Apache OpenOffice

Friday Nov 15, 2013

Apache OpenOffice 4.1 to Bring Enhanced Accessibility Support

The Apache OpenOffice project is pleased to announce that it has successfully integrated support for the Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) and IAccessible2 interfaces.  Support for these interfaces enables screen readers and other assistive technologies to work with Apache OpenOffice, which in turn enables greater productivity by OpenOffice users who are blind or who have low-vision. 

The new accessibility code, based on the donation of IBM's Lotus Symphony, will now undergo extensive testing.  The plan is to ship the new accessibility support in Apache OpenOffice 4.1, early in 2014.  With this support added Apache OpenOffice, the leading open source productivity suite, also becomes the most accessible one.

The IAccessible2 interface was developed as a superset of MSAA interfaces, to enable enhanced support for document editors,  including support for rich text, tables, spreadsheets, etc., while allowing assistive technology developers to preserve their existing investment in MSAA support.  IAccessible2 is supported by assistive technologies such as JAWS, MAGic, Window-Eyes, NVDA and ZoomText.

As we did with the award-winning Side Panel UI in Apache OpenOffice 4.0, and all other features we develop, we will publish the IAccessible2 code under the Apache License 2.0.  This allows anyone to use, copy and redistribute OpenOffice freely.  The license also allows others to take our source code, integrate it into their products and develop it further.  That is what open source is all about.  In a healthy open source ecosystem code flows in both directions.  A new feature is developed in OpenOffice, and the code is taken by downstream consumers.  As that code is tested further ("Every new class of users finds a new class of bugs") and fixes are made, these fixes should be contributed upstream.  This reduces future merge costs for the downstream consumer.  It is also the right thing to do, to help improve the code that your project benefits from and which your users depend upon.  We invite all downstream consumers to engage with the Apache OpenOffice project, especially those that have so far neglected to do so, in order to improve the accessibility code that is of mutual benefit and that is so critical for the open source community.  Help your neighbor.  Be a hacker, not a hoarder.  Our website has further information on how to contribute patches.

If you want to receive notification of when Apache OpenOffice 4.1 is available you can sign up for our announcements mailing list by sending an email to announce-subscribe@openoffice.apache.org.   You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  If you want to help test the new accessibility support, before it is released, you can send a note to our QA mailing list to learn more:  qa@openoffice.apache.org.

Comments:

I do not understand why you still complain that LibreOffice uses your code under your license. You posted showing that you have all brand recognition. You posted showing that you have much more downloads. Rob wrote a series of posts showing that LibreOffice has no significant number of developers, and OpenOffice is widely supported and sponsored. People who mention LibreOffice in Bugzilla are told to stop mentioning that program. You post many times why no-one should take notice of LibreOffice. So why do you still continue talk about them?

Posted by Mack Mendoza on November 15, 2013 at 03:24 PM UTC #

You guys & gals deserve our thanks and appreciation for all you do (and do so well)!

Posted by Maurice Howe on November 15, 2013 at 04:02 PM UTC #

Congratulations! Can you check it out why it take so long to approve Portable version? Thank you. http://bit.ly/1hQX4B3

Posted by oversky on November 18, 2013 at 04:49 AM UTC #

Most people probably aren't aware of the significance of this. It goes a long way toward breaking the screenreader monopoly; a "killer app" of JFW is its office intigration. Having a viable free alternative that all people can access is awesome and empowers a great deal of indeviduals.

Posted by Drew on November 18, 2013 at 05:09 AM UTC #

Good evening, At present I am running on my computer Microsoft XP Pro Service Pack 3. How do I uninstall Microsoft Office Pro Plus 2010? Thanks, Norman

Posted by Norman A. Solow on November 19, 2013 at 03:45 AM UTC #

Thank You for all your efforts. After somewhat buggy 4.0, 4.0.1 replaced so inconvenient libreoffice for me. Keep polishing it, do no revolutions please...

Posted by Pavlo on November 19, 2013 at 08:39 AM UTC #

need to update

Posted by opikason thankgod on November 19, 2013 at 04:36 PM UTC #

after i update my mc softwar version 10.9 openoffice is not work right . please help

Posted by Harry on November 21, 2013 at 06:55 PM UTC #

Still enjoying the side panel on my laptops and trying to 'sell' all the folks we work with on moving to OO4.01. Looking forward to even more updates.

Posted by Jefferson Martin on November 21, 2013 at 08:51 PM UTC #

@Mack, LibreOffice was not mentioned at all in this blog post. What are *you* complaining about? We have many projects that are based on Apache OpenOffice code, including independent BSD, Solaris, OS/2 and Android ports, a portable version (winPenPack) that runs from USB drives and, of course, LibreOffice. Several, but not all of them, already contribute patches up stream to us. All of them are invited to contribute. This is a standard part of the FOSS ethic and should not be seen as controversial.

Posted by Rob Weir on November 24, 2013 at 09:28 PM UTC #

@oversky, We have not heard anything from portableApps in over a year. They are not waiting for us to approve anything on the Apache side. But note that there is another portable applications project, winPenPack, that has a portable version of Apache OpenOffice 4.0.1: http://www.winpenpack.com/en/download.php?view.1341

Posted by Rob Weir on November 24, 2013 at 09:33 PM UTC #

Great suite. I just switched from MS Office to OO 4.01 and I'm very pleased with it. Integrated support for those interfaces is a great news. Thank you for all your work. On the side note someone should clean up the posts in the addons section. Some of them are as stupid as the ones on Youtube, which I never thought would be possible.

Posted by Steve on November 25, 2013 at 11:44 PM UTC #

Just to say a big thank you for the great work. We, as blind people, are until now quite tied to MSOffice for a real productivity suite, and with the ribon menus it becomes a nightmare. not to mention the license prices ! Hope OOO 4.1 will be able to expose the accessibility features even if running from a pen drive. imagine the potential then... My only contribution can be a bit of money. I'm going to see how to donnate.

Posted by Arnaud on December 03, 2013 at 08:48 AM UTC #

In my previous assignment which extended 5 plus years, used open office due to its fully funtional user interface and features which were not available in other programs which I will not take the liberty of naming here. Our company found the program to be extremely useful and containing same, and additional,easy to use options. Some of which are not available in MS office, and are easier to navigate when using open office when using compound properties of hte program. Respectfully & Best regards, George E. Myers

Posted by George E. Myers on December 03, 2013 at 06:29 PM UTC #

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