Apache OpenOffice

Sunday July 08, 2012

The Community Forum: Mid Year Status

The Apache OpenOffice (incubating) English Community Forum has registered its 50,000th member mid-June. However, there are still around 1,800 spam accounts, hence count of true members is still slightly under the 50,000 level. But we should reach it in August.

Note: the Y-axis for purple line (spammers) is on the right, 1/10th the scale of the values on the right.

First, the trend is in line with previous years, no unusual events noticed, not even after the AOO 3.4.0 release.

We had hints about spam increases at the end of last year, it has been confirmed from the very start of 2012!  After some months fighting fierce spam activity, we decided to moderate posts from new members (end of April). The result is now very effective: spam is definitively eradicated. Accounts are still banned in case of commercial links in user profile or disapproved users posting spams. The moderators team has welcomed new members in order to handle the new posts moderation (attention has been paid to cover different time zones).

Following Kevin Grignon's idea to list user experience feedback (see his page on the wiki), a new User Experience (UX) section has been opened to discuss ideas, enhancement requests in order to narrow the concept before putting it on the wiki.

We remind visitors that the Forum includes a wide set of tutorials in a dedicated section where they will find many useful tips, ranging from page numbering and spell check troubleshooting to ODF information or file association. It also includes several examples of databases.

More and more pointers to this Forum are given in the mailing lists. We hope it will help the Apache OpenOffice project, by leaving the lists free to progress towards the development of AOO and its future releases.

Finally, you may have noticed the new landing page for forums, especially the Custom Engine Search, that allows you to search the whole AOO website and restrain the search to the Forum and wiki for example.

Thursday June 28, 2012

How to Safely Download Apache OpenOffice

Syd Connelly and winning safety slogan

It happened again today.  We received an email from a very frustrated user, complaining that OpenOffice had taken over his browser, installed new toolbars, replaced the browser's home page, was causing pop-ups to surface on every page, etc.  To make things worse, none of these programs could be uninstalled via normal means.

When we at the Apache OpenOffice project receive reports like this -- and we receive them a couple of times every week -- the first thing I ask is, "Where did you download OpenOffice from?"   In today's case, when the user checked his browser's history he found what I suspected, that it was not downloaded from www.openoffice.org, but was a modified version, from another website, that was also installing other applications on his system, programs that in the industry are known as "adware",  "spyware" or "malware".

This is one of several traps for the unwary on the web today.  It does not happen just to OpenOffice.  Other popular open source applications, especially end user ones, run into this problem, e.g., Audacity, 7Zip, etc.

Things to watch out for include:

  1. Websites offering downloads of OpenOffice but requiring the use of a special "installer" or "downloader" application that installs other, unwanted applications before installing OpenOffice.
  2. Installers that ask you to send an SMS in order to receive a registration key to use OpenOffice.
  3. Websites that try to sell you OpenOffice.   This sometimes happens on online auction sites.  Although it is entirely legitimate to sell CD's of OpenOffice as a convenience (bandwidth is limited in many parts of the world), users should know that they can always download OpenOffice for free at www.openoffice.org.
  4. Websites that claim to sell you OpenOffice bundled with support, but then just direct you to the free community support forums, a service that we make available to all users at no charge.
  5. Websites that have domain names, or social media account names, that are variations on "OpenOffice", but which point to websites that try to sell you OpenOffice or offer you a download of a version that is modified to install adware.
  6. Websites that purchase sponsored ads in search engines so their advertisements feature prominently when a user searches for "OpenOffice" or "Open Office" or similar keywords, and using these ads to draw traffic to their website, where the modified version of OpenOffice is offered.

The common pattern in these cases is that someone is using the good name and reputation of our project, and often our trademarked logos, to confuse you, the user, into thinking that the website is offering you a genuine copy of OpenOffice.   These downloads, aside from the unwanted "extras" they may install, are often based on older versions of OpenOffice, and lack important security updates, putting you even more at risk.

Be safe.  Remember this simple rule:  www.openoffice.org  is the official website for OpenOffice.   Downloads there will always be free of charge.  Downloads there are reviewed and approved by the Apache OpenOffice community.  There may be other reputable websites that offer OpenOffice downloads as well, like SourceForge or CNet or others.  They stand on their own reputation. 

So what can you do if you are tricked into installing a unsafe version of OpenOffice?  
  1. If you are comfortable diagnosing and repairing your system, run anti-virus and malware scans, using a reputable program from a reputable source.  This is an occasion where getting help may be warranted.
  2. There are several services that collect reports on incidents such as this.  StopBadware and SiteJabber are two prominent ones.
  3. Let us know, at the Apache OpenOffice project, what happened to you.  If you can provide URL's, and a statement about what the software did to your system, this can help us better understand where these things are occurring and to take appropriate action.   Reports can be entered in our public issue tracker.

Wednesday June 20, 2012

5 Million Downloads of Apache OpenOffice (incubating)

Celebration of Edvard Grieg's 60 birthday

Sometime last night the 5 millionth copy of Apache OpenOffice 3.4 was downloaded.   Over 5 million downloads in 6 weeks.   To put this in perspective, the population of Norway just hit 5 million earlier this year.  That's a lot of OpenOffice!

(Apache OpenOffice is currently undergoing Incubation at the Apache Software Foundation.)

If you look at a chart of our daily download numbers you see that the download rate has increased in the past two weeks.  This is caused by our recent enabling of the update notification server.   Installations of the previous version of OpenOffice, version 3.3.0, check our servers once a week to see if a new version of OpenOffice is available.   So we're now getting a mix of new installs and upgrade installs.

