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From Graham Lauder <g.a.lau...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: Updates: IBM Lotus Symphony, Apache OpenOffice, IBM Docs and other fun stuff
Date Wed, 25 Jan 2012 12:08:35 GMT
On Friday 20 Jan 2012 09:24:44 Donald Harbison wrote:

Sorry this took so long to reply to, I've been busy.


> (Wearing IBM Hat)  (Warning - long post )

Warning longer post!  :)

> 
> Here's an update on what was communicated this week at the annual
> Lotusphere event in Orlando, Florida. I hope this helps clarify
> misunderstandings, and resolves lingering concerns regarding IBM plans with
> respect to investments that directly support and benefit the overall Apache
> OpenOffice project. 

IBM, and it's staffers are going to have to get used to that.  Corporate 
doublespeak is something that we are all familiar with and so it is necessary 
for those of us outside the sphere of cogniscense to try to translate between 
the lines of the words that are put out front.  Transparency is an extremely 
unusual attribute in the corporate beast.  

A Corporation looks after it's shareholders first, it's own health second, but 
as a consequence of the former and then customers come third.  "Low cost, low 
profit"  centers come far down the list of priorities.  The corporate beast is 
sociopathic, has no sense of loyalty, except that which is bought and paid for 
and is completely nonempathic.   Every dealing therefore will be and should be 
scrutinised to deduce the motives behind.  Assumption of  Altruism however, 
would be extremely unlikely no matter what was said.  

Here's what it has looked like to me and many others, this is reinforced by 
IBMs past actions with regard to OOo.  Others were more succinct: "A Pox on 
IBM" was one.  IBM have some serious pr to do

Symphony development is/was expensive, certainly for a cost free product.  
Oracle showed very quickly after the purchase of SUN that they saw OOo as a 
burden.  They went through some motions and made announcements espousing their 
ongoing support for the project.  (There's that corporate doublespeak again 
and you wonder why some are a little less than trusting)  However IBM had a 
deal, signed with SUN back in '07 wrt OOo code (I would love to know how much 
changed hands with that deal) and to avoid any messy legal stuff sat down with  
Larry's people (a question that was always in my mind: Did Larry's people 
mistakenly figure they had an automatic buyer for the whole OOo thing in IBM 
before they bought SUN? Did IBM let them think that.  It would certainly have 
explained the confused messages.) and negotiated Oracle's gift of the OOo code 
to Apache and hence, via AL2, to allow IBM unfettered access to the code 
without any copyleft baggage, without any or only little cost to IBM and also 
without the need for costly infrastructure which would be picked up by the 
ASF.  And now,.... additionally...., ASF will host the Symphony code as well.  
Slicing a few more dollars out of IBM infrastructure overheads while at the 
same time giving them an easy, low cost, exit strategy if it becomes 
necessary.  

Now it is true that there has been some money pushed toward the ASF and a 
spend on devs, which is all great, but I would seriously doubt that it would 
be a negative sum game for IBM in the medium or long term, it's just not the 
corporate way.

So the above is always going to colour things a little, that's not 
partticularly a bad thing, I can get into a yard with one of my bulls and I 
can go right up to him and pat him on the nose and rub him behind the ear but 
I always keep a wary eye on him.  That's not a bad thing, he's a Bull and 
Bulls do what Bulls will do.  It's just what it is. 

And so to the announcement, which right up front, I think is brilliant!!  
 

> There are (3) topics to look at.

[..snip as irrelevant...]

> 
> Notably, IBM announced it is ending its Symphony fork, the downstream fork
> of OpenOffice, if you prefer to think of it that way. With the July 15,
> 2011 announcement that IBM will contribute its Symphony source code to the
> Apache OpenOffice project, it makes no sense to continue a separate
> development effort. Instead, the entire Symphony development team will now
> be focused on working in the Apache OpenOffice community.

Excellent stuff, it has been a long time coming

> 
> Second, new features and function, worthy of consideration by this
> community as a 'Apache OpenOffice 4.0' release will be the primary focus
> for the IBM volunteers working in the project at Apache, after the project
> successfully completes the Apache 3.4 release.  See the AOO 4.0 Feature
> Planning wiki page here: *http://s.apache.org/hW*   

IBM "volunteers?"  _I_  volunteer.  I don't get paid to be here, I come here 
only on my own time.  That's what volunteers do, if someone is picking up a 
salary to work on AOO code that's hardly volunteering, except maybe in  
"doublespeak". Tsk!   However, whatever they're called, it will be good to see 
them pushing along 4.0, we are at a point now, having been out of the market 
for such a lengthy time, that with the new release there needs to be a 
substantially different product. 

