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Apache OpenOffice: We're OK With Not Being Super Cool (theregister.co.uk) 106

The Register's Thomas Claburn, interviews Jim Jagielski, Apache Software Foundation President and Apache OpenOffice project mentor. From the story: Despite being the subject of a deathwatch -- perhaps mainly by fans of rival LibreOffice -- AOO appears to be rather popular, with the 4.1.4 update racking up at least 1.6 million downloads. [...] While AOO and the ASF formulate a formal statement of direction for the project, Jagielski said more or less that all's well. "AOO is not, and isn't designed to be, the 'super coolest open source office suite with all the latest bells and whistles,'" Jagielski continued. "Our research shows that a 'basic,' functional office suite, which is streamlined with a 'simple' and uncluttered, uncomplicated UI, serves an incredible under-represented community. "Other office suites are focusing on the 'power user' which is a valuable market, for sure, but the real power and range for an open-source office suite alternative is the vast majority which is the 'rest of us. Sometimes we all forget how empowering open source is to the entire world."
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Apache OpenOffice: We're OK With Not Being Super Cool

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The whole point of OO is that it lets you load a MS Word document. Once loaded, you can get the text onto the clipboard and paste it into a text editor. And then, you finally have a fuckton of ridiculously powerful tools to do whatever it is that you need to do. OpenOffice, LibreOffice, MS Office, none of them can even get into the ballpark. But once you get the text freed from the weird file format, the sky is the limit.
    • Is OpenOffice now completely free from Oracle? I recall that was the main reason most OpenOffice developers had fled to LibreOffice.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        after the main devs bailed on the project and forked it, oracle soon after donated the code and name to apache foundation. had those wusses waited just a few months, we'd all be using the combined efforts of those devs + apache instead of having 'yet another fork'. ibm also donated code to apache.

        apache then stripped out all code not compatible with apache license, rewriting what needed to be.. and it is now, and has been for quite some time, completely free and clear of oracle. it is also completely free o

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah and remove all the nuts and bolts, and sell all cars in a bucket of parts and let the users do whatever they want with it. The sky is the limit ! lols..

    • >>>
      The whole point of OO is that it lets you load a MS Word document. Once loaded, you can get the text onto the clipboard and paste it into a text editor.
      >>>

      Nobody will hinder you to save a document from MS Word or OO or LibreOffice as text file.

    • Do you care to tell us what these powerful alternatives are? I need to create documents for business purposes on occasion - nothing too complex, but things like page layout and being able to export to a common file format are critical. OO has worked acceptably for that but if there is something better...
  • In related news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @03:52PM (#55508771)

    I'm also totally OK with not being a billionaire and dating supermodels.

    This gives the impression that AOO is all about being small, simple, and stable, but it appears they're having a tough time even getting critical bugfixes deployed.

    One of the strengths of open source is the diversity of choice. But that diversity can also be considered a weakness when it spreads valuable developers too thin, to the detriment of the entire community.

    • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @04:47PM (#55509221)

      dating supermodels

      Too tall, no tits... why have I always gotten the impression that the fashion industry is dominated by people who aren't attracted to women?

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Well, if you're talking about a project that doesn't have enough developers, sure. But I'm quite certain that once you reach a certain size it actually is better to have two competing projects than one larger project with twice the people to manage.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @03:52PM (#55508773)
    ... make it not suck.

    But that also means a significant number of people – 77,000-plus, according to SourceForge stats – have downloaded the macOS version which contains a significant bug: if Apache OpenOffice is used to create a diagram in a Calc spreadsheet, the file becomes corrupted when saved.
    • by Chaset ( 552418 )

      I initially stayed with OpenOffice, mainly due to inertia, and also to wait and see how it all turns out.

      Unfortunately, at the time, OpenOffice didn't support the new MS formats (.xlsx, .docx, etc.) and so I had to export them back in the old formats to be able to open them in Openoffice (.xls, .doc). LibreOffice was able to open them, so I switched over. There was also an annoying display bug in the Base module (MacOS version) where scrolling will result in a screenful of the same record.

      As you say, I'll

  • LibreOffice or go home.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I thought their main competitor was LibreOffice, which is also open source. Are they in denial?

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @03:53PM (#55508783) Journal

    I will let the other guy know too about the article

  • by Galaga88 ( 148206 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @03:55PM (#55508803)

    Our research shows that a 'basic,' functional office suite, which is streamlined with a 'simple' and uncluttered, uncomplicated UI, serves an incredible under-represented community.

