involved. It's telling about the complexity of a project that only a handful of people in the world bother to tip-toe through the minefield. Open source projects don't want people who can write code, they want people who can setup build environments and navigate a complex political environment.

    At a job I wouldn't need to spend so much time setting up a build environment, there would already be a dozen people who have already figured out even the most intricate details of it. The person whose project it is should have fairly detailed information on setting up a build environment for their project. Open source projects tend to go with a "figure it out yourself" philosophy bragging that it's a rite of passage, but then they wonder why nobody is contributing.

    Maybe I'd contribute to OpenOffice.org, but I've already got a mental block realizing that figuring out how to get involved would be at least a week long process. As luck would have it, I also have a week's worth of sleep debt and I already know how to fix that problem.

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

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:03AM (#26248353)

    Do users really need an open source desktop suite when they can meet their needs using a server based suite? Broadband is cheap.

    But it's not ubiquitous. For some of us, broadband access is not available at work.

    In addition, in some cases, what we are working on needs to be kept secure and not broadcast over broadband.

    The ability to pull out a laptop and do real work, without having to try to connect to a server to gain access to productivity tools, is valuable to alot of users

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

    by dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:05AM (#26248365)

    Do users really need an open source desktop suite when they can meet their needs using a server based suite? Broadband is cheap.

    Yes.

    • Availability
    • Mobility
    • Privacy
    • Reliability
  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:07AM (#26248369)

    Do users really need an open source desktop suite when they can meet their needs using a server based suite?

    I don't like being beholden to an always-on internet connection, availability, and continued business success of a remote host than I like being beholden to Microsoft's dedication to backwards compatibility. I want an office suite and a document format that I'll be able to use for 10 years, or 20.

  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:09AM (#26248391)

    Indeed that is a problem that affects OpenOffice since it's inception. To make matters worse, it's recent migration from a 2.0 to 3.0 was apparently made with a conscious decision to keep the code as unlearnable and unwriteable as it was. You can't have a flourishing developer community if your project purposely obscures the code.

    Moreover, you don't make many friends or any inroads if you manage a project in such a way that you expect volunteers to contribute their work for free in such a way that a company keeps the rights to that code and incorporates it in a proprietary product while the original developer gets squat.

    Having said that, let's not forget other FLOSS MS-Office clones out there such as KOffice. It would be nice to compare the community participation.

  • Very bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:10AM (#26248395)

    Nearly every paragraph in the "article" begins with a disclaimer that the data (and/or the analysis) are flawed/biased/incomplete/not useful/meaningless!

    Wow. Gotta do some quotes:

    Firstly - the data is dirty

    Nice

    Thus it is possible that there is at least somewhat wider contribution than shown

    More than possible

    This graph is more meaningless than it might first appear

    So, why are you basing are fairly hefty part of your argument on it? If it's meaningless, why is it even included?

    So the data is not that useful.

    No kidding

    Is it more useful to look at an individual to see if they are contributing something ?

    I dunno. You asked the question. Is it?

    Why one hundred ? why not ?

    It is clear that the number of active contributors Sun brings to the project is continuing to shrink

    Crystal clear.

    Novell's up-stream contribution appears small in comparison with the fifteen engineers we have working on OO.o. This has perhaps

    Yeah, expand on that conjecture

    So, it should be clear that OO.o is a profoundly sick project

    Clear? Clear based on all those assertions they made about their data being dodgy? Yeah, umm, ok.

    I'm sorry, but this is article is very hard to take seriously.

  • by pecosdave (536896) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:14AM (#26248417) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, as is OpenOffice.org is slick, very usable, I love it.

    If those 24 developers can continue to right filters for new file formats (24 of them should be able to handle that), make bug fixes, and make the occasional improvement here and there I say great!

    OpenOffice.org does not need a rewrite from the ground up every six months to two years.

    Seriously, the guys from Neo Office [neooffice.org] don't have near the funding or man power of the core OpenOffice.org team, look what they've accomplished on "Macing it" (Macking it?).

