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Apache OpenOffice Lagging Behind LibreOffice In Features 126

An anonymous reader writes "If you are looking for small niche features such as interactive word count, bundled report designer, or command line filtering etc – LibreOffice beats OpenOffice hands down. 'Noting the important dates of June 1, 2011, which was when Oracle donated OOo to Apache; and Apache OpenOffice 3.4 is due probably sometime in May 2012; Meeks compared Apache OpenOffice 3.4 new features to popular new features from LibreOffice: 3.3, 3.4, 3.5. It wasn't surprising to find that LibreOffice has merged many features not found in Apache OO given their nearly year long head start.'"
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Apache OpenOffice Lagging Behind LibreOffice In Features

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  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by glrotate ( 300695 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:03PM (#39823863) Homepage

    Can anyone refresh our recollection as to why we need these two competing projects?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      One is controlled by a company (Oracle and OO) and one by the fsf peeps (Libre). Competition is good for innovation.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Ded Bob ( 67043 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:13PM (#39824045) Homepage
        I think OpenOffice is under the ASF. Oracle is no longer involved is my understanding.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:36PM (#39824365)
          The developers for Open Office mostly come from Oracle. However, most of the team was fired or had quit so now that's a much smaller group than the ones working on Libre Office. Also, given Oracle's recent record of attacks on former Sun open source even when it had a supposedly independent "community process" it doesn't seem like a safe bet to most people. It's embarrassing that the Apache foundation got involved in such an obvious act of vandalism.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bruce Perens ( 3872 )

            It's embarrassing that the Apache foundation got involved in such an obvious act of vandalism.

            I think so too.

            • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

              by augustz ( 18082 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @04:58PM (#39826353) Homepage

              It did make me wonder how the Apache Foundation tries to steward open source objectives.

              The donation to the Apache Foundation seemed primarily a result of the initial traction around LibreOffice, and it was odd that Apache didn't look at Libre and feel that they would be good stewards of the effort.

            • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @05:48PM (#39826985)

              Seriously? 'I think so too' 5, interesting.
              With all due respect but just because your name is Bruce Perens and you have a four digit id doesn't mean 'I think so too' is more interesting than it normally would've been.

              Posting AC for obvious reasons (Slashdot's typical 'don't touch my hero' atmosphere in case it's not so obvious)

              • by flonker ( 526111 )

                "I think so too" comments are usually upmodded by moderators who agree with them. Comments themselves are (or should be) upmodded because of the content of the comments being Interesting/Insightful/etc., rather than because of opinion.

                OTOH, maybe I'm just being an argumentative SOB looking for karma by defending someone name Bruce Perens who has a four digit id.

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @03:39PM (#39825215) Homepage

          But Oracle kept a stranglehold on it long enough to very nearly kill OOo.
          Unless OOo can gain some serious traction with new developers, it's still just a matter of time before LibreOffice replaces it completely.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            OOo pretty much lost the race within the first month or two of Libreoffice forking from it. They merged in the code changes from go-oo pretty much immediately and most of the developers fled to Libreoffice, at this point, we're talking about and honestly, it's a zombie and has been for over a year. They may release a few more versions, but anybody that's using, ought to realize that it's basically dead in the water and falling further and further behind.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:15PM (#39824067)

        no, Oracle donated OOo to the Apache Foundation (I guess they couldn't be arsed with it once they realised they couldn't sell it and no-one liked them) so it's noow back to being properly open.

        However, I don't think the world needs 2 open office suites, they should merge them together, then they can take the best of LibreOffice (the code) and the best of OpenOffice (the name).

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by HarrySquatter ( 1698416 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:23PM (#39824173)

          But the point is this is under a more permissive license which some companies, IBM for example, want. Also, if no more than one office suite is allowed you better notify the Caligra people to shut up shop, too.

        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:50PM (#39824549)

          The issue is licensing.

          Apache OpenOffice is APL, LibreOffice in LGPL. This means that they can't cross-port features or merge, even though they are 90% the same code base. Oracle owned the full copyrights of (originally released as LGPL), so they were able to donate it to Apache allowing them to relicense to the APL. Apache will not use a non-APL license for anything under their umbrella.

          According to Apache, Libreoffice may be able to port from APL->LGPL, but Apache will likely not be able to port from LGPL->APL.

          • According to Apache, Libreoffice may be able to port from APL->LGPL, but Apache will likely not be able to port from LGPL->APL.