So what are we doing in the project other than counting download numbers?  Quite a lot, in fact.   Many are working on a 3.4.1 maintenance release.   This release will focus on quality (bug fixes) rather than new features.  It will also include new translations, likely including UK English, Finnish and Slovenian.  Work on other translations is underway, based on volunteer interest, including Uyghur.   We're tracking the 3.4.1 items on the wiki, if you want to see the details.  Tentative date for 3.4.1 is the end of July.

In parallel with the 3.4.1 maintenance branch we're also working on discussing how best to use the Symphony contribution from IBM.  This code has many bug fixes and UI enhancements that could benefit OpenOffice users.  Some of the bug fixes from Symphony have already made it into the 3.4.1 branch.  For post-3.4.1, we are weighing two options: a slower, incremental merge of Symphony enhancements into OpenOffice, or more rapid rebasing of OpenOffice on top of Symphony.  Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, as well its supporters. 

The Apache OpenOffice project welcomes new volunteers on these and other items.  Developers are needed, of course, but also those interested in testing, technical writing, translation, web design, usability, marketing, event planning, system admins, etc.  This is a large, high visibility project where we can really make an impact in the world, but also one that is non-bureaucratic and organizationally flat, where it is easy for newbies to fit in.   It is a great place to get started on an open source project.  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.

More information on the Apache OpenOffice product, including info on how to download, 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+.

Monday June 18, 2012

Porting Apache OpenOffice (incubating) to Solaris, an interview with Nicolas Christener of Adfinis SyGroup

The Swiss company Adfinis SyGroup is active in the Apache OpenOffice project, contributing the Solaris build, as well hosting an OpenGrok index of the OpenOffice source code.   The following interview was conducted via email between PMC member Rob Weir (R) and Nicolas Christener of Adfinis SyGroup (N).

(Apache OpenOffice is currently undergoing Incubation at the Apache Software Foundation.)

R: Please tell our readers a little about yourself and Adfinis SyGroup.

N: Adfinis SyGroup AG was founded a few months ago as a result of the merge of the two companies (Adfinis and SyGroup). We have two offices in Switzerland (one in Berne and one in Basel) and around 35 employees whereof most of them are engineers.

We strongly focus on services around OpenSource technologies and have two departments. The system engineering team builds and operates server and services built on Linux/Unix and the software team develops/customizes applications based on OpenSource.

Currently we have five people involved in our work on Apache OpenOffice: David, Denis, Hans, Nicolas and Matthias.

(In the above photograph, from left to right are: Nicolas, Denis, Hans, Matthias, Dave)

R: What got you interested in Apache OpenOffice?  Were you involved at all in OpenOffice.org previously?

N: I started to build OpenOffice.org packages for the Paldo Linux distribution a few years ago and acquired a decent knowledge about the needed steps to get a proper OOo build. This involvement enabled us to make contacts in the OpenOffice community in Switzerland and concluded our first contracts for OOo consulting and engineering. Oracle's end-of-support for OOo enabled us to step in and provide services and support for other customers as well.

R: Describe some of the technical work you did to get a successful Solaris port of Apache OpenOffice 3.4?

N: As the previous builds on Solaris were mostly done by Sun and Oracle the information about this topic were quite sparse. For example, we did not know the exact compiler which was used, we didn't know what flavor of Solaris was used, and it seemed that the people who knew those things disappeared.

We decided to start with the latest OOo version, which was released on Solaris, because we knew that this one is buildable on Solaris. With the knowledge we gained during this process, we took a stab at the development version of AOO 3.4 and got a working build quite fast, which was very motivating. Most of the build breakers could be solved by patching the build system (only one modification in the code).

As one of our customers uses 3rd-party binary extensions we were concerned to maintain ABI compatibility - therefore we used the SolarisStudio compilers for our work. After we delivered a first build to our customer, they reported two major bugs which we had to fix in order to make a deployment on their system possible. It took us some time to find proper solutions for those bugs, but thanks to the great support by the community we were able to fix them and build a new version which seems to work as expected.

Finding suitable SPARC hardware is a bit of an issue too. Our current machine runs OpenSolaris 2009.06 - we hope to get better hardware soon which would also be capable of running Solaris 11.

R: What items remain before it is complete?

N: We are currently in the QA phase and wait for a final feedback from our customer. As soon as our customer decides that the build can be used for deployment (>200 workstations, many documents with several hundred or even over thousand pages, Writer is one of the most essential tool in their daily work-flow) we will build AOO 3.4 for all languages and if possible also as Solaris packages (*.pkg).

We'll make those builds available for free download and try to do this upcoming versions as well. It is important to us that the Solaris SPARC build stays well maintained. Therefore we'd like to have a continuous/nightly build, where developers can check the build logs in order to see whether their latest check-in works on Solaris SPARC. We are working on providing an official build bot for the project.

R: If someone wants to help test this port, where can they find it?

We upload all our builds to our website:

We are also interested in creating official community builds for AOO and would be glad to talk about such opportunities.

R: Do you have maybe top three tips for Linux application developers, on things to be careful about, if they want their applications to be more portable?

N: Especially concerning AOO we would like to point out that many large companies/organizations use software in their data-center (i.e., for thin-clients). In such an environment Solaris/SPARC is still a big player and a great many users depend on well-maintained ports. Therefore these deployments/technologies concern all developers and we encourage everyone to keep in mind:

  • There are other processors than Intel.
  • There are other operating systems than Windows/Linux/OS X.
  • There are other tool chains than GNU.

Buildbots are a great help to keep up this awareness.

