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IBM Donates Symphony Code To Apache Software Foundation 131

Posted by timothy
from the don't-say-bequeath-until-you-die-please dept.
CWmike writes "Hoping to further sharpen OpenOffice's competitive viability against Microsoft Office, IBM is donating the code of its Symphony open source office suite to the nonprofit Apache Software Foundation. Apache could fold this code into its own open source office suite OpenOffice, on which Symphony was based. In June, Oracle donated the OpenOffice suite to Apache. 'Prior to Apache's entry, there really hasn't been enough innovation in this area over the past 10 years,' said Kevin Cavanaugh, an IBM vice president. 'It's been constrained because we haven't had a true open source community with a mature governance model.'"
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IBM Donates Symphony Code To Apache Software Foundation

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  • 10 years without innovation it's an eternity by computer standards. Who is killing innovation, I wonder
    • I'm pretty sure that was just marketing speak for "Now Sun is dead and Oracle doesn't care about OpenOffice we have no further need for Symphony."

      • They don't want to pay to maintain software. They would rather give it away as open source and let some unpaid people maintain it indefinitely into the future, something that no company can really afford.

        It's a win for the open source community but it's win-win for businesses. Afterall, they benefit from the project when it's open source. They can deallocate resources to it too.

        I am not sure how it makes me feel. All software seems to be derived from some open source code somewhere. The web? TCP/IP stacks?

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:09PM (#36770346) Journal

        And I'd say sadly that thanks to 'free as in beer" and the freeloader effect it is ultimately a loss for FOSS. lets be honest folks...have you LOOKED at the LO/OO code? We are talking this huge monolithic mess that would probably take someone a good year or more to get fully up to speed on. if you don't manage to keep those long term developers that were building it at Sun i'd say you're screwed as it'll take a good 3 years or more to rebuild the thing into a more modular design, which is eternity in software time.

        Meanwhile you have Apple and MSFT with iWork and MS Office spending tons of money on R&D and features so to keep even partially up on features or even have functional compatibility so you can use LO as a drop in replacement is gonna take serious coding. developers of the skill required to do this? NOT cheap and this kind of monolithic project isn't something a coder can just 'pop in on the weekends" and get anything done, its just too massive.

        So I truly believe that unless FOSS projects like this find a stable source of revenue things are only gonna get worse as the economy sours. The "tin cup" model of either donations or support works fine in a healthy economy but that isn't what we've got ATM and companies are gonna cut costs any way they can. if they can have your product without paying a cent why give you anything?

        Sadly this is completely a case of short sighted "damn everything but the quarterly reports!" thinking because without funding LO will fall further behind. Who cares if it is free if in 3 years it can't open the MS Office 2015 Doc files, or open the latest iWork for that matter?

        We've seen that the FOSS model really kicks ass on the "tiny programs piped together" style, as it is easy to maintain and upgrade without needing huge teams of developers well versed in the code. i just don't know how well FOSS is gonna work long term with such a huge monolithic code base and as someone who happily hands out LO to all his home users that does worry me.

        • I've been using (or trying to use) symphony for about a year now (maybe longer - don't remember) and it has so many problems that I fear to use it beyond anything but a simple text editor. Whenever I try to do anything more advanced (tables within tables for example) the thing will just crash completely and disappear from the screen along with, of course, anything I was working on.

          After OOo ended up under the control of the evil Mr Burns er .. Larry, I decided I wasn't going to use any version of it afte
          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Sadly as you can read what I wrote for Linux Insider [linuxinsider.com] I truly believe the answer is NO, not unless the community get behind a fundamental change in the GPL, from a "free for everyone" to "free for non commercial use'.

            The reason why is simple: despite RMS and his desire for a completely free utopia the simple fact of the matter is that history has shown us the FOSS design model works on what I call the "grep pipe" principle. that is a bunch of small programs that when linked together do a bigger job. where it

    • What 10 year period is Kevin Cavanaugh talking about? If he honestly believes that there hasn't been any innovation in the "office space" then I can see why some are saying that IBM is becoming more irrelevant.
      • by hey! (33014)

        It depends on your bar for "innovation". If you mean "change" then sure. If you mean new value that would cause customers to adopt the upgrade, it's hard to argue conclusively one way or the other. The sense I have is that upgrades are largely driven by security concerns and keeping the number of versions managed by IT down when the old versions are taken off the market.