    Between Neo Office and Go-oo [go-oo.org] making fixes that the upstream developers don't take, I would say there's some FUD going around and there's more people interested in developing for OpenOffice.org than Sun lets on. I'm thinking this may be the first artificial rublings to justify dumping the project sometime in the near future since it's not profitable and hasn't been a big enough thorn in the MS side.

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

    by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:22AM (#26248459)

    Well, using the desktop suite means that you fully control the access to your documents. On the other hand, a "server-based suite" like Google's forces you to relinquish the control of your documents to a third party, which means that you explicitly give vital information on your business to an external party subject to the control of a foreign country. Having economic [businessweek.com] espionage [theregister.co.uk] fresh in the collective memory, including ECHELON [wikipedia.org], that is a very dumb thing to do.

    So yes, users do really need an open source desktop suite, no matter how cheap broadband is at the moment. It's all about control.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:28AM (#26248487)

    There are many things that would float my boat project wise in IT , working on a word processor or spreadsheet isn't one of them.

  • Re:Too complex (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:34AM (#26248515) Journal

    This is a problem for all open source projects. Once any project gets above a certain size, it becomes difficult for casual developers to make contributions. This is why open source and UNIX grew so well together - the UNIX philosophy was to have simple tools doing one thing well. Individuals can make useful additions to a simple tool, and the simple tools can be combined into powerful systems.

    You make a comparison to X11, and that's probably quite apt. One of the big changes in X.org has been splitting the project into a large number of smaller ones, and this has allowed casual contributors to start making a difference once again.

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

    by tepples (727027) <tepples.gmail@com> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:35AM (#26248521) Homepage Journal

    How can Sun control an open source project?

    Name recognition, and the time investment in becoming the maintainer of a codebase of this size.

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

    by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@gmaiOPENBSDl.com minus bsd> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:45AM (#26248569) Homepage Journal
    Sun requires commits be dual-licensed so that Sun can use the code in the commercial version, Star Office. That's how they control

    Of course, anyone can fork, and they have. Novell has Go-oo (which Meeks is silently promoting in this article), IBM has Symphony, and there's NeoOffice for Mac.

    Nothing was stopping anyone from forking XFree86, either, and they did. Xorg lives on and XFree86 is for all intents and purposes dead.

    Sun is going to control OO.o right into the grave.
  • by Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:48AM (#26248581)
    It seems like Sun is licensing a lot of their stuff under the GPL. I agree with the comments concerning the licensing issue. If Sun wants to be the maintainer, that's fine. Let them make it like Red Hat does: work with GPL, insert company branding and lead the project with proper maintenance. Dual licensing doesn't seem to meet the needs or the interests of the developers. Removing the requirement for developers to give ownership of the code to Sun would attract more developers to tackle the bugs, clean up the code with better organization and documenation, and let developers know that their code is still their code. As far as I can tell, dual licensing the code for OO hasn't worked out too well other than that we do get a fairly good free office suite. Simplifying the project by using just the GPL would very likely be the change they need to make to take care of the complaints.
  • by Sigma 7 (266129) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:48AM (#26248583)

    How do you print in MSO 2007?

    ALT-F, P. Or, click on Office icon in top-left corner, click on print...

  • by paimin (656338) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:52AM (#26248605)

    If they had done that without obscuring an equal amount of useful features that were previously perfectly accessible, like oh say Print, then maybe it would have been worth it. I'm glad you like it, but roughly 100% of users I've talked to find the new design utterly infuriating. And it's not just a matter of getting used to it, I'd say.

    The talent MS has for causing human suffering through user interface is truly breathtaking. Then again, these are the cursed ones who gave birth to the demon clippy, so who's surprised?

  • by Daengbo (523424) <daengbo@gmaiOPENBSDl.com minus bsd> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:53AM (#26248607) Homepage Journal

    OpenOffice is a bit too big and too important to be under the copyright of millions of different people.

    Sure, because that held Linux back.

    Novell is trying to hijack the OOo-brand with their own fork and so far that isnt going to well. So I guess Michael Meeks needs scapegoat and Sun is an easy target.

    No arguments there.

