Archive for the ‘Sun Microsystems’ Category

January

31

by Kaj Kandler

Sun Microsystems wants to encourage more participation in the Open Office community. For that purpose Sun sponsors a contest for contributions to OpenOffice.org offering $175,000 in price money and public acknowledgment of achievement.

The contest asks not just for development contributions, such as source code or extensions. The contest also solicits documentation, artwork, marketing materials and methods, tools to improve the community in areas such as distribution, translation, etc. It even accepts improvements to OpenDocument Format (ODF) and other creative ideas.

There are a few conditions for entry: You must create original work free of other people’s rights and be of legal age. You also must be a member of the OpenOffice.org community (registered at OpenOffice.org). For the cash prizes you need to live or be a legal resident of certain countries and territories. You can enter the contest as an individual or a group.

If you are interested, read the rules carefully. Determine if you are eligible for cash prizes. If you live in Austria or the Philippines, you are out of luck in this category. Also make sure that what you produce does comply with the licenses of OpenOffice.org and can be contributed to the OpenOffice.org project under the Contributer Agreement (different from the licenses). You should also be willing to have Sun Microsystems use your work for publicizing the Contest and the OpenOffice.org software.

October

31

by Kaj Kandler

OpenDocument Format (ODF), the standard accepted as ISO 26300 norm, has been mired in some controversy. The OpenDocument Foundation, a group formed to promote the standard format across different applications and platforms, has now denounced its support for ODF. The reasons cited is that Sun Microsystems, in control of OpenOffice.org/StarOffice the largest application supporting ODF, does not allow more compatibility to legacy formats such as .doc or MS OOXML. Sun favors supporting legacy document formats in the application, with appropriate import/export filters, while the ODF Foundation thinks it should become part of the format itself.

Recently, Sun has come under scrutiny for its policies surrounding OpenOffice.org and ODF. Some have even speculated if Novel instituted a fork of the OpenOffice.org project. It should come at no surprise that standards, as open as they may be, are a business tool. The ODF standard and the fact that it offers transparency which enables safety in archiving documents and having access centuries into the future forced Microsoft to rethink its own document formats. Now the ODF Foundation is surprised that Sun does want to keep out direct compatibility with the rival format(s).

However, having witnessed the discussions of ODFoundation members on some mailing lists, there also seem to be some strong personalities at work. Or is it the rivalry between MS Office Plug-in developments from the ODFoundation and Sun Microsystems that is causing all the bad blood?

The sad fallout of this is that the ODFoundation wants to morph itself into a CDF Foundation, CDF being another document format proposed by the influential standard body W3C. It will stop developing its MS Office plugin to seemlessly read and write ODF documents.

October

23

by Kaj Kandler

Sun Microsystems updated its Microsoft Office® plugin for ODF. This plugin allows users of the leading office suite to read and write ISO 26300 compliant documents. It is not the only plugin available for MS Office, but it appears to be the most feature rich implementation of such filters to date, based on the Open Office/Star Office implementation of the ODF Toolkit.

The newly released Sun ODF Plugin 1.1 for Micrososft Office improves installation and fixes many bugs over release 1.0. It also does support now 15 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Brazilian Portuguese, Iberian Portuguese, Hungarian, Russian, Polis, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean.

Sun’s ODF plugin for MS Office supports Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2000. The latest version Office 2007 is not yet supported. The plugin supports the three leading applications in Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It integrates seemlessly and allows to set ODF (ISO 26300) as the standard file format to save when you hit Ctrl+S.

September

14

by Kaj Kandler

Really, what would Dan Heintzman, the director of strategy at Lotus, say about IBM joining the OpenOffice.org community? Andy Undergrove wondered too and interviewed Dan Heintzman from Lotus. Dan makes some interesting points, including:

  • IBM hopes to signal its commitment to ODF and the OpenOffice.org to IT managers that are not sure how long this technology will last. he mentions the $1 Billion invetment tha tIBM announced for Linux way back. However, I must have missed an announcement that impressive or any direct number at all.
  • He acknowledges that there have been tensions between Sun Microsystems and IBM over community governance and that IBM’s announcement means IBM will help to make change in the governance structure of the OpenOffice community happen.
  • Dan’s vision of a document is a container that brings elements toghether, but retains their source. It is more a collage of text, graphics, data then the coherent print form we often think of. He thinks ODF is a viable platform to start this transformation.
  • Dan dodges the speculation if IBM would add an e-mail/calendar program to the Open Office suite.

September

13

by Kaj Kandler

I don’t know how you visualize ecosystems, for me they resemble a picture of a jungle with lots of nurishing water, beautiful plants, colorful birds and some dangerous snakes lurking on trees.

