Apache OpenOffice

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

Comments:

[Trackback] #Apache #OpenOffice.org (incubating) - http://bit.ly/qlxBax more info on the podling

Posted by glynmoody on October 19, 2011 at 08:23 AM UTC #

What is required to constitute "an open and diverse community?"

Posted by xanthon on October 19, 2011 at 10:01 PM UTC #

I think Apache OpenOffice.org is too long as the name, why not just Apache Office ?

Posted by vincent on October 21, 2011 at 09:52 AM UTC #

I hope this gets to the page. My earlier comment didn't. I would like to know where new urls will be listed, particularly for the forums and downloads. My previous comment asked what constitutes "an open and diverse community."

Posted by xanthon on October 21, 2011 at 10:27 PM UTC #

All of this wasted time and effort because lawyers fill copyright licenses with myriad terms and conditions that no one can understand. The real problem is these licenses. Companies should not be able to write their own laws, because they try to write licenses that look like they grant rights, but in fact do not grant any rights at all. Basically, I am saying that every copyright license I have ever seen is, at it's core, fraudulent on that basis. It is simple. Unless copyright holders start acting like adults and respecting the rights of the public then copyright should be eliminated. It serves no useful purpose anyway, except perhaps for the employment of lawyers.

Posted by Renee Marie Jones on October 22, 2011 at 02:48 PM UTC #

Meanwhile, the rest of the world that isn't using MS Office has moved on to LibreOffice and doesn't even think about OpenOffice.org anymore. Don't take that the wrong way: I wish what's left of the OpenOffice.org project the best of luck and would love to see another strong, competitive open source and open standards office suite come out of this. Just keep in mind that there's no point in OpenOffice.org coming out of the coma that Oracle put it in unless it eventually becomes more than just an inferior clone of LibreOffice.

Posted by Anon on October 22, 2011 at 05:39 PM UTC #

@ Anon "Meanwhile, the rest of the world that isn't using MS Office has moved on to LibreOffice" I don't think so. There are to many new bugs and awful changes in LibreOffice. I think about Calc and Base especially. It is not possible to change from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice in a company. But I see also a problem with ASF. They are Americans and Americans often do not understand what they do not like to understand. One thing they do not like to understand is that there are different cultures, cultures of working together. Call it "The Apache Way" or call it "The American Way", it isn't always the best choice. For the ASF it's an imperative. The future will show if "The Apache Way" will work (American history says it didn't). Anon, you and a couple of friends aren't the rest of the world!

Posted by Jürgen Lange on October 24, 2011 at 11:21 PM UTC #

@xanthon, Graduation to a Top Level Project will require approval by the Apace Incubator PMC and the Apache Board. One of the criteria they evaluate is whether we have an "open and diverse community". You can read the detailed guidelines here: http://incubator.apache.org/guides/graduation.html#community As for URL's, note that Oracle has given Apache the openoffice.org domain name (as well as several related ones). So the intent is for the Forums and the download page to be at the same URL, although those sites will be now hosted on Apache servers.

Posted by Rob Weir on November 01, 2011 at 10:39 AM UTC #

Please do the world a huge favor and join forces with The Document Foundation and merge OOo with LibreOffice! The Free Software community is wasting so much coding effort on having these two separate, but oh so similar projects going at the same time, and we're wasting so much time and energy telling everyone that they should switch from OOo to LO! Please let us use all of that time and effort on moving forward faster instead! The real enemy is getting stronger while we do stupid stuff like this.

Posted by Borge A. Roum / forteller on November 17, 2011 at 02:53 AM UTC #

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