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.
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.
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.
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.
by Kaj Kandler
This year’s Java One Conference was held in Australia and some of the sun engineers where in for a surprise. The airplane offered StarOffice in the displays in the back of the seats. StarOffice the commercial version of OpenOffice.org. The application allowed to open and save files from a USB device. Ain’t that cool?