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Native KOffice for Mac OS X 335

Posted by michael
from the microsoft-office-not-good-enough-for-you dept.
bsharitt writes "A preliminary version of KOffice has been built natively on Mac OS X. It looks like a lot of the hard part is over, and now a lot of cleaning up and bug fixes stand between Mac OS X and a free full featured office suite." There's also a story on the dot.
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Native KOffice for Mac OS X

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  • by Clorox Bleach (737370) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:04PM (#7863865)
    KOffice comprises the customary litany of applications: KWord, a word processor, KSpread, a spreadsheet, KPresenter, for making presentations, KChart, for converting data into pictures, KIllustrator, for making vector graphics, and KOShell, which provides a unified workspace for all the applications, ala StarOffice (though unlike StarOffice before version 6.0, KOShell is optional--the applications can run without it). These are the applications that by default consensus are thought to be required by businesses. Whether these, beyond word processor and spreadsheet, actually are what businesses typically need is probably debatable, but they seem to be the applications necessary to achieve the official stamp of approval of the Office Suite Advisory Council or whoever it is who decides these things.

    It is in this respect that in its initial versions KOffice seemed to me to be a little bit unfocused, (and maybe a little unsuited for OS X in that regard). Yes, there are applications that fall into all of the Official Office Suite categories, except for a database application, which, fortunately, is under development (I'd bet money that more companies use databases than make charts and presentations or, for that matter, draw pictures). Vector graphics are great for computer artists and hobbyists, but they're scarcely essential to business.

    I am not a spreadsheet expert by any means. I rarely use them and never use their advanced features. In discussion with people who do use spreadsheets a lot and who have taken KSpread for a spin, I've gotten the impression that it's a very nice little application that does not match the features of Excel, or 1-2-3, or late versions of Quattro Pro, or even the spreadsheets in StarOffice or Applix. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in my view, because such applications have suffered from such feature bloat that their original intent often seems lost.

    But I do use word processors, a lot. I've written these columns in KWord for months now, and KWord has steadily gotten better. I haven't explored all its features by any means. But I have used many word processors on many platforms, and not just Macintosh.

    It has a couple of attributes that annoy the hell out of me. First, its import-export filters are all but useless. (When I finish this comment, as I comprise them before posting in alternate applications, I'll save it as a text file, then open StarOffice to format it before saving it there as HTML. When opening the text file, I'll have to go through it and replace the pound signs it uses to denote tabs with actual tabs.) Second is an ease of use problem that is inexcusable.

    It is now standard pretty much everywhere: when one is editing a document, if one highlights a word or section and then begins typing, the new typing replaces the highlighted text. This is true largely throughout KDE2 as well, in such applications as KMail and Konqueror. Not so in KWord. Highlight some text, start typing, and you're typing next to the highlighted text. This is inconsistent with every modern word processor--and for no good reason.

    Likewise, it would be nice to be able to actually configure the thing and save the configurations from session to session. Here, at 1280x1024, I need the magnification set to 200 percent. Not sometimes but all the time. I use a U.S. Letter layout, not sometimes, but all the time. Yet there is no way of making these the defaults--indeed, the only things one may semi-permanently set is whether or not a couple of toolbars appear.

    I simply cannot imagine any business that has a choice electing to use KWord at this point in its development.

    So, really, who is KOffice's target audience? Is it Mac users?

    Sometimes this can be determined by playing around with an application for awhile, but this doesn't work with KOffice: It's not especially easy to use, but it's also not so feature rich that it can be said there are rewards in store for those who master it. It's plenty stable, so it can't be thought of as a beta. No, the impression is that it is a competently executed thing that nobody devoted much time to designing. But that doesn't mean it's bad.
  • Re:OpenOffice.org (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hanji (626246) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:08PM (#7863891)
    Yes, OOo is a `` free full-featured office suite that runs on Mac OS X''. However, the important difference is that this port of KOffice runs natively on OS X - it does not require you to be running an X11 server.

    For some people, that may not be a big deal, but most of us on OS X hate to have to use X11, and would *much* rather use native apps if we can at all avoid X11. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's an inconvenience and doesn't blend in well with the rest of the environment.
  • Wow! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by K8Fan (37875) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:08PM (#7863894) Journal

    This is going to potentially have more impact on the popularity of Open Source software than anything to date. Office X on OS X has some really annoying "features" like the finking on it's self through a LAN. If this is solid and "Mac-like" it could prove to be a very popular alternative for Mac users who want to be free of Redmond.

