Archive for August, 2007

August

31

by Kaj Kandler

Here are the new screencast video topics for he week beginning August 27th. We did continue to concentrate on creating database applications with OpenOffice.org Base.

In some of the topics we create, rename, delete and manipulate "database objects". This is a generic term for table, form, view, query or report.

In addition we added new glossary entries for database table, form, form wizard, electronic form, database form, database form, table, database table, database record, field label, table-wizard.

This brings Plan-B for OpenOffice.org to 40 screencast videos for OpenOffice.org Base and 204 Open Office glossary terms.

August

28

by Kaj Kandler

NeoOffice just announced its latest release 2.2.1. All over the net is praise for NeoOffice’s new features, such as

  • Support for the native Mac OS X spellchecker
  • Support for the native Mac OS X address book
  • Support for high resolution printing
  • Reading and writing many Microsoft OOXML (Office 2007) Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents
  • The latest features from OpenOffice.org 2.2.1

While OpenOffice.org announced a native version for the Mac OS X and its user interface, and Sun Microsystems committed two full time developers to the project, NeoOffice has obviously worked hard to stay ahead. The integration of native features such as the address book and spell checker are certainly welcome. It makes working on a Mac much more consistent.

However, some report issues with this version of NeoOffice 2.2.1. I have no way to verify that.

The competing effort from the mother project seems to make good progress with frequent OOo Mac OS X port developer snapshots. However, I don’t think the upcoming release as part of OOo release 2.3 will be as comprehensive as NeoOffice yet. I guess competition does improve the product(s) for consumers. I applaud both efforts.

August

28

by Kaj Kandler

On the GullFoss blog, Matthias Mueller-Prove has bravely assembled a nice graphic of users in the various OpenOffice.org sub projects. Makes for a great graphic and on first blush one does think it does tell you something.

However, Matthias immediately came under critic that the number of members signed up in the OpenOffice.org project website tells little about involvement and most likely contains a load of “dead” members. and Matthias readily admitted that this might be so. He volunteered to assemble a similar graphic with better data if someone could point to a better metric. If you have an idea, please help him out.

August

25

by Kaj Kandler

Jim Rapoza makes in interesting argument at eWeek, saying that the ODF Alliance focuses too much on convincing governments to adopt Open Document Format (ODF also known as ISO 26300). Jim argues that he didn’t see a real adoption of ODF before Google did support it with its Docs and Spreadsheet applications. He procalims that states are usually behind the curve of technologies and the ODF Alliance would be better spend their resources in finding more compelling uses for ODF.

I think Jim, a self confessed Open Office user, repeats sterotypes, such as a government is behind the curve of technology adoption. I think there is no real basis for the assumption that government agencies do not to use leading technology. As a matter of fact, some of the most advanced technology is developed for or by the government, weather it is for military purposes or for medical and health purposes, minting coins or printing money that is hard to counter fit.

I also think Jim has not given propper thought to why the state of Massachusetts did want to use ODF. It is not for the purpose of being hip and advanced. The state of Massachusetts did realize that it needs a reliable way to retrieve documents long after they have been created and archived and the formats they are stored in and the applications that created them, are out of favor and often not produced or supported anymore. This is an important function for a government to collect and archive material that has historical significance, such as protocols about procedings, deciscions, laws and documents that can proof guilt, innocence or ownership of property, family relationships, marriage or devorce. So, when the state’s IT people realized that a perfect digital copy of a document is not enough, they acted on their duty to find ways to archive documents in a way that they will be accessible in the foreseeable future. I think ODF was one of the few formats available that fulfilled the criteria required. In that respect the ODF alliance did help the state of Massachusetts and other governments rather than outright lobby them.

I’m not naive and do believe the ODF alliance does lobby governments for the use of their format and that the mostly companies behind it hope to gain with their applications. However, the history of Microsoft’s multiple steps to accomodate the real and vital requirements the state of Massachusetts layed out, shows that they didn’t just promote their competing format. They offered a better product that did fulfill a need that the widely used proprietary formats did not.

