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Porting OpenOffice To OSX 189

jeffy124 writes "ZDnet has an interesting article on how OpenOffice, Sun's Open-Source version of StarOffice, needs some serious help in being ported to the Macintosh OS-X. With Microsoft about to release Office 2001 for OS-X and demo it at next week's MacWorld Expo, support in getting a Mac OS-X port out for OpenOffice is critical to keeping a Microsoft dominance of yet another operating system's office suite to a minimum. The project is need of someone to step up to the plate as a project lead."
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Porting OpenOffice To OSX

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    GTK already exists under OS X.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If I remember correctly, GTK has already been ported to OS X. Try http://www.macgimp.org
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Pardon my french, but I still prefer AppleWorks to OO, and AppleWorks is already available in an OSX-compatible form.

    Even Linus has admited that in such applications that the inner workings are fairly static and its the presentation and interface that matters, commercial software still has a leg up over open source. Word processors were a given example of such an application, iirc.

    Give it a rest. Help port OO to Linux/PPC first. (its more than just recompiling, people. Ask Kevin Hendricks. He's been doing most of the work.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Meanwhile, there is an internal kernel API, which is undocumented and should not be called directly"

    Then why do MS apps call these hidden API's all the time? Which, btw, ends up crashing my box quite frequently. I suppose they prefer instability for absolutely no reason at all. I'm sure there's no competitive advantage at all to using these APIs.

    And if you think the only hidden APIs are in the kernel then you must be very naive indeed. wake up dude. The key word to remember here is "UNDOCUMENTED", yeah sure you could locate the APIs with a DLL viewer but that doesn't really help you in terms of understanding how to use those APIs.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    the latest IE for OSX fixes this probem with stuffit i think. anyway you can tell it to open the right stuffit in preferences.

    OmniWeb is nice, but slow. and doesn't render the webpage i use most. which is a shame.

    The solution. [mozilla.org]
  • Unfortunately, both the Mozilla and StarOffice people decided long ago that it was easier to only wrap the basic Drawing API and write their own widget set than it was to use the native one. So while StarOffice/OpenOffice looks like windows widgets on windows (and linux), it's not windows widgets. Same would be true for an OSX port. Maybe if we're lucky, the core functionality of Open Office will be available in such a way to allow native UI programs based on them, much like galeon for mozilla.
  • But God help you if you tried to run Excel and Netscape 4.x at the same time on 8.6-9.1.

    That combo leaks memory like Niagra leaks water.

    Don Negro

  • Where did you hear that Ford was going to an OpenSource desktop? I worked there, and if anything, they were moving in the complete opposite direction. Of course, anything is possible, but I'd have to see a link to prove it.

    And they're most certainly not using old P166s where I worked. :)

  • The first 'commercial' word processor for NeXTstep was WordPerfect. Want to see what happens when you take the code for another platform, and mung it enough so that it kind-of works on an elegant system like NeXTstep? Then you want to see WordPerfect.

    I'd really hate to see that happen on MacOS X too...

  • I don't think *any* free software should be ported to Apple's user interface API (Cocoa?). It's worse (less free) than Qt. It seems to be missing much of the basic funtionality of X11, i.e. network tranceparency. If Apple wants to pay for free software to be ported to their proprietary interface, that's their business. Expecting the comunity to do it for them is unreasonable.

    I just don't see how it benifits free software to port to OSX. It might be useful to build a Cocoa wrapper for X11. That would enable code written for OSX to run on Real Linux/Unix.
  • Sorry. Should have said than Qt used to be. People cared about the fact that it wasn't free which is partly why we have a free Qt today. Nobody seems to care about the lack of freedom in porting to OSX.
  • Which is why Office XP is going to have a hard time making inroads in the market. Microsoft isn't going to let you install it without guaranteeing you paid for it, and no one is going to be interested in paying nearly $600 for an Office suite.

    Sure, there will be "cracks" for Office, but the majority of folks aren't interested in actively stealing Office. They won't go out of their way. They will simply stick with what they have got.

  • Hear hear! I have Mozilla branch nightlies set as my primary browser on OSX and about the only thing I use the IE 5.1 preview browser for anymore are sites that insist on sniffing for IE. The current Mozilla _NIGHTLY BUILDS_ crash less than IE 5.1 on OSX 10.0.4.
  • .rtfd is a bundled directory format (like .app and .kext, among others) IIRC, an .rtfd bundle contains an .rtf file along with any embedded graphics. Like the other types of bundles on OSX, users can manipulate (i.e. move, copy, rename, etc.) the bundles as discrete objects from the gui. Try cd'ing into a .rtfd directory from the shell... As to how open and/or documented it is, I don't know.
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @11:48AM (#87030) Homepage
    Please keep this to yourselves. MacOS does not need any programs with inconsistent interfaces that don't obey the user interface guidelines.
    Yeah, no kidding. Whoever is out there making software like QuickTime 4/5, Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Sherlock, iMovie, iTunes, and iDVD -- they're the type that's screwing up the Mac platform for everybody.
  • I think he was specifically refering to the OS X port, not the whole thing.
  • The FSF doesn't give you the right to pull back the copyright. They give you the right to use the code you donated under any license you want, given a month's notice. (They claim the month's notice is merely some sort of legal CYA thing.)
  • The main reason they need these people is to help establish themselves as THE "Ultimate Office Suite". Whether that will happen I do not know but it will be sure fun to find out
  • If this ends up being some stupid C++ hack I'm gonna puke! Repeat after me: Cocoa, Objective C...Cocoa, Objective C...
  • Isn't that gcc's job?

    Not really. It's not the C++ support that they're working on (that *is* the gcc team's job) it's C++/Objective C integration. This would give coders the ability to mix C++ and Objective C in the same file. I believe that a Objective C runtime merge is going to happen as well. And *that* would be cool.

  • I don't think *any* free software should be ported to Apple's user interface API (Cocoa?).

    Cocoa (the Object Oriented frameworks formerly known as OpenStep) is much more than UI. It's split into the Application Kit (a GUI framework) and the Foundation Kit (non graphical objects for common data and networking operations). It is an openly published standard and there is a GPL'd implementation called GNUstep [gnustep.org] that runs under various Unices (*BSD, Linux, Solaris...) and partially under Windows (someone needs to write a backend for the GUI stuff).

    It seems to be missing much of the basic funtionality of X11, i.e. network tranceparency.

    Cocoa has nothing to do with this--it's just an API. All display stuff (including network transparency) is handled by the Window Server. It was present in the good old days of OPENSTEP/Mach and was present for a while in MOSXS. Apple removed it...go complain to them to bring it back.

    If Apple wants to pay for free software to be ported to their proprietary interface, that's their business.

    Apple doesn't give a damn. Really, they don't care.

    I just don't see how it benifits free software to port to OSX.

    Do you oppose the use of GPL'd software in Windows? What about the poor users? Remember, the idea is to make great software available to others--regardless of their platform of choice.

    It might be useful to build a Cocoa wrapper for X11. That would enable code written for OSX to run on Real Linux/Unix.

    Again, try GNUstep. [gnustep.org] Better yet, go learn Objective C and help write some good Steppin' applications.

  • Does this mean that we can expect MSOffice on Linux soon?


    Maybe I'm missing something here but how is MSOffice going to be on OSX if it's based on BSD and Microsoft's apparently not developing Office tools for UNIX.

    As I've heard, it will be offered in both Carbon (legacy MacCrap [tm] API) and Cocoa (spiffy-keen NeXT OO API) versions. Of course, the Cocoa version might compile with some tweaking under GNUstep [gnustep.org]. But I'm not expecting MS to do something like that. Hell, we can't even get *OMNI [omnigroup.com]* to do it with OmniWeb.

  • Hey, the Abiword developers' hearts are in the right place, but the thing is still nothing more than a richtext notepad with rudimentary column support. Wake me up when it's caught up to a word processor from 10 years ago.

    KOffice is much farther along feature-wise, maybe because they have a real roadmap and they're people who don't have contempt for office suites. You get the feeling the Abiword people prefer TeX and Emacs and don't understand why anyone would want to use a word processor for something with a glossary, footnotes and embedded images.

    OpenOffice may be a slow, lumbering beast, but it's a full-featured slow, lumbering beast. Its only intractable weakness is the same one that dooms SmartSuite and Corel Office and the rest. It's not 100% compatible with MS Office. And it can't be. Endgame.
  • Yeah, good fucking luck. Maybe you didn't notice, but both Microsoft and the Open Sores kiddies make a browser for Macs. And IE kicks the living shit out of Netscape/Mozilla on that platform.

    Oh please, not by a long shot. Mozilla 0.9.2 on OS X might take a little longer to start up, but it's a MUCH better browsing experience than the IE 5.1 previews. IE might have useless auction managers and the like, but Mozilla bests it on features that actually matter, like image blocking. And on my 400 MHz G4, Mozilla outperforms IE by a wide margin. IE 5.1 has to be the slowest browser I've ever used.

    Zico doesn't know very much.
  • So does FSF and the GCC team. Lots of Free Software requires you to sign over the copyright.

    I don't think he was implying that this makes it non-free so much as he was saying that it's more trouble than it's worth. Even a bugfix can span more than 10 lines of code.
  • Does this mean that we can expect MSOffice on Linux soon? Maybe I'm missing something here but how is MSOffice going to be on OSX if it's based on BSD and Microsoft's apparently not developing Office tools for UNIX. Then again maybe that was what they were planning all the time. Remember the rumor about Microsoft hiring Linux developers, maybe it was for this development.
    Watch out though as you probably be required to allow root access for installation and then you kernal will be patched to route all traffic through .NET at a charge of course.
  • by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:23AM (#87042)
    Right now there's a one-man effort at Abiword [abiword.com] to port this cross-platform, GPL'd word processor to OS X. I know that Hubert Figuiere would appreciate any contribution to the project.

    To read the latest discussion on Abiword development, check out this page [abisource.com].

    I wonder how many people have tried MacGIMP [macgimp.org] because Adobe's taking so long to release Photoshop for OS X? Judging from some of the chat boards, I'm guessing a lot.


  • That is true, a fork could be done.. however, that would require quite a bit of work. It would be nice if ones copyright was assumed transferred by commitment or by electronic decree, rather than snail-mail/fax.
  • by GiMP ( 10923 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:08AM (#87044)
    First, before anyone asks.. OpenOffice is licensed under the following licenses.
    GNU General Public License (GPL)
    GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)
    Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL)
    further information: http://www.openoffice.org/license.html

    The problem I find with contributing to OpenOffice is that they will not accept code submissions over 10 lines of code if one has not assigned copyright to Sun. This can not be done electronically, only by snail mail or fax.

    I was considering helping but I'd like to keep my copyright. Also, I'd have to sell out the bucks for the upgrade to OSX :)

    BTW, to those who asked.. openoffice just opens a large window and draws its own widgets inside of it, so the platform issue of toolkits/apis is at a minimum.
  • That isn't a true Aqua-native version, though, is it? I thought that was still running using Xfree86 as it runs on MacOS X (which is a bit clunky from what I understand).


  • I use office because I really feel like if there is something I want to to, it has a way of doing it. And generally its not to hard to figure out. I have used star office, ABI word, Koffice, and always found that it was burdensome, both to my computer, and to me as the user. So why should I use a second rate program, when I have Office, which has always been 100% reliable for me?

    The answer? I am not going to go pay $100+ bucks for it. Its just not worth it. I have a copy of Office that came in my laptop. But when its time to get Office XP, I won't be "upgradeing." And since I can't just "borror" a copy from a friend, I will probably just switch to useing Open Office. I have a feeling that when many people find that in order to start useing the lates MS software, that they actually have to BUY it, more people will start useing Open Office.
  • The problem I find with contributing to OpenOffice is that they will not accept code submissions over 10 lines of code if one has not assigned copyright to Sun.

    So does FSF and the GCC team. Lots of Free Software requires you to sign over the copyright.

  • Actually the Quartz docs on the ADC site contain some info about Quartz's remote display capabilities. If you look around it's in one of the PDF files describing Quartz. Quartz is split much like X is on traditional Unix machines with a server doing all the display shit and a client on the backend that actually talks to applications. AFAIK the backend will accept RPCs from the network as it would from the local display server. I think Apple's sort of shuffled this capability to the side because xterms aren't their business. You don't exactly but Mac servers to run a bunch of dumb terminals dispite OS X's capability to do so. Besides that I think they'd rather have people use Cocoa for RPCs rather than Quartz. I wonder if you could turn a normal Carbon app into a distributed app by using Quartz...
  • While I like AppleWorks plenty (6.2 is one of the best upgrades ever downloaded, ever) it lacks a good deal of the functionality that exists in Office that most people on /. will probably never use. Microsoft has a whole slew of products that all integrate into one another. It's how they get companies to use exclusively Microsoft products. Word can do a mail merge directly from any product in the BackOffice family. You can keep a customer database on your intranet server and then send e-mails too all clients that fit a certain criteria such as those with outstanding credit or something. One person can do the work from their 600$ Dell workstation that 5 years ago took an entire department to do. There are other ways to do this with various other business suites but few are so tightly integrated as Microsoft's. Word processing and spreadsheets are the bleeding edge of the early 80's.
  • To the credit of the developers at Microsoft (who can be some cool guys if you don't judge them for the business practices of their corporate bosses) I've yet to see an business suite as functional and cool as Office/BackOffice. I've got a MOUS for Office 2k thus I've been forced to learn all the things you can do with Office that most people won't ever see. Office and the programs in BackOffice have been worked on for the past couple years to integrate well together.
    Companies can replace entire operating divisions of their businesses because because everyone can easily collaborate and access the same data from inside their productivity applications. At a board meeting an Excel worksheet can be brought up calculating how well your company's new more ruthless tactics have increased profit margins. This calculation can be done in realtime because Excel can talk directly to SQL server which is getting database entries directly from POS terminals or your e-commerce front-end. MS Project can form get data for project groups from the employee database and then organize it all into Visio or PowerPoint for the meeting you're late for.
    Office suites offering MS file type compatibility are a dime a dozen. Because /. is pretty much blindly pro-Linux and anti-Microsoft bitching about MS dominance on yet another desktop OS is expected but still pretty foolish. If you're a company with a non-Microsoft OS on your desktop systems you're very fortunate to have them port Office to your system. Microsoft gets to sell more copies of Office and Apple gets to sell boxes to companies who's only problem with MacOS is a lack of compatibility with their Microsoft supplied back end. Hetrogeneous hardware is a moot point when your software all speaks the same language. If you're sore in the seat because Microsoft uses their own language and doesn't play nice with competition, write an Open analog to Microsoft's service products. Oh, does it cost a bundle with little to no return? Thats because everyone else can use your work for their product and undercut you because they don't have your development cost tacked onto the price. Office/BackOffice has cost MS billions over the years. If I had a suite of products that was worth over a billion dollars I wouldn't be so apt to let other people play with it either.
  • OpenOffice blatantly rips off Microsoft Office's UI in a number of ways. No, its not an exact duplicate, but many things work exactly the same as they do in MS Office.

    I have StarOffice (OpenOffice's kissing cousin so to speak) sitting on some Solaris boxes at work and have had some dyed-in-the-wool Office users who are not technical people at all sit at them and they were able to get their work done. That's what counts. Not bug-for-bug compatibility.

  • There are a lot of posts here to the effect of "MS Office is already dominant, and it's pretty good as well, so why bother with a competing product?"

    Do most of you Mac users really feel this way? Perhaps Mac users have had only one office suite for so long that they have forgotten the improvements that can be had by competition.

    No realistic person thinks that OpenOffice will overtake MS Office any time soon even if it is as good or better feature for feature. But the presence of two full featured office suites will cause both of them to improve through competition. Remember how bad Word 6 was on the Mac? Microsoft did improve it later, but had they had competition, it probably would have never been that bad in the first place, and Mac users wouldn't have had to suffer through several years of a bad word processor because there was no other viable alternative.

    The Mac market is small, and perhaps that's why there are several areas where most of the players except the dominant one have dropped out, but if the Mac platform is to grow as Apple would like, it will need to once again have competition among applications.

    OpenOffice is a good way to reintroduce competition, because being an open source product, it does not need to have large market share at first since it does not need to bring in revenue.
  • MS Office X will be available sometime i the forth quarter, OpenOffice is well over a year away from even having a rudimentary presense on OS X. This project should have started two years ago if it wanted any hope of acheiving the stated goals (have an open solution on OS X at the same time Office X is released). Furthermore OpenOffice is being pulled in ten directions at once - gnome/gtk+ - windows - XUL. Pulling in one more (quartx) won't help matters much. Microsoft _will_ achieve dominance on OS X, it is a certainty, the question is whether others will be able to crawl up or pull it down. That question is open, but a jihad to beat them to the punch is an obvious distaster.

  • It'll nice to see if the /. effect can also have the effect of getting this project done before time runs out

    What are the chances that the /. effect will cause anything to happen sooner rather than later? Has it ever been anything but destructive, merely bringing web sites to their knees?
  • by scotpurl ( 28825 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:05AM (#87059)
    It's not about dominating one market. It's about options being available, AND people actually making use of the options.

    I'm sure I could write a mission critical application using the Atari 2600, thereby making sure that someone doesn't "dominate" the market. Whether or not anyone will actually use it.....

    Rushing a port of this thing out is exactly the wrong thing to do. Having a buggy piece of software available will delight few, and alienate most. You want to be best to market, not first to market.
  • As someone who has to support MS applications on Mac OS, I have every right to bash MS.

    First off, MS changes the damn file format with each major revision, forcing upgrades and general havoc when people try to exchange documents-- especially between MS-funded Universities and poorer school districts running ages-old MS software. You can hack solutions together, but generally they're expensive in terms of user education (find out what other person running, send document several times until you get a format that works) or monetary costs (deploying document translation software, plus user education, additional license hassles, and etc).

    Secondly, MS Office apps are not WYSIWYG. The same document looks slightly different between different versions of Office, e.g. Office 98 vs. Office 97 vs. Office 2000. Makes it a real pain when someone is trying to print something on a version of Office different from what they wrote it on.

    Printing wise, PowerPoint is just a pain. The Office 98 version of it comes with a hard-to-find "black and white printing by default" that you have to futz around in the print dialog box to undo on each new install (let's hear it for plain-text prefs files!). Also, PowerPoint prints funny; I can't tell how much time I've wasted trying to get poster-sized documents to print out right, while other applications (AppleWorks, FrameMaker, raw PostScript on unix) print just fine.

    Security wise, Office applications are a joke, requiring the installation of anti-virus software to patch a deficient scripting system. Besides the auto-start worm, MS Office word macro virus are the only virus I've seen ever on the Mac OS platform (in 12 years of usage). On machines without Office, I don't need to go to the trouble and expense of installing and maintaining anti-virus software.

    Expensive, buggy, insecure bloatware.
  • Okay, I'll take your word for it. It's been too long since I signed the papers, and memory isn't what it used... I forget what I was going to say. :-)
  • by devphil ( 51341 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @10:21AM (#87066) Homepage
    The problem I find with contributing to OpenOffice is that they will not accept code submissions over 10 lines of code if one has not assigned copyright to Sun.

    So? This is the exact same policy that the FSF has for all the core GNU programs and libraries. There's just way too much danger that some contributor will donate an entire module, wait until it becomes widespread and useful, and then claim exclusive ownership and demand money, i.e., "pull a Unisys/GIF."

    What alternative would you suggest that would keep the code and coders safe from the lawyers?

    This can not be done electronically, only by snail mail or fax.

    Again, just like the FSF. (Well, you email the initial form, they snailmail you the document, you sign the document and mail it back.) This is how American law currently works, is all.

    I was considering helping but I'd like to keep my copyright.

    Dunno about Sun, but the form that you sign for the FSF gives you the right to pull back the copyright (given a month's notice in writing). Of course, I would expect that when you do that, everything you've donated to the project will get removed, but then that's probably the person's whole point of withdrawing the copyright assignment in the first place.

  • The absolute worst thing which could happen is 'porting' OpenOffice in some way whereby it adopts the Aqua appearance without the mac behavior.

    If you port the application with the correct APIs in Carbon or Cocoa, I don't believe there would be any way for it to behave differently. The OS X services are built in when ported to the correct APIs, this affectively grants a level of similarity between all applications that are OS X native. If you have Aqua, you have the OS X behavior as well...

  • Here we go with the tired old myth again... The real story (check "Inside Windows 2000" or http://www.sysinternals.com if you don't believe me), is that there are indeed 2 sets of APIs, but not for the paranoia-fuelled reasons that /.ers like to present.

    Programmers call the Win32 API, which is fully documented (http://msdn.microsoft.com), and is the interface to Windows that everyone should use for development. Meanwhile, there is an internal kernel API, which is undocumented and should not be called directly. This allows Microsoft to modify kernel functions without breaking application code - it's a simple abstraction layer.

    Now, OK, you might well argue that Microsoft should document their kernel API too, for the masochists in the crowd. However, how many people really want to mess with low-level IO calls which may change in the next servicepack, when Win32 exposes a consistent set of filesystem calls for file creation, deletion etc.?

    This sort of thing may be anathema to die-hard /.ers, who want to play with the kernel for reasons varying from genuine interest and curiosity through to full-on intellectual masturbation, but in reality most people want to get on and use the OS. And if you think you can't mess with NT internals, check the references above...
  • support in getting a Mac OS-X port out for OpenOffice is critical to keeping a Microsoft dominance of yet another operating system's office suite to a minimum
    Does anyone actually want to make a good product any more? Or do they just want to ensure that Microsoft loses market share? What about the fact that Open/StarOffice are pretty much rip-offs of MS office anyway?
  • > Why is MS Office so popular?

    It has nothing to do with the actual application, and/or its ease-of-use. It has everything to do with the fact that MS Office file formats are THE method that people use to collaborate on documents over the Internet. They send these things around in emails like they weren't full of hidden, private information, the last ten versions of the document, and carrying viruses.

    Imagine that your boss sends you a Word document, with the revisions tracking features on, and you open it up in OpenOffice, work on it, save it, send it back to him, and he opens it in Word and it is garbled. You and OpenOffice are going to be blamed. Much better to just suck it up and use Word from the start, then when something goes wrong with the document (something almost always does) you will be able to say, "hey, I'm using the newest version of Word, here, it must be somebody else's fault."

    What's needed is PERFECT support for the newest Microsoft file formats, available as a BSD library or something, so that anybody could hook it up to their app and everybody would be able to read and write this common format FLAWLESSLY. Failing perfection, it will go nowhere. It is useless to anybody unless it is guaranteed to work just like the newest version of Office. That way a person can use it while knowing that they are not going to destroy a Word document that comes across their desk during their daily work by opening it in OpenOffice or whatever they prefer.

    I like to write in BBEdit, but I have to paste the stuff into Word before I give it to a publisher, and then work in Word on any edits that were made, once the document comes back to me. Can't see a way out of that yet.
  • Microsoft's dominance in office software is not about the features or the ease of use, it's just that office workers need to share their work with co-workers, and they are used to doing that with a haphazard system of sending MS Office documents of differing versions to each other by email. The documents sometimes carry viruses, and they still send them around. The documents often contain private information and previous revisions that are accessible to anyone with a plain text editor, and they still send them around.

    If you create a better system for people to do office work and share it with their fellows, that is what will replace MS Office. It would most likely be HTML and XML based, and leverage the Internet and company network heavily. It would run on every platform, and be cheap. It will do all kinds of things for the user that Office is not doing, removing whole levels of complexity. It will have to be available as an open source BSD-style licensed library that EVERYBODY can use to make their app a part of the office workflow. Sort of like what MS Office would look like if you really made it take advantage of the Internet ... it would have to be open to the user plugging into a translation dictionary that wasn't made by Microsoft, it would have to open a Word document and then save it as a Word document, or open a WordPerfect document and save it as a WordPerfect document, (all this without every asking you to save a document in the app's OWN format) and it would also have to promote a new, common, open format so that we could do away with the past cruft. That would be software that actually does what Office users need. (Mac OS X may be providing the groundwork for this with the object-oriented Cocoa environment, Services, AppleEvents, QuickTime translation, and more.)

    A new office system to replace MS Office will have to look at the needs of Office users and satisfy them in a way that MS never can ... very open, very compatible, easy to use, reasonably priced. Good security, no viruses (can you believe!), and respect for the user's humanity would also be a nice bonus. It is there for the taking. A key is to stop thinking "word processor", "spreadsheet", etc. and just think of a user sitting down to do some office work at a fast, stable machine that's always connected to the Internet. Those machines are available all over running BSD, Linux, Mac OS X, and some versions of Windows. What can you do to enable office people to get their work done better and easier than they can by starting up MS Office? What can you do to enable collaboration between users, regardless of what company developed their software?
  • > The current MS Word descended from Word for Windows, which was a rip-off of Ami

    Microsoft Word 1.0 was a Macintosh application. Before the Mac, MS only made languages and MS-DOS. Word and Excel are Mac apps originally. All the Word for Windows, Ami, WordPerfect for Windows stuff came much later. EVERYBODY copied Word for Macintosh when they moved their apps from character-based to graphical on Microsoft operating systems, but Microsoft did it way earlier. I think the first version of Excel on a Microsoft operating system was actually for DOS, but it included a Windows runtime that made it look like it was running in Windows 2.x. Once Windows 3.0 took off, you can imagine how easy it was for Excel for DOS users to go to Excel for Windows on Windows 3.0. WordPerfect took years and years to go from 5.1 for DOS to 6.0 for DOS. In the meantime, Windows was all over the place, and Microsoft had a cheap, cheap competitive upgrade to Word for Windows and the full WYSIWYG editing (or something that looked like it) that people wanted from seeing the Mac do it for the past 6 or 7 years at the time.
  • by quigonn ( 80360 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:08AM (#87094) Homepage
    StarOffice/OpenOffice is not GTK+ based. Stardivision used to have their own widget library that acts as "frontend" for other widget libraries. That means the most work for doing a new port was actually porting the widget library called "StarView" to the new platform's native widget library.
  • I think it's fair to say that Open Office, more than any other piece of desktop free software, is pushing Linux/Free Software onto the corperate desktop. It's hard to beleive that the recent announcement from Ford Motor Company about its long term goal to move to completely Open Source desktop was motived by Gnome Office or KOffice. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Ford had in mind Windowmaker + Open Office on old pentium 166 - 300 machines. It sure beats buying Pentium IV's to run the new-fangled XP suite of bloatware.
  • Of course, when subscriptions happen you wont be able to pirate all your MS software. I think the first rule of drug dealing is: the first few times are always free. (beside the point and not relevant, but the second rule is probably: Always keep them waiting!! Ugh!).
  • Yes. I have a link for you. Basicly, Ford says that it's a long term goal of theirs to move to an Open Source desktop.

    Article on Ford's announcement. [silicon.com]
  • The article said they needed people, but didn't suggest one way or the other that they'd be paid for their work. Maybe so, maybe not.

    Why should I help Scott "no privacy" "gates sucks" McNealy with his corporate strategic goals, without getting much in return?

    Secondly, the writeup says 'lead'. Wouldn't the folks who are already writing bits of this product be the best applicants? Fishing for people out of the blue with no experience on the architecture of this particular product seems kinda strange, given that the source is open.

    Closed Source pays its developers. I use that to pay my rent, which won't take free-as-in-beer lease agreements. Open Source is a spare-time hobby for the most part (the luminaries get speaking fees, the rest of the developers get... source code).

    Hey, there are some projects that are sponsored, and some guys are finding cool companies that pay for open source. I hope this is one of those cases, but the article didn't give me much hope or indication of that.

  • programmers and porters would be well served to throw in some 'MS Office Compatibility' in terms of functionality and/or 'Help for Microsoft Office Users'

    Microsoft Excel has for years offered "Help for Lotus 1-2-3 Users", and Microsoft Word has for years offered "Help for WordPerfect Users."

    Since these applications are trying to be fungible by supporting all of the commodity features in approximately the same way, the only reason to stay in the market is to get a piece of the market share. There's no corporate advantage to being compatible, other than to muscle in on established turf.

  • by Noer ( 85363 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:32AM (#87103)
    I agree, porting this to have a nice Cocoa-based GUI wrapper would be a LOT of work. OTOH, the same is true with GIMP, which may be more worthwhile (maybe). I do wonder if just starting a Cocoa office suite from scratch might be a good idea. Any old NeXT users around? What was "the" word processor for NeXTStep? Was there one? Does it still exist, and if so, who owns it? I know "the" spreadsheet was Mesa, which rocks.

    Frankly, I've been pinning my hopes on Nisus, which is rewriting Writer for Cocoa (not Carbon) and has always had a sweet word processor. However, these days, just a good wp and spreadsheet isn't enough; people want integration with that abomination powerpoint (ugh, the bane of corporate presentations... not cuz the app sucks, but cuz the presentations suck), the worst database ever (access), and other MS garbage.

    Frankly, I think the most crucial feature of an office suite is TRANSPARENT handling of ALL the features (cruft) of MSOffice documents - revisions, that stupid highlighting stuff, etc - and that's hard to do. I still worry that many users will be "forced" into using MSOffice, not because better suites aren't available, but because MS has embraced/extended what a word processor or spreadsheet should do to the point where nobody can really compete.
  • All the openoffice comments are in German, don'tcha know.
  • /me Pulls out monty python German-Enligsh dictionary Sir you are mistaken. I never went home with the Shriners and the goat was a consenting party. How do I say that in your native tongue... /me flips to English-German section Ihre Brustwarze sind sichtbar.
  • house, with a boarded front door. There is a small car here. A grue is chasing your ass and you have 5 seconds to start the car and drive away before he eats you. Would you rather have the ignition placed next to the steering wheel just like you expect on all other cars, or would you rather have a little variety and have to go searching around for it?

    Remember, you only have 5 seconds. Choose well, grasshopper.
  • Better find another "funny" acronym. Although I never found the Mac OS to be less stable than Windows 9x, Mac OS X is extremely stable. I've got an unsupported 6-year-old Power Mac 7500 with an overclocked PowerLogix G3 processor running Mac OS X, and it's been up for 10 days straight so far. The only times I've had to reboot it in the last month is when I updated the OS.

    Recently I compiled/installed MySQL, the newest version of Apache, PHP, and PHP-Nuke, and I'm hosting a PHP-Nuke site off of it. And it's still running without a hitch.

    I've run my share of Microsoft programs, and I'd to say that their software has gotten better, but it's still a little flaky. In fact, I used to be able to completely freeze my Mac (requiring a reboot) opening a corrupted Word document. Mac OS X may be the perfect environment for Microsoft because Mac OS X can handle their buggy software.

  • I would say that "ease of use" is, at best, a distant second. The primary reason people buy MS Office is to have 100% compatibility with documents they send to and receive from people outside the workplace.

    Because when it comes right down to it, the average Joe in his cubicle doesn't give a rodent's posterior about "fighting the Microsoft hegemony," he's just trying to do his job with as few complications as possible.

    And by 100% compatible, I don't mean you can import the file and resave it in native format. As soon as the user sees that progress bar pop up that says "Converting from MS Word," you've suddenly shattered all illusions of 100% compatibility; they know that some formatting, somewhere, is going to drop out, and they'll never find it (but their client undoubtably will).

  • So why should I use a second rate program, when I have Office, which has always been 100% reliable for me?

    Because for you a second rate product would be a step up. ;-)

    When I need to edit text I use vi.

  • No that was my sig. If I were comparing vi to Word it would be like comparing a first rate product to Word. I can do anything in vi that you can do in word... faster <grin>. With professinal typesetting if need be. Ok,ok, maybe not vi alone, but I've got enough tools on a Unix box to suplement vi, and ways to automate that suplementation(sp).
  • It was an on topic sig, I got rid of it.
  • First of all, if it's GPLed, does it really matter if you have the copyright? The FSF also requires the same for contributions to its projects, and that was what produced the emacs/Xemacs schism. If there are many copyright holders for a single piece of software, it will be difficult for any of them to enforce it.

    If it really bothers you, you are obviously allowed to fork it, ala Xemacs. A bit more work than you're probably looking for, but certainly a viable option (and you can keep taking code from them forever, as long as new realeases stay GPLed)

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:41AM (#87119)
    And what hidden APIs would those be? The ones Wine was able to re-implement from scratch? For that matter, as stupid as it is, "shared source" DOES mean that programmers can go in and look at the code for Windows, thereby revealing any and all "hidden APIs."

    I think you forgot your anti-paranoia pills...

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.

  • What was "the" word processor for NeXTStep? Was there one? Does it still exist, and if so, who owns it?

    Well, there was FrameMaker. I'd love to see that for Mac OS X... besides that, there was a whole set of productivity applications [peak.org] from LightHouse Design.

  • Just to comment on MS Office's ease of use, I was a stonch supporter of all things ms office mainly because I had learned all the gimics and how to fix certian "feachers" that come with MSO. This all changed when I got my new job and was forced (kicking and screaming) to use Corel WordPerfict 9 for all office documentation. I must confess that while I sitll use most of the MSO suite (Access Database Design seems to be what this job has morfed into) I now use WordPerfict instead of Word. It is easier to make the advanced options (Table of Contense, Cross reference, Page Numbers, Section numbers, etc...) work the way there suposed to esp. with the reviel codes function.

    So what's my point:

    • I agree that most people use MSO for compatibility reasons more than for ease of use.
    • I think that (at least for the all important Word Procesor) people who clame MSWord is easy to use have never really tried anything else.
    • It is quite possible to make a better User interface than MicroSoft's, It will be an issue of compatibility that will make or break Open Office.
    Perhaps the best thing that could happen would be for OfficeXP (even more) Restrictive and convoluted license to bomb and send the market looking for alternitives.


  • For $100 million, you don't think MS couldn't get all the hidden APIs they wanted?
  • Strikes me that Microsoft's porting
    Office to OSX finally answers the
    popular troll about porting Office to linux.

    No doubt it will run SUID root with
    Active-X and Outlook. :-)

    Talk about "embrace and extend"....

  • You are so far wrong it'snot even funny.
  • Is OpenOffice GTK+ based? I seem to think it is, in which case the big problem here would be to get GTK+ or a reasonable facsimile ported over to OS X. Question is, can that be done easily?

  • Sun has released the project to the community (which I intrepret as dis-owning it) with a lot left unfinished.

    Sun plans on using OpenOffice as the basis for StarOffice 6 -- just like Netscape uses Mozilla as the base for Navigator.

    Unfortunately, quite a few parts of StarOffice weren't owned by Sun, so Sun couldn't relase the source for them. Because of that, much got broken when the propriatory parts were no longer available.

  • by Utterer ( 154288 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:11AM (#87134) Homepage
    I am a Mac user and I *gasp* use Microsoft products. I just can't stand the constant bashing of MS by Mac users. Don't get me wrong, MS has messed up on the Mac before with just about everything before Office 98, but that was 3 years ago, time to move on.

    I use Internet Explorer, Outlook Express and Office 98 daily with no problems at all. Compare this to bloat/shovelware Netscape and their inability to release a stable browser in years that requires less than 30 megs of RAM.

    I will continue to use MS office products as well over some unstable open source port that will never have the dedicated update support that a money making company can provide.

  • I was kinda hard on Sun. The tone of the article was absurd though...

    "The project is need of someone to step up to the plate as a project lead"

    Give me a break... Any fool who volunteers his time to make it easier for IBM & Sun to sell workstations is a complete and total idiot. Where is CmdrTaco & company? They are constant open-source nags/cheerleaders but you see nothing from them but Slashcode. (Which is a slow, bloated piece of shit)
  • by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:09AM (#87141)
    Sun Microsystems needs an experienced developer to lead a team of volunteers in porting Sun's OpenOffice application to Mac OS 10.

    The candidate will be compensated soley by free Sun t-shirts, mousepads and mugs. No salary or fringe benefits are available.
  • Microsoft Office has held a commanding lead in the Mac market for about 10 years - far longer than in Windows, where MS has to fight off Lotus and Borland back in the Win 3.1 days. Mac users are also historically very willing to put up with shit from Microsoft - e.g. the very slow and buggy Word 6. Now that Office 2001 (and previously 98) work well, why switch?
  • My experience is that MS products for Mac have been, since the investment in Apple, excellent. Office 98 in particular has behaved extraordinarily well. I don't see cutting MS' marketshare as a sufficient reason to switch.

    Of course, if/when MS moves to subscription pricing, then GPL software looks more attractive. But will it be any good? This story implies that it won't.

  • yes, that is a nightmare. Happens to me frequently. I figured it was just Mac being Mac.

    Macintosh: Most applications crash; if not, the operating system hangs.

  • Please keep this to yourselves. MacOS does not need any programs with inconsistent interfaces that don't obey the user interface guidelines.

    Seriously, if you're not going to do it right, don't bother. It needs to have documentation, good icons, help files, and work like a MacOS program. If it's just a cheap port of the Linux version with MacOSX windows and buttons, you might as well not bother. Mac users won't put up with that crap the way *nix people will.

  • by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @10:06AM (#87150)
    I could be way off, but it seems that crossplatform compatability is the biggest deal here. I work in an office of 40 Windows computers and 25 Macintosh computers. We use Microsoft Office because we can share files so easily with eachother and people outside the office. All our vendors and clients use MS Office. Microsoft knows how to make software speak "MS Office" better than anyone else ... because they wrote it. And that's the biggest issue, being able to share with others.

    Even if OpenOffice blows MS Office away, MS already has a strong foot hold that even the new people want to be able to communicate with, trouble free.

  • What are the chances that the /. effect will cause anything to happen sooner rather than later? Has it ever been anything but destructive, merely bringing web sites to their knees?

    I must disagree. I can think of atleast one certain website [slashdot.org] that, if the /. effect took its toll, would increase productivity 10x fold.

  • No, it is not. But there is effort to bonoboize it.
    OpenOffice.org is founded on UNO & OpenOffice API

    Bonobo and openoffice:
    http://whiteboard.openoffice.org/bonobo/index.ht ml
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:02AM (#87161)
    Let's be honest here. Why is MS Office so popular? A lot of people will say 'ease of use', but it's really just that most people who use it are used to the set of features and mentality that Microsoft has gotten everyone familiar with. Open Office if anything, is easier to use than MS Office. Still, getting it to run on OSX, programmers and porters would be well served to throw in some 'MS Office Compatibility' in terms of functionality and/or 'Help for Microsoft Office Users'.

  • Why should OpenOffice be the one to step up and be MS Office's competitor on OSX? AFAIK there are many more viable office suites currently in open and free development on linux. What makes OpenOffice the obvious choice to step up to MS Office?
  • Along with the other comment about Win32 APIs versus kernel APIs, there's a very simple way to see there's hidden code. MSDN supposedly has all Win32 API calls documented. However, if you use a simple DLL viewer, including those supplied by MS to developers, you will find functions that are otherwise undocumented. Using non-MS tools, you can investigate DLLs for classes that are undocumented as well.

    The functions and classes are there. But unless you look, you won't find them because MS, for whatever reason, won't document them.

  • People here seem to be forgetting that Apple has been producing their own Office competitor for some time. It's called AppleWorks, and the latest version (6.2) is an OS X native application. Sure, it may not have all of the bells and whistles that Office has, but it does everything that I need it to, including:

    Open MS Word and Excel files.

    WYSIWYG word processing with all of the standard gizmos (spell check, mail merge, etc.).

    OLE style drag-and-drop functionality for video clips\sound files\whatever.

    PowerPointish presentation software.

    A decent spreadsheet and database.

    Plus it integrates super-well with all of Apple's other software, such as iMovie and Quicktime. All that, for a third (or less) of the cost of M$ Office. I got my copy yesterday, and I'm very pleased with it.

    While I would love to see OpenOffice for my platform, I don't feel that I'm without options. One of the beautiful things about OS X is that it's still a free-for-all and there are no dominant applications. Without a stranglehold on the OS, Microsoft has to compete just like everyone else.

  • by Proud Geek ( 260376 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:06AM (#87166) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if this will finally be a fair test of OpenOffice against MS Office? They are both available for Windows platforms also, but there Microsoft has the big advantage of hidden API's and the like.

    For OS X, they will both be running natively using only Apple's public API's, and we will get to see how much better OpenOffice is when not running on a crippled MS Windows platform.

  • That question is open, but a jihad to beat them to the punch is an obvious distaster.

    then don't beat them to the punch... beat them with a better product.

    Stop worrying about "world-dominance" and start worrying about what matters: software that doesn't suck. I like StarOffice, I'd love to have OpenOffice on my Macs (still impatiently waiting for my wife to let me buy a new one with OS X).

  • I can understand the copyright assignment to keep you from pulling out the rug later on; so long as the assignment is to something closer to public-domain than it is to Sun's coffers.

    What I don't understand is the need for a cumbersome visual signature.

    Congress and President Clinton made ESIGN [yahoo.com] the law last year, and some of your favorite spammers are already using it [yahoo.com].

    So why is an open-software group not accepting electronic signatures?

  • Also sprach Bonker:
    Let's be honest here. Why is MS Office so popular? A lot of people will say 'ease of use', but it's really just that most people who use it are used to the set of features and mentality that Microsoft has gotten everyone familiar with. Open Office if anything, is easier to use than MS Office.