  • by MrEd (60684) <tonedog@hailmail. n e t> on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:10PM (#7863906)
    It looks like a lot of the hard part is over, and now a lot of cleaning up and bug fixes stand between Mac OS X and a free full featured office suite.


    Unfortunately, in almost all Open Source projects the 'hard' and 'easy' parts are reversed...


    The challenge and glory is done, now all that's left is methodical, monotonous bug chasing. Who's up? :)

  • by ahbe (621886) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:14PM (#7863930) Homepage
    Ok, you do have a point there. Most people who buy a Mac could afford MS Office. But here's my question, do you want to use MS Office? And this is my point. I us a Mac (I'm on my 12" PB right now) because I DO NOT want anything from Microsoft! I personally intend to give what I can (I'm poor after all) to help support the KOffice team. I really appreciate the hard work they guys and gals have done to make this happen. In the Mac world a native non MS full featured office suite is huge.
  • Re:I'm ignorant... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:19PM (#7863961)
    If you had ever used OpenOffice, you would understand why people are still seeking alternatives to it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:21PM (#7863974)
    "now all that's left is methodical, monotonous bug chasing. Who's up?"

    Apple? Like they did with khtml.
  • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:23PM (#7863985) Journal
    Given the price of a Mac, is *free* that big of a deal? Open source I understand, but it doesn't seem that anyone who can afford a Mac can't afford an office suite.

    Consider the example of lack of Hebrew support [theregister.co.uk] in Microsoft Office for Mac. There is no technical reason for it; the Unicode-based MacOS X is ready to support Hebrew out-of-the-box. It's just a political decision of the vendor [microsoft.com] of this particular office suite trying to force Israeli Mac users to abandon their platform of choice. I think this example is enough for you to understand why *free* (as in speech) office suite is a big deal indeed, after all.
  • by RobertArnold (737412) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:24PM (#7863988)
    One missing thing is standardization accross OSS. When koffice supports oo files, then we might see increased usage. Also, i personally can't think of a use offhand that these software suites can't already do. Once they become standardized, then more people will actually try to bundle them with computers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:26PM (#7864006)
    Man, is that ever an uniformed post. How does being able to afford a Mac equate to being able to afford Microsoft Office too? After paying $2600 for a Powerbook, the last thing I need is to pay another $400 for software I rarely use. Just to make it perfectly clear to you, the idea of people who buy Macs being rich is a STEREOTYPE. I'm not rich, but I did get a Mac, because it is a very worthwhile expense. Every aspect of it is well designed, from the hardware to the software. Based on what I've heard from people using sub-500 MHz Macs, and from what I've seen with Panther, I fully expect this system to only improve over time. I bought a Mac because I want a high quality computer, not because I had pocket change to burn.

    I expect I'll use a word processor on my personal system four or five times a year. Therefore, spending $230 on Word would be a complete waste. I welcome a free word processor.
  • Re:Opportunity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nermal6693 (622898) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:34PM (#7864046)
    Apple has to be careful though, they don't want MS to stop development of Office. Look what happened after Safari was released - MS announced that they were halting development of IE for Mac.
  • Re:OpenOffice.org (Score:3, Insightful)

    by j-pimp (177072) <zippy1981@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:46PM (#7864134) Homepage Journal
    One of my favorite aspects of Open source is this just because it can be done interoptability. Alot of people like KDE and also like OSX. Now they can have both. Some people like their bash prompt, but want win32 functionality. They have cygwin. Like playing diablo II but Run SuSE, WineX. While sometimes this type of thing is just a pointless academic exercise like running wine in cygwin, sometimes it gives us a genuine increase in choice liek this.
  • Re:OpenOffice.org (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jafac (1449) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:49PM (#7864150) Homepage
    "Why not just concentrate on making OpenOffice better and better?"

    Because we're all much better off when three or four teams of talented programmers compete with eachother to make ALL of their solutions better and better.

    With your logic, one could just as easily say; "Microsoft Office is the best! I use it in my office every day to produce tons of heavily formatted documentss. It saved me. I'm never going back to Open Office. KOffice was not as useful as Microsoft Office when I tried to switch before. Why not just concentrate on making Microsoft Office better and better?"

    see?
  • Twirl this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fm6 (162816) on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:57PM (#7864206) Homepage Journal
    If MS loses the Mac marketplace, they lose a tiny percentage of their cash flow. I often wonder why they even bother. Makes them look less monopolistic?