  • by paimin (656338) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @08:57AM (#26248617)
    Yeah, that's perfectly obvious, a big glowing yellow MS logo orb for print. Nobody could figure that old File menu out.
  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@ g m a i l.com> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @09:07AM (#26248657) Journal

    Until KOffice has a NATIVE Windows port I doubt you will be hearing much more about them even if OO.o ends up in the toilet. That was one of the nice things about OO.o, that I could hand it out on a nice freeware CD and folks could install it just as easy as any other Windows app and have a usable free office suite. I was just hoping that it would improve, because for me OO.o has always been slower and more unwieldy than my MS Office 2K. But when I tried OO.o 3.0 it seems to have gotten even slower than the 2.xx!

    If I need to whip off a doc I don't want to wait 20-30 seconds just to have the GUI open and go through bursts where I type and nothing shows up on the screen for several seconds and then it all just pours out, which is what I experience with OO.o. And while folks here like to point out the high cost of MS Office I simply doubt that most users are paying retail. I picked up my MS Office 2K Pro for around $50 years ago and I got MS Office 2K3 for free from school. But I do hope that someday they come out with a native KOffice just so there is competition and I'll be able to give my customers choice with my FOSS CD. But the second you start talking about Cygwin or having to install the entire KDE underpinnings just to get KOffice you have lost 99% of the Windows users out there. And like it or not, Windows still commands the lion's share of the world's desktops.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@woCURIErld3.net minus physicist> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @09:07AM (#26248659) Homepage

    The parent may have hit on one reason why there are so few people working on OO.o. As far as most people are concerned, it's complete and doesn't need improving beyond a few bug fixes.

    Most programmers probably don't spend a huge amount of time with word processors, and when they do it's just with the basic features to bash out a letter or some documentation. OO.o and various other free suites can do that just fine, so why invest time and effort that could be spent elsewhere on more pressing problems?

  • by MrZaius (321037) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @09:08AM (#26248667) Homepage

    >your project purposely obscures the code.

    Interesting allegation, but could you be more specific?

  • by hotfireball (948064) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @09:17AM (#26248701)
    I might be wrong, but that's my opinion:
    • If you have a possibility and have to make a decision what to work with: MS Office or OpenOffice, the choice is very obvious to the first one. Second is always optional and in most cases not used.
    • Those, who can get Windows can get MS Office.
    • Those, who can get Mac, can get MS Office too. And iWork (I use it, BTW).
    • Those, who can not afford things above, they use Linux on desktop. And Linux on desktop has miserable market share percentage. That means that company are not going to invest into these things just because it is free stuff.

    Seriously. Use OpenOffice is like to choose using bus, while having an own brand new and ready to go car.

    I saw things like if you're geek, tech and programmer, you're either on Mac with xVM or VmWare (hence you can use better things), or you're on Linux/BSD/Unix and your world is LaTeX, Emacs and other scary-but-very-good-old-school things, because you use X11 for your 20 xterms to open. If you are anybody else, then usually you're on Windows or, again, on Mac, thus you have an ability to use MS Office.

    Yes, OO.o software people are downloading, but I think do not use much. E.g. me. I have it. Installed. 3.0 for Mac. Ran twice: first time to see what's new and how it looks like, second time to make sure simple MS Office document gets completely screwed, when opened. MS Office has its own incompatibility problems. But, frankly, much easier to curse Microsoft 1 minute and then use really usable Excel, rather then feel happy 1 minute that you've got software for free, and curse your rest of the day, because Calc can not do most of regular things that Excel does out of the box.

    Oh, and that licence thing... That's the last nail into its coffin, IMHO.

    But personally, I feel sad for OOo. Nice software (could be). It already has lots of very cool features and could be good competitor. However, I'd stay on iWork and MS Office.

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

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @09:38AM (#26248803) Homepage Journal

    Haven't you heard? Broadband is capped for many of us. Do you want to have to pay extra to check on that spreadsheet some weekend? I don't.

    Besides, broadband isn't the answer for everyone. Availability, security, offline areas, are all concerns for many of us.

    Might be YOUR solution, but its not everyones.