Thank you very much for the interview! We would also like to thank Raphael Bircher for his continuous support and the whole community which does a great job in delivering a high quality office productivity suite.

Monday June 04, 2012

OpenOffice.org is now Apache OpenOffice

If you download Apache OpenOffice 3.4, or browse our website, you will notice that we have a rebranding effort underway.    I'd like to offer a few thoughts on what happened, why and what will be coming next.

When the OpenOffice.org project came to Apache, it started in the Apache Incubator, where all projects new to Apache start.  Here we worked on various tasks to integrate the project into Apache, from licensing, policy, process and cultural perspectives.    Previous posts have discussed the site migration work and the IP review/cleanup tasks.  Another task for the community was to adapt to the Apache branding policy.

Apache projects, under the umbrella of the Apache Software Foundation, share a common website, a common license, and are part of a common larger community of developers and users.  To reinforce this, all Apache projects, and their products, use the naming pattern "Apache ___", such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Subversion, Apache POI, etc.

Possible conforming names that the community discussed and considered included:

  • Apache Open Office
  • Apache OpenOffice
  • Apache OpenOffice.org
  • Apache ODF Office

 A vote was held, and "Apache OpenOffice" won.  A new logo, based on a design by Michael Acevedo, was selected, and that is what you see our website now.

Former OpenOffice.org logo

New Apache OpenOffice logo

Updating the website and the code to use this new branding will take some time.   The Apache OpenOffice 3.4 release, for example, still has some places where it refers to "OpenOffice.org".  We hope to have this rebranding completed in our next major release.

Note: You will still continue to see references to OpenOffice.org in the context of older release.  For version 3.3.0 and earlier it is still proper to refer to them as OpenOffice.org, since they are pre-Apache.  But all new work at Apache will use the name Apache OpenOffice.

Tuesday March 13, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday March 02, 2012

Retirement of legacy openoffice.org email forwarding service



As you may have heard, Oracle contributed the OpenOffice.org (OOo)  code to Apache in June. As part of this move, we will lose access to the servers that formally hosted the OpenOffice.org website and various other online services associated with the project.  Fortunately, the Apache OpenOffice project, working with the Apache Infrastructure Team, has been able to migrate most of these services to new servers, hosted by Apache.  This includes critical services like version control, downloads, website, wiki, bug tracking, user forums, etc. However, the email forwarding service will not be among the services we preserve. The OpenOffice.org email forwarder will be terminated effective March 15th, 2012.

How this will impact you

Starting on March 15th, 2012, emails sent to openoffice.org email addresses will stop forwarding.  Senders will receive a bounce notification pointing them to an OpenOffice website with more information on the termination of openoffice.org email forwarding.  No personal information about you will be shared with anyone.   If the sender already knows an alternative way to contact you, then they might resend their email to an alternative email address, or contact you via other means.  We cannot control this.  Many emails are automated, and there is no human at the other end to react to such bounce notices.  In those cases you will not receive the emails and may not even know that you have missed an email.  So we recommend that you not rely on senders reacting to the bounce notification. Instead you should proactively reach out to correspondents to notify them that your email address is changing.

What you should do

If you have an openoffice.org email address then you should take the following steps well in advance of March 15th, 2012:

  • Contact those with whom you have shared your openoffice email address and let them know to use a different address to contact you.
  • If you have subscribed to mailing lists using your openoffice.org address, then unsubscribe from your openoffice.org address and resubscribe with another address
  • If you have used your openoffice.org address as a registration address for an online service, then log in to that account and change your address.
  • If you list your openoffice.org email address on your webpage or in your profile page, then update that information.

Some special instructions for OpenOffice-related services:

  • To update the email address used with your Bugzilla account, follow the instructions here.
  • To update the email address used with your OpenOffice.org wiki account, follow these instructions:
    1. Log in to the wiki.
    2. Select the "my preferences" link at the top of the page.  You should be seeing the "User Profile" tab by default; if not, select that tab.
    3. Change your email address, and save your change.  A large notice will appear, about the confirmation email.
    4. You will get an email at your new address.  You must click on the "confirm" link to complete the change.  You should see a wiki Special Page, confirming that your new address is verified.
  • If you are subscribed to a ezmlm mailing list, such as ooo-dev, ooo-users, or ooo-marketing, then you will need to unsubscribe from the list from your old address and resubscribe with your new address.  More information on working with the mailing lists can be found here.
  • If you have an account on our Extensions or Templates website, then please login to that account and follow the given instructions for converting your account over to the new SourceForge hosted authentication. If you have forgotten your password, you can reset your password, but you need to do that immediately, before March 16th.  Also, if you received an email from communityteam-AT-sourceforge-DOT-net providing you with instructions to retain access to the OpenOffice Extensions and Templates website you can trust that source.  It is not a "phishing" attack.

For more information

You can read more about the current status of the migration effort on this wiki page.

Additional relevant information is published in our project blog (which you are currently reading).

If you have questions, you can send them to our public user support list at ooo-users-AT-incubator.apache-DOT-org.  You can also subscribe to that list by sending an email to ooo-users-subscribe-AT-incubator.apache.org

-- The Apache OpenOffice Podling Project Management Committee


Wednesday February 29, 2012

Porting Apache OpenOffice (incubating) to FreeBSD -- Ready to test!

We are pleased to note that NAKATA, Maho and Pedro Giffuni have ported Apache OpenOffice to FreeBSD.   The results of their porting effort are now in the FreeBSD ports tree, so everyone can easily build and use it.   FreeBSD users are invited to help test this port and report bugs.

