Apache OpenOffice

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:

Saturday August 23, 2014

Announcing Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1

21 August 2014 - The Apache OpenOffice project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of OpenOffice 4.1.1. You can download it from our website.

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1 is a micro update with many useful and critical bugfixes including 2 security relevant fixes (details will come separately).

Bugfixes include:

  • better compatibility with Microsoft Office files,
  • better support for Mac OS X gestures and scrolling,
  • enhanced compatibility with Linux desktop environments.

A full list of the issues fixed in this release can be found at http://s.apache.org/AOO411-solved.

With 3 additional supported languages, OpenOffice 4.1.1 increases again the number of released languages which is now 41. The released languages are Asturian, Bulgarian, Catalan, Calalan (Valencia AVL), Catalan (Valencia RACV), Czech, Danish, German, Greek, English (GB + US), Spanish, Basque, Finnish, French, Scots Gaelic, Galician, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian Bokmal, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese Brazil, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian Cyrillic, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Chinese (Simplified + Traditional).

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1 is the next key milestone to continue the success of OpenOffice.

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

Those interested in the source code can download it via the links on this page.

Juergen Schmidt - Apache OpenOffice Release Manager and member of the Project Management Committee

Saturday July 05, 2014

Presentations and videos from FOSDEM 2014

fosdem2014a-1024.jpg fosdem2014b-1024.jpg fosdem2014c-1024.jpg fosdem2014d-1024.jpg

Presentations and videos from the Open Document Editors Devroom at FOSDEM 2014 are now available.

The OpenOffice presence at the event was strong and well-received, with a number of interesting talks and many visits at the booth. And the devroom was a nice way to get together with other projects focused on the ODF format.

Make sure you don't miss the following talks about improvements that are coming (or already came!) to OpenOffice:

Changes to 'fields' in Writer for Apache OpenOffice 4.1      Oliver-Rainer Wittmann

Improving the XHTML export filter
Andrea Pescetti

genLang, a new workflow for translation
(partial video available here)
Jan Iversen

Quality Assurance
Raphael Bircher

Create Sidebar Extensions for OpenOffice Andre Fischer

OpenOffice and Eclipse Andre Fischer

Exploring OpenOffice History using GIT Grafts
Herbert Duerr

Digital signing of releases

Jan Iversen

The full list of talks from the Open Document Editors devroom is available as well. Most have a presentation attached.

Monday May 05, 2014

Apache OpenOffice Weekly News #3

Translations: (de)

Major Discussions

Juergen, our Release Manager, announced the release of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.

The winPenPack team updated their portable version, x-ApacheOpenOffice 4.1.

Marcello has updated the unofficial Debian repository for Apache OpenOffice. It now "provides the version 4.1 of Apache OpenOffice with all available languages."

OpenOffice in the News

"The Apache OpenOffice project announce the release of Apache OpenOffice 4.1" in the official Apache OpenOffice Blog.  "Improvements to graphics, charts, forms, text annotations and accessibility feature in this 23rd release of the 14-year old community-run open source project."

"Apache OpenOffice 4.1 improves support for visually impaired users" is the headline of an article by Nick Peers in PC & Tech Authority (Australia).

"Apache OpenOffice – Why 100 Million Downloads Matter" by Kramer Reeves in Social Biz User Group.

"Updated OpenOffice 'good news for administrations'" by Gijs Hellenius on the European Commission's JoinUp website.

"Apache OpenOffice for Mac" a new review (4 1/2 stars) on CNet Download.com by Ben Markton. "Bottom Line:  Apache OpenOffice is a very good free, accessible alternative to expensive office software. It is loaded with tools; downloads and installs quickly; and handles all the basic functions you could need from an office suite."

"Apache OpenOffice 4.1, a mega suite office" in  pplware (Portuguese)

More from ApacheCon

"Apache OpenOffice by the Numbers"  is a reprise of the Lightning Talk by Andrew Rist and Rob Weir at ApacheCon in Denver.

Use Cases, Questions and Answers

We received another report on the users mailing list from someone who had downloaded what he thought was OpenOffice, but instead got a bunch of malware.  That wasn't us, obviously.   Apache OpenOffice does not bundle any other programs in its package.  Absolutely none.  Our downloads are carefully scanned for viruses and are accompanied by digital signatures and cryptographic hashes to allow users to verify their integrity.

