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From Rob Weir <apa...@robweir.com>
Subject Symphony contribution
Date Wed, 13 Jul 2011 22:00:57 GMT
I'm sending this with my IBM "hat".

I'm going to be speaking at the ODF Plugfest in Berlin Friday
afternoon, and will be making some announcements.  I wanted you to
hear this first, before anyone else knows.

You know about IBM Lotus Symphony, our free (as in beer) product which
is based on OOo.  We're doing well with it, I think.  Along with
various numerous interop, performance enhancements and functional/bug
fixes, we've done some significant work in the accessibility and user
interface in general.  If you saw recently, PC Magazine gave Symphony
3.0 its "Editors' Choice Award" [1].  In the review they praised the
"interface that's been tweaked by IBM to make it by far the
user-friendliest no-cost productivity suite, and one's that's friendly
enough to rival the spacious and informative interface that Microsoft
created for Office 2010 and that Apple created for iWork '09."  So the
UI enhancements are getting some notice.

However, we at IBM have not been exemplary community members when it
came to OpenOffice.org.  This wasn't necessarily by design, but for
various reasons, that was the effect.  Yes, we participated in various
community councils, and sponsored conferences and worked together on
standards.  But when it came down to the code, we maintained Symphony
essentially as a fork, and although we occasionally contributed code
back, we did not do this well, or often.

We'd like to make some changes in how we do things, and the fresh
start at Apache is a good opportunity for this.

We will be doing the following:

First, we're going to contribute the standalone version of Lotus
Symphony to the Apache OpenOffice.org project, under the Apache 2.0
license.   We'll also work with project members to prioritize which
pieces make sense to integrate into OpenOffice.  For example, we've
already done a lot of work with replacing GPL/LPGL dependencies.
Using the Symphony code could help accelerate that work and get us to
an AOOo release faster.  We've already converted the help files to
DITA, which could help accelerate that work, if we chose to go in that
direction.

Aside from the work that would help accelerate getting AOOo to our
first release, we've also added other features that I think we should
consider merging in.  For example, the IAccessible2 work which helps
Symphony work better with assistive technology.    I know an older
version of this work sits in an OOo CWS someplace, but it will be
easier to integrate that work if we start with our latest code.  We've
also added VBA macro support, which is great for MS Office interop.

Also, as the PC Magazine review notes, we've done some really good UI
work.  I invite you to download Symphony [2] and take a closer look at
this.  Yes, it is different from what OOo has today.  And a move of
that magnitude has an impact on documentation and translations as
well.   But the feedback we've received from customers and reviewers
is very positive.  Do we integrate parts of the Symphony UI?  That is
something for the project to discuss and decide on.

Finally, we will be proposing [3] a new incubation project at Apache,
for the ODF Toolkit.  These Java libraries enable new kinds of
lightweight document processing applications.  We think this would
work well as an Apache project, and we look forward to moving that
into incubation and developing that complementary project forward.

So that's essentially what I'll be announcing on Friday.  The above
contributions will occur over the next couple of months, starting with
the ODF Toolkit.  I hope you see the exciting possibilities as much as
I do.

Regards,

-Rob



[1]  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387439,00.asp

[2] http://symphony.lotus.com/

[3] http://odftoolkit.org/projects/odftoolkit/pages/ApacheProposal

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