FreeBSD is a free operating system based on Berkeley's 4.4 BSD source release. The code base has undergone over thirty years of continuous development, improvement, and optimization by large number of individuals. There are approximately 400 FreeBSD committers (those who can commit to the source code repository).  Development is especially focused on networking, security, performance and porting applications (they have over 20,000 well-maintained applications).  FreeBSD is used as a platform for devices and products from many of the world's largest IT companies, including, Apple, Cisco, Juniper and NetApp.  It has broken ftp performance records and powers important sites like Yahoo, Hotmail and the Apache Software Foundation's infrastructure.

Historically, the FreeBSD port of OpenOffice has been very active, stable and well maintained.  There are the legacy OpenOffice.org 3.3 and 3.4Beta ports, no longer being maintained, and the active version 3.4 port, for ongoing development.  Notably, Jung-uk Kim ported to amd64, and fixed many technical issues, and Jack Low provided builds until development migration to Apache.

Maho-AT-, Pfg-AT- and other volunteers are working with each other, and with the Apache OpenOffice project, in this work.  The FreeBSD team did not fork.  They are working as Apache OpenOffice committers, directly with the Apache project. 

Technically, porting has not been very difficult.  It has required only small, almost trivial patches, since Linux and FreeBSD are very similar.  MacOSX and FreeBSD also share many similarities which has helped improve both ports.   Porting to other BSDs would be easy as well,  since the developers have marked their fixes by adding "FREEBSD" or "BSD" comments in the code, and they wrote up many Bugzilla issues. Many build fixes for other BSDs would be same as those needed for FreeBSD's port.

Since the OpenOffice project migrated to Apache, upstreaming has become much easier than before.  Pfg@ joined the project and has pushed upstream over 30 patches.  Currently, Maho@ is concentrating on porting and consulting frequently with Pfg@.  Of course, Pfg@ not only pushes patches upstream, but also is actively working on porting.  Maho@ will commit directly to Apache's Subversion repository very soon.  

Final words: This is not the end.   Maho@ and Pfg@ continue their work on porting.  Bug reports are always welcome to {pfg,maho}@apache.org.  And if you are interested in learning more about the FreeBSD port of Apache OpenOffice, you can join our mailing list: office@FreeBSD-DOT-org.

Finally, please remember that porting to FreeBSD also is a benefit for all OpenOffice users, since it increases the overall portability of the code and provides another valuable testing environment.


Nakata Maho

Thursday January 19, 2012

Native SVG support for Apache OpenOffice 3.4 (Incubating)

Apache OpenOffice 3.4 supports embedding SVG graphics using a newly created native SVG interpreter implementation. I want to talk about the advantages and some internals of this solution and the necessary changes done.

One reason to do this was IP clearance. It allowed removal of six GPL/LGPL libraries, namely librsvg, libcroco, libgsf, gdk-pixbuf, glib, and pango gettext. These were used as an external pixel-based renderer. The new SVG uses an own internal interpreter in a new library and some new UNO API services. IP clearance was no interesting task to do, but it leaded to effects like here with SVG; the install sets get smaller (less libraries to deliver), the app needs less libraries (startup, memory, runtime) and the internal handling of SVG vector data is completely vector-graphic oriented.

There were also ODF-compatible File Format adaptions needed, more concrete the in ODF already contained and described multi-image support. In ODF, the original SVG is now embedded to the 'Pictures' folder inside the ODF file as one would expect from such a feature and can be easily extracted (unzip the ODF file and there you are). There is also a Png file written as replacement image. The draw:frame is now multi-image capable (as the spec allows). In the case of a SVG it writes a good quality Png and the original SVG as draw:image elements. Since older (and other) office versions are only capable of loading a single (and thus the first) image, the Png is written first. This allows file exchange with other and older offices without breaking backward compatibility and/or ODF file exchange. At load time, multi-image support will choose the best quality graphic available for further work, e.g. preferring vector format over pixel format, pixel format with alpha over non-alpha and lossless formats over those with losing info (you get the idea). Other ODF implementations (e.g. a viewer) may just use the pixel graphic available. Multi-image support is independent from SVG in principle and will work with all image file formats. This is implemented for the Drawinglayer graphic object (used in Draw/Impress/Calc) and the Writer graphic object (used in Writer).

SVG is no longer interpreted each time it needs to be rendered (unavoidable by an external renderer), but only once transformed to a sequence of primitives (UNO API graphic atoms). That sequence is then used for all outputs, transformed to the graphic object's form and viewport. The sequence itself is completely view-independent. Internally, it is reused and thus it makes no difference if you have your SVG graphic added once or multiple times to your document. This is also true for saving, so always only one copy of your added SVG will be written (the same is true for the replacement Png image). Both, the sequence of primitives and the replacement image, are created using new UNO API services. One is capable of converting an io::XInputStream with SVG content to a sequence of primitives, the other is able to convert every sequence of primitives to a rendering::XBitmap with given DPI and discrete sizes (pixels, with automatic resolution reduction to a given maximum square pixel count to be on the safe side). This will be useful for other purposes, too, since it creates a fully alpha-capable representation of anything in primitive format to use as e.g. sprite.

For all graphic processing the created vector graphic in form of a sequence of primitives is used. This means that you will get best quality in all zoom situations and all resolutions. This is also true for all exports, e.g. printing or PDF export which also uses the vector format. With an external renderer, it is unavoidable to use bitmaps with discrete solution in those cases, looking bad when zooming and needing more space in most cases as vector data. There is one caveat since not all program paths already use primitives; some will use the internal MetaFile format in-between (One more reason for more reworks to primitive usages in the future).

