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OpenOffice Is Dying (And IBM Won't Help) 298

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-this-a-cry-for-help dept.
jfruhlinger writes "OpenOffice.org, now separate both from corporate sponsor Oracle and the Document Foundation's LibreOffice, is in trouble, with its team putting out a dramatic press release detailing the organization's trouble. One missing player in all this is IBM, who has backed OpenOffice.org in the past. One possible reason for Big Blue's silence is that it might be a prelude to the killing of Lotus Symphony, its OpenOffice-based suite." The Apache Software Foundation, on the other hand, insists OpenOffice.org is not at risk.
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OpenOffice Is Dying (And IBM Won't Help)

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  • So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ksd1337 (1029386) on Friday October 14, 2011 @11:47AM (#37714740)
    LibreOffice is already a better product. Just let it die. There's no need for it anymore.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:11PM (#37715120) Journal
    "This means IBM and any other Apache OpenOffice.org project member can innovate the OpenOffice.org source code for their own purposes and not be obligated to give back to the mainline OpenOffice.org code, since the ASL is a non-copyleft license. IBM and other OpenOffice.org contributors will also be able to re-license OpenOffice.org code under any license they want, including a proprietary license, should they wish."

    TFA's analyst appears to be under the impression that IBM would see this as a good thing, and would therefore be more likely to want to support OO.org. I'm not sure that makes much sense.

    Aside from the horribly mangled use of "innovate", the ability to take code proprietary is only sometimes valuable. It can be valuable if you have the sole right to do it(ie. in the case where it is mostly your project, and you have a copyright assignment policy for contributors, which gives you the option to maintain a proprietary commercial version with some additional features or whatever without any significant forking from the public version). It can also be valuable if you have a different product, 100% proprietary, that needs some feature available in the non-copyleft code, which you can just incorporate. If neither of those is true, though, the ability becomes rather less valuable, possibly even of negative value, in practice.(observe, for instance, the places where Linux ends up in products vs. the ones where BSD does)

    Given that the business of trying to make money from the direct sale of office suites that aren't Office is something of an uphill battle, the right of all and sundry to throw their slightly differentiated proprieterized forks into the ring is likely to be of negligible commercial value. If(as I strongly suspect is IBM's case) your real interest is in a combination of selling server/groupware stuff and attempting to prevent MS from using desktop software as a beachhead to sell their server/groupware stuff, the largely theoretical ability to make money from selling shrinkwrapped proprietary spins of Apache licensed code is far less valuable than throwing your lot in with whatever branch of ODF-supporting software sucks least and shows the greatest promise of surviving long enough for ODF to evolve into a real format, rather than a snapshot of OO.org's behavior with aspirations to openness.
  • by xenoc_1 (140817) on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:44PM (#37715566)

    They're more linked than you think. IBM Lotus Symphony is now based on OO.o 3x code, has been since 2009. Now I believe 3.3 or at least 3.2 after the early-2011 Symphony FixPack. Other than the IBM-built UI, a lot of Symphony is open source or built on open source. Even the UI is based on Eclipse. IBM added some import/export filter improvements, which I think they gave back to the community. If they didn't then, they did 4 months ago, when IBM donated the entire Symphony codebase and rights to Apache [ibm.com]. Also reported right here on Slashdot [slashdot.org], which is of course why nobody here seems to know that.

    I strongly prefer Symphony for everyday use over LibreOffice/OpenOffice.org (essentially indistinguishable until recently, from a user and UI perspective). I like the tabbed interface a whole lot better than having a bunch of windows running around. We geeks castigated IE for years until they adopted tabbed browsing; how come we meekly accept non-tabbed office suite interfaces? I've got LibreOffice on my PCs, but I also have Symphony, and I have Symphony set as the default for all ODF formats and Microsoft Office formats that are supported by Symphony.

    I'm working on a novel. Writing in in Symphony. Chapter I'm writing is in one tab, other chapters for referbacks are in others, character notes and plot notes, dialog snippets in yet others. Just more intuitive than different windows. Also, each new tab eats less resources than a full new window. For regular everyday life stuff, the same tabbed interface helps with a budget spreadsheet in one tab and reference docs in others. Sure, could do this in separate windows. But we could all be using single-page non-tabbed browsers too.

    Symphony does not include the OpenOffice.org Base, Math, nor Draw modules. If I need them (unlikely), I have LibreOffice's improved versions of them to use. The only two features (arguably one feature) from OpenOffice.org / LibreOffice I miss sometimes is the Open Read-Only option in the file dialogs, and the toolbar button to switch from editing to Read-Only mode. In Symphony the only way I've found to open something read-only is to deliberately open it first in Symphony, Microsoft Office, or LibreOffice, and then open it a second time. The second time will be read-only due to the file lock.

    I'd love to see the Symphony interface and other enhancements become the new UI for OpenOffice.org, or perhaps "Apache SymphonyOffice" to get away from the "we're not the now-who-cares OpenOffice commercial company which is why we need the stupid .org in our actual product name" problem. Bake Base, Draw, Math back into it along with some of the features that IBM took out (R/O pretty please?). You get a strong alternative to Microsoft Office, with an updated UI compared to LibreOffice. Rather than the confusing situation of LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org being identical in appearance (yeah, minor toolbar changes) and a confused outside-the-geekosphere public. LibreOffice and Symphony would be different enough to attract different audiences. Somewhere down the road they might even be able to work together again, because their products wouldn't be looking 99% identical and thus direct competitors with no reason for both to exist. The Symphony changeover would give that reason.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:45PM (#37715576)

    1) Simple things like "copy one row to another" regularly crash OpenOffice for many users. The reaction on the forums? "Dink around with Java for a few hours, tweak some clipboard settings and pray, etc." That's not the mark of a product ready for office consumers.

    2) GoogleDocs. Where's the "share this with my colleagues and let them make updates" function in OpenOffice?

    3) Poor formatting of Microsoft Office documents. Sure, you can read incoming Microsoft Office documents, but OpenOffice has a way of uglifying them by not quite rendering or saving things in a compatible manner. (When I saved a doc from OpenOffice, I only saved as PDF, never doc - just couldn't trust it!)

    4) UI. Who the hell came up with the color picker? Why are commonly used functions buried? Did anyone on the OpenOffice project ever sit down with someone who spends 8 hours a day cranking documents or did they just work off a list of matching features somewhere?

  • Re:So? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RCL (891376) <rcl@rs@vvg.gmail@com> on Friday October 14, 2011 @12:48PM (#37715626) Homepage
    Winning? LibreOffice shines by light reflected off OpenOffice brand. Use Google Trends or any other metric (including absense of any mention of LO in TFA) to estimate how popular LO is vs OO.o.

    Guess what happens when OO.o is pronounced 'dead'? All those users who only wanted free beer, grudgingly tolerating OO.o's 90+% compability with MS Office, aren't likely to continue experiments with yet another underdog.
  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Friday October 14, 2011 @02:05PM (#37716512)

    The Lemming attitude about tools on Windows was always terribly annoying and seemed to sabotage the single biggest advantage of MIcrosoft as a monopoly vendor (namely that "it has everything").

    I gave LibreOffice to my mother. I just told her it was the latest version on MS office. She will never figure out differently.
    Why is it that strange incompatibilities in different versions of MS office are accepted, but an incompatibility in a free alternative is unacceptable?

What this country needs is a good five cent microcomputer.

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