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back to article Apache devs: 'We'll ship no OpenOffice before its time'

Even as the open source LibreOffice productivity suite readies its next major release, the competing Apache OpenOffice project says not to expect it to ship a new version until it's good and ready. "On the Apache OpenOffice project we are mainly volunteers, dedicating free time to the project, and that time varies according to …

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Wouldn't it be better to just admin defeat and stop OpenOffice.org? The two remaining developers can join LibreOffice.

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Initially I stuck with OpenOffice as LibreOffice did a lot of political flag-waving but they seem to have got their act together now and are concentrating on the code. But I recently switched to LibreOffice after reading one of the OO's devs? comments about not supporting .xlsx. LibreOffice isn't everything but it is out there and being worked on.

Time-based releasing has a lot going for it as long as there is sufficient test coverage.

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Meh

The guys at forum.openoffice.org are NOT devs (and continually have to remind people who want new thngs of this). They are incredibly useful if you are a LibreOffice/OpenOffice user with a problem UNLESS that problem involves Office Open XML (OOXML - Microsoft's *x file formats). Then you hit the nerve/blind spot of the forum. The party-line can be summarized as follows:

OOXML was developed by Microsoft to tick the boxes that large organisation want ticked when investing in Software that generates documents that they might actually want to read again 3 versions down the line.

ODF (Open Document Format - Open/LibreOffice and various other packages (mainly Linux)) ticks the same boxes.

OOXML is a badly documented "standard" that not even Microsoft use for their documents, so why should we struggle to support it.

The answer to that question is, of course, that in the real world, people save their stuff in the package's default format and send it to you regardless of whether or not you can read/write it back. You have to cope, because educating other people in other workplaces is completely impossible (see below). Personally, I save their docx documents as doc before I send it back. No-one's complained (noticed?)

(Aside: the organisation I work for changed briefly to openoffice.org for new PCs when they hit Microsoft Licensing problems. So the folk at the coal face had to adapt to OOo (never updated). Management "need" advanced tools like Excel so they updated to the latest versions of Microsoft office and gaily spray unreadable documents at their minions. Luckily they are generally not worth reading.)

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Ouch.

I was never in any doubt that OO was dead after a year of nothing happening and LO taking over, but that thread just shows that even the political motivation behind the project is dead too.

So glad I stuck with LO, haven't yet been disappointed with a release, and if anything I get annoyed at having to keep update it so often!

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"Then you hit the nerve/blind spot of the forum"

There's idealism, and there's ignoring the real world. The problem is that if you stated this hatred of MS OOXML formats on the front page, NOBODY would touch OO with a bargepole. It's a word-processor, spreadsheet, etc. that needs to work in the real world. If I wanted just "an" office suite that has its own internal format and doesn't care about others, I could use any one of a myriad alternatives, some of them open-source (e.g. KOffice, etc.).

The point of OO was that it was - by and large - MS compatible. To then say that the OO project has a nerve on the issue of OOXML just makes people wince and walk away. LO doesn't have such an issue, and to be honest that's probably one of it's shining beacons of attraction. I can use MS formats without having to use MS software! Perfect! No matter how stupid the format is! That's what I, and millions of others, were after ever since the days of Word for Windows.

I hate MS with a vengeance, I really do. I refuse to have their Office suite when I have no need of the functionality that they sell it on. I do just want a basic "office". On my machine, all documents are saved and opened in ODF by default. However, in the real world we have to all send and receive MS formats or suffer a productivity loss to convert them all every time. Even a "Save As" is one "Save As" too many. Fortunately, the old OO and then LO came along and solved that problem for 90% of the things I receive or send. Wonderful, perfect, end of, it's going on my machines.

For OO to stagnate for years, argue over naming, delay their first proper code drop and then say "OOXML? Well, why would we want to touch that?", they've signed their own death warrant. This isn't about idealism, this isn't about the effort involved, it's about what people want in a free office suite and that INVARIABLY means "Microsoft compatibility" for the vast majority of people. It's somewhat akin to Wine saying "Well, we think that OLE is a stupid design, why on earth would we support that?" - because if you don't, the primary reason that people use you would be gone and someone would fork and/or abandon the project pretty damn quickly (sound familiar).

I don't expect 100% OOXML compatibility. The spec is a damn nightmare that's nothing more than a binary kludge described in detail rather than an actual XML-based spec. I know it's a damn lot of hard work. But that's what the whole OO project has to deliver, or it becomes "YAOS" (Yet Another Office Suite).