I implemented most SVG features from SVG 1.1, but not yet using animations or interactions (but possible in the future due to an own interpreter, impossible with an external SVG renderer). It supports all geometric SVG forms. It supports SVG gradients (using a new primitive for this which will be reused when we add SVG gradients to SdrObjects one day), these have a resolution-dependent low-level format to not waste runtime on low resolutions. It supports masks, clipPath, markers, linked content, embedded graphics or SVG (intern, extern, base64), SVG use nodes, text, text on curve and patterns. It does not yet support filters, color profiles, embedded scripts, interactions and linking. These can be added when needed, most of them will need to implement new primitive types (e.g. filtering) which would be useful for the future anyways. Especially interesting is the possibility to later add SVG animation import to GraphicObjects for Impress.

Some side effects: I had to fix cropping (unified with new primitive) which works now also for mirrored graphics (never worked) and quite some other stuff. We are prepared for SVG gradients as possible future feature (we can already render them now). You can work with an added SVG as with a normal GraphicObject; crop it, break it (to SdrObjects, currently limited to the transfer over the old MetaFile format, though). You can convert an inserted Tux to 3D, you can bend the SVG in vector quality in Draw. It is possible to directly export the original SVG again by selecting the object and using 'Save as Picture...' from the context menu. You can add text, line style, fill style, pretty much the same as most other graphic objects. You can add shadow which casts shadow for the SVG graphic itself as expected (also not possible with an external renderer).

This is a bigger change, but most stuff is isolated in the two mentioned services. There will be errors (I'm too long a programmer to deny that :-)), but I tried to be as careful as possible. I already got some help from other community members and fixed some reported bugs (kudos to all testers and bug writers), but to find the rest, your help is appreciated. Please feel free to play around with any SVG you can find in current AOO 3.4 builds and report problems early in the Apache bugtracker!

Here is another blog entry about an early version of this feature.
And here are some developer snapshots of AOO 3.4 when you want to check it out. Be aware that these are AOO 3.4 Unofficial Developer Snapshots; these are intended to be used for early testing by other community volunteers. They have no release quality and should not be installed in a production environment. Developer snapshots can be unstable and are expected to have bugs.


Thursday January 12, 2012

The Community Forum: New Year Status

After 4 years of existence, the Community Forum has moved on the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) servers at the end of October 2011 (see details). Here are some figures about how we are doing on the English forum. We will try to make this kind of report on a monthly basis in the forum and perhaps quarterly on the blog.

Please remember that the forum is managed by a group of users helping other users for free and on their spare time.

Some basics:

  • The number of posts, members and topics is taken from the phpBB information bottom of main index page
  • Solved topics are counted in all the forums except admin and archives sections (not visible to standard users)
  • Note that the ratio solved topics vs. total topics is slightly biased since the topics in the archives and admin sections are counted (in phpBB statistics) but not the solved ones (custom search). However, there are less than 550 topics there (in more than a 40,000 grand total, so less than 1.5%). These last figures shouldn't change very much since the private sections are not very active.

Here it is (since the solved topics is a new metric, there is only one point for the moment).

The blue line (number of posts) is not that important, it just shows that the trend is consistent with the other metrics.  The most interesting statistics are the red lines for the members and the topics (with triangles, giving the time when the figures have been recorded). Note that the ratio topics vs. members is 0.9 for the English forum and above 1.5 for the French and Japanese forums. We tend not to be too harsh for the rules on the English section and topics are not often split when different users ask questions (still related of course) in the same thread.

Activity has a slightly higher slope during the first 2 years. It may be linked to the building of the knowledge database. Once the main issues and common questions have been discussed, users find their answers more and more easily with a mere search, hence less topics needed.

Neither the release of LibreOffice (Oct 2010), nor the move to the ASF servers (Oct 2011) have changed anything for the activity.

The decrease in the number of members (end of 2011) is linked to the cleaning of banned users. They had just been banned until now but to keep only the "real users", their account has been deleted (nearly 1800). This was the first cleaning ever done from the launch of this forum 4 years ago. 1550 of them had been identified as spammers because of their post(s). 250 were passive spam (link in signature or interest field of the profile, without any post).

The ratio of the solved topics is rather good: 14,000 solved (green triangle) in 41,000 (red triangles), that makes more than 1 in 3 (all users don't bother to tag their topic as solved).

For the record, last quarter has been in line with the rest: 2100 new users from Oct 1st to end of this year, meaning 1800 new topics.
As for the spam, we have had 1800 users in 1500 days, it makes 1.21 spammer a day, still rather low, thanks to the registration process (hard to cheat for bots).

Last figures: 2011 has shown an increase in the max number of online users along the months. Peak reached 232 beginning of October. The counter has been reset on Jan 1st 2012 and is already at 214, proving the audience is still there.

Some words about the team. Let's not forget Terry Ellison who was the main maintainer of the forum until the move to Apache Software Foundation servers. His huge involvement has made it possible for both a clean running of the forum during 4 years, making it a great place for those needing/providing help, and contributing to the transfer of the forum to the ASF servers with a minimal impact for the users.

Hagar Delest,
On the behalf of the Forum Volunteers

Wednesday January 11, 2012

Features for GraphicObjects and OLEObjects

I just wanted to send some notes about added features which are part of AOO3.4 version. This one is actually the result of fixing tasks #118558#, #118485#, #108221# and #67705# which are all about GraphicObjects, OLEObjects (OLE means Object Linking and Embedding) and their geometrical attributes and properties. You may take a look at the tasks if you are interested in details, here I want to describe the benefits.

