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OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

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By Jake Edge
October 15, 2008

A new version of the popular free software office application suite, OpenOffice.org (OOo) 3.0, was released this week to lots of press and enough download traffic to bring down its webserver. While the release isn't a huge leap forward in terms of features, it does provide some compelling enhancements. Perhaps the most interesting is the increased focus on extensions, a la Firefox, that don't require modifying the core OOo code. This may help combat the problem—or perceived problem—that Sun is stifling OOo development through its bureaucratic procedures for adding new functionality.

[OOo welcome screen]

The first thing one notices when starting up OOo 3.0 is the new splash screen, but it appears for only a short time. One of the major complaints about the suite has been how long it takes to start up—something that has been addressed in 3.0. The application opens to a new welcome screen (seen at left) that presents a more friendly appearance, rather than an empty window, for new users. Once past that point, the various tools look much as they did in OOo 2.4 and earlier versions.

The other changes are mostly under the covers; they will be noticed by power users, but are not immediately obvious to basic users. These include:

  • Writer (word processor) has a new slider for zooming
  • Writer allows multi-page display and editing
  • Calc (spreadsheet) allows up to 1024 columns per sheet
  • Draw (drawing) can handle poster-size files
  • Impress (presentation) supports multiple monitors for presentations
  • Writer has additional editing modes for multi-lingual support as well as wiki document editing
  • Calc has a new equation solver
  • Chart (graphing) has improved graphical output

The OOo extensions repository has many different kinds of add-ons for OOo, that provide new or enhanced functionality for users. The most popular is the PDF import extension which allows loading PDF files into the application for editing. Given that OOo has long had the ability to natively export PDFs, importing them is an excellent addition.

Clearly Sun and the OOo project see extensions as a fertile ground for innovation by folks who are not necessarily OOo "contributors"—as they have not signed the Sun Contributor Agreement (SCA) [ PDF, currently unavailable due to the download traffic problems ]. Sun's community manager for OOo, Louis Suarez-Potts, puts it this way:

OOo 3.0 adds to that freedom by using extensions much the same way that Firefox does: it gives all users the freedom to add new features, functionality. At present, we have a couple of hundred, and they have proved popular. We've also done minimal advertising. I anticipate that in the coming months, as 3.0 gains yet more popularity (all servers are down at the moment), there will be more and more interesting extensions out there.

I can see extensions that radically depart from what we consider "office" tools---and why not? OOo is an integrated set of tools based on fairly conservative conceptions of office software. But there is no compelling reason to stick with the conservative past, and every reason to be creative.

One of the new features that OOo developers are most excited about won't affect Linux users at all. OOo 3.0 has a native Mac OS X look and feel, rather than the earlier X11-based interface. A native Windows version has always been a part of OpenOffice (and its precursor, StarOffice), but the new default theme is said to be particularly attractive on that platform.

There are various new features aimed at those currently using—or needing to interoperate with—Microsoft Office. There is support for Access database files as well as improved Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro support. Somewhat controversially, OOo 3.0 has added the ability to read (but not write) Office Open XML (OOXML) files. OOXML is the newly minted standard for office documents that Microsoft and Ecma pushed through the ISO standardization process earlier this year.

Support for OOXML is one of the contentious areas surrounding OOo. There are two (vocal) developer camps, one Sun-centric, the other Novell-centric; unsurprisingly they tend to clash over OOXML as well as development pace and direction issues. It has gotten to the point where a fork, called Go-OO, has come about, led by Novell's Michael Meeks. Go-OO's version of OOo has been adopted by several distributions leading some to see it as a "hostile" fork.

Sun's chief open source officer, Simon Phipps, clearly sees Go-OO (and the related OO-Build) as an attempt by Novell to control OOo:

The result of this is that go-oo.org is definitely a hostile and competitive fork of OpenOffice.org, and OO-Build is no longer a helpful downstream since it no longer upstreams much of anything (especially for Mac), small changes excepted. Unlike Groklaw I'd still hesitate to call OO-Build a fork, but Go-OO is unmistakably one, just look at the web site, the Windows build and the rhetoric.