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

    by WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) <sexwithanimals@gmail.com> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @09:39AM (#26248819) Homepage
    Where I live is surrounded by farms and I'd have to travel 90 minutes either east or west (Albany or Springfield) to get 3G. Rural areas are more likely to be serviced by cable or DSL than have access to 3G, unless they're right next to a large city.
  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @10:23AM (#26249025) Journal

    There are literally thousands of problems with your scenario, and zero with ASCII. Try again.

  • It depends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lonewolf666 (259450) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @10:40AM (#26249109)

    As long as Sun refuse to take contributions and do meaningful development on O.O of their own, a fork does not make much sense because it would merely duplicate Sun's efforts. In that case, people might just tolerate the status quo.
    But if Sun stops development or slows it to a negligible pace, people might get frustrated enough to do something about it. That is what happened with XFree, and today X.org is preferred by most distributions.

  • by penix1 (722987) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @11:00AM (#26249243) Homepage

    OpenOffice is a bit too big and too important to be under the copyright of millions of different people.

    Sure, because that held Linux back.

    Nice bit of bait and switch there. To answer the question PROPERLY you would have to say YES Linux was held back from making the switch to GPLv3. Nowhere in the world is it v3 because of the licensing wording. The OP wasn't saying the code was held back but the switch of license was.

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

    by jbolden (176878) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @11:10AM (#26249291) Homepage

    Great link. In reading Sun's response I have to wonder, what kind of open source project is worried about "stealing code". There is no stealing code. You contribute to an open source project and then other people work on it. Layer upon layer. I think there may be a culture conflict going on here and Sun and OO is not going to be meaningfully open source as long as long it is under Sun almost exclusively.

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

    by Stile 65 (722451) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @11:21AM (#26249351) Homepage Journal

    a document format that I'll be able to use for 10 years, or 20.

    ASCII

    EBCDIC

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

    by FishWithAHammer (957772) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @11:38AM (#26249455)

    Yes, because users should learn a programming language to typeset a document.

    Leave the basement for a while and take a look around the real world.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @11:52AM (#26249531)

    Oh what a fool I am! Of course, how could I miss it? After all, for decades we have been trained to click on the big flashy MS logo and expect something sensible happen. It's been that way in IE... erh, no. In Windows ... erh, no. In any Office version before 2007 ... erh, no. In ... fuck, in ANY program?

  • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @12:06PM (#26249613)

    "These people are INCREDIBLY picky about how their word, excel, etc documents look. "

    No shit. That's their job. They don't have a reason to care about anything other than results.
    Change does not serve them.

  • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @12:32PM (#26249797)

    You are the one who is shitting. I had to go find an example on google images.

    Never in a million years would I have even thought to click on that thing. If I would have had the idea that it might be clickable, I would expect it to open a browser window to the Office home page or something equally useless. Apparently lots of people are shitting you.

    http://mahoneylibrary.wordpress.com/2007/09/06/ms-office-2007-on-library-lab-computers/ [wordpress.com]
    http://mahoneylibrary.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/office07crop.thumbnail.png [wordpress.com]

  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @12:36PM (#26249833) Journal

    " What fucking moron changed the FILE menuitem to a glowing office logo?

    What raging idiot thinks that's intuitive? Only retarted morons, that's who. "

    That would be the same fucking morons | raging idiots who put "shut down" under "Start"

  • by ivoras (455934) <ivoras@@@fer...hr> on Sunday December 28, 2008 @01:04PM (#26250033) Homepage

    There are, in fact, two kinds of users of OpenOffice.org (as with all software): those who just want to create a letter in the default Times New Romsn 12 font with formatting done with tabs and spaces or fill out a form somebody else created, and those who really need to create complex documents not because it's a source of endless fun but because they need to present complex topics.

    For the first people, yes, OpenOffice.org is "done" - but for such people WordPad, KOffice and AbiWord are "done" also, and using OpenOffice.org is just bloat in terms of startup time and memory consumed.

    For the second people, OpenOffice.org still borders on the unusable.