    If the Mac platform loses MS Office, they lose any chance of selling systems where reliable interoperability is an issue. By which I mean, where people need to be able open and edit Office files natively, without getting the formatting all munged up by import/export filters. This means no more workplace Macs (except maybe the art department) and no Macs purchased by people who need to take their work home. The pundits says this would probably mean the end of the Mac, and I don't see any flaw in their logic.

    And yeah, you'll have reliable interoperability when all those PCs get Windows and Office overwritten by Linux, KDE, and KOffice. Which would be a nice change but one I'm not holding my breath for.

  • Re:I'm ignorant... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrog AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 02, 2004 @07:58PM (#7864215) Homepage Journal
    There certainly is a version of Open Office for OS X -- but, damn, it's huge. I have an older iBook with a small HD, and would prefer a more compact office suite to Open Office for that machine.

    As other posters have pointed out, Open Office requires a running X server. I like the idea of a native Koffice. Would probably be a better alternative than Appleworks, which is what I currently use on OS X.

    I think Koffice is under-appreciated. Though I prefer the power of Open Office on Linux machines with sufficient resources, Koffice is faster and looks good. It's also more intuitive. Hooray for more choices.

  • Re:Twirl this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tumbleweed (3706) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:20PM (#7864375)
    > This means no more workplace Macs (except maybe the art department) and no Macs purchased by people who need to take their work home.

    Yes, such a huge percentage of Mac sales, I'm sure. Also, 'MS Office' file formats don't always necessitate .doc - you can use .rtf just fine with most things, and the importer/exporter features of many MS Office competitors work just fine for the vast majority of files.

    I say that Apple should learn their lesson from IBM and OS/2 - don't go for a 'compatible' solution - go for an ALTERNATIVE solution. Ditch MS and go your own way! OS/2's biggest problem was trying to work WITH Windows, and it killed them. Noone wanted to make OS/2-native software when OS/2 could run Windows software. Why have crappy MS software for the Mac when it doesn't gain them any noticable marketshare?
  • Re:Twirl this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by madmancarman (100642) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:39PM (#7864477)
    Why have crappy MS software for the Mac when it doesn't gain them any noticable marketshare?

    Because, as the parent pointed out, NOT having crappy MS software will LOSE them noticeable marketshare. That's one of the evils of an illegal monopoly in the software industry.

    Before Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Netscape was the default web browser for Mac OS installations. In the findings against Microsoft in their antitrust case [yahoo.com], it's mentioned that Bill Gates threatened then-CEO Gil Amelio with cancelling MS Office for Macintosh:

    349. A few days after the exchange with Waldman, Gates informed those Microsoft executives most closely involved in the negotiations with Apple that the discussions "have not been going well at all." One of the several reasons for this, Gates wrote, was that "Apple let us down on the browser by making Netscape the standard install." Gates then reported that he had already called Apple's CEO (who at the time was Gil Amelio) to ask "how we should announce the cancellation of Mac Office . . . ."

    So, until there's office software out there that's used at anywhere near the frequency MS Office is used, Apple can't afford to dabble seriously in the office suite market for fear of losing their PC compatibility. After all, Microsoft cancelled Internet Explorer for Macintosh before Safari was even at 1.0. I'm surprised they haven't blown up over Keynote. The only thing that's saving Apple at this point is that Appleworks (aka Clarisworks) still sucks.

  • by droleary (47999) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:51PM (#7864545) Homepage

    . . . the hard part is over . . .

    Not by a long shot. It's hard to say this without sounding like a troll, but what most open source developers just don't get is that the hard part isn't the coding, but putting on the polish so that the app is useful to someone else. Looking at the screenshot, I can pretty much tell you that no Mac user is going to be comfortable using what clearly is not a well-designed Mac app. The fake widgets are out of place. The nested tab views (or two rows of tabs, depending on how you see it) is a terrible interface error straight out of Windows. I imagine trying to use this thing would show it to be even more clunky than the X11 version, where a user would more understand what they're getting into.

    Apple gave a very public lesson on the proper way to port OSS when they did Safari. This port clearly took nothing from that lesson. I don't really want to come down on the developers who got it working, because I know the kinds of efforts involved, but I have to say that if anyone thinks this will be of real help to the average Mac user, they are very much mistaken.

