Apache OpenOffice

Friday January 11, 2013

Books about OpenOffice

Civic library, Newcastle, 18/9/1957, Hood collection

As the leading open source office productivity suite for over a decade, it is not surprising that Apache OpenOffice (formerly OpenOffice.org) has attracted attention from authors of technical instruction books.  A search of the catalog of online book retailers shows many titles, including a new one on OpenOffice Basic from as recently as a few weeks ago.

We encourage books to be written about Apache OpenOffice.  This is good for the ecosystem.   We keep a list of known books about OpenOffice on our website.  If you know of a book that we are missing, be sure to let us know via our marketing mailing list.

Also, authors and publishers of books related to OpenOffice are encouraged to contact us (via the above marketing mailing list).   We can help in several ways.  For example, we can answer any technical questions you might have about OpenOffice.  We can also answer any of your questions regarding the use of Apache OpenOffice trademarks in your book. We're also interested in doing interviews with authors for this blog.  Again, contact the marketing mailing list for more information.

Monday January 07, 2013

Your top questions answered

A little over a month ago we asked our users to submit questions to us, on any OpenOffice-related topic.  Users also had the opportunity to vote questions up or down, so we could identify the questions that were of the greatest interest.   We received 274 questions, and 1,743 votes were cast by 365 users.   Thanks to all who participated!   Let is know, via your comments, whether such Q&A is useful. 

But without further delay, the top questions, as voted by you, along with our answers, are:

1a. "From an end user's point of view what is the advantage of OpenOffice over LibreOffice?"

1b. "What is the difference between LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice ? "

(Combining two related questions) 

The question asked for an end-user point of view, so we went and asked our users what they thought.  Using our Facebook page we asked the following question: "You have a choice of several open source office suites. Why do you use OpenOffice rather than alternatives like LibreOffice or KOffice?"

The results were:

  • Features (47%)
  • Quality (22%)
  • Compatibility/Interoperability (22%)
  • Reputation/Familiarity (9%)

Of course, your needs and preferences may or may not be the same as these users.

2. "Why are some bugs never handled? I've reported at least one -- a showstopper for some MS Office users -- that has never been fixed nor, so far as I can tell, even viewed seriously. Even just more feedback would be appreciated."

Giving a specific answer is impossible, since we don't know what bug the user is referring to.  But in general terms we treat all bug reports seriously.  Our testers attempt to verify them and then classify them according to severity and priority.  We don't release a new version of Apache OpenOffice if there are outstanding showstopper issues.   In any case, we encourage the user to communicate the details of their concern directly to the project by commenting on the specific defect report in Bugzilla.

3."Do you share code with Libre? sub question A: If so, will you soon both be even more similar -- in effect unforked? Sub question B: If you are not using each other's code, why not?"

 We cooperate and coordinate and share with LibreOffice, as well as other open source and even proprietary application vendors, in several ways:

  • We coordinate on the response and responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities that may affect both products due to their common code base.  Although this is not visible to the public, due to the sensitive nature of the topic, there is a shared mailing list subscribed to by security experts from both projects, where we address such issues for the mutual benefit of our users.
  • Experts from both projects, along with representatives from other open source and proprietary products, work together at OASIS, on the Open Document Format standard, which is the native format for both projects.  For example, experts from several open source projects are active in defining enhanced change tracking for ODF 1.3.
  • Similarly, at ODF Plugfests we work with other editor vendors, open source and proprietary, on testing and other activities to improve interoperability.
  • The code that we create in Apache OpenOffice is under the Apache License 2.0, which is compatible with most other open source licenses, including those used by LibreOffice.  So all of our code is made available for others to use.  This is not just a theoretical statement.  We see ongoing integration of Apache OpenOffice features into LibreOffice.  This is a good thing, and we encourage it.
  • It is easy for developers to contribute their work to both Apache OpenOffice and other open source projects as well.  We have a few volunteers who are happy to contribute to both projects, and we've seen programmers contribute their patches to  both LibreOffice as well as Apache.

So there is a good amount of sharing already occurring, though not as much as we'd like to see.   We'll continue to seek ways to engage more directly with LibreOffice developers, including at the upcoming FOSDEM conference in February.

4. "Now that Apache OpenOffice is part of the Apache Software Foundation, can we then expect a cloud solution ? (NOT only interface, but also collaboration tracking)."

It is often thought that Apache is only about server software, or only about cloud computing.  Certainly the ASF hosts some key applications in this space, from the Apache HTTP Server to Apache Hadoop.  But Apache has all sorts of software projects, from developer-oriented tools like Apache Ant and Apache Maven, to domain specific libraries like Apache OpenNLP.  What is common across the Apache projects is not technological.  The commonalities are:

  • A common permissive open source software license, the Apache License 2.0
  • A common way of working within a project, a set of social/cultural norms called The Apache Way.
  • The common benefits of working within an established non-profit foundation.
  • Shared responsibilities for common infrastructure, common events (ApacheCon, for example).

But aside from these commonalities, each project charts its own path for how its product evolves.  So moving to Apache does not mean that we will necessarily develop a cloud solution, though this is certainly a topic of discussion and is of interest to some of our volunteers.