Honestly? Nobody cares about ODF in the real world. I'm a geek and an exception. But I still have to deal with people who paste images into Word docs, zip them up (1 doc per ZIP) and then send them to me by email. LO makes my life easier. OO makes it harder. Guess which one I'll choose (and have already chosen, after years of stagnation and bickering of OO).

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"Personally, I save their docx documents as doc before I send it back."

Absolutely, I do the same. Locally, I usually use the .OD? formats these days, though some "document sets" are still .DOC/.XLS for historical reasons (and I can't be arsed to go back through converting them to .OD?).

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"I don't expect 100% OOXML compatibility. The spec is a damn nightmare that's nothing more than a binary kludge described in detail rather than an actual XML-based spec. I know it's a damn lot of hard work. But that's what the whole OO project has to deliver, or it becomes "YAOS" (Yet Another Office Suite)."

Agreed! It becomes totally redundant. If I have to buy MS Office then I might as well use it, and save the space etc of having another office suite installed.

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Headmaster

"To then say that the OO project has a nerve on the issue of OOXML just makes people wince and walk away."

I think I said that the guys on the forum had this view, I'm not sure that the whole project feels that way. And, don't get me wrong, that forum is THE place to go with other problems.

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Arbitrary dates

This Rob Weir guy is just weird: some open source projects also can hit "arbitrary dates by dropping quality".

What about not implementing features but focussing on QA/regression testing in a controlled way before release... because uhm you know when the release is and when you should start?

Granted there might be an unexpected mess of bugs but if you have an automated test suite and regular test builds, that's less likely.

Anyway, regardless of the above, LibreOffice manage to release, Apache don't. End of story as far as I'm concerned.

</rant>

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Happy

Re: Arbitrary dates

I'm reminded of the quote of Eisenhower: "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

There is nothing wrong with planning and scheduling, but when the plan becomes an end for itself, rather than just a means to an end, then one is asking for trouble. User satisfaction is the goal, and we use all tools available to us reach our goals. But if you prioritize dates then something else will give. You can't avoid that.

Success is demonstrated in several ways, from the strong Apache OpenOffice download counts (over 50 million in the last 12 months) and growing brand recognition and user satisfaction.

See for example: http://www.robweir.com/blog/2013/06/the-power-of-brand-and-the-power-of-product-part-2.html

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And the winner is?

Please, can the forks just get together and complete the most import fix - Remove the Java RTE.

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Thumb Up

Re: And the winner is?

LibreOffice is removing Java step by step. Every major version release has some Java functions rewritten. For example 4.0 achieved this:

"Reduce Java code: Port Fax and Letter Wizard to Python (Xisco Faulí)".

The next version (4.1) will be even better:

"Reduce java code: Port Agenda Wizard to python. Remove 11 files, 5345 lines of java code (Xisco Faulí)

Port Web Wizard to python. 140 files changed, 5076 (+), 11416 (-). Removed 55 files, 10426 lines of java code (Javier Fernandez)"

However it is not easy the amount of Java dependence Sun have been introducing for years.

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Anonymous Coward

I just want ONE feature introduced..

If you work on larger documents, Word has since years the Shift-F5 command, which is "resume last cursor position". It allows you to zip down to another part of a document, make a correction, then reverse your move and be back where you were originally typing.

Everything else Word does is pretty much there in Libre/OpenOffice, except that abomination called the ribbon, including document map (it has a better version called Navigator), master documents, labelling - the works.

So please please?

Anyone any experience with NeoOffice? I'd be OK to buy if I could try first - for the moment I'm more worried I buy myself into a version that lags behind in anything but its use of the OSX UI..

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Re: I just want ONE feature introduced..

On MacOS I use both LibreOffice and I even recently bought Office 2011 for Mac, mainly for testing openpyxl but it's actually much nicer to use on Mac than on Windows. NeoOffice isn't going anywhere fast I reckon.

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Bronze badge

There's a few things I use which have vanished from LibreOffice, so I switched back to OpenOffice.

As I was trying to find the features, I had various problems with the LibreOffice Help system. It seemed to be lagging the changes.

I am a bit wary of the future for both.

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Anonymous Coward

Care to mention which bits you're missing? I too have found OO to work "better" than LO, but it's more a feeling thing. I haven't been able to pinpoint exactly what is bothering me, which is rather unusual for me.

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Anonymous Coward

QOTD

This is awesome : "Rather than asking about dates, the smart question is to ask, 'Where in the release cycle are you now?'"