            That's true, but they might get an email from the author allowing them to. It's only been a year - I imagine the authors would not be hard to track down.

            • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

              by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @03:16PM (#39824845) Homepage Journal

              That's not going to work in long term. Probably it already doesn't.

              LO folks have spent about a year converting the code base to use standard libraries (most notably STL) instead of the old home-brew stuff OO.o still relies upon. That was a major clean-up done by LO people which allowed them to make code cleaner and accessible to new developers. But also made LO quite incompatible to OO.o.

              Due to that, many features already cannot be ported between the two without some effort.

          • If the issue is licensing, then it would seem that Calligra Suite (formerly KOffice) ought to be the favorite of the FSF, since it uses GPL2, as opposed to LGPL. Did the FSF re-license LO under LGPL3, and even if it did, is LGPL3 considered a more favored license than GPL2? AFAIK, the FSF recommends that software creators use GPL instead of LGPL wherever possible.

            I would be interested in how these 2 suites compare w/ Calligra Suite 2.4.

          • According to Apache, Libreoffice may be able to port from APL->LGPL, but Apache will likely not be able to port from LGPL->APL.

            Which is, IMHO, another example of why FSF licenses suck. Why some people think this a feature, not a bug, is beyond me.
            A truly open license should foster a mentality towards openness and working towards a better product, with plenty of cross-pollination, instead of being a harbor for tantrum fits.
            Now we have two office suites, and who knows which one is the best for the corpo

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          I think it does, because the world *seriously* needs a decent alternative to MS Access and neither OO nor LO have it.

          • by treeves ( 963993 )

            Who uses MS Access seriously?
            I guess your sig is relevant to this post.

            • Oh, just millions of people who work at an office and need small to medium-size (relational - though they don't actually know anything about RBs) databases.

          • How is Calligra's Kexi?
          • I think it does, because the world *seriously* needs a decent alternative to MS Access and neither OO nor LO have it.

            Yeah, it's pretty obvious that the developers of Base have no clue as to how MSAccess gets used out in the business world.

            To name a few more killer features:

            It's extremely simple to use MSAccess to tie together different data sources and move data from one to the other. OOBase back in the v3 days couldn't talk to two different data sources at the same time.

            Last time I looked at OOBa
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Can anyone refresh our recollection as to why we need these two competing projects?

      Hear hear, we already have Ed, why do we need all these other projects? It just isn't right.

    • by SurfsUp ( 11523 )

      1) Competition is good.

      2) Oracle's heavyhanded governance went beyond the pale.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @04:23PM (#39825859) Homepage

      We need LO because it's a better product in every way. It incoporates all the GoOO patches created by Novell and Debian, and has undergone a massive cleanup that made the code smaller, faster, and easier to understand, without removing any functionality, and, since the cleanup, has had a steady stream of improvements added.

      IBM needs OpenOffice because they had a separate license from Oracle to use OO code in Symphony, and the LO folks aren't offering the same deal--LO is GPL, take it or leave it.

      Apache needs OpenOffice because it promotes their preferred license. Which isn't much of a reason, but it's something.

      OO seems likely to become an IBM product in all but name. A handful of developers may feel motivated to contribute for whatever reasons, but unless OO undertakes a cleanup like the one LO already accompished, the complexity of the code is likely to discourage casual contributors. A cleanup of OO would likely put them even farther behind LO in features, but without a cleanup, it's going to be harder to add features, which will make it harder for them to keep up in the long run, and will mean that OO's performance will continue to suck compared to LO.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Parts of the code cleanup has happened with Oo. IBM hired some of the original OO developers in Hamburg, Germany and also donated Symphony to Apache. OO4 will resemble Symphony (minus the Java parts) much closer than the current OO3.x
        There's a large team in Beijing contributing and they are motivated, educated and talented.
        Disclaimer: I work for IBM and met all parties mentioned.

      • Oh, Debian patches, how reassuring! Now I'm certain I shouldn't get anywhere near LO. They can't even keep their servers from being hacked (not once, more than once...), and even Ubuntu sometimes breaks during upgrades!
        This is just wasted energy...They should put their muscle behind KDE's Office suite, if they were looking for a free software project to play with. It actually has some nice and original features here and there.

    • Can anyone refresh our recollection as to why we need these two competing projects?