5. "I am curious if there is a free product like Adobe Reader/Writer in OpenOffice? Thanks for your help."

OpenOffice is not intended to be a replacement for a dedicated PDF reader/editor.  But we do have some strong PDF export support.  You can access this feature under the File/Export menu item.  There are additional PDF export options in the dialog that give you additional control over the output.  

6. "Is the project looking at the needs of multi-user installations such as government and business organisations?"

Yes.  We're investigating improvements in the following areas:

  • Support for incremental updates, so a maintenance update can be applied without requiring a full re-install.
  • Support for admin/script directed "silent" installs, with ability to control default settings, which extensions are installed, etc.
  • Reducing the storage requirement of the per-user profile information.
If you have additional requirements, let us know.

7. "Open Office doesn't handle tables in Word well - for example re-sizing of columns, keeping table rows together, inserting page breaks within tables. Could OpenOffice development include a goal of fully matching MS Office functionality for tables?"

Improved interoperability with Microsoft Office is a key requirement for many users.  We're in the process of merging in a significant number of improvements in this area (over 100) from the IBM Lotus Symphony contribution.  These improvements (you can see some examples of them) will start showing up in Apache OpenOffice 4.0.

8. "When is OpenOffice going to get a visual refresh and be built with each OSes native widgets?"

A visual refresh is part of our continuous effort to improve the user experience (UX).  It is challenging to innovate with a modern UI vs. gradual transformation of the huge amount of existing users, leverage OSes native widgets vs. keep consistent look & feel across multiple platforms.  Look at the mixed feedback Microsoft gets when it makes major changes to its UI for an example of some of the issues we are dealing with.

Our UX designers and developers are working together on a visual refresh.  You will notice some improvements in Apache OpenOffice 4.0.  You can see some of the design sketches on our wiki.  The more feedback we get from you, the better design we can make.

9a. "Is there a version of OpenOffice for iPad3?"

9b. "Can I load OpenOffice onto my Google Android tablet?"

(Combining two related questions)

Apache OpenOffice is available from the project for Windows, MacOS and Linux.  Community members additionally have ported OpenOffice to BSD, Solaris and OS/2, and make these ports available on their own websites.   There is also a new 3rd party port to Android.    There is also a 3rd party service called rollApp, that allows remote access to an OpenOffice session from an iOS device.

10. "Why is the "User Profile" causing so much trouble in migration from older versions to 3.4.1?"

Apache OpenOffice 3.4.0 and 3.4.1 manage the user profile differently than previous versions. The user profile contains the user's customizations and installed extensions, and the new handling helps make the OpenOffice startup faster and reduces the amount of disk space it uses. The old user profile is not deleted when OpenOffice is upgraded.  It is automatically converted so that users can keep their extensions and settings. In a minority of cases, especially with highly customized profiles (many extensions or customizations) the conversion doesn't succeed.  Typical symptoms are: frequent application crashes, problems with dictionaries or thesaurus, OpenOffice starting and crashing after a few seconds. To solve this, just reset/rename your user profile as explained in the OpenOffice community forum. http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/viewtopic.php?t=12426

These problems should go away with Apache OpenOffice 4.0, since with major version updates we start with a clean profile.

11. "Does Apache OpenOffice run on Windows 8?"

Yes.  Although Microsoft Windows 8 was only in preview when we released Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1, subsequent testing and user feedback has been positive, and no incompatibilities have emerged so far.  Note: OpenOffice runs as a desktop application on the x86 or x64 platforms.  We don't support Windows RT or the Metro UI.

12.  Is a portable version of OpenOffice available?

 Yes. It's called "X-ApacheOpenOffice", see http://www.openoffice.org/porting/

Thursday December 20, 2012

Random Numbers in Calc: Small Enhancements That Can Make a Difference

RAND() is one of those barely noticeable functions that seem to be trivial and a given in modern spreadsheets. The truth behind RAND() and other functions that try to simulate the real world in some way is that they are extremely difficult, and maybe even impossible, to do correctly.
Historically OpenOffice Calc used a very naïve random number generation function based on the system's libc. The system libc version is usually very outdated and is only meant to produce very limited results, but perhaps more dangerously such a random number generator is system dependent so moving your work from one system to another will cause problems or at least changing behaviours.

As soon as I noticed that OpenOffice used such an obsolete function I thought it would be easy to replace this with some modern algorithm that could guarantee good results: I was right.  Incredibly, despite being a closed commercial product, Microsoft described the algorithm they chose as the basis for their implementation in Office[1]. Microsoft has indeed taken note of the requirements of their users and updated the functions to generate random numbers in Excel 2003 with the well documented implementation from Wichmann and Hill (1982).

Since 1982 there have been several well documented algorithms, but there was a natural enchantment in using the same algorithm used by Microsoft; after all they are the leading Office Suite and users tend to know better the behaviour of their suite. After an initial implementation I found that Wichmann and Hill developed an update to their original algorithm in 2006 that completely overcomes some serious limitations in 1982: the original implementation had in mind 16-bit systems while 32 and even 64 bit platforms are ubiquitous nowadays.