        There's probably never been a change that somebody (often in the trade press) doesn't praise, or find intriguing. But the sense I get fr

        • I was thinking more in the lines of videoconferencing, mobile communications, telecommuting / remote access, collaborating software/groupware, improved GIS packages, improved laptops and portable workstations, tablets, distributed databases, outsourced office applications with IT support (aka "the cloud"), professional networking (like LinkedIn not ethernet), crowd sourcing, wireless high speed internet while traveling, wireless video conferencing, and electronic business banking solutions (aka wire transfe

          • by Dog-Cow (21281)

            Kevin was obviously (from context) talking office software suites (MS Office or OO). You're not that bright, really, if you couldn't figure that out.

    • Sun was.

    • 10 years without innovation it's an eternity by computer standards. Who is killing innovation, I wonder

      Who is promoting it? I'm not sure FOSS is promoting innovation as much as many advocates would like to believe. When the most popular apps are largely described as "a FOSS reimplementation/alternative to commercial/proprietary XXXX" one could argue that FOSS, like many corporations, is not terribly innovative. Just to be clear, a worthwhile project does not necessarily need to be innovative. I've used and supported FOSS projects that I find useful. I'm just arguing that FOSS advocates are not necessarily th

      • by hedwards (940851)

        If you're looking at the most popular applications for innovation, then you're looking in the wrong direction. The most popular applications are rarely particularly innovative. You do get exceptions like Napster from time to time, but those are few and far between, generally they're just the biggest fish in a new market.

        The really innovative stuff is stuff that most folks haven't yet heard of, and it usually comes from OSS or indie developers because there's so much less of a barrier to creating it. Hobbyis

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Nonsense. The most popular apps are like all the other mainstream apps because people like what they're used to. That doesn't mean there's no innovation in open source. What proprietary software shop offers anything like xmonad? compiz? uzbl? KIO-slaves? Where did we first see ad blockers? Distributed P2P? Is there any proprietary software that can do what Bioconductor can do?

        • by perpenso (1613749)

          Nonsense. The most popular apps are like all the other mainstream apps because people like what they're used to. That doesn't mean there's no innovation in open source. What proprietary software shop offers anything like xmonad? compiz? uzbl? KIO-slaves? Where did we first see ad blockers? Distributed P2P? Is there any proprietary software that can do what Bioconductor can do?

          So your examples of innovation are an X Window manager that was started as a clone of another X Window manager, an X Window manager that uses the 3D hardware like Mac OS X (and possibly Windows) were already doing at the time, yet another web browser implementation, I/O "modules" for KDE, specialized/niche add on modules for a statistical package, etc.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Hatta (162192)

            Yes. It doesn't sound like much but it's better than what we've seen from the commercial realm. There are no proprietary tiling window managers. There are other desktops with a cube. There are no proprietary file managers that encompass the breadth of information that kio-slaves can access. There are no proprietary minimalist browsers. And there sure as hell isn't anything as extensible as Bioconductor.

            It's true, there is nothing new under the sun. Any innovation you wish to point to, from open sourc

          • by Nursie (632944)

            You've got your history backwards, compiz beat the rest to market by a mile on using 3d hardware for window managment.

            • by perpenso (1613749)

              You've got your history backwards, compiz beat the rest to market by a mile on using 3d hardware for window managment.

              Wiki says that Mac OS X 10.2 was using the GPU in 2002 and that compiz was first released in 2006.

      • by KugelKurt (908765)

        The question "Is FOSS innovative?" itself is bogus. FOSS refers to a licensing scheme. A developer of software isn't suddenly innovative just because he releases software under a new license.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Office suites became feature complete back in the 90s. 99% of people could get by on the features present in Office 97. There's just no market for really innovative office suites.

      • by Ensign Nemo (19284) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @08:48PM (#36770630)

        +1

        Remember when the argument was:
        "But a person only uses 20% of MS Office features"
        "But everybody uses a different 20%."

        Bullocks. Push people on what features they actually use. Most people really do use the roughly the same 20%. The vast majority of people I've talked with and seen what they do, Office 97 is just fine.

        • Bollocks!

          Surely there are places where innovations could be implemented, like greater network enabled collaborative features, or introducing more advanced image and page manipulation capabilities, for creating more advanced multimedia documents?
          • by Nursie (632944)

            Advanced multimedia documents?