GraphicObjects are used when you insert a picture (pixel and vector data) or convert something to it. They already supported the full attribute set, so line style, fill style, text and shadow are possible. Geometrically, they could be transformed widely, but could not be sheared. Because now the content of GraphicObjects is displayed using primitives (and these are fully transformable) it is possible to also use shear and thus now completely support all geometrical transformations used in the office.

More interesting is that this is also true for OLEObjects, thus I added all these possibilities to OLEObjects of any kind, not only to our own internal OLEObjects (e.g. Chart, mathematical formula), but all possible external OLEObjects. These can now have line styles, fill styles, text and shadow and can be fully transformed. It is also possible to convert them to GraphicObjects which is the base for converting them to something else. Thus, you may now slant or distort OLEObjects, convert them to GraphicObjects, make geometrical modifications like merge/subtract/intersect with other objects or even convert them to 3D objects.

Some of the possible changes may lead too far for daily use, but some are pretty useful. It is now e.g. possible to add a mathematical formula and position it somewhere vertically by rotating it 90 degrees. It is possible to rotate chart OLEObjects themselves to get chart displays which the chart itself does not directly support. It is also useful to add a frame to a chart. With using the text offset it is also possible e.g. to add text to the OLEObject and move the text outside the object to get a caption. I leave more possibilities to your imagination...

Some examples:


(a) Math OLEObject rotated 90 degrees, blue filled and with border
(b) Chart OLEObject with gradient fill, border and object text as caption
(c) Same chart without fill, 90 degree rotation and shadow
(d) Chart bend in 2D, converted to GraphicObject (no longer an OLEObject)
(e) Chart OLEObject converted to 3D (only for demonstration, not too nice to view...)
(f) The math OLEObject, converted and bent, fill removed

I hope you got an impression; I'm not the designer guy, so excuse the examples.


Tuesday December 27, 2011

OpenOffice Grandfather's Private Thoughts

I sent out a similar email to our mailing list before Christmas and before I took a short break to relax with my family and friends. But it's maybe worth sharing with a broader audience here on the blog.

Let me first tell you something about me (Juergen Schmidt=jsc) and to explain the title of this blog. I have been involved in the OpenOffice project since the beginning and have worked on the source code before when I started to work for StarDivision in 1997. So I can for sure argue that I am one of many grandfathers of the OpenOffice project and that the last year or better the last 16 month were not the most brilliant in the long and successful history of the OpenOffice project.

A lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication led to confusion by our users and before we start in a challenging new year I would like to share some thoughts with you about the last months, my private expectations, and my wishes for the next year.

Oracle's announcement to stop their investment in OpenOffice.org was a shock for me. Well the reason is obvious, I was paid by Oracle and worked on this project. The people who know me from the past know that I am a 100% OpenOffice.org guy and I always appreciated to work on this project and together with our community. I always felt as part of the overall community. I know the reasons that were responsible for the LibreOffice fork and the split of the community and I have to confess that I can understand it. But I didn't like how it was done. If Oracle would have done this step 6 month earlier I am sure we wouldn't have this fork and we wouldn't have this split of the community. We would potentially still have the go-oo fork which was the foundation for LibreOffice but that is something different. Anyway it is as it is at the moment and we will see how it moves forward in the future.

The grant to Apache was at least the appropriate signal that OpenOffice.org as a project will never die. The brand is too big and too important, the opportunities around the product and the overall eco-system are great and I am very sure that the project will continue and will be hopefully shining brighter than before.

But a lot of work was and still is in front of us. We had to deal with a lot of things in parallel where other derivative projects didn't had to deal with at least not in public. We had to migrate the whole OpenOffice.org infra-structure to Apache and had to ensure that it worked. I think we were very successful here and have migrated nearly everything we need from a technical perspective.

Our mission was to migrate as much as possible of the available stuff on www.openoffice.org and at least save it for later use. I think we did it! Thanks to all who made this possible. And we can concentrate in the future on some structural and conceptual redesign of the main portal page www.openoffice.org to provide the information to our users that they need to find the product, to find more information like help, discussion forums, and to find the way in the community if they want to do more etc.

We couldn't simply use the code as it was and could continue with the development as in the past because of the different license. A huge challenge that is still ongoing and where I had many problems at the beginning. It is not easy to explain why you remove something and replace it with something new that provide the same functionality but is under a more appropriate license. It's simply boring work and no developer really likes it. But is a prerequisite for Apache and in the end it is better for our eco system because the Apache license is much friendlier for business usage as any other open source license. As an individual developer I don't care too much about all the different open source licenses, as long as the work I do is good for the project and in the end for our users. But I learned that the Apache license can be a door opener for more contributors and more engagement of companies. I think that is important and I am confident that it will help to drive our project forward.

And not everything is bad. With the IP cleanup we really cleaned up many things and Armin's replacement for the svg import/export is the best solution we ever had for OpenOffice and with the biggest potential for further improvements. All this is really motivating for the future!

Well we had a lot of noise and communication problems on our mailing lists and I think we missed transmitting the message that OpenOffice.org has found a new home under the Apache foundation and we have missed communicating the progress we have made in the pubic. We can do much better in the future! And I am looking forward to working with all of you on this communication part in the future. We don't have to be shy, we work on a great project with a great product and we should have enough to communicate and to share in the public (not only on our mailing list but on all the modern and very useful media like Facebook, Google+, twitter, ...)

For the next year I expect that we find our way to guide and control our project a little bit better. I expect our first release early next year and hopefully a second one later in the year where we can show that we are able to drive the project forward and that we are able to create and establish a vibrant and living community.