The code is not complex; the implementation of the new code was done during two days (part time) following three steps:

  1. A basic implementation in C to generate some initial numbers for testing. The seeding was done with the traditional libc rand() function.
  2. Adaptation of the code to work inside OpenOffice: this involved selecting carefully the variable types and finding a method to keep the seeds under control. I was careful to avoid an embarrassing condition of generating negative values. I was also lucky to find in OpenOffice an alternative to generate the seeding values without using rand().
  3. Testing, testing, and more testing … first locally and now at a wider scale.

I have not discarded yet implementing the popular Mersenne Twister algorithm, which is known to be faster, has a longer period and is available in other spreadsheets (and even as an OO extension), however there is a value in variety: the current algorithm fits perfectly the requirements of a spreadsheet like Calc and uses native features to support good random seeding. Alternatives like Mersenne Twister are already available.

The really nice thing, of course, is that thanks to the Apache License the code is available to be enhanced and improved or even scrapped and redone better in the future by OpenOffice derivatives, non-technical coders like me, and even commercial producers like Microsoft.

Can you help us testing the new pseudorandom number generator? Even though our aim wasn't to obtain crypto-grade quality in the generated numbers, we take our numeric algorithms very seriously, and we're looking for the best. We encourage anyone who wants to help to put our code through rigorous tests and help us find any problems to write to our developers mailing list.

Pedro Giffuni.

[1] http://support.microsoft.com/kb/828795
[2] Wichman, B.A. and I.D. Hill, Algorithm AS 183: An Efficient and Portable Pseudo-Random Number Generator, Applied Statistics, 31, 188-190, 1982.
[3] B. A. Wichmann and Hill, Generating good pseudorandom numbers, Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, Volume 51 Issue 3,  December, 2006, Pages 1614-1622.
[4] M. Matsumoto and T. Nishimura, "Mersenne Twister: A 623-dimensionally equidistributed uniform pseudorandom number generator", ACM Trans. on Modeling and Computer Simulation Vol. 8, No. 1, January pp.3-30 (1998)

Monday December 10, 2012

Apache Asia Road Show Beijing 2012

Apache OpenOffice in Apache Asia Road Show Beijing 2012 at December 13

Apache Asia Road Show Beijing 2012 will be held at December 13, and Apache OpenOffice will deliver a session in the conference. In the Apache OpenOffice session, Peter Junge, Apache OpenOffice PMC member, will give a speech to introduce Apache OpenOffice, its history and way in Apache. And other contributors in Beijing will also give their speech to share the best practice of contributing to the open source community, as well as building enterprise business and Cloud/Social solution on top of Apache OpenOffice.

Please visit the Apache Asia Road Show Beijing 2012 website and register: http://apacheasiaroadshow04.eventbrite.com . We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Apache OpenOffice将在12月13日Apache Asia Road Show Beijing 2012大会上介绍其发展及解决方案

Apache Asia Road Show Beijing 2012将于12月13日在北京中关村软件园举行。届时Apache OpenOffice将在大会上介绍其发展及相关解决方案。 在论坛上,Apache OpenOffice项目管理委员会成员Peter Junge将首先介绍Apache OpenOffice及其历史和发展方向。其他在北京的Apache OpenOffice志愿者也会分享在Apache OpenOffice开源社区做贡献的经验,以及如何基于Apache OpenOffice开发企业应用和云计算及社交解决方案。

欢迎大家到Apache Asia Road Show Beijing 2012网站注册: http://apacheasiaroadshow04.eventbrite.com!让我们共同关注Apache OpenOffice,共同推动开源社区的发展!

Monday November 26, 2012

Apache OpenOffice reach out to the world

Call for Translation Volunteers

The Apache OpenOffice project issues a Call for Translation Volunteers, to help us complete several translations that are nearly done, but need an extra push before we can release them.  Languages that are almost done include: Danish, Korean, Polish, Asturian, Uighur, Icelandic, Indonesian, Welsh, Catalan, Bulgarian, Latvian, Greek, Basque, English (South Africa), Portuguese, Swedish, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati, Irish, Oriya and Turkish.  We welcome with native fluency in these languages.  Read on to learn more, or if you know you want to help this page has more information on how to get involved.

OpenOffice and Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

OpenOffice is known for the many, many languages it supports, over 100.  This broad coverage included many languages that commercial vendors often ignore, including languages used by smaller populations, minority/regional languages, endangered languages, etc. For example, South Africa has 11 official languages. OpenOffice has been translated to all of them. By supporting languages that would not otherwise be supported we help reduce "digital exclusion" and promote development, local education and administration.

Apache OpenOffice Translations

With the move from OpenOffice.org to Apache OpenOffice we have decided to ship only translations that are complete and which are supported by the community.  This helps raise the overall quality.  Currently we have full UI translations released for English, Arabic, Czech, German, Spanish, French, Galician, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Russian, Brazilian Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Finnish, British English, Khmer, Slovak and Slovenian.

How you Can Help

We would like to support as many languages as possible. If we are missing Apache OpenOffice in your native tongue, we need your help to change this. The project is open to support any new language as long as their is an active translation community behind it. OpenOffice is made by volunteers and we need more help in different areas. Localization is one key area here and it requires no programming skills. Everything you need is motivation to help and all other things can be learned from other volunteers who already help with translations.