However, there are third parties that sometimes take OpenOffice and bundle it with objectionable and intrusive applications.  In some cases they put up fake websites, or purchase advertisements in search engine search results, to lure people to their website.

It is unfortunate that such sites often come top of the hit list on search engines; inexperienced users download from them and their computers become infected with adware/viruses/trojans. When we know the exact URL of any such sites we do our best to have these removed or flagged, but it is an uphill battle.

We recommend to download only from www.openoffice.org/download which will redirect to SourceForge, whose secure content distribution network we use.  A download from there will usually start within five seconds.

Typically an OpenOffice download is about 145 MB; we do not use downloader applications, so any site offering a much smaller download should immediately be suspect. If in any doubt about a download it is best to check its integrity using MD5Sum; details are given at  http://www.openoffice.org/download/checksums.html

OpenOffice is a complex and powerful software. If you have difficulties, our User Forums at  https://forum.openoffice.org/ in several languages will do their best to help.

Community development

Three new translation teams have been established: Catalan, Valencian AVL, Valencian RACV.  If you want to help with these, or any other translation, you can find more information on our website.

The Project Management Committee (PMC) for Apache OpenOffice has asked Tal Daniel to become a committer and we are pleased to announce that Tal has accepted and taken the ID "tal".

Tuesday April 29, 2014

The Apache OpenOffice project announce the release of Apache OpenOffice 4.1

Improvements to graphics, charts, forms, text annotations and accessibility feature in this 23rd release of the 14-year old community-run open source project

29 April 2014– The Apache OpenOffice project, a Top Level Project (TLP) of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), announced today the release of Apache OpenOffice 4.1, now available for free download from http://www.openoffice.org.  A highlight of this release is support for the IAccessible2 interface, an open standard for communicating with assistive technologies, enabling more effective use of OpenOffice by persons with visual impairments. Other additions to OpenOffice 4.1 include in-place editing of text fields, interactive crop on transformed graphics, text selection annotations, support for 64-bit Mac and translations for six new languages.

Apache OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.  Apache OpenOffice has been downloaded over 100 million times.  It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages. It can be downloaded and used completely free of charge for any purpose.

"After a long wait, OpenOffice 4.1 is finally released!" said Marlin Rodrigues from Brazil.  Marlin is one of the early testers of OpenOffice 4.1 as well as a translator of the NVDA screen reader into Portuguese.   "This release has great significance for blind people, representing much more than a simple application update. This update will bring long-awaited support for IAccessible2. This means that we will finally have a free, accessible and quality office suite, without relying on the infamous Java Access Bridge!  I’ve tested the development and beta versions, and it’s so good in several ways. Finally, we can say that we have the a great office application, with full accessibility and, even better, without hacking or paying a fortune for it!"  

David Goldfield, a Computer Technology Instructor who works with the blind, and who also helped test OpenOffice 4.1, explained the significance of IAccessible2:  "Computer users who are blind use software packages known as screen readers, which allow the user not only to hear keys which are typed but also to use the keyboard to read and review everything which is on the screen.  Before OpenOffice 4.1, a blind user could use OpenOffice only if the Java Access bridge was installed and enabled.  In addition, the user had to navigate to OpenOffice's accessibility options to ensure that the built-in assistive technology support was enabled.  For some users, performing these tasks was a challenge.  With the new IAccessible2 code, OpenOffice should be accessible to screen readers right out-of-the-box, right when the program starts.  Blind users with a screen reader that supports IAccessible2 will be able to access documents, spreadsheets as well as items which are in the menus and various dialog boxes without the need to manually enable accessibility or install any additional components."

Along with feature additions and enhancements, OpenOffice 4.1 includes six new translations, including Bulgarian, Hebrew, Danish, Hindi, Norwegian Bokmål and Thai, as well as improvements to the existing Basque, Dutch, German, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish and Turkish translations.

These and many other enhancements are detailed in the Release Notes.

Availability and Oversight

As with all Apache products, Apache OpenOffice is released under the Apache License v2.0, and is overseen by a self-selected team of active contributors to the project. A Project Management Committee (PMC) guides the Project's day-to-day operations, including community development and product releases.  To learn how to become involved with Apache OpenOffice, visit http://openoffice.apache.org/get-involved.html.