I wish that we can gain trust in the project and in the Apache way and that it is a good move forward. Our users simply want the best free, open source office productivity suite and they don't care about the different licenses. Enterprise users would like to see a huge and working community with the participation of a lot of different companies or at least their employees working on the project. We all know that such a huge and successful project can only work if we have individual community members as well as full-time community members. Important is the WE and the TOGETHER that makes open source projects successful.

I heart voices and read emails where people said that Apache is not able to manage such a huge end user oriented project with all the necessary things. A strong statement, isn't it. At the beginning I have to confess that I also had doubts and wasn't sure. But as I have mentioned in an earlier post on our mailing list, I have seen and got the necessary signals over time that Apache is willing to listen and is open for changes as well if they make sense for the overall success of our project and if these changes are aligned with the overall Apache principles. And I think that is fair enough for all.

The move to Apache is a big challenge for all of us. Apache had many very successful projects but none of these projects has such a huge end-user focus like OpenOffice. And of course OpenOffice is no small or new project. No it is one of biggest and most successful open source projects ever. And the migration was and is not easy. But we the community can do it, we as individuals, everybody can help and we together will do it!

And the Apache way and the Apache license have proven in the past and with many successful projects that it is a good way and a good license to achieve this.

For our users I wish that press people will do a better job in the future to research facts and stories better or if they prefer to write articles based on first-hand information that they contact the Apache OpenOffice project directly. We are here and can help with information! That will definitely help to avoid further confusion about the future of OpenOffice.

Enough from me for now and I hope that I haven't bothered you with my private thoughts. I wish you all a happy new year, enjoy these days, take your own break too, load your batteries for our next challenge in 2012.



Friday November 18, 2011

OpenOffice.org Migration -- The Community Forums

The OpenOffice.org Community Forums have been successfully migrated to operation under the Apache OpenOffice.org podling.  Forum operation, location, and resources are intact.  For users and the community that has grown the Forums into a valuable resource, it seems nothing changed.  It wasn’t so simple.  Here’s what it took and what was gained.

Community Forums on the move

Cut-over of the Community Forums completed on Friday morning, October 28.  There were few disruptions during Internet propagation of the new hosting-site location.  The migrated site is now accessed by the original web addresses.  A staging server holding the necessary software was tested using backups of the data from the Oracle-hosted Forum services.  Staging preparations started in July.  It was the first-ever introduction of a Forum system at Apache. The last backup of the “live Forums” happened on October 27.  The Forums backup was restored to the Apache staging system.  The new “live Forums” stepped in, just like the old Forums.  The transplant succeeded.

Adjustments will continue.  There will be alignment with remaining migrations of OpenOffice.org web properties.  There will be further  integration into the Apache OpenOffice.org podling operation.  Throughout remodeling, the Forums will be alive and well.

Community Forums legacy

The OpenOffice.org Community Forums originally went live on November 28, 2007.  By September 20, 2011, the English-language Forums have accumulated 200,000 posts, contributed by 45,000 Forum registrants, on 40,000 topics (threads).   At any point in time there appear to be 10-20 times as many unregistered users browsing the Forum as registered users.  The thrust is having a setting where users with questions find users with answers.  Experienced users also provide guidance to where the questions are already asked and either answered or under discussion.  The Forums are a customization of the phpBB software that is a prevalent implementation of Internet forums.

The Spanish and French forums are next in size and activity, with most other forums of intermediate size. The entire Forum base is preserved on-line.  Forum content is indexed by the major web search services. 

Always open, browsing welcome

Visiting any of the Forum entry pages and exploring any topic of interest reveals characteristic Forum features:

  • It is easy to see what the variety of topics and degree of activity has been in each subject area. 
  • Threads are organized and presented with recent, active topics located quickly; other viewing options, including of one's own posts, are selected with a single click.
  • There is integrated search for any topic and content.
  • Images and code samples can be included in posts and all can be quoted, cross-referenced, and reached via web locations.
  • The Forums provide links to extended topics on the Community Wiki, another migrated service.
  • There are tutorials on all components of the OpenOffice.org suite. 
  • Special topics include the programmability features of OpenOffice.org, including writing macros and using/creating extensions. 
  • The Forums embrace all of the descendants of the original StarOffice/OpenOffice.org that have become siblings in the OpenOffice.org galaxy.  Tips and solutions in the use of one release are often useful to users of a peer product having the same feature. 

Supporting global community

The forums were originated by a group of independent volunteers.  The entire content of the Forums is created and curated by individual users and volunteers.   With migration, the volunteer structure is supplemented by arrangements for oversight as required by policies concerning properties in ASF custodianship.  Day-to-day operations and volunteer activities are unchanged..

User peer-support grows by inviting frequent contributors to serve as volunteers.  Volunteers review Forum activity, point out where moderation is required, and participate in privacy-sensitive discussions about Forum operation.  More-experienced volunteer Moderators intervene where appropriate to provide special assistance or curate threads and subscriptions.

The OpenOffice.org Community Forums are one way that the Web connects users of OpenOffice.org-related products.  There are additional communities across the Internet with similar concerns as well as different specialties.  These can employ mailing lists, Internet news groups, and other web-based forums.  The Web and search engines bring the different resources of these communities into the reach of each other and users everywhere.   The OpenOffice.org Community Forums are now continuing as a substantial resource of that extended community.

Moving complex web properties

The OpenOffice.org web site is a complex structure of services, web pages, and downloadable content. The openoffice.org Internet domain lease is moving as part of the grant from Oracle Corporation to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). Migrating the various properties that constitute the web site is complicated. Considerable effort is required to have migration appear effortless and smooth.