    Some examples from my own usage:

    • Impress, the PowerPoint-wannabe (while here, who actually knew what "Impress" is before I compared it to PowerPoint?) is a) horribly bug ridden and b) is practically impossible to use to create presentations that are as nice looking as those that users of PowerPoint 2007 receive as generic templates. In Impress, it's still a lottery if you have a fairly complex presentation, that it will look the same when saved and loaded! It saves in a lossy format (not funny)! My presentations crested in OOo 3 are almost unusable in OOo2 despite using the same nominal file format (i.e. it doesn't complain, it just interprets the formatting differently)! Setting background fills is particularly clunky and uncertain, but there are bugs in line styles, arrows and animations. The 3.0 release fixed none of the bugs I encountered and introduced at least one more: pasting slides is impossible in the middle of the slide sequence. The vector clipart, the color palette and the bitmap tools are all unusable, mostly because they offer functionality from 1995 (remember MS Office 95?) or such and haven't been upgraded. One annoying item that's lacking is making the bitmaps transparent in a color-key fashion - in MS Office, you can select a bitmap and with a click of the mouse make one of its colours transparent - so, for example you don't have rectangular edges in the graphics of a round marble you pasted (it's pretty nice, I think it also does an anti-alias around the masked region). Still, in 2009, OOo can't do this.
    • OpenOffice Base was never finished. There's really nothing more to say here. It doesn't have features Access 97 had, and here I mostly mean programming and reporting features that have made Access great for small scale office accounting applications. Its extremely dumb choice of database format prohibits it *by design* from being used by multiple users at the same time, like Access could (yes, early Access had locking problems, but nothing that couldn't be solved by server reboots and a BAT file removing the .lck files).
    • Office .DOC format compatibility isn't perfect - I had a document yesterday that started significantly diverging in formatting when viewed in OOo and MS Office about in the middle of it. It was nothing fancy, a common two-column scientific paper. Of course, this kind of compatibility may never be perfect but it also means that using both Offices in the same organization isn't possible if the organization produces non-trivial documents.
  • by jbolden (176878) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @01:07PM (#26250057) Homepage

    What is so wrong with allowing your employees to express their honest opinions on issues not terribly closely related to the company? Especially when they do so in their own name.

    IMHO Novell should be applauded for allowing free speech not condemned.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @01:51PM (#26250447)
    I haven't used 2007, but my son (Physics/Chem major, very computer literate) was telling me he used it for the first time at college, and had a difficult time figuring out how to print. It sounds like a design flaw, not the incompetence of the users.
  • by Stormx2 (1003260) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @01:56PM (#26250485)

    I know it's different, but it is akin to the old File menu. The new Ribbon interface has casualties for the sake of simplicity. The interface is GREATLY improved. They could have put the old "File" functions (new, open, save, print) in a ribbon, but they're too important. It makes SENSE. It takes all of 10 seconds to realise and grasp. I normally hate microsoft, I'm a faithful ubuntu user, but they got office 2007 right! it's one of the best pieces of software around.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 28, 2008 @02:47PM (#26250839)

    It build-depends critically - and yet simultaneously gratuitously - on java. I remember when the java dependency was introduced. It was just like "OO.o is Sun-owned. Now it MUST use java for no readily apparent reason". Major dev-geek turn-off for me. Now, I still respect Sun for open-sourcing it and keeping it that way. But it's sun's microsoft-vendetta project, not mine. And I just don't work on java stuff for free (even FSF gcj stuff). Maybe I'm out of date and it's once again possible to build and run OO.o without java on your system.

    It's not the only project Sun has pulled that sort of stuff on either - they bought the "Lustre" network filesystem, what was/is a remarkably high-performance file system for HPC systems (large scientific linux clusters). As soon as that happened, the entire development roadmap was changed so that it depended on Sun ZFS instead of a performance-patched linux ext3 (btw, where ext4 came from really!) on the backend. Yeesh. Still open source, but suddenly I just lost interest in it.

    It is just difficult to maintain interest sometimes when clearly political decisions are overriding technical sanity. This is far from unusual - witness the FSF preferring bzr over git for FSF projects since bzr is now FSF-owned (even though it's, like, 40x slower than git). Or microsoft trying to migrate hotmail away from unix back in the day... etc. etc.

