Boost to revitalise OpenOffice

IBM gets Symphony OpenOffice contribution underway

Little than a week on from Apache OpenOffice getting a reboot, following a period in which they irked many and lost many to LibreOffice, IBM have put their weight behind the Apache vehicle through the submission of office automation suite IBM Lotus Symphony.

It's a welcome boost for the ailing giant looking to regain ground with the Apache Foundation's first version OpenOffice 3.4, with the addition of Lotus Symphony, which was originally based on a combination of the Eclipse Rich Client Platform and OpenOffice.org code. Due to the Java wrapper being based on Eclipse, this doesn't form part of the submission, due to clashing with a rival open source foundation.

Donald Harbison detailed in an email that he had submitted the IBM Software Grant Agreement and Corporate Contributor License Agreement for the IBM Lotus Symphony contribution, having originally suggested doing this in January 2011. He also noted that 'the successful delivery of Apache OpenOffice 3.4 has now made it possible to move forward' with this submission and went on in further email to elaborate:

This is about envisioning a future for Apache OpenOffice that builds on the best code we can offer together with the best developers who have mastered it. This is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. It's something we've looked forward to doing for a very long time. 

We invite you to think about this code as providing a rich set of features with the potential to significantly improve user productivity, performance and stability of Apache OpenOffice. Additionally, there is excellent work in Microsoft Office file format support, globalization, and last but not least, accessibility support.

We hope everyone is as excited about this contribution as we are. IBM will continue to maintain and support Symphony for our customers until we are able to offer Apache OpenOffice with what we hope will be most of the value we are contributing today. How we get to this goal will depend on all of usworking together here. We have our ideas, but recognize that we are all equal in the project and are dedicated to working in the Apache Way.

A Wiki page, detailing all the possible features that can come out of Symphony has been created for contributions. Some features mooted include UI design upgrades, new sidebars, templates and Visual Basic APIs. IBM intend to continue their Symphony product until these proposed features are fully implemented within a future Apache OpenOffice. What happens after this is as of yet unknown.

Chris Mayer

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