Some services housed under the OpenOffice.org web locations are rather independent. Apparent integration as an OpenOffice.org web location is accomplished by splicing the service into an openoffice.org sub-domain. That is the case with http://user.services.openoffice.org/ and its ten native-language Community Forums. The English-language Forum location, http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/, illustrates the pattern for individual languages. There is also consistent appearance and other features that blend the forums into the overall OpenOffice.org site.  Maintaining this structure is important so that users can find materials where they recall them, including in bookmarks and links from other materials (including other forum posts).  Search services that have already indexed the forum pages will continue to refer seekers to those same still-correct locations.

developed in Forum Discussion collaboration among acknack, FJCC, floris v, Hagar Delest, kingfisher, mriisv, MrProgrammer, orcmid, RGB, RoryOF, and vasa1 on behalf of the Community Forum Volunteers, additional ooo-dev suggestions by Donald Whytock and Dave Fisher.

Tuesday October 18, 2011

Incubation, podling, IP Clearance, oh my!

Chicken eggs inside a chicken hatchery: Jacksonville Region, Florida

The Apache OpenOffice.org project is currently in the incubation phase. We're a 'podling'. It's where all new Apache projects begin, regardless of how mature your source code base is. In this post I'll attempt to explain a bit about incubation, and a bit about the 'Apache Way', and our current effort to meet the requirements for 3rd party code review and clearance. In future posts, I'll attempt to tackle other aspects of the project. If we all have a better understanding of how the work is becoming organized, those of you interested to volunteer will have a better idea of where to start, and those who are interested to follow our progress will have an easier way to check up on things. 

First off, a podling is not from 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' – a human being wrapped up to look like a large vegetable, or furry cute puppets from the Dark Crystal Cave of Jim Henson's imagination. It's the term we use here at Apache to describe the first phase of a prospective project; a podling is a project that is 'incubating'. Egg, podling, new thing with promise needing special care and attention. I think you get the idea.

It's that special care and attention part that is consuming the efforts of the PPMC or "Podling Project Management Committee" at the moment. If we are going to hatch, 'graduate' to a TLP or "Top Level Project" in Apache-speak, we are required to meet certain criteria evolved out of deep experience accumulated through Apache's 12 year history and its involvement with many other successful projects.

Apache defines a podling as “A codebase and its community while in the process of being incubated.” You can find the details on the complete Apache Incubation Policy here.

OK, so we have the code base, thanks to Oracle's decision, and we have a community signed in to the project already, 75 committers and growing. So where are we with the process?

When do podlings hatch, and become Apache TLP or Top Level Projects?

The abbreviated answer requires the podling to:

  • Deliver an official Apache release
  • Demonstrate you have successfully created an open and diverse community
  • Follow the 'Apache Way' through the process, documenting status, conducting ballots, maintaining a fully open and transparent process, etc.

OpenOffice is a very large chunk of code, many millions of lines of code. The PPMC has now successfully migrated all the source files into the Apache infrastructure nestled into its new nest within the Apache Subversion repository environment. We've run a build test on Linux and we know we've got the code we need to begin to build a release.

But wait, before we can meet the requirement of producing an official release, Apache requires that we conduct a thorough IP or Intellectual Property review and clearance process. This means that the resulting Apache release may be licensed under the Apache License 2. It requires that all...

“incoming code is fully signed off before any release. This simply reinforces the Apache requirements: all code must have appropriate licenses....The process of preparing an Apache release should include an audit of the code to ensure that all files have appropriate headers and that all dependencies complies with Apache policy.

This means that the resulting Apache OpenOffice release(s) will provide the maximum opportunity for the development of a broader spectrum of OpenOffice derivatives than we see today. The OpenOffice of the past, will look very different in the future as more developers become familiar with the code, and see new opportunities not previously available. 

Right now, our immediate task is to resolve the licensing incompatibilities for 3rd party code modules used by OpenOffice. Since Oracle did not possess the copyright for these modules, they were not included in the original Oracle Software Grant Agreement, and therefore we are working to either deprecate, or find a replacement that may be used either as a binary file or an alternative source file that fills the function needed. We're confident that the process will be concluded in the next weeks, but it is detail-oriented work, and must be done thoroughly and correctly in order to clear the path for an official podling release of Apache OpenOffice.

Before we can produce an Apache release, we must complete the code clearance step, ensuring that the license headers include License and Notification files for all artifacts in the build be done to the satisfaction of the PPMC and the Incubator PMC which governs the Apache OpenOffice podling. This will clear the way forward to develop a realistic target date for issuing our first 'Apache OpenOffice.org' release 

In future posts, I'll sketch out how the project is being organized, mapping out the areas that offer interesting and exciting opportunities needing new volunteers to step up and take on.  

- Don Harbison, PPMC Member, Apache OpenOffice.org

Wednesday October 05, 2011

The second Japanese language mailing list on Apache

I am a moderator for ooo-general-ja/AT/incubator.apache.org.

I have checked the mail archives on mail-archives.apache.org and found that there are 3 non-English language mailing list on mail-archives.apache.org such as dev-br/AT/spamassassin.apache.org, dev-de/AT/spamassassin.apache.org and axis-user-ja/AT/ws.apache.org.

Maybe axis-user-ja/AT/ws.apache.org is the first Japanese language mailing list on Apache.  See one of posts from this archive.  It's in Japanese encoded ISO-2022-JP but parts of it is garbled. It was posted on Wed. 01 Dec 2004 06:18:12 GMT.

2 Japanese moderators and 2 Japanese volunteer testers are now testing ooo-general-ja/AT/incubator.apache.org.

I hope Japanese be no garbled :)



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