            I hope that was sarcasm, I hope I missed the joke, because.... yuck.

            • Oh, i feel so ashamed now. You have made me feel so small.

              So, your hung up on the terms i used (i try to write explicitly), but perhaps you could engage your faculties and try and see past them, to the concept i was trying to invoke. Currently GIMP handles text quite badly, beyond a very basic level, and i am often trying to make flyers, which are heavily text based, but also very graphics heavy. An office suite with some more capable graphics options would be sweet.

              In fairness, on rereading that sent
              • by Nursie (632944)

                You may be using the wrong tools for the job. I'm not sure. You may wish to investigate the capabilities of desktop publishing/design software like Scribus or Inkscape.

                It was your phrasing that made me ask if you were being sarcastic. The number of people wanting "greater network enabled collaborative features" is utterly tiny as far as I can tell, and "advanced multimedia documents" sounds like business speak for word documents with embedded animations, movies, music and other such horrific crap.

                tl;dr - y

                • Cheers, Inkscape looks great. Though, (bangs the drum) some extended graphics capabilities in an office application would be cool, perhaps an office app with 'advanced' plugin support could offer many innovative features and allow devs and users all sorts of opportunities (including the desired).

                  However, i believe, network enabled, collaborative document editing would have much user interest (a la Google Docs), as evidenced by the popularity of wikis.

                  And, partly, i was just repulsed by the idea that t
                  • Cheers, Inkscape looks great.

                    It is great but it's a drawing program. The other suggestion, Scribus, seems more fitting to me.

                    Though, (bangs the drum) some extended graphics capabilities in an office application would be cool, perhaps an office app with 'advanced' plugin support could offer many innovative features and allow devs and users all sorts of opportunities (including the desired).

                    Makes me think of Calligra, formerly known as KOffice, but I'm not sure in what direction I'd want to look for extended graphical capabilities. Creating nice graphs based on spreadsheet or database data is enough I think. Does Krita qualify as an office-app?

                    However, i believe, network enabled, collaborative document editing would have much user interest (a la Google Docs), as evidenced by the popularity of wikis.

                    Drupal has such a collaborative modules afaik (it used to, at least). I mean, rather than looking at an office-suite I'd look at how I'd want to collaborate,

                    • So, i guess the thrust of your argument is, different tools for different jobs. That is a fair argument, one 'many-tentacled' program could get a little unwieldy.

                      By enhanced graphics capabilities, i pretty much meant features like, transparency, layering, a thorough tools palette, stretch and scale options, and whatnot. Which would save me porting portions of things in an out of different programs to get my desired result.

                      Drupal appears to pretty much be a wiki, no? At least it is a browser based inte
        • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @11:29PM (#36771574) Homepage

          Bullocks. Push people on what features they actually use. Most people really do use the roughly the same 20%. The vast majority of people I've talked with and seen what they do, Office 97 is just fine.

          Says the guy with a vested interest in agreeing with his own opinion.

          I don't want to use Office 97. If I wanted that, I might as well use OpenOffice (because that's the version it resembles). I want to use Office 2010. I like the ribbon UI and I like many of the other improvements they've made since then.

          I also have various workflows that I have built into Office that I find indispensable. I have an Excel template that I use for invoicing that has not been compatible with any other office suite I've tried, including OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Google Docs, Zoho, and Microsoft's own Office Web Apps. I have a couple VBA macros assigned to hotkeys that make the things I have to do in Word much easier, and I haven't had much luck porting those either. There are other ways that I used Office features that you may consider idiosyncratic, but now that I'm accustomed to working that way, I am reluctant to give them up. I definitely have my own 20%.

          Sorry to disagree with you, though. You clearly had yourself convinced; it must just be me.

          • by Nursie (632944)

            And you are sure that your one anecdote, from you - a poster on a highly tech literate forum full of geeks - represents an error in the theory that the vast majority of people could get by happily with Office 97?

            Counter examples are good. However I wouldn't be such a dick about it when you're using a personal anecdote to highlight a fault in an idea that concerns most users,

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I want to use Office 2010. I like the ribbon UI and I like many of the other improvements they've made since then.

            You what! 2010 is cr*p, the ribbon takes up too much screen space and requires too many clicks to get simple (for me) things done. 2010 is all eye candy and targeted at dumb low end users.