We have a solid base for some languages where we already have more than 93% coverage of the translated user interface strings. That means it is not too much work needed to make Apache OpenOffice available in these languages. For some of the languages volunteers have already started or already finished the translation and they will be released soon. It's now up to you to help us to support more languages.


If you are interested, don't wait! Simply join our l10n mailing list by subscribing to the list, send us a note and you will get the help needed to get started.  More information is also on our How to Help Translate Apache OpenOffice page.  Join our community and be part of one of the biggest open source project on the world. You can help actively and you can make the difference!

The effort should be moderate and more volunteers can speed up the work on one language. For example making the translation for Danish complete took round about 30 hours starting by 97% UI coverage and here the missing pieces in the help files were translated as well. We plan to release further languages for AOO 3.4.1 and the next translation deadline is December 31th, 2012.

Arabic is already released but we are missing an active translation community for Arabic at the moment. This can be a problem for future AOO releases and if you speak Arabic and are interested please join us, your contribution and help would be very much appreciated.

 UI Coverage
 Korean, Polish, Asturian, Uighur, Icelandic, Indonesian, Welsh, Catalan, Bulgarian, Latvian
 97%  Greek, Basque
 96%  English (South Africa)
 95%  Portuguese, Swedish, Marathi, Kannada, Gujarati, Irish, Oriya
 93%  Turkish

Wednesday November 21, 2012

Call for Marketing Volunteers

Gifford Park, Edinburgh with large adverts

A Call for Marketing Volunteers

This is a call for volunteers for the Apache OpenOffice (formerly OpenOffice.org) Marketing team.  We have big plans for our next major release, Apache OpenOffice 4.0.  As our development and QA volunteers work on the engineering side of this release, we're also building up our capabilities in critical supporting functions like Marketing.    A high performance Marketing team is essential to explaining the value of OpenOffice to users worldwide.  This work has a direct impact on the success of the OpenOffice project.  It is also fun!

 Why volunteer?

Why would you want to volunteer with OpenOffice Marketing? A few things to consider:

  • We're a fun, international group of volunteers, with a range of skills and experience, dedicated to free software and spreading the word about OpenOffice.
  • Helping with marketing is a good way to "give back" to the open source community, something that can be done without requiring special technical skills.
  • Contributions are needed from volunteers with a range of experience levels and interests. From copy writing to event planning to graphic design, we need volunteers in many creative and business-oriented disciplines.
  • This is a good way to learn about marketing, or one if its sub-disciplines, and gain practical experience.
  • OpenOffice is among the most recognized open source brands, up there with Linux, Android and Firefox. Your contributions to our marketing efforts will potentially be seen by millions of users.

What we do

Marketing is the set of activities our volunteers undertake to communicate the value and benefits of the OpenOffice product, as well as the OpenOffice project, to potential users and potential project members. Marketing activities within the Apache OpenOffice project include:

  • Monitoring and contributing to our social networking presence
  • Planning and participating at local and international conferences, giving presentations or staffing booths and answering questions about Apache OpenOffice and the project
  • Writing and reviewing project blog posts and press releases
  • Answering questions from the press, or being interviewed about the project
  • Designing new marketing collateral, such as brochures or CD cover art
  • Working as a team to refresh the product's brand and visual signature
  • Surveying users to understand their needs and concerns
  • Creating a YouTube video to show the highlights of an upcoming release
  • Working as a member of a core marketing team to enable a much larger group of volunteers and users promote OpenOffice.

How to Get Involved

You can start now, in three easy steps:

  1. Subscribe to our public Marketing mailing list by sending an email to marketing-subscribe@openoffice.apache.org and respond to the confirmation email you will then receive.
  2. Introduce yourself on the mailing list by sending an email to the Marketing mailing list:  marketing@openoffice.apache.org
  3. Review our self-paced orientation modules to help you get started.  If you are already familiar with open source projects at Apache, then you can quickly skim over the Level 1 and Level 2 modules and concentrate on the short Introduction to Marketing module.   If, however, you are new to Apache, and want a more methodical approach to getting started, then you can start at Level 1 modules first.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Wednesday November 14, 2012

Good news: LibreOffice has integrated my SVG import feature

[Read More]

Sunday November 11, 2012

Apache OpenOffice track at ApacheCon: Day 3

To complete our coverage of ApacheCon Europe 2012, here's a brief overview of some sessions and activities from Day 3. Slides, audio and/or video of all sessions will soon be posted on the ApacheCon Europe site.

See the reports of Day 1 and Day 2 for further information.

Microsoft interoperability and cross-project cooperation

The day opened with the presentation by Matthias Stuermer about a User initiative for improving OOXML integration in LibreOffice/Apache OpenOffice: the German cities of Munich, Freiburg im Breisgau and Jena, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, the Swiss Federal IT Steering Unit (FITSU) and the canton of Waadt agreed to provide 140,000 EUR to improve the OOXML filters in LibreOffice/Apache OpenOffice. Improvements are expected in the formatting of borders, images, tables and bulleted lists in .docx documents, correct display of comments in .docx and .xlsx documents and the possibility of embedding fonts.