The motivation for Go-OO being hosted and promoted by Novell and its staff seems unmistakable to me, as does the fact it is a Novell-sponsored fork. They are promoting Microsoft's flakey XSLT-based OOXML support, they are isolating Linux from OpenOffice.org (so that no-one in the main OpenOffice.org community is able to get support contracts from Linux users). And it is all cleverly wrapped in a community-friendly story about hackers and their freedom and evil, controlling Sun, delivered without interference from Novell corporate.

Meeks most recent look at OOo development is the proximate cause of much of the current sniping in various blogs. Meeks analyzes commits to the OOo codebase to try to extract trends in the development of the tool. His conclusion is stark—undoubtedly inflammatory to those in the Sun camp—"Crude as they are - the statistics show a picture of slow disengagement by Sun, combined with a spectacular lack of growth in the developer community."

While there have been various responses to the analysis—including this LWN comment thread—there has, as yet, been no real counter-analysis that comes to a different conclusion. Perhaps there are other ways to slice and dice the data that look more favorable to growth in the OOo community, but if not, the conclusion is worrisome. OOo is a very useful tool, that is used by many, which offers a way out of Microsoft lock-in. Because of Novell's close association with Microsoft, people worry that Go-oo is an underhanded means for another kind of lock-in—this time to Novell.

In what seems almost a taunt—as well as a validation of the accusation of a hostile fork—Meeks adds a postscript to his analysis:

Why is my bug not fixed ? why is the UI still so unpleasant ? why is performance still poor ? why does it consume more memory than necessary ? why is it getting slower to start ? why ? why ? - the answer lies with developers: Will you help us make OpenOffice.org better ? if so, probably the best place to get started is by playing with go-oo.org and getting in touch [...]

There have long been complaints about the pace of OOo development, along with calls for creating a foundation to oversee it. It would seem that OOo is at a bit of a crossroads. If Sun's commitment is reduced, without a corresponding increase in contributions from others, OOo could stagnate—or Go-oo could take over.

Ostensibly, the SCA is one of the sticking points for some contributors. They do not trust Sun not to take their contributions in a proprietary direction. But the conflict is really rooted in issues of control and development direction—two things likely to lead to forking. While two forks is suboptimal, perhaps, it may lead to improvements in both the code and the development process for OOo.

There are legitimate concerns on both sides of the issue—undoubtedly the mostly silent user community has yet another perspective—but there is enough bad blood between them that it is hard to see it resolving in some relatively amicable way. The office application suite is an extremely lucrative product, at least in the proprietary world. One gets the sense that both Sun and Novell are seeing dollar signs which are clouding their vision. A neutral foundation of some kind might be a good first step towards reconciliation.


(Log in to post comments)

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 3:03 UTC (Thu) by jengelh (subscriber, #33263) [Link]

root@nuqneh:/tmp/OOO300_m9_native_packed-1_en-US.9358/DEBS# dpkg -i openoffice.org3-writer_3.0.0-9_i386.deb 
dpkg: error processing openoffice.org3-writer_3.0.0-9_i386.deb (--install):
 package architecture (i386) does not match system (amd64)
Errors were encountered while processing:
 openoffice.org3-writer_3.0.0-9_i386.deb
Slap Sun for not providing 64-bit or slap dpkg for lacking a sense of biarchness?

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 5:18 UTC (Thu) by k8to (subscriber, #15413) [Link]

Both.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 9:44 UTC (Thu) by cortana (subscriber, #24596) [Link]

Jut be patient, the final version will show up <a href="http://packages.debian.org/experimental/openoffice.org">in experimental</a> soon.

SoftMaker Office?

Posted Oct 16, 2008 3:39 UTC (Thu) by dowdle (subscriber, #659) [Link]

I'd love to see some big FOSS company (Red Hat I'm looking at you) buy SoftMaker and release SoftMaker Office as FOSS and see what kind of community rises up behind it. It doesn't have all of the applications of OOo but it isn't far behind... and it is a lot lighter weight.