    Sounds like you should make one of those then.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...but that does not necessarily make it so. Everyone loves the idea of open source (including me) but the reality is that there is an awful lot of really bad projects out there. Without the cash incentive that comes with paid-for software, a lot of open source contributors don't want to do the hard stuff. There is plenty of 'grunt work' that goes into building a really good piece of software (documentation, fixing bugs, well designed interface, etc.) that no one seems to want to do right. If a particular p
  • Google docs is pretty bare bones too. But the online collaboration is a pretty big deal.

    • Re:Google Docs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @04:05PM (#55508897) Homepage

      The big draw to Google Docs for me is the availability no matter where I am. I wrote my first novel (and am writing my second) in Google Docs. No matter where I am, I can bring the document up on my phone and bang out a few hundred words. When the novel's done, I'll export it into LibreOffice for more intensive editing and publishing preparations, but the on the fly editing capabilities are invaluable.

      • Could someone at Google steal your book, or ideas from your book?
        • Probably it can be. The larger an unmanageable database of other's stuff the more likely it is your data is not findable for anything other than specific targeted and searchable attacks.
          Would I put ideas on Google docs? Absolutely.
          Would I put bank numbers and credit card info? Hell no.

      • by Trogre ( 513942 )

        Which works fine until the day the discontinue the free service without notice.

      • Google agrees: no matter where you are, you've needlessly chosen to trust a spy agency with your work instead of carrying a USB key with strongly-encrypted copies of your documents with you, or setting up a server carrying strongly-encrypted copies of your documents with proper access controls (so even if someone breaks in, they get an encrypted file). I suggest switching to something that makes it a little more difficult to get to your data.

  • The UI is so 2003. Not doin' it. They need to port this cross-platform with Xamarin and get it a modern desktop and mobile interface. I'll just keep my monthly subscription office for now.

    • Re:Eww (Score:5, Insightful)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @04:11PM (#55508949) Journal

      The UI is so 2003. Not doin' it.

      As in, it works and is clear and discoverable?

      I am of course being sarcastic, and while I'm not claiming that 2003 was the pinnacle of UI design, I do think a large number of heard learned lessons from the 80s and 90s have been forgotten and/or thrown under the bus in the name of newness.

      • Re:Eww (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @08:18PM (#55510915) Homepage Journal

        When I was a kid my mom use to put this disinfectant on cuts that stung like crazy. Years later I learned that the actual active ingredient didn't sting at all, but the manufacturer added alcohol for the sole purpose of making the stuff hurt: without the sting, people doubted whether the disinfectant was actually doing anything.

        There really haven't been any compelling reasons to update Office's UI in the last twenty years. Security fixes? Sure. Updates to help Microsoft pitch whatever products they were using the leverage of the Office monopoly to promote? Yep -- although people would be hacked off about paying for either of those things, even though security is a legitimate need.

        So Microsoft added the sting of having to regularly re-learn one of your most used tools, so you know you're getting something new for the upgrade money you send them every few years.

        • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @11:03PM (#55511501)

          Every time I open something from the file browser in MS Office, I marvel at the sheer number of clicks it now takes to do what used to be a single menu choice. We're 10 years in and I still hate the ribbon.

        • I'm not sure if you count it as a UI improvement, but the addition of SmartArt to PowerPoint is a huge improvement and is (I think) only about 10 years old. For anyone who hasn't seen this, it maps from an outline view to one of a few dozen pre-defined diagram types. It's a very quick way of turning a slide of text into a slide in a graphical representation.
      • The UI is so 2003. Not doin' it.

        As in, it works and is clear and discoverable?

        I am of course being sarcastic, and while I'm not claiming that 2003 was the pinnacle of UI design, I do think a large number of heard learned lessons from the 80s and 90s have been forgotten and/or thrown under the bus in the name of newness.

        You mean like going through catogories of categories of menus on Word 2003. I hated that back then.

        What the ribbons can do is preview changes without selecting them. Word is my least favorite Microsoft product of the Office suite. Its formatting bugs are notorious. One of the things i like to do is move the mouse cursor over a style or paste to preview what it looks like. If it fucks it up I move the mouse over to paste (text only) etc.

        Also R&D is on Microsoft's side on this one with 85% of new feature

        • by Megane ( 129182 )

          Also R&D is on Microsoft's side on this one with 85% of new feature requests were from features already there. After moving to the ribbon it went down to closer to 20%. It was a success.