To ensure that the code could be useful to both projects, the consortium demanded that the source code be available under the Apache 2 license, the new Apache OpenOffice license, which guarantees that the code can be reused by other projects. The license is a necessary but not sufficient condition to allow a smooth integration: the talk was followed by a short discussion on how to make sure that Apache OpenOffice can really use the code. The Apache OpenOffice project welcomes contributions that are meant to benefit more than one project, and if you are considering such a contribution please e-mail our development mailing list to know how to manage it properly.

In a related talk, Weike Liang explained his work on improving the .docx export filter in Apache OpenOffice, where he showed new developments based on code that is already present in Apache OpenOffice but is disabled since its quality does not yet match the high expectations users have of the Apache OpenOffice export filters.

Other highlights of the day include: an introduction to the OpenOffice build system by Andre Fischer (with a live build going on during the talk!), Scripting Apache OpenOffice by Rony Flatscher of the University of Vienna (showing several interesting "nutshell scripts" to demonstrate how to programmatically work with Writer, Calc and Impress) and Jian Lee's talk on how he improved the table formatting in Writer, and especially stability and performance of the table-splitting algorithm.

Apache OpenOffice and the Apache community

A conference is much more than sessions. It is an occasion for people to meet, for ideas to sparkle and for contacts to be created. This was the first ApacheCon for the Apache OpenOffice community, only two weeks since it had become a top-level project, and it showed that Apache OpenOffice and the Apache community at large can be mutually beneficial.

For example: imacat, an Apache OpenOffice PMC member, organized a session about Women and Gender Diversity at Apache; our developers had technical discussions with the Apache POI and the Apache ODF Toolkit (incubating) developers to study possible synergies. And it was very nice, while dropping by to watch some presentations from other tracks, to see that most ApacheCon presenters had prepared their slides with Apache OpenOffice using the presentation template contributed by OpenOffice committer Shenfeng Liu and friends. See you at the next ApacheCon!

Friday November 09, 2012

You Can Help Us Improve OpenOffice

Hamilton Watch. Inspecting plate - skilled inspecting job, 1936

A Call for QA Volunteers

This is a call for volunteers for our QA team.   The Apache OpenOffice (formerly OpenOffice.org) project has an ambitious plan for our next major release.  But for this plan to be successful we need to grow our Quality Assurance (QA) team to keep up with the output from our programmers.  The more QA volunteers we have, the more bugs we can find and get fixed for Apache OpenOffice.  This work has a direct impact on OpenOffice product quality.  It is also fun!

 Why volunteer?

Why would you want to help with OpenOffice QA? 

  1. We're a fun, international group of testers, of a range of skills and experience, dedicated to free software and making OpenOffice a high quality choice for users.
  2. This is a good way to learn about QA and get some practical experience.  This is useful, for example, if you are thinking about Software Quality Engineering (SQE) as a possible career choice.
  3. Helping as a tester is a good way to "give back" to the open source community in a way that makes a direct difference in the product, but doesn't require programming skills.
  4. It is a good way to raise the visibility of bugs in areas that matter to you.  For example, maybe you personally are concerned about bugs that cause problems on the Mac, or bugs that impact color blind users, or bugs related to bidirectional text.  Participating on the QA team is a good way to ensure that areas of personal interest work right.
  5. We have tasks for volunteers with a range of skills.  From novices who can help with manual testing and fix verifications, to experts who can help with our test automation framework, we have a full range of QA activities.
  6. As an extremely popular open source product, with many millions of users, there are opportunities here to do some new and exciting things on the QA front.  We're a laboratory for new ideas and approach to QA.

 What does QA do?

QA activities within the Apache OpenOffice project include:

  • Reviewing incoming bug reports from users to see if the reported issues can be reproduced
  • Verifying bugs that the developers say they have fixed, to confirm that they actually have been fixed
  • Testing new builds of OpenOffice against a test plan
  • Defining new test cases
  • Running automated regression tests
  • Specialized tests in areas such as performance, accessibility, localization, security, etc.
  • Analyzing defect reports to see how we are doing, in terms of quality level, defect find and fix rates, etc.
  • Reporting summary defect data and recommending whether a given build of OpenOffice is ready to release.

What are we looking for?

The skills we need on the QA team include:

  • Familiarity with OpenOffice as a user.
  • Attention to detail.  In QA we find the bugs that the developers missed.  And our developers are pretty good.
  • Access to a Windows, Mac or Linux machine for testing
  • Interest, enthusiasm and teamwork.
  • Also, specialized skills are always welcome, such as expertise in assistive technology tools, bidirectional scripts, East Asian text layout, power users of OpenOffice Base, etc.

How to Get Involved

You can start now, in three easy steps:

  1. Subscribe to our public QA mailing list by sending an email to qa-subscribe@openoffice.apache.org and responding to the confirmation email you will then receive.
  2. Introduce yourself on the list by sending  an email to the QA mailing list:  qa@openoffice.apache.org
  3. Review our self-paced orientation modules to help you get started.  If you are already familiar with open source development at Apache, then you can quickly skim over the Level 1 and Level 2 modules and concentrate on the Introduction to QA module.   If, however, you are new to Apache, and want a more methodical approach to getting started, then you can start at Level 1 modules first.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Thursday November 08, 2012

Apache OpenOffice track at ApacheCon: Day 2

Here are a few selected topics from Day 2 of the Apache OpenOffice track at ApacheCon Europe.