While there is also Abiword, Gnumeric, and KDE Office (which is expecting a major upgrade in the not too distant future)... I'm not sure how much uptake those products have when compared to OOo... and I'm not sure OOo sees those projects as competition. It would be nice to have another FOSS office suite, especially one that is as mature, multi-platform and integrated as SoftMaker Office... added to the mix.

SoftMaker Office?

Posted Oct 16, 2008 15:11 UTC (Thu) by jamesh (guest, #1159) [Link]

What benefit would Red Hat (or any other large Linux company) get from buying SoftMaker and releasing its software Open Source?

Remember that this is essentially what happened with OpenOffice, so there is no guarantee that you'll see a community grow around it any faster. It probably has similar issues of fragile build systems and third party proprietary code to deal with, so it would take a while before outside developers could even get started.

A company like Red Hat would also need to weigh this effort and risk against working on OpenOffice or a derived product like go-oo (which they might if copyright assignment is a problem).

So while it might be nice to have another free office suite, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for this to happen.

SoftMaker Office?

Posted Oct 16, 2008 22:30 UTC (Thu) by dowdle (subscriber, #659) [Link]

Well, thank you for asking. There are a number of reasons.

1) If and only if Red Hat thinks SoftMaker Office is a mature, stable, quality product... should they consider buying it.

2) Only if they are willing to dedicate resources over a long period of time to ensure further development as Sun has with OpenOffice.org... but with Red Hat's nature to lead as a FOSS company with better licenses (GPL2 or 3)

3) Only if Red Hat wants to expand its software portfolio with the addition of an office suite

4) Only if Red Hat is willing to switch to it and eat their own dog food

5) Only if SoftMaker Office is independent enough where they can buy the whole thing and not have to redo pieces licensed from third parties (a big if)

Then and only then would it be worth doing. OpenOffice.org seems to have a number of issues... some due to Sun's leadership and methods... and I'm not sure the split with Go OO is a solution... given the fact that it is Novell spearheading Go OO and they have a number of open wounds with the Linux community... regardless of what the apologists say.

Red Hat has a fabulous reputation walking the FOSS walk... and I don't think anyone else is in a position to make it happen. There isn't much competition to OpenOffice.org... and I don't see additional forks being the answer.

I don't use office suite applications much myself so I must admit I'm not sure SoftMaker Office is worth it or not... but they are fairly inexpensive, offer fantastic academic discounts, and offer a try before you buy trail... are multi-platform... blah, blah, blah... so it shouldn't be hard to evaluate. It is worth looking at.

If you are asking how Red Hat would make money from it. How are they making money from other FOSS products? Apply the same logic.

SoftMaker Office?

Posted Oct 17, 2008 4:17 UTC (Fri) by alankila (guest, #47141) [Link]

Please no, not another office suite. Why isn't 4 or more enough?

SoftMaker Office?

Posted Oct 17, 2008 19:21 UTC (Fri) by dowdle (subscriber, #659) [Link]

What 4 would those be? Remember, they have to be actually used by a significant number of people.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 7:05 UTC (Thu) by eru (subscriber, #2753) [Link]

Because of Novell's close association with Microsoft, people worry that Go-oo is an underhanded means for another kind of lock-in—this time to Novell.

How could this happen as long as the code is under GPL? I don't know enough about the situation to take any sides, but it seems to me that stagnation is a much worse threat to an open source project than forking. As both forks implement ODF, the user gets to choose which fork to use depending on which works better at any given time. A bit of rivalry is a good motivator.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 8:16 UTC (Thu) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

Because MS and Novell are associated in promoting .Net under Linux, using slimey legal setups where the licensing may be free, but the patenting is not.

If Novell had the guts to pull all the controversial .Net stuff from go-oo it would certainly get more cross-distro support than it has. Right now it's not clear that go-oo is not a greater evil than sun-ooo (given the progress on the free java side which is not matched by progress on free .Net side).