          So in other words, you think it's better because it panders to people who can't find their own ass because they were sitting on it? I'll stick with something that doesn't eat up 20% of my vertical screen space on a wide-screen laptop display.

          • Also R&D is on Microsoft's side on this one with 85% of new feature requests were from features already there. After moving to the ribbon it went down to closer to 20%. It was a success.

            So in other words, you think it's better because it panders to people who can't find their own ass because they were sitting on it? I'll stick with something that doesn't eat up 20% of my vertical screen space on a wide-screen laptop display.

            Yep. The ribbon is a superior UI component for the majority of people and for myself. You can auto hide the ribbon too in Office 2016 if you are concerned with space. 20% screen real estate is excessive.

            But the reason I don't use Libraoffice is because it lacks the ribbon and it still is missing some functionality.

            If you learn it and open your mind you may find it is better than the other method with a nightmare of nested menus and doing undo/redo since it lacks previews.

    • Miss the Ribbon huh?

  • VBA support? No? Didn't think so.

    How are these multinational insurance companies supposed to build their risk models?

    • It's not called VBA, but yes, both OpenOffice and LibreOffice have supported a VBA compatible scripting environment for decades, as LibreOffice Basic or OpenOffice Basic. They also support Java ("BeanShell"), Javascript, and Python.

    • Re:Magical VBA? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by turp182 ( 1020263 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @05:30PM (#55509651) Journal

      The actuaries aren't so good at code, other than mostly recorded macros. They are good at creating horrifying Excel formulas, think something longer than 1K characters.

      And this is mostly for data production/preparation for loads and such. There are good (meaning expensive) modeling products for both Life and Property lines, which they use (job on the line type of stuff).

      Anyway, I was a life actuary for a bit back in the day. Excel is a favorite tool, and it is abused like nothing else.

      Excel 2010 was the pinnacle of Excel, before the ribbon and all of the keyboard shortcuts disappearing. Nothing of value has been added since then except for advanced pivot stuff.

      • The actuaries aren't so good at code, other than mostly recorded macros. They are good at creating horrifying Excel formulas, think something longer than 1K characters.

        And this is mostly for data production/preparation for loads and such. There are good (meaning expensive) modeling products for both Life and Property lines, which they use (job on the line type of stuff).

        Anyway, I was a life actuary for a bit back in the day. Excel is a favorite tool, and it is abused like nothing else.

        Excel 2010 was the pinnacle of Excel, before the ribbon and all of the keyboard shortcuts disappearing. Nothing of value has been added since then except for advanced pivot stuff.

        I just hit the alt key in 2016 and I see the shortcuts just fine. Wait did you mean the old shortcut method? The one where you had to go through a catagory of menus? The new one is better as you hit the alt and it previews what the next letters and numbers are for each ribbon object.

        Also VBA is depcriated for VSTO. I never used it yet, but it is powerful and I believe is .NET based.

        • Dear Mr Gates,

          Thanks for the info, will try regarding shortcuts, and yes, I used to traverse the menus via muscle memory.

          And regarding a .Net solution to replace VBA, oh god, I can't help but fear helping an actuary with VB.Net or C# coding!!!

          Office 2016 still supports VBA, I don't think they can fully deprecate it, hasn't been updated for a while that I know of.

          Anyway, best user name ever for the response.

          turp

  • This guy... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...is completely delusional.

    Apparently having a safe and functional office suite is for power users, while using a bug ridden obsolete builds of what was years ago basically the same thing is for normal users? WTF is he smoking?

    Apache is doing a tremendous disservice to all OpenOffice users, who are still unaware of the actual status of the project, and in this case, to open source community as a whole.

    This is really sad to watch and has been for a long time now.

  • by martiniturbide ( 1203660 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @04:22PM (#55509039) Homepage Journal
    "We're OK With Not Being Super Cool", "We are OK in our niche", "We are OK by only having the smart customers"... this is how fading away starts. OpenOffice is going down the road and they can not feel it while they are on their "1.6 million downloads" comfort zone. This is exactly is happening the Thunderbird, while they are happy with their monthly download rate they don't want to see what others are doing. This is how the begining of the end of the road feels.
    • The term "deathwatch" doesn't inspire confidence either.
    • Please tell us: What free / open source cross-platform mail client has recently overtaken Thunderbird in terms of feature-completeness and usability?

