OpenOffice Lives, More Involvement Needed

Jan 15, 2009

Free office solution OpenOffice.org is still in the best of shape, based on reactions from project members to Novell developer Michael Meeks's recent pessimistic view. The Linux Foundation is one of many who are concerned. All want one thing: more.

Two weeks ago, OpenOffice.org collaborator Michael Meeks blogged a message of concern about the project, painting it in not so rosy terms. He cited numerous statistics to show that, in his opinion, the code has been poorly maintained, causing many developers to pull off the project from frustration. This prompted a reaction from Thorsten Ziehm, quality expert at Sun Microsystems for OpenOffice and its commercial variant StarOffice. In his "What was done in 2008" blog," Ziehm followed Meeks's example by showing supporting graphics and statistics, but this time to refute Meeks's claims. Whereas Meeks cites an increasing developer withdrawal from the project, Ziehm points to the "nearly 900 child work spaces" that were integrated. While Meeks is convinced of Sun's retreat, Ziehm cites a contrary opinion from Sun VP Jim Parkinson in his weblog from November 2008: "We are not about to walk away from OpenOffice.org."

Florian Effenberger, marketing representative for the project, also opined in a Linux Magazine Online blog that he was amazed at Meeks's pessimistic view. He even saw the current polarization as evidence of the project's vitality: "The differing viewpoints prove only that the project continues to be active, that it lives, that many are thinking about it and take it close to heart. There's no better way of showing how full of life it is." As evidence he pointed to the 50 new extensions enhancing OpenOffice that were added in December.

The Linux Foundation is showing its own concern. Foundation VP Amanda McPherson sees OpenOffice.org as the great alternative to Microsoft and that the 28 million downloads for the last OpenOffice version as undoubtable proof of its success. Even the vaguest notion about a questionable future could prove fatal. In her weblog she writes, "I worry that we would be beholden to the same proprietary forces that have shaped the desktop market. We shouldn't rely on Sun to save us here. In fact it may be counter-productive to do so."

All seemed to agree that OpenOffice lives and will continue to do so with more participants involved. Ziehm summarizes with, "we need more people in all areas and projects – User Experience, QA, L10N, Development or any other project on OOo – to get dreams fulfilled."

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Comments

  • Bugs

    Filing bugs to the OOo developers are indeed frustrating. I filed several critical or hopeless issues since around 2001-2002, the last in 2004, and most of them where fixed only recently or are not fixed yet.

    My first problems was with developers with no idea about the real world. Usability issues where rejected with "works for me" but where fixed later after usability tests of course showed that I was right. It was so obvious, but I ha to struggle with computer enthusiasts. Later it was project managers or something that handled the dialog in the issue handling system and things improved.

    Even when issues have several hundred votes it takes years before fixes or improvements are implemented. I have seen many smaller (VERY small!!!) companies implement many of these features from quarter to quarter, so I assume that it is not only about lack of resurces, this problem.

    But really... waiting for 5 years for smaller features that where part of Office 95 or Office 97, thats too much.
  • OpenOffice Lives, More Involvement Needed

    Sorry, previous author was me, not Britta Wülfing happy


  • OpenOffice Lives, More Involvement Needed

    Since my blog ( see [1] ) is referenced on Planet ( [2] ) I think Thorsten Ziehm answered to my blog entry, not the Michael one (please read again [3] .... blunk

    References :

    [1] http://eric.bachard.free.fr/news/index.html
    [2] http://planet.go-oo.org/
    [3] http://eric.bachard.free.fr...real-number-of-developers.html

  • bugs

    Hi to AC who posted above about the spreadsheet bug: what is the bug number? My experience with Open Office bugs has been different, both from the outstanding maintainers of my distribution (Debian) and from "upstream" (OpenOffice.org itself).

  • OpenOffice is crucial to desktop Linux

    OpenOffice needs to be supported in a big way. It's a crucial application for desktop Linnux and it isn't the kind of work that's really suited to part-time or hobbyist developers. Not only Sun but also Novell, Red Hat, Canonical, IBM, and all the rest, need to commit time, money, and people to OpenOffice. If this crucial piece of software falls into disrepair, desktop Linux's viability will suffer greatly.
  • Re: OpenOffice Lives, More Involvement Needed

    Try posting a bug report on OpenOffice - it's an exercise in frustrating futility. There is *still* a critical flaw involving absolute references in the spreadsheet - and they won't admit it even EXISTS!!!!!! I feel like I've been slamming my head into a concrete wall - and it's long past time to stop. OO is badly broken; the developers refuse to listen to the users . . . . It's just pointless to even try. I hope KOffice turns out better. sad

    PS - I *like* OpenOffice - the things that aren't broken are better than Microsoft Office - but the broken parts need to be acknowledged and fixed.
  • Sugarcoat that pill

    Maybe some people will swallow it...
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