For full coverage, see the reports from Day 1 and Day 3.

OpenOffice in the cloud: online version

Judging by the number of questions made during the presentation and by the number of "new" faces in the audience, the star of Day 2 at the Apache OpenOffice track in ApacheCon Europe was Jian Hong Cheng and Fan Zheng's presentation about "Cloud Apache OpenOffice Based on HTML 5". The prototype implementation shown during the presentation relies on a "headless" instance of Apache OpenOffice that runs on a remote server, listens to the actions the user performs in the browser, and provides XML snippets in response, which are in turn rendered in the browser. Although the code is still at an early stage, this is an exciting development! Many Apache folks attending the session provided feedback and suggested technologies, so this looks like a project where Apache OpenOffice can benefit from input from the Apache community at large.

In related news, the presentation by Xiu Li Xu, Kejia Ye, qi hui, Shenfeng Liu, DaLi Liu focused on how to integrate OpenSocial with Apache OpenOffice to accelerate the content sharing and support the business in cloud. Two social extensions for Apache OpenOffice were demonstrated. These improvements will already be implemented in Apache OpenOffice 4.0, coming in early 2013.

Bashing Apache OpenOffice for a good cause

A series of talks today had a peculiarity in common: they were all highly critical of specific technical features of Apache OpenOffice. But they did it for a good cause: these parts have recently been improved, or will be soon, in the undergoing major effort towards a more maintainable code base, offering easier entry points to developers but preserving the current stability of the code:

  • Andre Fischer destroyed the current slide show functionality with a great talk on how we can achieve smoother, eye-pleasant animations in Apache OpenOffice Impress. As he put it, currently "Impress... doesn't", but a proper redesign will allow a better integration of video and audio and direct support for 3D effects. Andre concluded his presentation by showing an experiment of smooth video playing with on-the-fly 3D transformations.
  • Herbert Duerr pointed out the opportunities with platform integration: the issues we are now having with system integration require work on many areas, including 64-bit ports and multi-threading. And the Apache OpenOffice code is written at a level that makes some basic system integrations difficult, but support for specific features such as some "gestures" in Mac OS X is coming in 4.0.
  • Pedro Giffuni showed how outdated dependencies were making the early Apache OpenOffice code unnecessarily complex and easy to break. The "IP clearance" period, one of the first actions taken during incubation, allowed to get rid of useless dependencies and to replace some outdated code, while preserving the previous functonality and stability and making ports (like the FreeBSD port) easier.
  • Dwayne Bailey, one of the main Pootle developers, and Juergen Schmidt made a comprehensive analysis of what can be improved in Pootle and in the Apache OpenOffice localization process respectively. The new Pootle will include an easy-to-use AJAX interface and direct support for translation memories and suggestions. Dwayne will be looking into extending Pootle with functionality useful for a new, simplified localization process currently in early stages of development at Apache OpenOffice. It is worth noting that the Apache OpenOffice repositories already support more than 100 languages, but only 20 are released since the project policy is to release only complete translations. Version 4.0 is already scheduled to be released in at least 8 new languages and we welcome translation volunteers for other languages.
Andre demonstrating his work on real-time video rendering in Impress: impressive!
Herbert explaining support for mobile devices
Juergen showing the many languages we support in Pootle (the source code has even more); only a few dozens are at 100% and thus conform to the Apache OpenOffice release policy

Community activities

Several talks mentioned how Apache OpenOffice can better integrate with the Apache community at large: opportunities for cooperation are huge and we definitely look forward to exploiting them.

And those who still had energy after a full day of talks gathered just before dinner for a community panel. A lot of ideas came out of the group, including: creating a new entry point for Apache OpenOffice press requests, welcoming requests in different languages; getting Apache OpenOffice published in App Stores; packaging Apache OpenOffice for the most common (or all!) GNU/Linux distributions; setting goals for version 4.0, like doubling the number of supported languages.

You can see a 3D rendering of the group here (courtesy Andrew Rist): http://360.io/LWdsMb ; if you are curious to know who's who, in the flat version at http://360.io/LWdsMb/f you see (left to right): half Juergen, Oliver, Andrea, Mechtilde, Herbert, Caroline, imacat, Christoph, Michael, Svante, Dwayne, Pedro, Andre, Rony, empty, Svante again (!), Armin, half Juergen.

Apache OpenOffice track at ApacheCon: Day 1

The OpenOffice official debut at ApacheCon was definitely successful, with the big Apache community providing a warm welcome to the Apache OpenOffice folks. All presentations are being recorded (audio and slides) and they will gradually be made available on the ApacheCon site, but we are picking a few topics from Day 1 of the OpenOffice track for those who couldn't attend the conference.

For full coverage, see the reports from Day 2 and Day 3.

Status and future of Apache OpenOffice and its ecosystem

What's coming in Apache OpenOffice 4.0? And when? And, in general, what does the future of the product and the project look like? What happened during the latest 16 months and what is the current status? You can get the answers from Andrea's presentation below, "OpenOffice at Apache"; it is divided into two parts, the first one taken from a "personal" perspective, the second one from a "broader" one.