I'll have to try this one for our customers next time they ask for a release date of the new version. I think our competitors will like the fact a lot....don't think our customers will stay for too much time with us.

We're professionally using word processing tools at our company, embedding the word processor in our solution. First we started off with OpenOffice.org (before LibreOffice even existed). But as soon as Oracle excremented it, and LibreOffice appeared, it was clear that LibreOffice was going to take the place of OpenOffice.org, and would even do better, quality and development wise. So it was a no-brainer to switch to LibreOffice asap.

Nowaydays I don't understand people even trying to make the comparison between LibreOffice and OpenOffice.... OpenOffice WAS a nice product at the time, but is now nothing more than a 'famous' brand, that is being (ab)used by the likes of IBM to tie people to them.

The only product that has evolved quite nicely the last couple of years is LibreOffice, which is becoming more and more a very credible alternative to MS Office.

They not only deliver, but also have a real plan and vision for the future! They communicate very transparently about their goals and progress and are focused on stability and compatibility with several other products, as well as going their own way wrt newer features and improvements.

Something I can only applaud for.

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Re: QOTD

If quick decisions and easy answers are what you seek then I'm glad you've found something that pleases you. But I do wonder if your stated enmity toward Oracle (no longer involved in OpenOffice) is preventing you from seeing things clearly...

In any case I'd challenge you on the quality and user satisfaction side. Per a recent survey users who try OpenOffice are more likely to remaining OpenOffice users compared to users who try LibreOffice:

http://www.robweir.com/blog/2013/06/the-power-of-brand-and-the-power-of-product-part-2.html

Of course your personal experience might differ, but the trend is not in LibreOffice's direction. Sorry.

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Meh

We often have to open large CSV files. Typically 50-100 MB. I downloaded the latest version of LibreOffice to see if the spreadsheet had improved since the last time I tried it. I had a 100MB CSV file. Excel took 30 seconds to open it. LibreOffice took 5 minutes. This lack of speed is the single thing stopping us from moving away from MSOffice. It's getting better, but it's just not there yet.

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Gold badge

On the flipside, I exported a CSV from a card scanner, and Excel defaulted to make a thorough mess of it whereas both OO and LO opened it up just fine on account of having sensible defaults.

What's worse, with the &%*$ ribbon in the way I can't even find where to correct it in Excel (augmented by that utterly stupid idea of creating online help so a search will give you a million irrelevant hits), so we just used LO and got on with getting some work done..

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Facepalm

Another day Goes By

At this rate OpenOffice becomes more and more irrelevant each day. It is getting to a point where I wish someone would simply put it out of its misery. I am still upset that IBM discontinued Symphony, as I quite liked the interface.

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Anonymous Coward

My money's on LibreOffice

Literally, by PayPal donate every year :-)

Since the majority of OOo devs left and set up LO after SUNs new boss said OOo development would cease, seemed the obvious way to go.

The main problem I have is many of my clients have 3rd party apps tightly integrated with MS Office & haven't/won't consider LO/OOo, even though Open Source.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My money's on LibreOffice

To clarify, 3rd party devs haven't/won't consider LO/OOo.

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Joke

'We'll ship no OpenOffice before its time' - Heat n Serve

Thanks I now have this stuck in my head all day

"and we serve no pests ... before its time"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSODuQSBlZ4

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PLR
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There's a reason Openoffice is the leading open source office suite

Openoffice is alive and kicking. On Windows, which is what most folks run, the performance of Apache Openoffice 3.41 is much better than that of Libreoffice 4.x. Heck, the milestone build of Apache Openoffice 4 runs better than Libreoffice and it's not even a beta. Libreoffice runs well on Linux but not on Windows. In terms of features, yes, the Libreoffice team has done more visible work in terms of UI enhancements such as a real time word count and the Tango toolbar iconset. However, when it comes to under the hood fixes, the Openoffice devs are doing a better job. BTW, Openoffice 4 will come with a new sidebar which is pretty nice.

In terms of release schedule, I would rather use software that works and is stable and fast even if releases are a tad far apart than something that's buggy and slow (on Windows at least).

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Pint

Re: performance of Apache Openoffice 3.41 is much better than that of Libreoffice 4.x

[weasel words][citation needed] :)

P.S. I've got .doc file today which Apple's pages couldn't open, so I installed OpenOffice on OSX. I wouldn't even bother with something called LibreOffice, VibroOffice, HyperOffice etc

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