Apache OpenOffice 4.1 can be downloaded from http://www.openoffice.org/download.  OpenOffice supports Microsoft Windows, Apple OS X and Linux, in 38 languages.  Users are encouraged to consult the System Requirements and Release Notes for additional details.

About Apache OpenOffice

"Apache" and "OpenOffice" are trademarks of The Apache Software Foundation. All other brands and trademarks are the property of their respective owners.   Follow Apache OpenOffice on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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Monday April 28, 2014

Apache OpenOffice Weekly News #2

Translations: (de)


Welcome to the second edition of Apache OpenOffice Weekly News.  We welcome your feedback and contributions.  You can respond with a comment on this blog post, of course.  You can also send an email to our public mailing list: dev-AT-openoffice.apache-DOT-org. 

Major Discussions

  • Marcus has been looking at ways of improving the UI of the download page and has posted a prototype of some changes that make it easier to access different languages and OS versions.
  • Juergen has started the vote to release AOO 4.1 RC4.  If the vote passes, OpenOffice 4.1 will be released later this week.

OpenOffice in the News

Friday April 25, 2014

Apache OpenOffice Weekly News #1


Translations:  (de)

Welcome to the first edition of Apache OpenOffice Weekly News.  We're experimenting with a new way to give the OpenOffice community a look into the project and what we're doing week-to-week.  We saw another Apache project,  CouchDB, do something similar,  and liked their approach.  So in the open source tradition, we're going to borrow their idea.

The exact format and timing of Apache OpenOffice Weekly News will likely change as we gain more experience with it, and based on your feedback.

Speaking of which, we welcome your feedback.  You can respond with a comment on this blog post, of course.  You can also send an email to our public mailing list: dev@openoffice.apache.org.

From ApacheCon

Major Discussions

OpenOffice websites at Apache clear of "heartbleed" issues.

What percentage of Linux downloads would you expect for Apache OpenOffice?

Proposal to drop tar.gz source code distribution and just do .bz2 for Linux users and .zip for Windows

OpenOffice in the News

"Four Months on, I'm still not using Office for Mac", David Braue on ZDNet.com:  "While I initially turned to OpenOffice as a freely available alternative when I couldn't locate my Office for Mac install disks, the reasons I've stayed with it revolve around reliability and compatibility."

"Apache OpenOffice Extensions Site Gets Social!", Roberto Galoppini reports on some exciting updates from SourceForge to the OpenOffice Extensions and Templates website

"The Apache Software Foundation Announces 100 Million Downloads of Apache™ OpenOffice™", on the ASF's official blog.

"Apache OpenOffice hits major 100 million downloads milestone in under 2 years", in PC World.  "Microsoft's Office may be the go-to productivity suite in the business world, but there's apparently plenty of room out there for challengers to thrive: On Thursday, the Apache Software Foundation announced that the Apache OpenOffice suite has been downloaded a whopping 100 million times."

Slashdot:  Apache OpenOffice Reacher 100 Million Downloads. Now What?

Tuesday April 01, 2014

Apache OpenOffice 4.2 to Bring OpenCash Support

This is an April Fool's post: it is a humorous work and it does not describe actual developments.

As we on the Apache OpenOffice project put the final touches on our 4.1 release, we've started planning for our next major release, version 4.2, hopefully out sometime mid-year. One of the exciting new features we're looking forward to is support for the OpenCash Protocol, the new open standard for on-demand funding and delivery of both traditional currencies as well as the new cryptocurrencies.

For several years it has been possible, with expensive proprietary systems, to do convenient on-demand funding and printing of postage stamps.  The OpenCash protocol advances this to the next level, extended to currencies, and in an way that makes it accessible to users on all platforms.

We're still early in the design phase for this feature, but the gist of it can be seen in the following UI prototype:

The basic flow would be:

  1. User selects desired currency, denomination and number of copies.
  2. User specifies a funding source.
  3. User confirms the desired settings, via the integrated print-preview, and prints the currency. 
No special hardware is required for traditional currencies, beyond a typical color inkjet or laser printer.  Additionally, if the user has a 3D printer then they can "print" Bitcoins, just like you see in the news.