      We don't, but you can thank SUN/Oracle for the split. Soracle was dragging ass on, so the latter was forked into LibreOffice. Soracle treated LibreOffice developers like shit, and the Free Software community noticed, so many of us went to LibreOffice on principle as much as anything else.

      And that's not even the entire story. Just an important note.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:06PM (#39823905)

    I guess I've been out of touch, I thought Openoffice died with Sun and Libreoffice was forked and is the continuation of that product.

    Seems like a lot of duplication of effort in maintaining both OpenOffice and LibreOffice and the community would be better off picking one. But then again, the same has been said about KDE versus Gnome.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      the community would be better off picking one

      You say that as if you have the money to pay them to pick just one.

      • Re:Pony up (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:56PM (#39824617)

        the community would be better off picking one

        You say that as if you have the money to pay them to pick just one.

        No, I say that as someone who has spent years waiting for Linux on the Desktop to be ready, and I keep seeing so much software that is almost, but not quite there. Along with many competing software applications that do nearly the same thing, so it just seems like there's often alot of dilution from competing packages when there could be more cooperation to make one project more polished and usable.

        And before you say "It's open source - write it yourself!", I have contributed to Open Source projects, but my contributions have mostly been on the systems tools side, I'm not a desktop applications developer.

        I do run Linux on my desktop (both at home and work), but I keep a Windows VM handy for when I need to run a Windows application. I just can't move my boss over to Linux and say "Sorry your spreadsheet macros aren't working in OpenOffice. Here, download Libre Office, maybe it will work better. Wait, no, here's Gnumeric, I heard it has better macro support. No? Well someone online said KSpread might work better, try that one. Here, maybe I can get MS Office to load in Wine, the Wine website says most things sort of work"

        • by SurfsUp ( 11523 )

          OpenOffice has been "there" for a long time. We just want more, that's all.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          It's never going to be ready if the requirement is to be completely compatible with an obfiscated moving target instead of just getting the tasks done.
          In my workplace nearly everybody uses it because some of the software used is in a niche that Microsoft never saw as important. Everything else still gets done.
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I would say it is a lot of duplication of effort to keep MS Office going when there is OpenOffice and Google Docs. If you need a high level of shared editing and some programability, Google Docs is it. If you need a basic Office application, OpenOffice is it, with much better compatibility over versions. There are some niche features that some people need, but mostly and Google has you covered.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        "f you need a high level of shared editing and some programability, and are online with broadband, Google Docs is it. "

        Fixed that for you. Google docs has a tiny flaw in that it don't work when you are not online.

        • What is this "not online" of which you speak? That term is unfamiliar to me.

          • >>> What is this "not online" of which you speak? That term is unfamiliar to me.

            Move to an African country, preferably to a provincial town, and you'll become instantly familiar.

      • On the topic of programmability, all I want to see is a clean API in Python (or whatever) that gives the broad programmability of VBA.
        • Here you go []. Not sure how in-depth it goes from outside the LO environment though... I know that even from earlier OOo builds there was a lot of programmatic ability in there, though very Java centered in the implementation.
      • You're talking fairly simple use. However, in larger-sized businesses, your needs will grow: integration with a large SQL database, electronic documentation workflow, integrating C++ and Excel for numerical analysis of risk models, etc. Google and OO are not up to par, and lag behind the curve.

        Google Docs was supposed to the MS Office killer, but Google hasn't actually done anything for real with its product. I'm not sure how you can integrate Google's own products across the board. Can you integrate Gmail

    • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:58PM (#39824639)

      Openoffice was progressing more slowly than it should have. A lot of good contributions ended up in an infinite state of non-acceptance. That said, Openoffice is still a wonderful thing. But LibreOffice is even better.

      • by sdnoob ( 917382 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @04:09PM (#39825669)

        give apache some time and openoffice will rebound. it has taken considerable time and effort to migrate a project of this magnitude over to apache's infrastructure. i expect things to pick up after the initial apache release (which is the upcoming 3.4).. so 3.5 or 4 or whatever the one after that will be.

        • by Xtifr ( 1323 )

          You mean give IBM some time. Apache has a mild interest, but it's not exactly their main focus, and they haven't exactly got huge resources to spare. At this point, community interest is probably at an all time low. If Oo rebounds, it's going to be because IBM wants to keep Symphony proprietary, and has plenty of money and resources to throw at Symphony's open-source core. I don't see any other way for Oo to climb out of the pit that's been dug for it.