I would agree with Jim, that the ODF Alliance should spend more resources to explain to private organizations and individuals that this storage issue is not only relevant for government documents. It starts with every citizen’s interest of having access to the records of their government and it goes further with history as recorded in business contracts, news papers and correspodence. And it continues into our personal lives with e-mail, blogs, notes, contracts, letters, poems, and photographs or home videos.

Ask yourself which documents from your current live do you want to re-read when you are sitting in a nursing home and look back on your live, may be collecting the memories for a book for your grand children. You will understand how important it is you can still share them.

August

23

by Kaj Kandler

If you always wanted to extend OOo with your features, Open Office 2.3 will make you a happy developer.

Kai Sommerfeld, just blogged about the latest features for OpenOffice.org extension developers. I must say many seem essential to make more than tricial extensions:

Be aware that this is hot of the pressses for developers. All this will only be working for ordinary users with the release of Open Office 2.3 this fall. This includes the extension repository, which is still in beta testing.

In addition, Sun also released its 1.0 version of the OpenOffice.org API plugin for Netbeans its IDE. Developers will clearly rejoyce with the next release and I’m looking forward to a vibrant extension infrastructure that makes OOo even more useful.

August

21

by Kaj Kandler

Discovering the WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) website, I wanted to share there various comments on OpenOffice.org and Accessibility.

WebAIM has presented at the California State University Northbridge &quto;Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference" about OpenOffice and how to create accessible content.

August

17

by Kaj Kandler

I’m a heavy user of Skype the VOIP telephony service, and it has trouble for the last 24 hours to allow users to sign on.

This made me realize how much I depend on Skype. I chat most days with my agent about work progress on Plan-B for OpenOffice.org and next tasks. I do most of my phone calls that are not local with SkypeOut and I chat almost every weekend with friends and family on Skype.

And I notices how little information the Skype Heartbeat blog is letting on. All they are saying is that they have problems with logon and that they are recovering now. I wished Skype was an open source project. In that case we’d know what the issues really were and how it worked and could help to bring back a vital service to our lives. this really disappoints me, that the company is so secretive about what is wrong and how one could help. Is it a system overload, a software error that can be remedied with an update? What is going on? What is EBay, the corporate mother of Skype doing?

August

17

by Kaj Kandler

Michael Brauer clarifies the status of OpenOffice.org’s work on MS-OOXML (aka ECMA-376).

He says that OpenOffice.org does work on supporting the format with input and output filters. this means you will be able to open a document from MS Office 2007 and to save it for Office 2007 users. Office 2007 is currently the only application that supports the new format our of the box. Older MS Office versions can be upgraded.

Michael reports that the current status is reading text from OOXML documents and that there is still a lot of work to do to reach satisfactory compliance. However, he remarks that as the format is now looked at by the International Standard Organization (ISO) for further standardization and that there are many complains from interested parties about incomplete definitions and contradictions of other standards. So he expects the format to evolve and undergo changes.

Michael also points out that OpenOffice.org will fully continue to support ODF (ISO 26300) as it’s default document format.

August

17

by Kaj Kandler

This morning I read an interesting scoop in Mass High Tech about the Boston Seaport Hotel planning to offer OpenOffice.org in 80 guest rooms.

The Seaport Hotel is part of the Boston Seaport World Trade Center and frequented mostly by business travelers. It’s rooms are equipped with a Flat screen an a wireless keyboard and mouse. These PC terminals allow guest to surf the internet, read e-mail and do phone complementary phone calls without having to have their laptop computer.

Now John Burke the VP of technology at the hotel has identified another need of his guests. He is installing OpenOffice.org as a low cost way for users to read, edit and save their office documents. Guests can save their documents from e-mail or use a USB device as source and destination of the documents. I guess this comes in handy with last minute changes to a presentation or a contract.

Security and privacy concerns are addresses, by resetting the whole system for each guest, so that documents and browsing trails are erased after each check-out.

August

15

by Kaj Kandler

While Novell offers its own edition of OpenOffice.org in the Enterprise SuSE offerings, there are packages available for install in the open SuSE Linux project.

Look here for the stable package of Open Office Release 2.2.1 for Open SuSE Linux.

A recent post on the mailing list gives more details.