By embedding OpenCash into Apache OpenOffice, the leading open source office productivity suite, we do more than just increase convenience by reducing trips to the ATM.  Since OpenCash permits pluggable funding sources, the integration into OpenOffice enables new models in areas like micro-finance and even fiscal stimulus.  The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!

Monday March 10, 2014

Seeking Beta Testers for Apache OpenOffice 4.1

We're looking for users interested in test driving our new Apache OpenOffice 4.1 Beta Release.   The beta can be downloaded from our website (use the yellow box).

We release Beta versions of OpenOffice to get early feedback from users.  Beta versions may have more bugs than our final GA releases and may not be suitable for tasks which require the highest level of stability. Beta versions are recommended for experienced users who are willing to share their feedback with the OpenOffice project.

The 4.1.0 Beta features:

  • Mac OS X version is now 64-bit and requires OS X version 10.7 or above.
  • Integrated iAccessible2 support, offering better integration with screen readers.
  • Annotations of text ranges in Writer.
  • In-place editing of text fields in Writer.
  • Interactive image crop feature for Impress and Draw.
  • Enhanced support for 3D charts.
  • New language translations:  Bulgarian, Danish, Hindi, Norwegian Bokmål and Thai.
  • Many bug fixes and smaller improvements as detailed in the Release Notes.

Bug reports can be entered in our Bugzilla database at: https://issues.apache.org/ooo/.  Questions and other feedback, good or bad, can be sent to our users mailing list at users@openoffice.apache.org.

After you have tried the Beta for a while we welcome your feed back via our 4.1 Beta Survey.

Thanks in advance to our Beta Testers!

Thursday February 20, 2014

International Mother Language Day 2014

On International Mother Language Day the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN agencies participate in events that promote linguistic and cultural diversity. They also encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations may use the day to announce policies to encourage language learning and support. You can visit http://www.internationalmotherlanguageday.com/ to know about worldwide #IMLD events.

The Apache OpenOffice project is proud to help commemorate International Mother Language Day on February 21.  Read more about why this day is important, how OpenOffice supports linguistic diversity, and how you can help.

Why February 21 was chosen?  February 21st was declared as International Mother Language Day (IMLD) by UNESCO.   IMLD originated as the international recognition of Language Movement Day, which has been commemorated in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) since 1952, when a number of Dhaka university students were killed by the Pakistani police and army in Dhaka during the Bengali Language Movement. This is the only event where people gave their lives to preserve the independence of using their mother language. To remember them there is a monument named Language Martyr's Monument (Shahid Minar) in Dhaka University, Bangladesh. Every year more than a million people give flowers there. This is a big event in Bangladesh. Many foreigners visit Bangladesh just to experience the way the Bangladeshi people give respect to those brave hearts. Every town of Bangladesh has a Language Martyr's Monument, where local people give flowers.  A Language Martyr's Monument is also built in Ikebukoro park of Tokyo, Japan. There are also Language Martyr's Monument in USA, UK, Italy and many other countries. Please think about your Mother Language not only on February 21 but also on other days.

The Apache OpenOffice project strongly supports International Mother Language Day and the cause of language diversity.  Our Public Service Mission includes this section on "Support for Linguistic and Cultural Diversity":

There are over 6,000 languages in the world, but unless the language is associated with a G20 economic superpower, commercial vendors tend to ignore it. The OpenOffice community has a long standing tradition of supporting a large number of languages, including languages used by smaller populations, minority languages, endangered languages, etc.   By supporting languages that would not otherwise be supported we help reduce "digital exclusion" and promote development, local education and administration.

Our most recent release of Apache OpenOffice, version 4.0.1, supported 32 languages, including Basque,  Khmer, Lithuanian, Polish, Serbian Cyrillic, Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Turkish, Vietnamese, Asturian, Czech, Dutch, British English, American English, Scottish Gaelic, Hungarian, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Tamil.

Our 4.1 release, expected to be available in beta form soon, will include several new translations, including Hindi, Bulgarian, Kazakh, Danish, Norwegian and Thai.

Although these translations are all done by community volunteers we aim for professional quality and only release support for a language when the UI is 100% translated.  We have many translations-in-progress which might also make it into 4.1, depending on their progress towards completion.  For example: Uyghur (97% complete), Hebrew (96% complete), Indonesian (95% complete,) Icelandic (95% complete), Catalan (95% complete), Arabic (94% complete), Ukrainian (84% complete) and so on.  Altogether we have support (complete or in-progress) for 111 languages.