If SUN is conflicted on control/promotion of OO.o, Novell is certainly conflicted in .Net promotion/go-oo promotion too

I believe this is one big reason Fedora and Red Hat derivatives have dropped go-oo and use sun-ooo nowadays.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 8:45 UTC (Thu) by epa (subscriber, #39769) [Link]

(given the progress on the free java side which is not matched by progress on free .Net side).
What do you mean by this? Is Mono any less free than free Java? Any software patents that affect one will almost certainly affect the other.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 9:30 UTC (Thu) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

Sun has been pretty clear about its support for openjdk. MS has not on mono. And even if core mono was clean, the situation of common .Net libs and interfaces (equivalent to the java class libraries) is currently a legal minefield.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 9:45 UTC (Thu) by cortana (subscriber, #24596) [Link]

Hm, how's that? Are you alleging that the standard libraries shipped by Mono infringe on Microsoft's copyrights?

If it's patents you are worried about, then the equivalent functionality in Java also infringes. Along with Python, Perl, Ruby, C++, etc.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 10:59 UTC (Thu) by epa (subscriber, #39769) [Link]

Sun has been pretty clear about its support for openjdk. MS has not on mono.
But since when did it require a company to be 'clear' about its 'support' for any free software project? Did the Unix copyright holders express support for the GNU project? Indeed, even if some company that has a tangential relation to the code is actively hostile, we still confidently assert that independent implementations are free software and can be used and shared freely. Are the same people who fiercely defended Linux against Caldera-SCO FUD and vague 'intellectual property' accusations now actively making those same accusations against Mono, with about as much basis in fact?

As I understand it, Microsoft has promised not to assert software patents against the core standardized part of .NET / Mono. (And they have a cross-licensing deal with Sun, just as with Novell, so Java is pretty safe too.) But really, if you are worried about patents, it's not so much Microsoft you should be afraid of as a random patent troll outfit that doesn't have ceasefire agreements in place and has nothing to lose.

In general I don't like the idea of pre-emptively cringing in the face of some self-generated FUD. If anyone believes there is a legal minefield, let him come out and state concretely what the problem is, so it can be worked around. This is just the same as ignoring the 'two hundred patents' or whatever nonsense it was that the Linux kernel is supposed to implement.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 11:55 UTC (Thu) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

>> Sun has been pretty clear about its support for openjdk. MS has not on mono.

> But since when did it require a company to be 'clear' about its 'support' for any free software project?

Since software patents arrived on the market

> Indeed, even if some company that has a tangential relation to the code is
> actively hostile, we still confidently assert that independent
> implementations are free software and can be used and shared freely.

That's not how patent law works

> As I understand it, Microsoft has promised not to assert software patents
> against the core standardized part of .NET / Mono.

You understand wrong. MS has made some vague statements that only convinced parters which already had a financial relationship with it, and anyway "core standardized part" is a trap when most .Net projects do not check if they're within the "core standardized part" perimeter.

> If anyone believes there is a legal minefield, let him come out and
> state concretely what the problem is, so it can be worked around.

The problems have been stated and Novell's solutions have not convinced (which is a fact anyone can check by looking at whi ships mono or go-oo, so don't bother arguing against it)

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 12:28 UTC (Thu) by epa (subscriber, #39769) [Link]

Fedora ships mono and they are normally pretty paranoid about any patent liability (witness strict exclusion of MP3 playing code).