            I find as a power user it just gets in the way.

            • by PCM2 (4486)

              You what! 2010 is cr*p, the ribbon takes up too much screen space

              So double click on it and minimize it. Screen space... saved!

              and requires too many clicks to get simple (for me) things done.

              So use the key commands, like a normal person. Unless you don't really know what it is you want to do.

          • by olau (314197)

            Your case is not surprising to me, MS Office is a complex beast with a lot of advanced features. But I think the GP is right in the sense that most (but not all) people have no clue those feature are there, and for them, a simpler suite would be fine.

        • by westlake (615356)

          Bullocks. Push people on what features they actually use. Most people really do use the roughly the same 20%. The vast majority of people I've talked with and seen what they do, Office 97 is just fine.

          This line of thinking reminds me of a scene from Ratatouille:

          Colette: What are you doing?

          Linguini: Uh... vegetables. I'm cooking the... vegetables?

          Colette: No! You waste energy and time! You think cooking is a cute job, eh? Like Mommy in the kitchen? Well, Mommy never had to face the dinner rush while the orders come flooding in, and every dish is different and none are simple, and all different cooking time, but must arrive at the customer's table at exactly the same time, hot and perfect! Every second counts and you CANNOT be MOMMY!

    • by KugelKurt (908765)

      Seriously, I lost all hope in OpenOffice/LibreOffice. In my eyes it became a mere legacy application for opening MS Office files under X11 systems.
      Ever since StarOffice's 5.x source code was released and became OpenOffice.org, nobody had any interest in fundamentally renovating the code base that partially dates back to the 1980s. There was some talk two or so years ago but the "community" decided that the undertaking would be too huge for too little gain.

      A while ago I had a look at Calligra (mostly Calligr

  • Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kakyoin01 (2040114) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @05:35PM (#36768720)
    ...if just about every major company out there wasn't trying to sue the pants off of some other major company over some generic patents, there might be more properly-driven innovation.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's where all obsolete software goes after the original owner can't make any money on it and doesn't want to do maintenance any more.

    • by mdm42 (244204)
      I don't understand why Apache are being so undiscriminating about accepting projects. It looks to me like Apache has just become a dumping ground for dead software, and ASF seem quite happy to go with that. There are now so many top-level projects that it's become pretty-much like Sourceforge - any rubbish is acceptable, and the poor sucker looking for a solution to a specific problem has to spend ages "evaluating" a bunch of ego-riddled crapware. Used to be that Apache was a mark of quality and some level
  • As much as "big blue" has probably the biggest software patent portfolio and they are possibly only doing out of spite for Microsoft, I applaud IBM for their continued support for the FOSS community, and the Apache Foundation being as good as any representative for it. I hope the resources of IBM are available to support Linux especially, as it continues to face off against patent trolls like Microsoft and SCO (allthough I think SCO is as good as dead). I have nothing against patents being used for what the
    • ... What would the world be like now if it weren't for the FOSS community (including Apache)? ...

      It would probably be pretty much the same as it is now, we'd have to pay a little more for workstations and servers as they would still be coming from Sun, SGI and other traditional Unix vendors. It wasn't Microsoft that killed these platforms, it was Linux. Maybe Mac OS X would have caught on a little faster?

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        If it weren't for FOSS, the development tools would have still been expensive. And with expensive dev tools, you get little innovation and/or small number of applications.
        • by perpenso (1613749)

          If it weren't for FOSS, the development tools would have still been expensive. And with expensive dev tools, you get little innovation and/or small number of applications.

          That's not true. Linux and other FOSS software did not only displace the traditional unix vendors, they also displaced a lot of consumer and small/home office oriented software. For example we had inexpensive development suites like TurboPascal and TurboC under MS-DOS.

          • by JAlexoi (1085785)
            What were the cheap dev tools for Unix prior to GCC? Or did they come with dev tools by default? I'm not that old.
            However, me starting with Pascal in late 90ies there were definitely no free dev tools and $200 was the yearly tuition for a University in my country... Moving onto Java in 1999, cheap IDE's didn't exist(essentially)
            • by perpenso (1613749)

              What were the cheap dev tools for Unix prior to GCC? Or did they come with dev tools by default? I'm not that old.

              I am not 100% sure but I think console based C, Pascal and Fortran compilers were standard (cc, f77, pc).