Two presentations described in detail specific significant technical improvements coming to OpenOffice in 2013:

  • Andre Fischer presented the ongoing accessibility work, that will already be integrated in OpenOffice 4.0. Enhanced support for IAccessible2 will make Apache OpenOffice a world-class application as far as accessibility is concerned. It will also include support for the main screen readers on Windows: JAWS and ZoomText and will simplify government adoption of Apache OpenOffice by complying with Section 508 and similar regulations.
  • Armin LeGrand presented his impressive work (ongoing for 2.5 years, with an estimated 6 months remaining) on migrating the OpenOffice DrawingLayer, one of the central components in Apache OpenOffice, used for the internal rendering of graphic objects in all the applications, to a more modern code. The huge development can be followed in branch aw080 and it already differs in more than 340,000 lines of code from the current code. Improvements will have positive effects on stability, speed, precision and enable more fancy features in the future.

The presentations about Apache OpenOffice were complemented by a review of the status and possible future ideas for two fundamental components of the Apache OpenOffice ecosystem: the Extensions and Templates websites. The presentation, by Roberto Galoppini (who could not attend due to food poisoning, unfortunately, and was replaced by Andrea Pescetti) can be found on Roberto's blog. As you can read there, Roberto looks forward to feedback and suggestions from the community.

ODF sessions

Besides Apache OpenOffice as a product and as a project, another important topic in the Apache OpenOffice track is the ODF format. An interesting panel discussion about the current status of ODF and future improvements was moderated by Svante Schubert and Oliver-Rainer Wittman. Among the new features coming in future ODF versions, we discussed in detail the new change tracking, with an introduction by Oliver-Rainer Wittman, an analysis of options and challenges by Svante Schubert and a demo of an extension for an improved change-tracking by Peter Rakyta from MultiRacio Ltd.

Community and fun

The ApacheCon offered opportunities for some social activities too. Old project volunteers could meet the recent community members in person for the first time. Community activities ranged from a constructive session about building and maturing the community (moderated by imacat and Andrew Rist, with outcomes to appear on the dev mailing list soon) to moments of crazy geeky fun with imacat's presentations (made with... Calc!) on how to render music videos in Calc!

 A presentation made with Calc!
 Gangnam Style, as stop-motion in Apache OpenOffice Calc
You can also see imacat's presentation on Slideshare or download it as a large Apache OpenOffice Calc file.

Thursday October 18, 2012

OpenOffice Graduates from the Apache Incubator

Columbia, 6/3/14 (LOC)

We're pleased to announce that the ASF Board, at their October monthly meeting, approved a resolution promoting the Apache OpenOffice Podling to an Apache Top Level Project.   The Board also appointed a Project Management Committee (PMC) to oversee the project, with Andrea Pescetti as Chairman.  

Further details on the graduation can be found in this ASF Press Release.  Also available are translations into Italian, German, French, Japanese, Spanish, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Danish, Slovak and Brazilian Portuguese.

The members of the Project Management Committee, along with the many Committers and Contributors now look forward to continued success in developing the award-winning Apache OpenOffice productivity applications. 

What does this mean for users of OpenOffice?  In the near future there will be some changes to the website and mailing lists, as we move out of the Incubator.  We're hoping to avoid any disruptive changes during this transition.  Details of changes will be posted on our wiki.  But aside from these small administrative and infrastructure changes, work on the next release of Apache OpenOffice continues.  And we all look forward to meeting in Sinsheim, Germany, in a few weeks for ApacheCon Europe!

Tuesday October 09, 2012

Calling all OpenOffice Consultants

NASA Deputy Administrator Robert Seamans, von Braun and President Kennedy at Cape Canaveral

Most users are able to download, install and use Apache OpenOffice (formerly OpenOffice.org, now undergoing incubation at Apache) using only freely available assistance: help files, online documentation, wiki or our volunteer-led community support forums.  But in some cases, with larger, customized deployments, migrations, more complex requirements, etc., users and companies using OpenOffice might need some extra help, some professional expertise to help them get where they want to go. 

This is where the larger OpenOffice ecosystem comes in, with professional services of all kinds, offering training and certification, deployment and migration services, and various levels of customization and development services.

The legacy OpenOffice.org project hosted a list of individuals and companies offering OpenOffice-related services.  But this directory was not well-maintained and had many dead links and outdated information.   So we've decided to start from scratch with a new directory.   And with the new directory comes a new invitation to submit your information for inclusion.  We're looking for professional services directly relevant to Apache OpenOffice and our users.   If you want to submit a listing, please see these instructions for the specific criteria and procedures.   If you have questions, please direct them to our ooo-dev mailing list.

Note: At Apache we never pay for development, and we do not recommend or endorse specific consultants.  But we are offering this directory as service to users and the broader ecosystem.