      (I do of course know some, like mutt or Evolution, but did not notice any significant shift in their respective differences.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I heard the same kind of things said by Radio Shack. It took a while, but try finding one now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This project team is completely irresponsible. They have unpatched bugs and haven't had a major feature addition in the past 4 years. They make Open Source software look bad. Yet they still tout the Black Knight line about their dying project. Tis but a scratch..

  • And while Oracle may have meanwhile passed the corpse on to somebody else, it still has Oracle's foul stench of pure corporate evil on it. I don't think anyone who worked with or on LibreOffice wants to smell that stench ever again.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "... it still has Oracle's foul stench of pure corporate evil on it."

      Don't you hate it when people are overly positive about Oracle?
  • I tried to switch to Libreoffice but then I discovered a that paragraph borders look terrible. Filed a bug and they responded with some jargon about not being their fault but rather "Cairo" is the one to blame, and they set it to FIXED. Whatever. Still their text borders look like a joke and anyone can test my claims, just type some text, select it, create a thick border around it and look how it appears awful and prints with jaggies on the edges.

    AOO works for me. I've been using Writer and Calc for many

  • Superfluous comma after "Claburn".

  • I wanted to use LibreOffice, but couldn't. Having already lots of Excel spreasheets filled with information and formulas, I needed something compatible. Opening the .xls files with LO (Libre Office) would break the formulas because there's a function incompatibility (Indirect's syntax), where OpenOffice would open them just fine.
    Actually the incompatibility is this one:
    https://superuser.com/question... [superuser.com]

    Why would they do that?? Can't understand. Even if there were a simple solution, I already have lots of mac

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Tools > Options - LibreOffice Calc > Formula, change Formula syntax from "Calc A1" to "Excel A1"

    • I don't know why LibreOffice defaults to using a different syntax than Excel. I'd have to go through all the development history to find out and I've got better things to do with my time. An AU in this thread noted that you can change your settings to use Excel syntax. I don't know why that post was modded down.

      There are also two solutions to provided in your link. Change the exclamation mark to a period or import (rather than directly open) the excel file and save as ODS.

      • I don't know why that post was modded down.

        Anonymous Coward gets a default nerf when posting.

        I don't know why LibreOffice defaults to using a different syntax than Excel.

        Historical reasons that also got rolled into ODF's ISO spec. Both dot and exclamation mark are acceptable now, but historically that wasn't true. Additionally, if you have older files certified ISO 26300-1:2015 you'll need to stick to the dot notation in your client as the file most likely is riddled with dot notation. Standards are funny things that cause programmers to contort themselves in odd ways.

        There are also two solutions to provided in your link

        Yeah but I get why guy wants it the way that they are

    • function incompatibility (Indirect's syntax), where OpenOffice would open them just fine.

      Yeah that's actually an option in LO. You just hit Alt+F12, then under the LibreOffice Calc item, hit the Formula option. In that dialog change the "Formula syntax" from "Calc A1" to "Excel A1". Ta-da now all your formulas work.

  • by plazman30 ( 531348 ) on Tuesday November 07, 2017 @08:44PM (#55511009) Homepage
    Seems like a huge waste of development effort to maintain both projects. TBH, the only thing that The Document Foundation needs from AOO is the name. OpenOffice is a much better name than LibreOffice. It's also more well known.
    • When LibreOffice forked from OpenOffice the latter was not being well maintained. Important bugs had been left unfixed for years, it was locked to Java and there wasn't much development happening. Since then the LO team has done a tremendous amount of work improving the underlying code. The result is a faster and more stable office platform.

      OpenOffice burnt it's brand through neglect. Now LibreOffice is better known and it's earning a good reputation. However odd the name might be that fades away when peopl

  • This reminds me of the articles in Windows Central about his Windows Phone was not competing with Android and the iPhones—and thus not failing tremendously—because it was a completely different product to a smart phone. How long until AOO is dead? Everybody I know has moved to Libre Office years ago.
  • I used to use it briefly in my very old, updated Windows XP Pro SP3 desktop PC since LibreOffice refused to work. :(

  • At work - Office all the way, and I am glad for it. Yes, it's annoying, and the integration with the cloud/OneDrive can be maddening! OneDrive has a hiccup synching, and all of my open Excel documents freeze and never come back. There's a reason that it creates recovery files, because it crashes a lot.

    I don't care about Word, I basically use it to convert things to PDF. I use Excel and Powerpoint a lot, Visio on occasion. For the home user, LibreOffice for sure, but if you want to do anything significa

    • Go to file -> account -> Update Options -> Update and then restart your PC. This will upgrade both Office as well as OneDrive for business.

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