  • Most of you will probably wonder: Framework? Framework was and in some ways still is the most superior integrated suite ever developed. Unfortunately they where slain by Wordperfect (4.2) and probably some bad marketing from Ashton Tate. It is in the obscure hands of a firm called "Selections & Functions" who really hasn't done much for it. It looks like they have abandoned it all together.
    • by haruchai (17472)

      Really? They seem to have spent quite some time and effort on making it buzzwordy and still offer it for sale.

      I'd be grateful is someone could translate this gobbledegook into English:
      From www.framework.com

      What is FRAMEWORK ?

      Framework is a unified computing architecture encompassing an operating system, API, GUI, applications, interactive programmability, RTOS sensor handling and information management. It is developed and maintained as a semiconductor design with a parallel software version which runs with

      • The "Big-O of one" must be the goatse guy, I dunno about the rest...

        Seriously (the big O and little o notation, I recall them) it is interesting, but they are not trying to compete with office/openoffice where a mail merge of a few dozen of records takes seconds (an eternity, for multighz multicore machines), and nobody really cares.

      • by lennier (44736)

        I'd be grateful is someone could translate this gobbledegook into English:

        Neat! Framework, like the original Lotus Symphony (not the current IBM OO.org-derived suite which is entirely unrelated) and then Lotus Notes, was a very cool idea in integrated applications which sadly, the world didn't follow. Basically, as far as I can grok that text, it's a one-tool-to-rule-the-world kind of application (of the kind that EMACS only dreams of being). I still hold out hopes that this is the direction the Web will eventually evolve into - something more like Ted Nelson's Xanadu than the mu

        • by Rural (136225)

          Sounds great, but many users have difficulty separating form (presentation) from content (data). Unless this separation can be done seamlessly or can be easily done incrementally, there's no chance if something powerful like this catching on. I mean, do you realize how many quite intelligent people still use word processors like a typewriter? And truthfully, sometimes that is the fastest and best approach for a one-off job.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apache could fold this code into its own open source office suite OpenOffice

    Can't they do that anyway? I thought that was the whole point of "open source".

    • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @07:37PM (#36770022) Homepage

      Can't they do that anyway? I thought that was the whole point of "open source".

      Lotus Symphony is not open source, it's a proprietary fork from an early version of OpenOffice with a license that permitted this. IBM has been offering it as freeware, so by offering this code to the Apache foundation they're looking to mend the old fork between OpenOffice and Symphony. It still would not mend the fork between OpenOffice and LibreOffice, but as far as IBM is concerned their Symphony code can now be used in both versions under the Apache license. This is a direct consequence of Oracle giving OpenOffice to Apache, IBM wasn't willing to give Symphony to Sun or Oracle, but they are willing to share it as an Apache project. So good move by IBM, another open source contribution from them.

      • by makomk (752139)

        Of course, this does mean that someone has to do the hard work of actually merging the two... and it probably is going to be very hard work. Even IBM's attempts at actual upstream contributions to OO.org seem to have been more or less unmergable for some reason

    • Depends on the licence.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been using OpenOffice for years and it very capably fulfills all of my needs. That alone is a mark of success. What more innovation could anyone want?

    OpenOffice should fulfill the needs of the majority of users. If it does not, then the blame is on the ineptitude and naivete of the common business user and not on any lack of innovation of the software.

  • to bad symphony is a horrible product that is worse than its base, I speak from having been forced to use it for the past 5 years, at least 3.0 is a step up. I would use open office if it and symphony would display files the same. symphony likes to do crazy things with open format files

  • Don't think it's valuable, there is not too much new feature and improvements in Symphony. OOo is forked hard and I think LibreOffice devs are not interested in Symphony
  • If there is any value left in either the oracle code base or the IBM code base, the only sane thing for apache to do would be to commit it to the LibreOffice code tree. That's where the development is happening at the moment, and I don't see why Apache would be interested in maintaining a lesser competing product when there already is a blooming open source one around.

  • There is a reason IBM's developers have been given to work on the project too. To ensure IBM gets heavy influence on what is merged and probably because it will be difficult like other said

    I imagine IBM want to get so involved, nobody else will want to with Open Office of the big corporates. Not a bad thing really as long as IBM don't muck it up. At the moment, I don't really see the point of Libre Office until IBM begin to screw up Open Office as it is essentially a similar code base and they are workin

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