If you would like to learn more about our localization process or to volunteer to help translate Apache OpenOffice into your mother tongue, you can read more on our "Introduction to Localization" web page.

Tuesday December 31, 2013

Apache OpenOffice in 2013: a year in review

 2013 has been an exciting year for the OpenOffice project and community.

 Click on the picture below to start a slideshow with highlights from 2013. A text-only version is under the picture.

  • January: Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1 is released in 8 additional languages (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Korean, Polish, Basque, Asturian and Scottish Gaelic) thanks to the work of new translation volunteers.
    OpenOffice supports 120+ languages, but only those that are 100% translated and maintained are officially released.
  • February: OpenOffice comes back to FOSDEM, one of the most popular Free and Open Source Conferences in Europe, with a dedicated devroom and a stand.
  • March: Apache OpenOffice starts integrating improvements from IBM Lotus Symphony, a previous fork that is now closed and donated to the Apache Software Foundation.
    The integrated improvements bring better compatibility with Microsoft Office documents.
  • April: It's time for a radical improvement of the OpenOffice user interface.
    The first major change in years, the Sidebar, is done by the Apache OpenOffice "dream team" in Hamburg in close cooperation with hundreds of other community members.
    The code, distributed under the Apache License 2.0, is promptly reused by other projects.
  • May: After a long selection process that saw over 5000 votes cast, a new logo is selected for OpenOffice 4. The winning proposal is submitted by community member Chris Rottensteiner, from South Tyrol.
  • June: The social media presence of Apache OpenOffice grows.
    The Facebook fan page at https://facebook.com/ApacheOO has about 40 new fans per day and reached the 10,000 fans milestone in 2013.
    The official Twitter account at https://twitter.com/apacheoo has more than 2,000 followers.
  • July: Apache OpenOffice 4.0 is released.
    OpenOffice 4.0 features an innovative new Sidebar user interface, additional language support for 22 languages (including 3 new languages), 500 bug fixes, improvements in Microsoft Office interoperability, enhancements to drawing/graphics, performance improvements, etc.
    The full list of improvements is available on the project's community wiki.
    Apache OpenOffice 4.0 is downloaded at an impressive rate, about 1 million downloads per week.
  • August: The official repositories for Apache OpenOffice Extensions and Templates are refreshed.
    The updates bring to the two community sites get a nicer search functionality, social media sharing features, better spam control and many other improvements.
    The sites offer more than 750 extensions at http://extensions.openoffice.org and more than 2,800 templates at http://templates.openoffice.org
  • September: The Apache OpenOffice Forum reaches 60,000 registered users.
    The official forum at https://forum.openoffice.org is the most used channel for user support, averaging over 100 posts per day and accumulating over 270,000 posts about Apache OpenOffice and all derivatives.
    The Forum and Wiki benefited from a number of infrastructure improvements in 2013, thanks to the Apache Infra team.
  • October: Apache OpenOffice 4.0.1 is released. It is a maintenance release which fixes critical issues and improves the overall quality of the application.
    General areas of improvement include: additional native language translations, bug fixes, performance improvements and Windows 8 compatibility enhancements.
    The full release notes are available on the project's community wiki.
  • November: Apache OpenOffice successfully integrates support for the Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) and IAccessible2 interfaces.
    Support for these interfaces enables screen readers and other assistive technologies to work with Apache OpenOffice, which in turn enables greater productivity by OpenOffice users who are blind or who have low-vision.
    With the new accessibility support OpenOffice becomes even more attractive for use by governments and public institutions, like the administrative region of Emilia-Romagna, in Italy, that recently announced a migration to OpenOffice.
  • December: Apache OpenOffice reaches 85,000,000 downloads.
    According to the statistics provided by SourceForge, that hosts the official downloads, the English version is the most downloaded one, followed by French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Russian.
    The Apache OpenOffice porting page at http://openoffice.org/porting lists other versions, such as a portable version for Windows, the PrOOo-box software collection in German, and AndrOpen Office, an Android port of Apache OpenOffice available since June 2013.
Have a nice 2014!



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