  • Re:looks nice... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by baryon351 (626717) on Friday January 02, 2004 @09:32PM (#7864712)
    They very may well do, in time. I suppose the question to ask back would be "why would you edit ANY icons if you're just trying to get an app working". That's the state KOffice is in for now, it's like a kid who showed up at a party without getting changed from his school uniform, and yeah, we're all laughing, but the hard work's done and he's travelled there - he has some neat threads upstairs and just needs to have a shower & change and he'll be mingling with the crowd like everyone else.

    That being said, after seeing a few other ported apps between linux, windows, and OSX (in whichever direction) it wouldn't surprise me one bit if nobody with the ability to do so actually fixes those icons :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2004 @11:06PM (#7865137)
    They took KHTML. It's not possible for them to remove the 'O', that's what the whole licence debates are all about. So they didn't 'kind of' drop the O. They O'd what was already O.

    but the interface they built around the engine is entirely non-open.

    I like O software, but to be honest I'm GLAD that the interface to KHTML (ie. Safari) isn't open. Let's face it. Open source software just ain't that grand. Could you really have seen or imagined Apple released an open-source browser? Why? What for? That's kinda silly and unnecessary.

    So, a proprietary skin on an open core. Kind of like OSX itself for that matter.

    Yes. And it works BRILLIANTLY!

    perfecting the standard *nix/X11 desktop

    There'll ever be one?
  • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768 AT comcast DOT net> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @12:19AM (#7865382) Journal
    thats cause unless its the 12 inch model which doesnt have it, the backlite keyboard is standard.

    and available software is NOT an issue unless you use AutoCAD, cause just about every other package out there, there is a version for the mac, unless its a very propitary. that plus TONS of unix software kills that argument. Of and did I mention VPC5 whihc works great for your few windows programs. My girlfriends dad even runs OS 2 warp software on his mac with no problems.

    and I wont go into the nature of prossesors cause to this day PC users cant get it into their heads that prossesor speeds mean absolutly NOTHING if your computer cant give it info fast enough.

    I could go on but as someone who works in a IT enviroment and repairs computers and intigrates them into networks for a living, i would chose a Mac over a PC ANY DAY on our network.

    and given the fact that we have 800 macs and only 200 PC's on our network because maintaining them is cheaper (our mac budget is 5,000 our PC budget 15,000 and this is including computer purchasing since our PC side has to replace its Dells almost every year because they had catostrophic failures due to continuous use)

    Trust me Macs might cost more on the onset but you look in any major IT industry newspaper and they all say that in the long run you spend more maintaining a PC.

  • Re:OpenOffice.org (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @01:03AM (#7865508) Homepage Journal
    OO is the sole open source application that currently stands up to the proprietary competition. It would be great if it could be improved further.

    Fine, go improve it. Improve it to your heart's content. Be happy, be free.

    But don't tell others they can't go improve other open source office tools.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:50AM (#7865874)
    This thing called copyright sure is a pain though.
  • by xcham (200708) * on Saturday January 03, 2004 @05:49AM (#7866301)
    Just a thought - you might try e-mailing those in charge of the port and asking them? ;)
  • by dustpuppy_de (322556) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @07:05AM (#7866417) Homepage
    I doubt this will happen. Mac OS, formerly System 7, goes back to the days of the Lisa... that is a lot of code that Apple has tried and invested in, why would they throw it out? I expect a major updating of the Mac OS, splitting it to 2(Client / Server) OSes that all use a similar GUI.

    I just don't see Jobs throwing out Mac OS, and moving to NextStep (or BeOS, which is just as possible an alternative). It wouldn't make a lot of sense.
  • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @07:30AM (#7866449) Journal
    If Apple charged the same price as Windows XP Professional (~$250+). I'm sure many people would be happy to choose the Apple OS over Microsoft and Apple would be making a pretty good margin.

    It wouldn't. Befere 1997 Apple had authorized clones and the clonemakers paid flat rate of $50 for each Mac-compatible machine sold. It was a bad deal for Apple. It's always better to have a $500 margin selling a single PowerMac (and their margin on G5's is obviously much higher) rather than sell 5 copies of OEM MacOS for $50. They traded their market share (that plummeted) for profitability (that rocketed), but that's a wise choice - commericial companies go for profit, not for market share.
  • by polyp2000 (444682) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @10:15AM (#7866798) Homepage Journal
    This is a great thing for sure, but I have to question the Nativeness of Native here. For one thing I would have least expected it to use the native OSX widget set instead of a themed QT... and does it run without the need to have an X server running atop of aqua?

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