    They are all entirely within their rights to decide such things. And there are even sound reasons - vaguely technical dogfood-eating ones even - for an entity to prefer its own toolchain. But such decisions will inevitably alienate some proportion of people. Costs and benefits must be weighed up.

  • by Haeleth (414428) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @03:06PM (#26251007) Journal

    Because "File" is just so intuitive. What could be more obviously related to printing than a word that originally referred to the act of storing paper in a cabinet, and now instead has come to refer to storing bytes in a virtual cabinet? Grandma was certainly going to guess that her printer is related to "filing". Not.

    Meanwhile, power users continue to use the keyboard shortcuts to print, instead of wasting time with the mouse. And the keyboard shortcuts remain the same. Microsoft understands muscle memory where it matters. For mouse users, it doesn't matter, because they're already working inefficiently.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @03:17PM (#26251091)

    Bullshit. Apple gave up around when Quicktime 3.0 Player came out, and had that hideous metal-brushed appearance to it with completely non-standard widgets. They were pretty good all though the Classic OS period, but since OS X came out, Apple hasn't even *written down* most of the mysterious hazy interface guidelines they're using. For example, find documentation that explains when to use the brushed metal theme compared to the Aqua theme... it's not there. Apple uses it for purposes so completely random, it's utterly inscrutable.

    Sadly, Microsoft took that crown from Apple around the time Windows XP SP2 came out. Windows has been more consistent, interface-wise, than OS X for a very long time.

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @03:30PM (#26251199)
    OpenOffice.org has every feature that any practical user would ever want or need. Microsoft Office has these, too, but it also has the ability to generate charts in seventeen dimensions, which for some reason is the one feature absolutely essential to whoever you happen to be trading documents with.

    This gets modded up as "funny," but cuts close to the truth.

    It doesn't matter if you have a clerical staff of five, fifty, or five thousand. The work has to get out the door before the close of business.

    You find a desk and chair for the temp and expect her to be productive.

    If the "obscure" functionality she needs is integrated into MS Office - and it almost certainly will be - you are halfway home.

    The geek is fundamentally a loner.

    He'll consider an app "bloated" if it includes anything he doesn't need. That makes it very hard for him to conceptualize anything as amorphous as an office suite.

    He can also be afflicted with a kind of tunnel vision.

    He'll see Word or Excel but only rarely the MS Office environment - the MS Office system - as a whole.

    Resources, third-party apps and so on.

    While SharePoint - strictly speaking - wasn't an "Office" app it very quietly generated a billion dollars in sales for Microsoft - and helped strengthen its position.

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

    by Dogtanian (588974) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @03:49PM (#26251339) Homepage
    I've read both those main links through- first time I've heard about that incident. Here are my thoughts:-

    The central issue seems to be that in addition to being LGPL-licensed, Sun require all contributions to have a Joint Copyright Assignment agreement.

    Here's the rub. Kohei *quite clearly* knew about this requirement when he started off. There seems to have been no sign in the interim that Sun would change their stance. Yet he says:-

    Long story short, I joined Novell [who] decided to pick me up. When Novell asked me whether I would be willing to change the license of the Solver code to LGPL only, I simply agreed.

    Well... why? He already knows that Sun require the JCA before accepting contributions, and that accepting Novell's change would make this impossible unless *they* were willing to change their minds. But then why ask in the first place? Novell's behaviour here is either very cynical or incompetent.

    The change in licensing made perfect sense since the entire code was owned by myself (~99%), with a small fraction contributed from Novell and Debian, under LGPL.

    Normally I'd agree, but since the code was written for submission to OO.o which only accepts contributions with the JCA, it makes no sense at all.

    I'm well aware that some people are going to kneejerk-interpret (and respond to) this post as if it's a blanket defence and/or endorsement of Sun's overall behaviour surrounding OO.o. No, it's not.