However, if you do not trust Microsoft not to assert software patents against Mono, you should not use Java either, since many patents will surely cover both. Nor should you use Linux, which is known to implement hundreds of software patents held by Microsoft and others.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 13:32 UTC (Thu) by anselm (subscriber, #2796) [Link]

Nor should you use Linux, which is known to implement hundreds of software patents held by Microsoft and others.

s/known/alleged by some/

It may well be the case that Linux (the kernel?) infringes one software patent or another. Given the number of crap software patents around, it may even be likely. But so far nobody has deigned to point out even one single specific software patent that Linux is infringing. Which does make one wonder whether this is not just empty sabre-rattling.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 14:52 UTC (Thu) by epa (subscriber, #39769) [Link]

Indeed, any nobody has pointed out any single software patent which Mono is infringing. They should be treated the same. Miguel de Icaza gave his view on this issue:
The position of the Mono project has always been that we believe .Net includes a lot of innovation along with a good mix of well-known technology. So, if people found a patent infringement, we would take it out. If there's prior art, though, the patent is invalid. This is the way it is done in the open source world. A good example is Freetype. They discovered that they could not use a byte code interpreter for fonts, so they invented a different approach.

This kind of punditry is always light on details. We've grown used to this. Mono was criticized way before Novell acquired Ximian. There is an animosity toward "anything Microsoft," and it lowers the level of discourse that you can have.

I wish people focused on what the actual problems are. I am certainly against software patents. It is not only Microsoft that owns software patents, but hundreds of companies. But, I think Mono is singled out, and people give a free pass to lots of other projects.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 15:38 UTC (Thu) by anselm (subscriber, #2796) [Link]

The big difference may be that while you can exist in perfect comfort on a Linux system without using Mono at all, you can't very well do that without the Linux kernel. While possible patent infringement in the Linux kernel is a necessary evil, using Mono just means avoidable exposure. When you are a developer it means basing your code on something that might possibly go away at any time, when perfectly workable alternatives exist that do not carry the same risk at all.

Also, these days, attacking the Linux kernel over a software patent essentially means attacking IBM. The one thing you do not want to do in the software patents world is attack IBM, so Linux seems to be reasonably safe. In comparison, Novell is pretty much a non-entity.

Personally I have decided that for me, Mono isn't worth the trouble. There is literally nothing written in Mono today that I think is worth having, and I do not find it compelling as a development environment compared to other free alternatives, so until that changes Mono stays off my machine. For the record, I also try to avoid Java stuff wherever I can.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 22:36 UTC (Thu) by ceplm (subscriber, #41334) [Link]

Fedora yes, RHEL no. If there are any legal problems, Red Hat will yank Mono out of Fedora before you say "litigation".

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 8:52 UTC (Thu) by AlexHudson (guest, #41828) [Link]

> I believe this is one big reason Fedora and Red Hat derivatives have
> dropped go-oo and use sun-ooo nowadays.

I think the situation is that they use "sun-ooo", but cherry-pick patches from go-oo that they want to use. The only real difference is that ooo-build isn't used, but they still rely on & work with go-oo.

Patent Worries

Posted Oct 16, 2008 14:16 UTC (Thu) by scripter (subscriber, #2654) [Link]

I thought the reason RedHat started shipping mono is because of the open source patent pools that were set up and offered some sense of counter-protection -- see http://www.oreillynet.com/onlamp/blog/2005/12/patent_pools_offer_open_source.html. If that's true, why would go-oo be any different than mono?

Maybe I'm completely wrong. If so, please correct me.

In any case, it sounds like the threat of patent litigation is chilling participation in go-oo (and mono).

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 8:43 UTC (Thu) by epa (subscriber, #39769) [Link]

Because what is happening is that 'people worry'... and people being as they are, they are capable of worrying about almost anything. Particularly when there is some bedtime-story bogeyman lurking behind the scenes.

If you are worried about lock-in, just ask three questions. Do you have freedom to use the software? to change it? to share your changes with others? If so, you are not 'locked in' to Novell any more than to the FSF, Red Hat, Sun, the University of California or any other copyright holder.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 7:52 UTC (Thu) by AlexHudson (guest, #41828) [Link]

I'm not sure why OOXML is listed as a contentious issue. Clearly, as a format it is contentious, but both Go-OO and OOo have OOXML support, and indeed it's Sun who are putting the greater effort into it.

