Has OpenOffice arrived too late

Apache OpenOffice 3.4 arrives – first appearance under Apache Foundation

Chris Mayer
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The original open source office suite gets a new lick of paint with its first release under Apache, but has OpenOffice missed the boat with LibreOffice assuming top dog status

The first release of OpenOffice under Apache Software Foundation
governance has arrived. Apache OpenOffice 3.4 brings with it
numerous enhancements to the world’s most popular professional and
consumer office productivity suite.

The release notes detail the entire raft of changes to the open
source phenomenon part written in Java. Aside from the obligatory
performance enhancements to the comprehensive suite, there’s most
notably revised ODF 1.2 encryption support, an extended PivotTable
and new options for CSV export.

ASF President Jim Jagielski, who also acts as an Apache
OpenOffice project mentor spoke of how important the transfer in
2011 over to Apache was for the foundation:

With the donation of OpenOffice.org to the ASF, the Foundation,
and especially the podling project, was given a daunting task:
re-energize a community and transform OpenOffice from a codebase of
unknown Intellectual Property heritage, to a vetted and Apache
Licensed software suite.

The release of Apache OpenOffice 3.4 shows just how successful
the project has been: pulling in developers from over 21 corporate
affiliations, while avoiding undue influence which is the
death-knell of true open source communities; building a solid and
stable codebase, with significant improvement and enhancements over
other variants; and, of course, creating a healthy, vibrant and
diverse user and developer community.

Apache OpenOffice has more than 100 million users worldwide in
home, corporate, government, research, and academic environments,
across 15 languages. Apache OpenOffice 3.4 is available for
download
 free of charge. Complementing this well is the
third party ecosystem around OpenOffice and Apache, bringing in
over 2300
templates
 and over 800
extensions
 to users.

“Initially released a decade ago, the first release of
OpenOffice 3.4 as an Apache project marks an important new chapter
in the life of a landmark project,” said Stephen O’Grady, Principal
Analyst with RedMonk. “Following months of effort, the open source
productivity suite is now licensed and built with the intent of
courting a large population of users, developers and ISVs
worldwide.”

OpenOffice is looking for a resurgence back to the top, after
falling on hard times following Oracle’s acquisition of Sun
Microsystems. It was then thrown aside, or donated to the Apache
Software Foundation, who have since been very
belligerent
towards a large number of people.

Due to the transition across to Apache, OpenOffice has undergone
a makeover somewhat to make it fully compatible with the libraries
deemed suitable with ASF licensing policy. This represented the
biggest challenge for the developer team to remove all offending
libraries, but via the Incubator PMC, this has been achieved.

The announcement also detailed future plans in this new era for
OpenOffice, with additional native languages, enhanced
accessibility and most intriguingly, features from the upcoming IBM
Lotus Symphony contribution. This merger with Lotus could push the
envelope further through the meeting of minds. Lotus Symphony’s
shell is of course based on the Eclipse Rich Client
Platform
 from IBM Lotus
Expeditor
.

What remains to be seen is whether this new iteration of
OpenOffice can compete with the newly-installed juggernaut,
LibreOffice. With IBM warmly welcoming OpenOffice’s return, it’s
not bad start to your comeback. But has OpenOffice missed the boat
after all the tussles? It might just have lost the lustre it once
had.

The Apache OpenOffice Project Management Committee invites
people to join. There are many different areas where contributions
are most welcome. Check out the Get
Involved
 page.

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