          But backing from IBM is definitely nothing to sneeze

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Seems like a lot of duplication of effort in maintaining both OpenOffice and LibreOffice and the community would be better off picking one.

      For the moment the "community" has decided to maintain both projects. Is that ok with you?

      Yeah, it would be great if the president would appoint an official Open Source Software czar and he could just order the "community" which projects were viable and which should be abandoned as inefficient, because the government is always right you know.

    • The original article is equally puzzled:
      "One of the most curious things about the brand, is the loyalty that users have to it, despite the 3.3 feature freeze being twenty-two months ago, having lost much of its development community, and having had no new release since January 2011 - users are still downloading this increasingly old and creaky release at top speed."

      I don't know whether I would be downloading OpenOffice for a new install. But I'm still running OO. Not out of "loyalty" but s

      • I don't know whether I would be downloading OpenOffice for a new install. But I'm still running OO. Not out of "loyalty" but simply because it works. And if you rely on it, "things that work" have a very strong argument for not fiddling with it. At least on a computer you really need.

        Good point. My experience with the likes of one of those Linux hacker-happy products is break, break, break, and spent lots of time fixing thing and loosing time and money (gratuitous ABI breakage ? - F. Y. very much, "hackers"

  • Bloat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:08PM (#39823957)
    Adding features is not necessarily a good thing.
    • I use a pre-fork version of OO on a daily basis. The only thing keeping me from "upgrading" to LO is a (perhaps unjustified) fear of bloat.

      • Re:Bloat (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Doogie5526 ( 737968 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:24PM (#39824187) Homepage

        I have LibreOffice downloaded, but only use it once every few I haven't followed too closely (or really care too much about how efficient it is). But I thought one of the first things the LibreOffice team planned to do was remove the Java dependency everyone had been complaining about for years for causing bloat and slowing things down.

        • by augustz ( 18082 )

          I could never totally figure out why OpenOffice, which for years was not Java based, added Java as a dependency.

          It seemed like a massive dependency for a relatively minor set of features. Plus then every computer ended up getting the Java update notifications and at one point somehow a lot of users ended up with a Yahoo toolbar or something as part of a "security update"!

          No fun.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            I think when Sun got hold of it they decided to try to use it as a showcase for their Java. The amount of effort required to go from the now very old StarOffice to a complete rewrite in a different language was more than expected for less gain than expected. Just bundling Java with it gave the PR gain of making it look like it was done in Java without having to go to the full effort of rewriting it all in Java.
      • The LibO download size may look bloated, but that's because their default download includes all the languages rather than having separate installers for each language. I switched to LibO 3.5 recently and my install uses ~75MB less space than my OpenOffice 3.3 install did.

    • Re:Bloat (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:30PM (#39824285) Homepage

      The trouble is that one man's bloat is another man's absolutely essential feature.

    • Adding features is not necessarily a good thing.

      I generally agree with what you have to say. May I subscribe to your news letter?

    • by SurfsUp ( 11523 )

      However, adding features while improving the underlying code organization is always a good thing.

    • >"Adding features is not necessarily a good thing."

      YOU are insightful. It *can* be a good thing, but it can also be a BAD thing. It all depends.

      Quite frankly, there are some things that LibreOffice team is going after that somewhat scare me. It might not be such a bad thing to have a more conservative OpenOffice around. Our organization greatly depends on OpenOffice now, and although we can and will appreciate new features, we are more concerned about usability, stability, performance, bug fixes, and

    • by frisket ( 149522 )

      Adding features is not necessarily a good thing.

      No, but adding a feature which would beat or rival the competition (Word) is surely A Good Thing.

      But neither OO nor LO appears interested in using named styles professionally. The absence of a style margin (à la Word) is so glaring an omission that it makes Word the de facto interface for editing with styles. The inability of OO/LO to show all styles at a glance is what forces me to recommend Word to clients who need to edit their authors' documents. When I raised this with some OO/LO people they were

  • by jensend ( 71114 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:40PM (#39824423)

    I'd like to see AOO succeed. But its leadership dooms it. As I've said before []:

    Rob Weir, who is basically running the show and who seems like a perfectly reasonable person from his blog, acts like a caustic, sarcastic, and poorly socialized adolescent in communicating with other developers. He's alienating people right and left. People have tried to get him to stop, but he either ignores it or just acts like it's those he's offended who are to blame for any unpleasantness.

