Tag Archives: openoffice

The Challenges of OpenOffice, the Rise of OpenDocument

News today that KDE’s open source “KOffice” will be coming to Windows next year. The situation continues to get more complex for OpenOffice, which saw forks to both IBM Lotus Symphony and Go-OO in the past few weeks. The future of OpenOffice.org as the premier open-source office productivity distribution may be in doubt.

But things can’t be better for OpenDocument, the open standard for sharing information that was pioneered by OpenOffice and is the default format of OpenOffice, KOffice, Go-OO, and Symphony. By standardizing on what a document is, the artificial monopolies around word processors, spread sheets, and presentations are torn down, allowing the competition to center around what-is-best and not merely what-was-possible.

I first fell in love with an early version of OpenDocument while working on my computer science thesis, taught it in classes to college seniors, and even use it to save and export from GoogleDocs. Whatever the fate of OpenOffice.org itself, the ISO and OASIS standard OpenDocument format that it pioneered is the future of infoworker data interchange.

IBM Lotus Symphony

How cool is this:

“Lotus Symphony is based on the Open Document Format (ODF) standard-which means you’re not locked into proprietary file formats, software licensing agreements and upgrades. Finally, free tools and freedom of choice!”

And this:

Besides committing 35 China developers to OpenOffice.org, IBM plans to make its voice heard — immediately and loudly. IBM will “work within the leadership structure that exists,” said Sean Poulley, vice president of business and strategy in IBM’s Lotus Software division. “But we will take our rightful leadership position in the community along with Sun and others.”

A boost for open source software (OpenOffice.org), a boost for open standards (OpenDocument), free trade in services, and retro (I was confused how the new Lotus Symphony would relate to Lotus SmartSuite, until learning that there had not been a new SmartSuite since 1999!

Elsewhere online: CNET has a factually incorrect hit-piece (among other errors, Google Docs supports OpenDocument just fine). And Dana Blankehorn examines IBM’s wider open source strategy.

Thoughts on Google Docs & Spreadsheets

As I mentioned in the open thread, I’ve started using Google Toolbar for Firefox again. It will automatically open .doc files in Google Docs & Spreadsheets, which is much more convenient than the hassle fo downloading it to my computer and reading it with OpenOffice. It is faster, and then if the file will be useful I merely leave it there in Google Docs & Sheets — then I can use it anywhere. Otherwise, it’s one click to delete.

A feature that Google is missing, however, is a plugin to Microsoft Office and OpenOffice that would allow one-click saving of documents to Google Docs & Spreadsheets (or, even better, automatic backup to Google DS even if the file is also saved on my computer). This would have been useful just yesterday, when I realized I had neglected to print out a copy of my statistics assignment. I ended up going down to the computer lab, booting my laptop, uploading my file to Google DS (or emailing it to myself), and then printing it out. The process would have been quicker if the file was just there.

Additionally, there should be a way to synchronize, or at least upload, local files with Google DS. Besides a number of files in My Documents, I have backups of stuff that I no longer work on — but do not want to throw away — all over the place. Some are on my laptop harddrive, some are on my backup USB drive, and stuff I’ll probably never need again is in some CD backup or the other. But if I could store the info with Google, it would be always available and always searchable — even if the worst happens to me locally.

(I’ve also taken to reading Google Operating System blog regularly, and at least for a time have been fixed of my live addiction.Google Operating System blog regularly, and at least for a time have been fixed of my live addiction.)