    I'm not saying you're wrong, but I think you might have missed one point. In my experience, people buy MS Office because that's what they have at work. Whether they like something else or not, and regardless their opinion of MS, having Office means that they can pretend to do a lot of work from home. I'm not a Mac evangelist, but I do take opportunities to point out to people that the Mac has a heck of a lot of advantages over MS, and most of MS' alleged advantages are largely FUD. No one disagrees, but they still buy MS and then bitch when it is constantly breaking. Why? Because it comes with MS Office and that's what they have at work. In other words, MS Office continues to be the most popular office suite because MS Office is the most popular office suite. MS Office was, and probably still is, the most popular non-Apple app used on Macs. (Hm, maybe I should say "most common" rather than "most popular" ...)

    Then again, given how some people 'oo' and 'ah' over the Apple products (try running OS X on a TiBook in an airport terminal some time) but still don't buy them, if giving them Open Office for OS X will turn the trick to bring some to the platform, maybe I need to get off my pasty white backside and buy those O'Reilley Carbon and Cocoa books.

    "As God is my witness, I though turkeys could fly."
    - Gordon Jump, WKRP in Cincinnati

  • Two points: one, Apple has a buddy relationship with Microsoft, so they're not going to create anything that competes directly with Microsoft products. They used to have an integrated web browser email client (cyberdog) but abandoned it years ago. Appleworks is equivalent to MS Works; it's under-powered for most tasks. Two: Apple has changed its relationship with the developer community. You no longer have to cough up megabucks for the documentation or tools; they're free for the asking from the Apple Developers' site, and the tools come on the OS X CD. Much better than when you had to spend $500 on CodeWarrior, $200 on Inside the Mac OS, a few years ago.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • There's at least couple of NeXT word processors out there: WriteUp and CedarWord. WriteUp is being ported to OS X.

    Microsoft should at least release a free PowerPoint viewer for OS X, as they have for Windows, but I agree that PowerPoint is a tool to make uncreative people think they're creative.

    And Access isn't the worst database ever; I guess you never had to use Paradox :)

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • The mac community is really fast about these things, the same article was on MacSlash [macslash.com] yesterday.

    There are some interesting comments over there, too.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • by tb3 ( 313150 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @09:07AM (#87179) Homepage
    Sun has released the project to the community (which I intrepret as dis-owning it) with a lot left unfinished. 42 of 89 modules don't compile, there is no UNICODE support, no printer support, no sound support , no drag-and-drop support, and the Windowing code is X-11.

    They're recommending using C++ and C to call the OS X Windowing APIs, which doesn't sound like a good idea, since the GUI could be built much quicker with Objective-C and AppBuilder.

    It almost seems that building a MacOffice from scratch would be easier than this port, but I'm no expert in porting projects.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • "You want to be best to market, not first to market."

    That all depends. If your sole motive is to make the *Best* product, then being first is not that important. If you are after market share and want a return on your investment, then being first is critical.

    If you look at the software industry over the past few years, the "first to market" strategy is clearly being followed.

    Look at micro$oft. IIRC ever 1.0 version of software they have ever shipped has been crap. (IE, 16-bit windows, first version of NT, and so on). Eventually the patches and bug fixes are released and the product is usable. (OK, maybe in the case of M$ that is a bit of an overstatement, but grant the point for the time being).

    There are tons of games that ship and you need to download megabytes of patches to make it playable. I think in the case of Half Life, I had to download a 25MB patch. Should it have shipped if it needed that much work? Probably not, but if they did not ship it when it did, their sales opportunities might have suffered.

    The point is, if you can get to market, first, people will purchase it, regardless of the quality. Once they have it, these same people will stick to that product and are not likely to replace it with an alternative.

    To coin a phrase, being first isn't everything, it's the only thing.
  • Most Macintosh users were pretty damn pissed off with Microsoft when Word 6 came out. They were so pissed off that Microsoft issued a formal public apology for the product.

    However, they didn't bother to do anything else about it until Apple killed the look/feel lawsuit, accepted IE as the default browser, and agreed to share a bunch of other technologies.


  • Okay, so there are a area a lot of Mac people who use Microsoft Word out there. And they have very talented Mac programmers that make pretty good applications - I would go as far to say that their Mac apps are greatly superior to their PC apps. But raise your hand if you actually bought it instead of copying it from a friend. The reason this project is so important is that, as a community, we should have an option to not have to buy Office X. Or Appleworks, either. As a community, we can create our own applications. And StarOffice sounds like a good start. (And for those complaining about the OS X IE: All the alternatives, OmniWeb, iCab and my favorite, Opera, are much better. All browsers for OS X are still in beta, so pick another one to use.)
  • What do you think. All cars should be black, manufactured by Ford, and have the title of being a Model T or should we have Subaru, Toyota, Chevy, etc. The interfaces are generally, via. recognizable, but not so different that you wouldn't be able to recognize it without much effort. People don't respond to extreme changes but get bored with no change, in other words, I'll take the second because it shouldn't be so different I wouldn't be able to find it(no one would buy it.) If they were all the same, no one would buy them either. Some Chaos is better then complete order.
  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @10:04AM (#87197) Journal
    Trying to transparently support all Microsoft Office features and file formats is doomed to failure. It's not that Microsoft Office is better or not, it's that they are the standard and when Microsoft adds a new feature (and they always do, whether or not it is actually a good thing) all the software trying to be 100% compatible is instantly behind the curve. You can never do better than remain behind. I.e suck even more. Sucking even more is not the path to success last I checked.

    The only way to go is to create an open file format for documents and then get enough companies/groups on as many OSs as possible to create much better applications than what Microsoft so pathetically offers. This does not mean, as Microsoft believes, piling on the features whether or not they are actually a good thing nor whether or not they are implemented well. It means doing the basics the best and innovating intelligently. We need to put them behind the curve, and in an open source, widely available, very easy to use way. That and perform a whole heck of a lot of human sacrifices.

    Microsoft dominates without justification, as always, but I believe it is possible to topple them. Everyone gave up on being better a long time ago and instead tried to emulate. Now it's time to bring back real advances.

Someone is unenthusiastic about your work.