    He's not the only one either. Few people who aren't on the IBM payroll want to contribute to a project with that kind of leadership. People from the open source community in general and from the LibO camp in particular are reluctant to do anything to cooperate with Weir and co. By the time AOO actually gets a release out it will likely be too late to revitalize any interest in the project.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      did you really just quote your own slashdot post as a source?

      • by jensend ( 71114 )

        I wasn't quoting myself "as a source" - instead of just repeating myself I was acknowledging that I've said it before, and I linked to my previous post because it included more details for people who were interested. For sources, most of what Rob Weir says on the AOO incubator dev list [] will show my point. I haven't followed it in the last few months but when I was reading it frequently stuff like this [] was going on all the time

  • by RLU486983 ( 1792220 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @02:57PM (#39824635)
    I walked away from OOo as soon as LibreOffice began and never looked back.
  • Apparently whatever suit the author used was missing the "don't distribute this document with these insane colors warning" feature.
  • I stopped using OpenOffice months ago. It was really taking forever to load documents or get anything done. I tried LibreOffice and it was much faster at everything. As has been said many times before, competition is good.
  • Feature count! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metrometro ( 1092237 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @03:20PM (#39824919)

    Number of features is the Dr. Strangelove "mineshaft gap" of the software world. Microsoft Word: 1000+ features. Seriously. Google Document: maybe 50? Which is expanding marketshare? Microsoft's barely-tolerated "ribbon" UI was a direct response to Too Many Features.

    How about user count as a metric of success?

  • So what? (Score:1, Troll)

    by Palestrina ( 715471 ) *

    Meeks is the architect of the original Novell fork of OpenOffice, whose penchant for rabble rousing led to the LibreOffice fork. His meditations on feature differences between OpenOffice and LibreOffice are cherry picked and biased.

    Consider; LibreOffice lags behind Microsoft Office in features as well. So should LO shut down? and Microsoft Office 2007 "lags behind" Office 2010 in features. Does that mean Office 2007 was a mistake? OpenOffice has more features than Abiword. So maybe we should take A

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Try importing a SVG file in OpenOffice and LibreOffice, or just doing some serious editing. Then you will see how biased the review by Meeks is. He's just protecting his job.

    • by SurfsUp ( 11523 )

      Try importing a SVG file in OpenOffice and LibreOffice, or just doing some serious editing. Then you will see how biased the review by Meeks is. He's just protecting his job.

      The project contributer figures are from ohloh, and show ten times as many developers on LibreOffice as OpenOffice. Do you think ohloh is biased?

      • Actually, I do think the Ohloh numbers are biased. A project that uses distributed version control, like LibreOffice, and accepts patches from contributors that way will show one result, but another, like Apache, that uses Subversion and accepts patches via email, will see something else.

        Essentially, depending on your patch policy you may not have any non-core contributors acknowledged in your version control.

        • by k8to ( 9046 )

          So the Apache Open Office tools don't fully support outside contributors. I see.

  • DIE!

  • by loftwyr ( 36717 ) on Friday April 27, 2012 @04:16PM (#39825749)
    LibreOffice incorporated the Go-OO patchset on creation, OpenOffice still hasn't and likely won't. The Go-OO patches were all of the features (with a few exceptions) that are listed. If AOO adopted the patches, they would be nearly on parity.
    • And of course, that makes your wonder. If LibreOffice truly has 300 developers, and has been working on this code base for 18 months, and started with all the Go-OO code, as well as all the unintegrated Oracle patches and the OOo 3.4 beta, then what the hell have they been doing?

      With that starting point, that amount of lead time, and 300 developers, they should be rocking our world with their dazzling features. 300 frickin' developers and the best they have is, "uh, I turned a modal dialog for word counts

      • 300 frickin' developers and the best they have is, "uh, I turned a modal dialog for word counts into a modeless dialog". Really? That is an embarrassment.

        Give them some time to improve. They started with a large complicated, bloated and bug-ridden codebase. Many developers are new to the project, and they can't be super productive from day one.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My Linux provider dumped LibreOffice onto my laptop as an alleged "security" fix. It claimed to be full of fixes. But the little things, like broken horizontal scroll bars in Calc, graphs that wouldn't update and a Base that corrupted the database I had used without any problems for several years, were rather a nuisance. The corruption recurred each time I restored from backup, and did not occur with OO on another system, so I can, fairly safely, presume that it wasn't a one-off.

    With AOO's recent release, I

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein