Apache OpenOffice

Monday November 28, 2016

Over 200 million downloads of Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice continues to enjoy the user's valuation.

Recently the new record mark of 200 million downloads was reached. The downloads are managed by our partner SourceForge .

The high demand of the most current release 4.1.3 - that was released in October - is an acknowledgment of the previous work and a great motivation for the future.

The ongoing trust of our users is also a thankful expression to all people who put their personal spare time and effort into the project and software.

But of course there are more ways to distribute Apache OpenOffice. The most common one is to download the binary packages from one of the many mirror servers. But also printed magazines with an included DVD are possible, you can get it from your neighbors, friends, coworkers, it's part of free software collections, and many more ways we can think of.

You don't need a permission or even registration to use or copy Apache OpenOffice as it is free and open source software. However, this makes it also difficult to get meaningful numbers of actual users. It's not measurable if a download stands for a single user or an installation in a larger network.

Furthermore it's not known if Apache OpenOffice was downloaded the first time or it's an update for a previous installed version. Much more interesting to know is that the statistics show a steady download of 100,000 every day.

It's safe to say that Apache OpenOffice has one of the highest user base in the world of free software projects. And for this we want to say Thank You!

Tuesday November 08, 2016

Open Document Editors Devroom at FOSDEM 17, Brussels 4-5 Feb 2017

FOSDEM is one of the largest gatherings of Free Software contributors in the world and happens each year in Brussels (Belgium) at the ULB Campus Solbosch. In 2017, it will be held on Saturday, February 4, and Sunday, February 5.

As usual, the Open Document Editors DevRoom will be jointly organized by Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice, on Saturday, February 4, in room 4.401 in Building K (from 10:30AM to 6:30PM). The shared devroom gives every project in this area a chance to present ODF related developments and innovations.

We are now inviting proposals for talks about Open Document Editors or the ODF document format, on topics such as code, extensions, localization, QA, UX, tools and adoption related cases. This is a unique opportunity to show new ideas and developments to a wide technical audience. Please do keep in mind, though, that product pitches are not allowed at FOSDEM.

Length of talks should be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes, as we would like to have questions after each presentation, and to fit as many presenters as possible in the schedule. Exceptions must be explicitly requested and justified. You may be assigned LESS time than you request.

All submissions have to be made in the Pentabarf event planning tool at https://penta.fosdem.org/submission/FOSDEM17

While filing your proposal, please provide the title of your talk, a short abstract (one or two paragraphs), some information about yourself (name, bio and photo, but please do remember that your profile might be already stored at Pentabarf).

To submit your talk, click on “Create Event”, then make sure to select the “Open Document Editors” devroom as the “Track”. Otherwise, your talk will not be even considered for any devroom at all.

If you already have a Pentabarf account from a previous year, even if your talk was not accepted, please reuse it. Create an account if, and only if, you don’t have one from a previous year. If you have any issues with Pentabarf, please contact ode-devroom-manager-AT-fosdem.org.

The deadline is Monday, December 5th, 2016. Accepted speakers will be notified by Sunday, December 11th, 2016. The DevRoom schedule will be published on the same day.

Recording Permission

The talks in the Open Document Editors DevRoom will be audio and video recorded, and possibly streamed live too.

In the “Submission notes” field, please indicate that you agree to have your presentation recorded and published under the same license as all FOSDEM content (CC-BY). For example: “If my speech is accepted for FOSDEM, I hereby agree to be recorded and to have recordings - including slides and other presentation related documents - published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) 4.0 International License. Sincerely, Name”.

Sunday October 16, 2016

Note from a satisfied user: Congratulations for all efforts of the past!

We received the following mail from Mr. Ziegler on the developer mailing list [1] and we want to share it with all of you:

Quote start

I was encouraged to leave my aoo forum post directly in the dev mailing list so that you all can read what I wanted to express. I am not a software developper in any sense--only a user.

Dear developers,

there may be little positive feedback for your work, I guess. So I created an account for the forum (and now subscribed temporarily to dev@aoo) to leave a big THANK YOU!

The  first version I used must have been something like StarOffice 4.3, the  first I owned was SO 5.2, and then I shifted to OpenOffice(.org) when it  introduced the XML file formats. So I am a convinced and longterm user  since then and hardly ever regretted my decision.

OpenOffice  gave me the possibility to mostly do what I wanted to (with writer,  base, calc, impress and draw - in that historic order) in an efficient  way, and the only thing I don't like is, that it always tends towards following  MS Office although it already was better in many ways. I understand that it is  crucial to get as many users as possible, so I acknowledge the decisions  towards MS Office.

What I like most is the long term usability  and stability, and I do not only keep my office files from more than 10  years ago, I also use and re-use them. And if one crashed in the past, I nearly  always could recover them by opening the zip bundle with an (hex) editor.

By that, I  enjoyed the progress in LibreOffice, but didn't really need it. Although  I switched to LibreOffice on some machines, I am always glad that there  is OpenOffice, too. In my eyes, it is the more stable and efficient  branch of the project. This year it was my fallback tool and salvation  in a book project that I started with LO Writer;   I first invested hours to get my pictures back to the place they  belonged to when they got more and more (as others did decades before  with MS Word) and then had to give up as it didn't open the file anymore  without crashing. Apache OpenOffice (standard and portable) solved the problem. It got a nice book, by  the way, for our church jubilee.

So if you get the software  maintained, I will probably continue to use OpenOffice for another 20  years. And I won't switch to DTP software (Scribus) for the next book  project neither like I regularly do for magazines, brochures etc.

OpenOffice is a great, great software, even if it didn't evolve much in the last years! (maybe even: because..)   Powerful enough for both private and standard business use.

Keep patience and persistance!

A very satisfied and content user

Quote end

[1] Archived message in the developer mailing list

Wednesday October 12, 2016

Announcing Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3

12 October 2016 - Apache OpenOffice, the leading Open Source office document productivity suite, announced today Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3, now available in 41 languages on Windows, OS X and Linux.

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.3 is a maintenance release incorporating important bug fixes, security fixes, updated dictionaries, and build fixes. All users of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 or earlier are advised to upgrade.

Main improvements include:

  • Key security vulnerability fixes
  • Support for new language dictionaries 
  • Numerous bug fixes, including installer and database support on OS X 
  • Enhancements to the build tools (for developers)

A complete list of the issues fixed in this release can be found at https://s.apache.org/t0wh

For a complete list of available languages and language packs see: http://www.openoffice.org/download/

Details of new features and enhancements in this release are described in th Release Notes.

Those interested in the source code can download it at http://s.apache.org/Bsr.

You are encouraged to subscribe to the Apache OpenOffice announcement mailing list to receive important notifications such as product updates and security patches.  To subscribe you can send an email to:  announce-subscribe-AT-openoffice.apache-DOT-org.

You can also follow the project on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Thursday September 22, 2016

More team-mates needed

American Football Team

At Apache OpenOffice we are looking for further team-mates and here especially for developers:

  • Are you a software developer with C++ skills?
  • Or do you have expertise in building software?
  • Are you additionally experienced as lead technical writer?
  • Do you like to contribute to open source projects?
  • And are you proficient in written technical English?

If this is the case then come and join us in helping Apache OpenOffice to thrive. Subscribe to the recruitment mailing list and introduce yourself. We will help you get started.

All contributions are welcome and valued. Established contributors have the opportunity to become committers at the Apache Software Foundation, and thus get several benefits and the recognition from other community members for the value of their open source contributions.

It doesn't exist as a slogan in 1-2 sentences but the following short statements can be referred to as "The Apache Way":

  • collaborative software development
  • commercial-friendly free and open source license
  • consistently high quality software
  • respectful, honest, technical-based interaction
  • faithful implementation of standards
  • security as a mandatory feature

When you like to work and code independently from any commercial influence, so that you want try your own things, then this is your way - The Apache Way.

Please also visit our "Get involved" webpage as it provides you with much more information.

Happy to hear from you soon.

Tuesday September 20, 2016

Stop the lazy season, start changing

Keep calm and embrace change

It's time to write about new things that happen here in the Apache OpenOffice project.

At first, we want to let you know about new releases. The first will be the bugfix release 4.1.3 that will tie in directly with the current version. It's already in the cooking pot but needs some tasing and refinement before we will serve it. The next will then be the follow-up release 4.1.4 with further fixes.

When you now think "hm, only fixed bugs? Nice, but what about more?" then please be patient. We are also planning a release afterwards with more changes. As these are not finally certain - number as well as size - even the version number is not yet written in stone.

More news will follow. But this needs further blog posts.

[Read More]

Thursday March 24, 2016

Apache OpenOffice Extensions and Templates New Sites

Since 2012 SourceForge has been distributing Apache OpenOffice downloads and actively maintaining both Apache OpenOffice Extensions and Templates sites. I wrote a couple of short blog posts about the changes that affect end- users.

Extensions that have not been updated in a while report the following message: "Warning message This extension was not updated recently. It might not work with latest versions of OpenOffice." See for example how looks like the old Oracle PDF Importer.

Registered users see an additional notice on unmaintained extensions that allows them to contact the original author and apply for a co-maintainer role. Co-maintainers can edit the extension description and create releases.

Registration emails and password related communications are now delivered in the language chosen by the user. It worth to add that we are more than happy to provide .po files to whoever is willing to help with translations. If need will arise we'll consider the possibility to upload localization files to the Apache Pootle server so that existing translation teams can help and the site can be translated into more than the current three languages (English, French, German).

Recovering passwords has been simplified to cover cases where users had difficulties in resetting their passwords: users receive an email in their language with a simple link to reset their password with no further steps.

Sites have been converted to use a more efficient anti-spam system that will improve handling by extensions maintainers: the system will not trigger anti-spam warnings and page unpublishing when the author modifies a popular extension.

Changes users facing.

The new extensions home has a strong focus on the search box, a brand new logo, and an overall redesigned look and feel, where all menu items have icons for better readability.

The new templates home is similar to the Apache OpenOffice Extensions site, with a similar redesigned look and feel and different colors to highlight which application a given template can be applied to.

The new administrative interface includes a navigation bar at the top for Extensions’ authors that links to the most common actions. We also improved the GUI, making it more intuitive for uploading extensions.

Search has been completely redesigned too. It’s worth mentioning that there are other changes sprinkled here and there, including an alert for outdated extensions that provides an easy way to contact the original author.

Sunday December 06, 2015

Apache OpenOffice at FOSDEM 2016: Submit your talk now

FOSDEM 16 will be held at the ULB Campus Solbosch, Brussels (Belgium) on Saturday, January 30, and Sunday, January 31, 2016.

Open document editors are coming again to FOSDEM with a shared devroom which gives every project in this area a chance to present ODF related developments and innovations. The devroom is jointly organized by Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice.

We invite submission of talks for the Open Document Editors devroom, to be held on Saturday, January 30, from 10:30AM to 6:30PM.

Length of talks should be limited to 20 minutes, as we would like to have questions after each presentation, and to fit as many presenters as possible in the schedule. Exceptions must be explicitly requested and justified.

Technical talks (code, extensions, localization, QA, tools and adoption related cases) about open document editors or the ODF document format are welcome.

Submissions must be done by the speakers using the Pentabarf system:

While filing your proposal, please provide the title of your talk, a short abstract (one or two paragraphs), some information about yourself (name, bio and photo, but please do remember that your profile might be already stored at Pentabarf) and specify what topic (Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, other ODF editors, ODF in general...) your talk is about.

You do not need to create a new account if you already have one. If the password has been lost, you can easily recover it.

Presenting at FOSDEM implies giving permission to be recorded.  The recordings will be published under the CC-BY license.

The deadline is Monday, December 7, 2015. Accepted speakers will be notified by December 15, 2015.

You can send any questions to the devroom mailing list:

Wednesday October 28, 2015

Announcing Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2

28 October 2015 - The Apache OpenOffice project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of OpenOffice 4.1.2. You can download it from the official website http://www.openoffice.org/download

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 brings stability fixes, bug fixes and enhancements. All users of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1 or earlier are advised to upgrade.

Main improvements include:

  • Bug fixes in Writer, Calc, Impress/Draw, Base.
  • Better WebDAV and file locking support: OpenOffice is now able to properly interact with Microsoft Sharepoint. These enhancements were funded, and contributed upstream, by the Emilia-Romagna regional administration (Italy), where OpenOffice was adopted a few years ago.
  • Redesign of the PDF export dialog for better usability on small laptop screens.
  • Updates of underlying libraries, for better performance and increased security.
  • Security vulnerability fixes, with details eventually disclosed at the security announcements page.

A complete list of the issues fixed in this release can be found at http://s.apache.org/9uI

For a complete list of available languages and language packs see: http://www.openoffice.org/download/

Details of new features and enhancements in this release are described in the Release Notes.

Those interested in the source code can download it at http://s.apache.org/Bsr.

You are encouraged to subscribe to the Apache OpenOffice announcement mailing list to receive important notifications such as product updates and security patches.  To subscribe you can send an email to:  announce-subscribe-AT-openoffice.apache-DOT-org.

You can also follow the project on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

The OpenOffice community dedicates version 4.1.2 to the memory of Ian Lynch, a member of the OpenOffice Project Management Committee and a key contributor to marketing and education efforts, who passed away earlier this year.

Sunday September 27, 2015

Coming soon... Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2

A new OpenOffice update, version 4.1.2, has been in preparation for a while. Born as a simple bugfix release, it became an occasion for some deep restructuring in the project: several processes have now been streamlined (and some are still in the works), new people are on board and infrastructure has been improved.

Now the wait is almost over, and we are approaching the final phases before the 4.1.2 release. But we still need help with some non-development tasks, like QA and final preparations (press release, release notes and their translation).

 OpenOffice is driven exclusively by volunteers, and everyone is welcome to volunteer. See https://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/OOOUSERS/AOO+4.1.2 for a list of opportunities and please contact our main development mailing list if interested.

Here's a quick summary of where we are at the moment.

Code and building

Most of the code changes for OpenOffice 4.1.2 have already been integrated. Dozens of old and new developers contributed in recent weeks.

For users, improvements are expected in stability (fixes in all modules: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base), Microsoft interoperability (Sharepoint) and documents import.

For developers, OpenOffice 4.1.2 is designed to be easier to build on modern systems and on non-mainstream systems, thus respecting the Apache OpenOffice mission of providing a solid codebase that people can adapt and customize.

Quality Assurance

We welcome testers for bugfixes. If you can volunteer some time, helping is easy: you will have to download one of our development builds, you will receive a short list of bugs from our bug tracking system and be asked to verify that they are fixed. It is especially important for us to get coverage of all operating systems (so not only Windows, but Mac OS X and Linux too) and all languages (a few bugs are to be checked by native Chinese-Japanese-Korean speakers).

In order to help, please read http://openoffice.apache.org/orientation/intro-qa.html  and contact our QA list as explained there.

Release preparation

We already have volunteers for the main tasks, such as updating the website and preparing the Release Notes. But we could use more help, at due time, for translations of Release Notes and press releases. Please contact our main development mailing list if interested.

Wednesday May 13, 2015

Authoring e-Books in Apache OpenOffice: An Interview with Jon Swords-Holdsworth

A few months ago we received an email from Jon Swords-Holdsworth, an author of "slipstream and hard science fiction" from Melbourne, Australia. He was finishing up a new volume of short stories, Stories of an Awkward Size and was seeking permission to mention Apache OpenOffice in the book's colophon. Since I know the topic of e-book production is of interest to many OpenOffice users, I asked Jon if he'd consent to an interview (via email) on this topic, to which he agreed. I certainly learned a lot from Jon about what is involved in using OpenOffice and other open source tools together to produce an e-book. I hope you do as well!

Rob: Hi Jon, I read a little bit, to get a feel for your writing. I couldn't put down "Black Prince" once I started. Jon: Ah that's fantastic! A lot of people seem to *love* that story (if I may be so bold). The others seem to be getting very good responses, but Black Prince is the one that makes 'em jump up and down. Rob: A little about the book, before we get started on the technical side. You describe the book as "Slipstream and Hard Science Fiction". Even as a casual science fiction reader I've heard of hard science fiction before, but what is "slipstream"? Jon: This bears some discussion. I am going to write a small piece on it up on my GoodReads blog, but I don't know when, so please take the below as my views. 'Slipstream' is a neologism and may be regarded as somewhat dubious, but it is getting used more and more. A number of authors identify themselves as Slipstream authors, and it is starting to appear as a genre/category on book listing sites. I personally - and I'm not alone - see Roald Dahl as the grandfather of Slipstream, particularly with regard to his 'Tales Of The Unexpected' works. The 'unexpected', is most important in Slipstream. Slipstream, at least as I see it, is the modern approach to the Mystery/Macabre genre. But, being modern, it has some important differences. It tries to be subtle, usually, and avoid things being 'epic'. No giant conspiracies, no huge space-faring or mine-dwelling empires, poised to take over the world or anything like that. Instead, it often concentrates on the everyday, and things becoming very strange, or out of place. Of course it can be backed-up by anything you like: science fiction, fantasy, deviant psychology, whatever you want. In traditional, ye-olde, Mystery fiction, the mystery is all-important and the characters and atmosphere are fleshed out as a by-product, if indeed they get fleshed out at all. The same is true of older Detective or Thriller fiction. With Slipstream, the entire package, taken holistically, is the genre. A strange atmosphere is brewed - and not necessarily a dread one! - as the story unfolds, and the story usually happens in the most mundane of settings. An external example: the excellent film Nightcrawler, with Jake Gyllenhaal, is something I strongly regard as Slipstream. Though it is a thriller, it concerns itself purely with news crews trawling a city for events, and no further! Though it is a psychological character-study, it achieves all its aims by demonstration, not by dwelling or by inner monologues! And though it is just a series of events (which don't start to shock you until later in the piece), by the careful unfolding of those events it manages to have atmosphere you can cut with a knife. Several people commented that my story 'Black Prince' is, strictly speaking, a Slipstream tale, even though it is rooted in hard-SF. I'd like to think that is not only true, but true of all my stories, and hence the sub-title of my book. Rob: Is this your first published book? Jon: It is indeed. Rob: OK. Let's get into the nitty-gritty details of what tools you used for creating the book. First, what OS do you work with? Jon: Ubuntu. I started off on an ancient 11.04 install, but eventually it couldn't support the late versions of applications that I needed. I therefore decided to upgrade to 14.4.02 LTS (Long Term Support). Unless you are a dabbler, I would recommend only using LTS versions of Ubuntu. Rob: Did you start off your work in Apache OpenOffice, or did you use something else for research notes, idea sketching, outlining, etc? Jon: I use KWrite for taking notes, and keeping notes about stories. But eventually everything lands on the launchpad of Apache OpenOffice (Writer). Rob: Did you use the default named styles in OpenOffice or did you modify them? Jon: Unfortunately, the default named styles in OpenOffice weren't of any use. I had to make my own templates with my own styles. Rob: What kind of modifications did you make and why? Jon: The reason for this is that manuscript-publication has very strict requirements, and there is almost no leeway: they must conform or else! What I did was take some MSWord Templates published (unconditionally) by Amazon CreateSpace, and transform them to OpenOffice Templates. This took a lot of experimentation. Along the way I settled on the 6" x 9" page-size, or "Trim", as all publishers recommend it as being the most flexible. You can get from a 6"x9" Trim to almost any other format quite easily, and many processes and printers out there in the world are already set up for it. My OpenOffice template for 6"x9" Trim, for use on CreateSpace (it could be used for any publisher, really) is freely available (with no restrictions) at: http://jonswordsholdsworth.com/templates/openoffice/ All the styles in that template that have names that begin with "CSP - " are the ones to use. DISCLAIMER: if it doesn't work for you or does something bad - so sorry but it's not my responsibility - it's your responsibility, for downloading it! I'll put some detailed instructions up at some point, but basically if (in Page Styles) you set the first page to "CSP - Chapter Verso", then start typing on the second page, it all starts to become obvious. You need to read up on and understand the page concepts of Verso and Recto - this is very important, particularly in paper versions of a book. I have several Page styles defined in my template (as opposed to Paragraph styles, which my template also defines). Verso should always be blank, with no content in it, and your First Page should start a chapter. There is too much detail to describe here, but if you read up on the necessary styles required in a book - particularly a work of fiction - it will all start to make sense. Then you can look in my OTT template and you'll see where I have defined the appropriate styles for you to use. You are, of course, free to modify them in any way you like. But do bear in mind that you still need to conform to CreateSpace's requirements (in this case for a book in 6"x9" Trim), which the Page styles are particularly relevant to, and you will still need the Paragraph styles looking good for eBook publication. Note one other thing: I live in Australia and abhor Imperial units of measurement, but unfortunately the world of printing and publishing is still firmly using them. You need to set OpenOffice - at least Writer - to use inches for everything. It will save you much pain! Rob: While working on the book did you come across any features in OpenOffice that were new to you and which made your work easier? Jon: The ability to have, and edit, per-document dictionaries was very useful! And the fact you can have them in parallel with the standard dictionary. Another thing was OpenOffice's memory management, it's rather good. I edited this book as individual chapters, initially - I highly recommend doing this, even if you are writing a Novel. Keeping the chapters separate gives you a lot more flexibility. However, when it came time to merge them - something I was dreading - it actually went very smoothly. The Page Styles adapted more or less automatically, and where they needed some nudging they obligingly nudged. But most importantly of all the program itself effortlessly handled a 322 page document.

I've heard that most commercial word-processors (OpenOffice Writer is regarded as closer to a true DTP system), really struggle with large documents. Also I made use of two external tools: LanguageTool --  This tool has a few issues, and either the Java engine or the search-base or both, make it very slow. It's a case of set it doing something, walk away, come back, set it on the next thing, rinse repeat.

Nevertheless, it spotted the odd thing here and there made it 'pay' for itself (it's a free tool!) - things I wouldn't have seen. In the absence of human proof-readers (well, I only have a limited population of them, and as they are unpaid they tire of the work quickly - fair enough too!) tools like this are priceless, provided they work. Writer2xhtml -- Another free tool, part of the Writer2latex suite. I used its Writer2epub sub-tool. Suffice it to say, the eBook would not have happened without this tool. Rob: What features do you wish OpenOffice had that would have made your work easier?

Jon: A built-in grammar checker that was fast would be lovely. Also I don't like the Navigator tool. Actually, that's not entirely true. It's a very useful tool indeed, but some of its features should be one key-combination away. Eg. if I type ctrl-G I want a 'Go To Page' window to come up! Otherwise, OpenOffice Writer is quite a nice environment to write a book in. Rob: I understand you did the hard copy of the book first. What did the pipeline for that look like? ODT->PDF? Jon: OpenOffice Writer, and then use the internal Export To PDF function. Despite some naysayers out there on the web, the internal PDF exporter works fine and produces a beautiful PDF that perfectly mirrors the ODT. Just make sure you have your Author details set in the Settings of OpenOffice (it's a general setting), and make sure the document has a Title set - these are used by the exporter to build the PDF's own metadata. Rob: For the e-book edition, what formats did you target? Jon: There are only two - EPUB (all eReaders except proprietary ones), and MOBI (Amazon Kindle. This format is being replaced by KF8 and AZW, but like all proprietary formats it has inevitably started running into marketplace and technical issues). Rob: What did the pipe-line look like for conversion to e-book? Jon: I was able to use FOSS software all the way up to and including EPUB. For MOBI I had to use a different machine (running the 'dreaded 8') and Amazon's own closed-source 'Kindle Previewer' tool (important note: 'Kindle Previewer' is a different tool to 'Kindle For PC' - this tripped a lot of people up). But that tool did an excellent conversion. To get to EPUB from ODT I used the Writer2epub tool, mentioned above. The EPUB that it produces is nearly perfect, but I still had to do a few tweaks to it - the full details are out of scope for this interview, but I promise I will put them up on my blog. The tool I used for tweaking the EPUB was Sigil, which is an excellent tool. EPUB is basically an on-disc website, in a particular directory-hierarchy, wrapped up in a ZIP file. So to edit one you need to be familiar with XHTML and CSS Styles. That's a big ask for a lot of authors! I am lucky in that I have a deep software-development background, including a good chunk of website building, so I knew what I was doing. For anyone else, I have to say the forums are the place to look. Side note: Forget about Calibre. Calibre is an excellent eBook library tool, but it's EPUB editor is an added-on afterthought. It can't do the job. Sigil, on the other hand, is a dedicated EPUB editor and makes things very easy. Big note - and apparently ALL word-processors that use XML based formats suffer from this: extraneous <span> elements in the text. If you look at the XHTML that is produced by exporting your ODT to EPUB, you will notice something odd. All through the text, you will find blocks of text that are wrapped in <span> tags, and these <span> tags usually have their own font-definitions and other style information. They can also be nested inside one another. Nobody know what causes these! And all XML-format word-processors have this issue! It's not unique to OpenOffice Writer. When you are looking at, and editing, your ODT in Writer, these <span>s are not a problem - because inside Writer it uses absolute font-sizes. However, to create a proper EPUB, you need to export with relative font-sizes. This means that <span>s that are nested inside one another, each with different font-size information, will start doubling-up or tripling-up font-sizes! For example, an outer <span> specifies a font-size of 83% (a relative font-size). Nested inside that <span> somewhere is another <span> and it too specifies a font-size of 83%. That inner span, will actually have a font-size that is 83% of 83%, or about 70%. This causes the font-size to wander up and down, all over the document. It's also subtle. I was looking at an export of my EPUB onto a Kobo Glo, and couldn't work out why some of the pages looked terrible. It was difficult to put my finger on. Eventually, by a lot of visual comparison, I realised that the font-size was jumping randomly all over the page. To fix it, you need to come to grips with regex expressions and how to use them in Sigil (or your EPUB editor of choice). Sigil's regex support is rather good. These allow you to globally search-and-replace these annoying <span>s, or at least their style information. After doing this my EPUB was perfect (or as close to as I could see, anyway). Rob: What did you use for designing your book cover? Jon: I used Inkscape to do the layout, blocking and writing, and I used The Gimp to process the photograph. The final export to PNG, at 300 DPI, was from Inkscape. I would advise that if you are going for PoD - Print on Demand - ie. paperback, as I did first, then be careful with cover-art. Smooth things. Up the chroma, and up the contrast. Even to the point where it starts to look a little 'cartoony'. The reason is that PoD processes, whilst they are 'good', are not 'great', and suck a lot of the life out of complex pictures and make them look a little grainy too. If the input image already has vibrancy to spare, it will survive better. Another thing - temporarily reduce it to the size of a postage stamp and look at it. This is how it will look on Amazon's book listings and other publishers' book listings. Think about how you want it to stand out (or blend in, depending on how you operate). Rob: Any other tips for readers of our blog who might want to start writing their own e-book with OpenOffice? Jon:

  1. Ignore the naysayers, OpenOffice is one of the best environments around for writing professionally. I have not tried the 'Scribus' program, but as far as I can tell it and OpenOffice Writer are the only games in town, unless you want to spend a lot of money.
  2. Strongly recommend either use my template, or one from some other author you trust - or by the time we finish speaking it is possible that CreateSpace has got with the times and started publishing OpenOffice Templates to use with their site.
  3. Get to understand Styles properly! You need to be using Styles, and that's why I recommend getting a template which has useful ones already built-in. It is painful going back and trying to fix a document that was created without using Styles (e.g. indents were done with tabs, titles are hand-bolded and have arbitrary definitions, etc). It is not hard to understand Styles - it is often made out to be a complex, mystical process, but really they are quite simple things and quite easy to get to grips with.
  4. Make sure your OS is up to date: trying to get older versions of apps to do things is not recommended, and they often won’t install under older environments.
  5. Make sure your OpenOffice environment is configured:
    1. Set the date, your author name, set the units to Imperial and inches (yes, yes, I know), set the directory where it is picking up Templates from.
    3. Make sure you set your dictionary and other languages to your native language (e.g. everything on mine is English(AU)).
    4. Turn Smart Quotes ON! This is very important - your conversations in your documents should have proper opening and closing quotes, not 'straight' quotes unless there is a requirement that they be so.
Rob: Where can readers find your book? Jon: Stories Of an Awkward Size (A Slipstream and Hard-SF Anthology) is currently available on Amazon, as Paperback and Kindle (It will also be available on iBook and other places, though currently I can't put a firm date on when.)

Monday April 13, 2015

Collaboration is in our DNA

Apache OpenOffice is living in interesting times, and this is a good moment to reflect on future scenarios.

The old OpenOffice.org project spawned numerous derivative products and we are proud to see how the OpenOffice ecosystem, taken as a whole, has grown so far.

Apache OpenOffice is distributed under a license (the Apache 2 license) that by design permits anyone to reuse the code and create derivative products almost under any license, ranging from copyleft to proprietary. The Apache Software Foundation has been really successful in creating and nurturing open source communities leveraging code distributed under the Apache License, and we aim to be one of those successes.

When considering collaboration between a project and its derivatives one important aspect is how and if upstream changes are submitted to the original project. Basically, permissive licenses like the Apache License are forward-compatible with nearly any other kind of license, but backward-compatible only with other permissive licenses.

Image credit: Morin et al., A Quick Guide to Software Licensing for the Scientist-Programmer, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002598.

We are really glad to be able to provide other open source projects as well as proprietary products with a rock solid platform to build on top of. Projects like AndrOpen Office, LibreOffice, NeoOffice, Ooo4Kids and others are all benefiting from our work, and we’d love to be able to keep releasing new versions at a steady pace and make all of  this possible.

We fully understand that some of these projects rely on their customizations as an “added value”, but it is also true that collaborating with the main OpenOffice project -  if the partnership is limited to working on the common functionality - would be a win-win, since needs are basically identical.

Considering that OpenOffice is currently in the need to expand the number of its developers, we believe that seeing our release cycle slow down would damage the whole OpenOffice ecosystem.

We want to continue serving all those different communities, and to do that we need your help. We invite all the most relevant OpenOffice derivative products and their communities or vendors to join us in discussing further ideas for collaboration and improvements. For example, we could organize what would be the first "OpenOffice Ecosystem Meetup", but we are open to explore all options.

Wednesday December 31, 2014

Apache OpenOffice in 2014: a year in review

2014 has been an exciting year for the OpenOffice project and community.

Click on the picture below to start a slideshow with highlights from 2014. A text-only version is under the picture.

  • January: The Apache OpenOffice community starts the year by adding new localizations.
    OpenOffice supports 120+ languages, but only those that are 100% translated and maintained are officially released.The 100% complete localizations in 2014 doubled the ones from 2012.
    OpenOffice also participated, as usual, in the initiatives for UNESCO's International Mother Language Day in February.
  • February: OpenOffice comes back to FOSDEM, one of the most popular Free and Open Source Conferences in Europe, with a devroom and a dedicated stand.
    For the first year, the devroom is open to all ODF Editors.
  • March: the Apache OpenOffice community prepares for ApacheCon Denver (7-11 April) by designing a dedicated track.
    Selected topics include: work toward a new translation workflow and a new build system, Open Source marketing and security testing.
  • April: Apache OpenOffice 4.1.0 is released, with much improved accessibility, support for comments on text ranges, a new interface for editing input fields and many improvements in handling of graphics.
    Hundreds of community members participate in testing, with dedicated tests by accessibility experts.
    The code, distributed under the Apache License 2.0, is promptly reused by other projects.
  • May: Apache OpenOffice downloads hit the 100 million mark in less than 2 years.
    By the end of 2014, downloads are more than 130 millions, from virtually all countries and territories in the world.
  • June: A new initiative allows to quickly and easily localize the OpenOffice website. New translations like Lithuanian and Hebrew are published and updated.
    Website translations are made more visibile using a language dropdown and browser-based language negotiation.
  • July: The social media presence of Apache OpenOffice grows.
    The Facebook fan page at https://facebook.com/ApacheOO grows more than 30% from 2013, to 13,000 fans.
    The official Twitter account at https://twitter.com/apacheoo has more than 3,500 followers, with a 75% increase over the previous year.
  • August: Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1 is released, with several important bugfixes, full support for three additional languages, security improvements and support for gestures under Mac OS X.
  • September: The Apache OpenOffice Forum and Wiki receive hardware upgrades by the Apache Infra team to be able to sustain the ever-growing traffic.
    The official forum at https://forum.openoffice.org is the most used channel for user support, averaging over 100 posts per day and accumulating 320,000 posts about Apache OpenOffice and all derivatives.
  • October: A community survey is launched to understand how we can better exploit the potential of our several hundreds contributors. Results will set the priorities for community development in future.
    The user community continues to grow thanks to increased adoption, with Udine (Italy) joining the long list of public administrations that migrated to OpenOffice.
  • November: Apache OpenOffice has a strong presence at ApacheCon Europe, held in Budapest. A dedicated track is the occasion to reason about upcoming developments, our community, migration, integration with mobile technologies and web projects.
  • December: Thanks to the work of Apache Infra and investments from the Apache Foundation, Apache OpenOffice has technology available to sign its releases in a way compatible with Windows security settings, thus allowing also non-technical users to immediately verify that they downloaded the genuine version of OpenOffice and confirming the continued commitment from Apache and OpenOffice to protect users.
    The new digital signing will be available in the next OpenOffice releases.