    What I *am* saying is that whether or not *we* think the JCA is reasonable (and I'm personally dubious about it), Kohei knew that it was required when he started his module and went ahead anyway. Yet he later agreed to Novell's license change knowing (or he should have known) that this would make it impossible to meet those requirements.

    Sun might or might not be dicks, and that Summer of Source incident might have been an intentional blow off, but they at least appear to have been consistent and clear on what the terms of acceptance were. Seems Kohei knew this when he started but later agreed to an incompatible license change anyway. His choice, but I've no idea why and I don't see how he can complain about this.

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

    by bugi (8479) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @05:43PM (#26252195)

    Back when ebcdic was relevant, the basic encoding of characters wasn't a mature technology. Now it is. ASCII will be in use as the lowest common denominator for a long time, if only as a subset of utf.

    Go ahead and rely on ascii for your word processing needs. Vim is heavy-weight enough as it is -- no sense weighing down your whole machine with something gargantuan like ooo or emacs.

  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:19PM (#26252911)

    > Back when ebcdic was relevant, the basic encoding of characters wasn't a mature technology. Now it is. ASCII

    Huh. That must be why we have UTF-1, UTF-7, UTF-8, UTF-16, UTF-32, and UTF-EBCDIC.

    Unicode retrofitted the one major character-encoding flaw that it was originally supposed to save us from!

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @07:44PM (#26253099) Journal

    Oh what a fool I am! Of course, how could I miss it? After all, for decades we have been trained to click on the big flashy MS logo and expect something sensible happen. It's been that way in IE... erh, no. In Windows ... erh, no. In any Office version before 2007 ... erh, no. In ... fuck, in ANY program?

    Actually, yes, it has been in Windows for a long time - since Win95. You just probably don't notice that Windows logo on the "Start" button anymore :)

    By the way, the logo on the "pearl" (which is what MS calls that big round button) is not that of MS - it's that of Office. So the button is directly analogous to Windows "Start"; as I understand, this is, in fact, the intent - it's like "Start" for Office, from which all other actions may be reached. It's also more obvious on Vista, where the usual "Start" is also round, and is roughly of the same size.

    On the whole, though, I don't see the point of the complaint. Yes, UIs do change sometimes as they evolve. In this case, the change had been, on the whole, a positive one (from personal experience - I used to hate Office2007 badly when it was just released, because of the Ribbon, but when I got used to it eventually, I actually liked it).

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

    by Al Dimond (792444) on Sunday December 28, 2008 @10:49PM (#26254199) Journal

    It's not evil that matters. It's indifference. They're ad brokers. That means you're the product, not the customer. That means they're not accountantable to you. It doesn't matter if they satisfy you as long as they satisfy enough people in their target markets. Don't trust Google for anything that matters.

  • My; insecure much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RustinHWright (1304191) on Monday December 29, 2008 @07:20AM (#26256433) Homepage Journal

    You are a perfect example of why I don't take OO.o seriously. Look at your wording. "office slaves", "suits" Blah, blah, blah. Because only "secretaries" actually do trivial stuff like writing or analysis, while you're a (woo-hoo!) ENGINEER with your manly coding skills. As if you are somehow proving how superior you are in your contempt for, y'know, the actual intended users of the product.

    I don't eat food by cooks who have contempt for what those eating it will taste. I don't wear clothes by people who have contempt for how their products will fit. I don't read books by writers who have contempt for their reading public. And ya know what? I've dealt with programmers from inside Adobe and DEC and HP and Apple and, yes, Microsoft who bloody well *loved* the tiny, "mundane" little problem they were spending years on. How can we get this line screen algorithm to better deal with heavier paper stock? How can we change this header to be more fault-tolerant for people using degraded documents? And so on. And you can see that love in the quality of their work.

    If you hold the users of a feature in contempt then, frankly, I think that you should get the fuck off that part of the project. Because chances are your code will suck and it will look like the feature or bug has been addressed when, in reality, it has just morphed into a new problem.

  • Re:It's 2009 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:05PM (#26264795)

    > I see. So, "ASCII Forever!" you say?

    No, you've missed the point-- basic encoding of characters is STILL not mature! For English, maybe it is, but internationally not even close.

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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