Friday September 28, 2012

Use the Source, Luke

Space Shuttle Program

We take a lot of pride in the success of Apache OpenOffice (formerly OpenOffice.org, now undergoing incubation at Apache).  With over 100 million downloads, and a million more downloads every week, our award-winning, free and open office suite has grown and continues to grow in popularity. But this is not just a popularity contest.  An enormous amount of public good comes from our work.  We serve users that for-profit vendors often ignore, such as speakers of minority languages, or users in non-lucrative markets.  We do this by publishing software, but also by helping users use it, and by encouraging a broader ecosystem of templates and extensions.   The Public Service Mission of OpenOffice describes in more detail the public good that our volunteers help create, in their work to support this user-centered ecosystem.

The visible OpenOffice application, and its user-centered ecosystem, gets most of the public notice.  This is natural for a product that is used by consumers, in a market of over one billion potential users.  But behind the product that consumers see is a product that in many ways is even more important.  This is the source code, the computer instructions that put "source" into "open source".

The Apache OpenOffice source code consists of around 7 million lines of code.  It is daunting at first, even for experienced programmers.  But within this source code lies everything that OpenOffice does today, as well as the seeds of its enormous future potential. 

The community and extended ecosystem around this source code consists of:

  • Programmers who work directly in the Apache OpenOffice project, doing their primary coding for the project.
  • Developers who take the source code from our releases, or our version control system (where we store the code) and make their own products.  Sometimes these are ports to other operating platforms.  In other cases they are repackaged versions, optimized for specific install scenarios or runtime environments.
  • Developers of extensions.  Like Apache HTTP Server and their modules, OpenOffice has a powerful extensibility mechanism.   Many developers can accomplish their tasks without making modifications to the core product.  Our Extensions website features many 3rd party extensions.
  • OpenOffice also supports end-user programming via templates and macro.    Our Templates and Extensions websites feature this user-contributed content. 

So yes, OpenOffice is free.  You can download it and use it without charge.  You can make copies and give them to your friends.  As many copies as you want.  But what makes OpenOffice truly open source is that it comes with the source code, which anyone can also download, modify freely and redistribute. 

Programmers interested in working with the source code to Apache OpenOffice will find useful information on our website.

Thursday August 23, 2012

Announcing Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1

Launch of Friendship 7

Apache OpenOffice™ 3.4.1 launches, with more languages, improved performance and stability.

(This announcement is also available in Italian, French, Simplified and Traditional Chinese.)

The Apache OpenOffice project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1, the latest release of the free and open community-developed productivity suite.  This maintenance release builds upon the success of Apache OpenOffice 3.4.0, which has been downloaded over 12 million times by users in 228 countries, and adds further language support, platform compatibility, performance enhancements and bug fixes.  OpenOffice 3.4.1 can be downloaded now from http://www.openoffice.org/download/ or by going to the the Help/Check for Updates dialog within OpenOffice 3.4 or 3.3.

Apache OpenOffice (formerly OpenOffice.org) is undergoing incubation at Apache.

Complete details for the contents of the 3.4.1 release can be found in the release notes.  Highlights include:

  • New support for Khmer, Finnish, British English, Slovenian and Slovak languages.   The Dutch, Spanish, Italian and Hungarian translations have also been improved.  Along with US English, German, Japanese, Czech, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Gallician and Arabic, this brings the number of languages supported to 20.
  • Support for Microsoft Windows XP up to Windows 8 (32-bit), Linux 32-bit and 64-bit, and Apple Mac OS, including Mountain Lion.  New to this release are compatibility fixes for improved operation in Microsoft Windows 8.
  • Enhancements in performance, interoperability and security
  • Fixes for 69 bugs reported by users.
  • Community members are also working on BSD, Solaris and OS/2 ports.  More information can be found on our OpenOffice Porting Project page

Apache OpenOffice users also have access to broad ecosystem of 3rd party enhancements. The newly renovated Extensions and Templates websites, re-engineered and hosted by SourceForge, currently feature 2388 templates and 628 extensions.

    Future Releases and Invitation to Submit Ideas

    In parallel with work on the Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1 maintenance release, project members have also been working on changes for the 3.5 release.  Areas of focus for 3.5 include: improved MS Office interoperability, performance, stability, usability and support of additional languages.  We are targeting the first quarter of 2013 for Apache OpenOffice 3.5.0.

    A major update, Apache OpenOffice 4.0, will follow, including additional features and improvements merged in from the the IBM Lotus Symphony code recently contributed to Apache.  There is also opportunity in this release to think "outside of the box" and bring additional innovation.

    As a project we are starting to brainstorm about what could be possible in Apache OpenOffice 4.0.  We invite OpenOffice users, community members and other interested parties to join us in this process, to help make version 4.0 the kind of radical success that version 1.0 was over a decade ago.  We're using Google Moderator to collect and rate ideas.   Please join us and share your ideas.


    Apache OpenOffice is a community-run open source project.  The Apache OpenOffice project welcomes new volunteers in all project-related disciplines, including coding, QA, UI design, translation/localization, documentation, web design, and marketing.  If you are interested in volunteering, you can send an email to our public mailing list, at ooo-dev-AT-incubator.apache.org.   Introduce yourself and tell us what you would be interested in doing. 

    For more information

    More information on the Apache OpenOffice product can be found at our website, www.openoffice.org.

    To be added to a mailing list for official OpenOffice-related announcements, send an email to ooo-announce-subscribe-AT-incubator.apache.org. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Identi.ca and Google+.



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