Have a nice 2015!

Wednesday December 24, 2014

Presentations and videos from ApacheCon EU 2014, Budapest

ApacheCon Europe, held last month in Budapest, was a wonderful occasion for the OpenOffice community to gather and discuss the state of the project and future developments.

Videos and presentations from the conference are now available. See below for some presentations from the OpenOffice track.

Pictures are available too, courtesy of Michal Hrin.

OpenOffice At Apache: 2014 And Beyond - Andrea Pescetti, Apache OpenOffice PMC

It's already two years since OpenOffice graduated as a Top Level Project at Apache. We have more than 100 million downloads and a stable, working community at Apache. In an overall "state of the project" talk, we will see what we accomplished so far, what worked, what can be improved... Full Description - Slides

Doing The Write Thing: Document Editing Made Mobile (the Corinthia Project) - Louis Suárez-Potts, Age of Peers, Inc. & Peter Kelly, UX Productivity

At the Denver ApacheCon last April, I presented on the evolution of OpenOffice, and the need for a good quality, compatible solution for mobile devices. Participants suggested establishing a project in Apache Labs to address this problem... Full Description - Video - Slides

Anatomy Of An Apache OpenOffice Extension - Pedro Giffuni, Apache Software Foundation

Developing code within the huge, and sometimes daunting, Apache OpenOffice code can sometimes be very difficult, specially if you only want to add a very specific piece of code that few people want. As part of an ongoing effort to improve the Operation Research capabilities within Apache OpenOffice, I will try to document the different parts of an Apache OpenOffice extension... Full Description - Slides

How to Turn Your Favorite Programming Language Into An AOO Macro Language - Rony Flatscher, WU Vienna

Apache OpenOffice (AOO) defines a scripting framework that can be exploited to add any programming language to Apache OpenOffice as a macro language. This presentation introduces the necessary overview and knowhow to become able to assess the effort to add your own favorite programming language to AOO... Full Description - Slides

The OpenOffice Localization Community - Andrea Pescetti, Apache OpenOffice PMC

The sun never sets on the OpenOffice localization community. Volunteers from all continents help translating OpenOffice, its documentation and its website into dozens of languages... Full Description - Slides

Addressing File Format Compatibility in Word Processors - Louis Suárez-Potts, Age of Peers, Inc. & Peter Kelly, UX Productivity

A well-known XKCD comic parodies the industry's solution to standards proliferation: a new, "universal" standard to replace all its predecessors. We all know where that leads. In this talk, I'll discuss an alternate approach that deals with the mess without creating more of it, in the context of word processing... Full Description - Video - Slides

The Municipality Of Trieste Apache OpenOffice Migration - Davide Dozza

In 2013 the Municipality of Trieste (Italy) decided to migrate to Apache OpenOffice. The main goal was to adopt ODF as the document standard format for all the 1800 users on about 1550 PCs... Full Description - Slides

Collaborated Editing On ODF - Svante Schubert, OASIS ODF Advanced Collaboration Subcommittee

The OpenDocument format (ODF) consists of compressed XML files. ODF is read and written by many Office applications; the Apache ODF Toolkit (incubating) provides the ability of an easy automated access... Full Description - Slides

Monday November 03, 2014

Call for talks: Open Document Editors Devroom at FOSDEM 15

FOSDEM 15 will be held at the ULB Campus Solbosch on Saturday, January 31, and Sunday, February 1st, 2015.

Open document editors are coming again to FOSDEM with a shared devroom which gives every project in this area a chance to present ODF related developments and innovations. The devroom is jointly organized by Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice.

We invite submission of talks for the Open Document Editors devroom, to be held on Saturday, January 31, from 10AM to 6PM.

Length of talks should be limited to 20 minutes, as we would like to have questions after each presentation, and to fit as many presenters as possible in the schedule. Exceptions must be explicitly requested and justified.

Technical talks (code, extensions, localization, QA, tools and adoption related cases) about open document editors or the ODF document format are welcome.

Submissions must be done by the speakers using the Pentabarf system:

While filing your proposal, please provide the title of your talk, a short abstract (one or two paragraphs), some information about yourself (name, bio and photo, but please do remember that your profile might be already stored at Pentabarf) and specify what topic (Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice, other ODF editors, ODF in general...) your talk is about.

You do not need to create a new account if you already have one. If the password has been lost, you can easily recover it.

The deadline is Sunday, December 14, 2014. Accepted speakers will be notified by December 28, 2014.

You can send any questions to the devroom mailing list:



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