At this point, it's pretty difficult to see what the right way forward for the suite is. A bit of competition probably wouldn't do it any harm, but that's only going to work if people are making or seeing a choice. At the moment, Go-OO isn't really a fork because people using it don't realise they're using it.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 12:00 UTC (Thu) by nim-nim (subscriber, #34454) [Link]

> I'm not sure why OOXML is listed as a contentious issue.

Because Novell's support of "OOXML" relies evily on .Net and MS-sponsored software.

OOXML in sun-ooo is reverse engineering of Office 2008 format. OOXML in go-oo relies on MS co-operation and indeed some Novell people have been pushing OOXML through the whole iso standardisation trainwreak.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 28, 2008 15:59 UTC (Tue) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Because Novell's support of "OOXML" relies evily on .Net and MS-sponsored software.

Bingo! Novell as an independent entity would probably be on our side in many respects - they don't appear to have threatened people with patents, nor argued for software patentability - but the problem many people now have with Novell is that they aren't acting like an independent entity any more. By choosing their roadmap, you end up signing up for a Microsoft agenda: .NET, OOXML, dodgy specifications, ballot-stuffing, selective indemnity, and so on. That's why people are so uneasy about the Novell connection in any given project.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 10:30 UTC (Thu) by dale77 (guest, #1490) [Link]

So which of these is true?

"One of the major complaints about the suite has been how long it takes to start up—something that has been addressed in 3.0" - Jake Edge

"why is it getting slower to start ?" - Meeks

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 13:40 UTC (Thu) by anselm (subscriber, #2796) [Link]

Jake's comment does not actually imply that startup times have, in fact, become shorter. Maybe enough people have complained that OO.o starts too quickly for them to go to the kitchen downstairs, put the kettle on, make coffee, and carry the coffee back to their computer and still see the splash screen when they return. This would indicate that OO.o start times need to be increased in order to enhance user satisfaction, an issue that was subsequently »addressed in 3.0«.

This explanation would also neatly answer Michael Meeks's question.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 14:04 UTC (Thu) by jake (editor, #205) [Link]

heh. I certainly didn't time it, but 3.0 definitely seemed snappier to start up than my usual 2.4 start-up time (which isn't horrible by any means). It is one of the "features" that has been advertised for 3.0 as well.

YMMV ...

jake

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 15:27 UTC (Thu) by wingo (guest, #26929) [Link]

Someone who appears to have been following OOo for a while wrote Is OpenOffice.org getting faster?:
In conclusion, OpenOffice.org is generally getting slower with each release. However, startup performance has made great improvements, the performance losses are relatively small, advances in new computer hardware are more than making up the loses, and OpenOffice.org continues to mature with new features. OpenOffice.org doesn't compel users to upgrade, so you are welcome to continue using older versions.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 16, 2008 19:03 UTC (Thu) by dale77 (guest, #1490) [Link]

Very clever. I'll have to get all scientific and time it before and after the upgrade to find out for sure.

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 18, 2008 3:38 UTC (Sat) by dale77 (guest, #1490) [Link]

ArchLinux OOO 2.4 Writer, cold start 17 sec, 4 sec next open
ArchLinux OOO 3.0 Writer, cold start 12 sec, 3 sec next open

So 3.0 starts 30% faster! Meeks needs to check his facts?

OpenOffice.org releases 3.0, faces new challenges

Posted Oct 23, 2008 6:58 UTC (Thu) by Janne (guest, #40891) [Link]

So we need a foundation to oversee the developement of OO? How would that
fix anything?

I think that OO's problem is simply that it's too huge, too complex and too
old. The developement seems glacial because the codebase is gigantic. It
never ceases to amaze me how Koffice-team can create a similar suite of
apps, while having maybe 5% of the resource OO has at its disposal.

Hell, maybe it would make sense to drop OO and focus on Koffice instead?
Yes, it's related to KDE, but is that a bad thing? Sure, GNOME-users (for
example) would have to run "alien" libraries on their system in order to
use it. But how is that different when compared to OO? At least Koffice
would be a native app for sizable chunk of users (KDE-users), as opposed to
being an alien app for just about everyone.


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