Apache OpenOffice

Tuesday Mar 13, 2012

Where did the time go? (A look at the Apache OpenOffice (incubating) timeline)

The above timeline shows just some of the accomplishments of the Apache OpenOffice project since we first started incubation at Apache last June.  I've arbitrarily categorized the items as Infrastructure, Community or Development, knowing full well that any such act of categorization is dubious at best.  There is a lot of overlap, and something I put under Infrastructure could arguably also be other categories as well.  In the end, it is one project, with many aspects, and the pieces work together.

So what does this timeline tell us, other than the obvious fact that we've been busy?

Take a look at the box called "Removal of copyleft".  This is the work we did to get the OpenOffice.org code to conform to Apache policy regarding licensing.  In essence, Apache products are permissively licensed, so anyone is free to use them in open source or proprietary products.  So ensure that downstream consumers of Apache OpenOffice have maximum flexibility in that regard, and to encourage a broader ecosystem, we removed components that were incompatible with these goals. In most cases we replaced the copyleft modules with equivalent or superior libraries that were also permissive licensed.  That effort was a couple of months.  This is important to know, since we sometimes hear, or read on the web, the statement that the Apache OpenOffice has spent an inordinate amount of time removing or replacing copyleft components in OpenOffice.  But has the timeline above shows, this one-time cleanup effort actually took only a little time.  But it was time well spent.

As the timeline shows, most of our attention on the project has been spent on community building and infrastructure migration efforts. We're not engaging in a race to see how fast we can come out with a release, or to show how quickly we can crank out minor releases.  A huge portion of our effort has been to ensure continuity for the many millions of users of OpenOffice.org, by far the most popular open source productivity suite.  The OpenOffice ecosystem is not just a download site (though it certainly includes a download site that continues to see nearly 10 million downloads/month).  The ecosystem includes mailing lists, support forums, wikis, bug databases, documentation, extensions and templates repositories, etc.  These public-facing and user-facing services are critical to the entire ecosystem, not only to Apache OpenOffice.  To give a sense of the magnitude of this interdependence, the libreoffice.org domain contains 13,281 links to webpages hosted on openoffice.org domains.

Oracle has kindly allowed us use of some legacy servers during the migration to Apache.  The last of these servers should be disconnected on or soon after March 16th.  At that point the Apache OpenOffice infrastructure will be entirely hosted by Apache, aside from the extensions and templates repositories which are graciously hosted by SourceForge.  So our migration is complete.  A round of thanks is due, from all sides, for the efforts of the Apache Infrastructure team and Apache OpenOffice volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure that the OpenOffice web presence was preserved and can continue to be a valuable resource for OpenOffice users, as well as other projects based on the same codebase. 

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