The newest take on the multitude of products derived from OpenOffice.org is to call it an ecosystem. While Sun Microsystem thinks the multiple distributions of OpenOffice.org are an ecosystem, I often feel lost in the Jungle that is. Lets list the well known distributions:

  • OpenOffice.org – the “Original”
  • StarOffice – the commercial version from Sun Micosystems
  • StarSuite – a sun distribution targeted at the Asian market
  • StarOffice from Google – a free commercial (?) distribution
  • OpenOffice.org Novell Edition – free version with new developments by Novell and in the pipeline for integration into the “Original”
  • NeoOffice – a distribution with integration into Mac OS X Aqua UI, also contains some Novell additions
  • Retro Office – a distribution from the NeoOffice project, adding some of the Novell derived integration but not the Aqua UI integration
  • … various commercial distributions that sell the office suite with minor alterations and support plans

The jungle becomes more dense if you consider that Open Office calls its development steps “release”, while Sun counts Star Office in “version.” I find it also confusing that Sun Microsystems does offer support with its commercial Star Office but also offers support plans for Open Office.

I do welcome various distributions of the same core open source base. However, what confuses me is the product strategy of Sun. Wouldn’t it be much easier if they offered a commercial OpenOffice.org Plus packages with the add ons that can’t be licensed under open source licenses? This would simplify the value for the buyer and unify the support plan offering. It would also put the power of Sun’s advertising behind the whole project and put more mindshare into Open Office, while still retaining Sun’s ability to make money from its work.

September

11

by Kaj Kandler

Today I visited the Sun Tech Days Boston for day number one. Sun Microsystems put on a big program at the downtown Sheraton hotel with three major tracks:

  • NetBeans and various Java related technologies
  • OpenSolaris and its community
  • University a cross section for students, introductions to almost every Sun developer technology

I peaked in to the introductions for OpenSolaris. What I and a moderate crowd listened too was core developers who focused on the developing community of OpenSolaris and how it becomes more than Sun employees developing with everybody else watching. In many ways OpenSolaris does catch up with many other *nix like OS distribution. The word “modernize” was used often in describing the efforts to create new installers,
updated shells, new packaging system, more drivers, etc. OpenSolaris really seams to be a train picking up steam.

I was surprised, how undecided the road map was for the various projects and initiatives. It often was unclear when a certain feature would arrive in which release of OpenSolaris or Solaris the commercial distribution of Sun Microsystems. As an engineer I like things to be finished and done right, instead of rushed to meet a deadline. But from the business perspective, it is not a good thing, that many processes, and I mean decision processes, are not yet decided on. I’m well familiar with such mixed messages from the OpenOffice/StarOffice project, I’m more involved with. If I would meet Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, I’d let him know that Sun’s positioning of the commercial Sun products versus the open source products is not clear and that it is hurting Sun.

Back to the Java track, where I peaked into sessions about Ajax frameworks and upcoming Swing technologies. It appears Sun does not take sides with the various Ajax frameworks, other than trying to support them all in NetBeans. NetBeans 6.0 impressed me with its ability to not just syntax color and code assist but also to have many wizards that generate code for your from a few questions. This was especially apparent in the session about Swing Application Framework and Java Beans Binding. NetBeans supports these brand new frameworks with code generation that can rival Ruby on Rails scaffolding, although for pure Java apps.

Speaking of Ruby on Rails, or better Jruby on Rails. This session was rather disappointing, as the speaker was jsut a few days into Ruby and Rails and basically did talk about her own excitement about a dynamic language and the impressive meta programming Rails style. I would have hoped for more hard facts on how JRuby does vs native Ruby and what the challenges are and how they are overcome.

As you can see it was a busy day, and the program only started in the afternoon. I look forward to tomorrow.

September

10

by Kaj Kandler

Most users know that Sun Microsystems is the main force behind OpenOffice.org and its development community. Historically they did buy StarDivision and release Open Office as open source. Today, IBM announced to commit to the OpenOffice.org development community with a team of 35 developers in China working full time on the project. IBM also contributed today a chunk of code making the open source office suite more accessible for users with disabilities.

While IBM has developed the accessibility interface called iAccessible2 for a while and also supported ODF (ISO 26300) in its Lotus Notes products, this announcement is a long term commitment to develop OpenOffice.org as a competitive suite.

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

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

15

by Kaj Kandler

Google pack has added StarOffice 8 to its line of essential applications. StarOffice is the commercial version of OpenOffice.org produced by Sun Microsystems, adding non free elements such as fonts and spell check library. You can buy StarOffice for $70 for a single license from Sun Microsystems, while Google gives it away.

This addition of Sun products to the Google pack stems from the Multi Year Strategic Agreement between Sun Microsystems and Google, reached in October 2005. The installer includes also a Java runtime environment, used by some components of StarOffice and on the list of software components Sun likes to distribute.