> - As part of the public
> discussions at Lotusphere, our product manager announced a proposed 'Apache
> OpenOffice 4 the IBM Edition' name. Yes, this is long and cumbersome. It is
> intended to describe what will be a future free download of Apache
> OpenOffice with extensions bundled in that are of interest to IBM
> customers; e.g. an extension to connect Apache OpenOffice to IBM
> Connections, a social networking offer (think Facebook for Business).
>  Connections offers Profiles, Community, Blogs, Wikis, Files etc. So an
> extension will enable users to save their documents directly to the 'Files'
> repository for community sharing, etc. Other extensions are being
> considered. All extensions will be no charge. There is no monetization play
> for Apache OpenOffice the IBM Edition as there was never one for IBM Lotus
> Symphony. We will need to seek the approval to use this proposed naming
> from Apache Trademarks and this PPMC. Look for that request soon.

I must admit this completely mystifies me.  I always tell small high street 
retailers who sell machines with OOo on them: "Charge for it!"

The best test of value put on a product by the market is to sell against a 
free competition and frankly I think Symphony would sell well as a consumer 
product.  It looks good, it's interoperability, especially with MSO 07> file 
formats is excellent, better than both LO and OOo, and it has UI enhancements 
that I've been trying to get into OOo for years, especially Mail Merge and MDI 
(which was an old Star Office 5 thing) and others.  Go the Symphony team!  
Brilliant.   And yes I use and promote Symphony regularly.  

> 
> IBM is enthusiastic about the opportunity to collaborate with the community
> in a balanced way. You'll hopefully see that there is no hidden 'puppeteer'
> controlling our team member actions. Yes, we have individuals who are very
> active in Rob Weir and Juergen Schmidt, but we hope to see other
> individuals from our team contributing soon. Working in Apache is
> especially a big change of culture for our Chinese team, so I hope
> community members will be understanding and welcoming of this as you notice
> them begin to more actively participate and contribute as individuals. We
> believe there is an unusual and very exciting opportunity to bring new
> ideas and innovation to Apache OpenOffice. We also believe that many other
> like-minded companies and individuals will share this view, and step
> forward to actively participate in the community in the coming months.

[...snip...]
 
> 
> Sorry about the long post. I do understand why it's easy to get caught up
> in the 'blind man and the elephant' game, and miss the whole damn animal in
> the process. IBM has often been accused of being an elephant, so I think
> this metaphor works here. We are very excited about the future of Apache
> OpenOffice, and will do our best to work to build a self-sustaining
> community based on diversity and balance. At the same time, you will see
> alot of energy and contributions coming forward over the coming months.

Don't apologise, I'm grateful you took the time and I'm glad IBM paid for that 
time.  I am also glad you understand and I think the non-IBM community, even 
given the above reservations, will take what we are comfortable with, at face 
value and maybe over time a level of trust will emerge, it's just not going to 
happen in 5 minutes.

I talked about power on the maillists way back at the beginning and the fact 
that he who has time at the keyboard wields a considerable amount of 
power despite the "Everyone has the same vote" rule and what holds true is  
"Some are more equal than others".  True, it also means that shit is getting 
done and that's the good side of the equation or at least you would hope so, 
certainly evidence would point that way at present.  

The problem tho is that the project starts to take on the personality of those 
who are most present in terms of volume,  that has been evidenced by the 
combative tenor of this maillist since the beginning.  The Community in the 
old OOo system had it's moments and it's personalities, but the general tenor 
was of a community doing what it loved, in the company of like minded people 
with a raft of different skillsets in different communities.  It was a 
community of communities.  Not saying it was perfect, but it was a lot more 
welcoming than this community is at present.

Now IBM has zero to negative reputation in Open Source with a reputation of 
being the most guarded entity on the block.  Secret deals to start the whole 
Apache thing off first, but mouthing promises to be open.  Then the above 
announcement, that was discussed in secret with the TDF but not a whisper to 
the community or even so much as a heads up to the mentors. 

Leopards and spots come to mind.

IBM staffers certainly seem to be making the most noise on the lists except 
when it counts.  Take this announcement as a for instance.  The response to 
concerns wrt the secrecy around this announcement from the top IBM guy here:  
"If you'd come up with a few more crazy conspiracy theories we would have 
talked to you!" and this to a mentor. 

So you'll forgive us for for feeling like the blind man in the room with the 
elephant wondering if and when it's going to take a dump..

The other thing that has a certain irony to it is the constant pot shots at 
the Novell / SUSE guys, given Novell's long standing contributions to OOo and 
OpenSource in general in contrast to IBM's limited to non existent 
contribution.  And I realise that this is possibly more perception than 
reality, but you're a marketing / pr guy, so I don't need to tell you the 
connection between perception and everything.    

So, the Symphony contribution is pleasing, which I already stated back at the 
first announcement.  
The dropping of Symphony in favour of an IBM edition of AOO, I can see the 
value to the community from a marketing and brand recognition POV so that has 
positives.

In general, I think, on the surface the positives outweigh the negatives and 
while the subtext takes a little translating at times, the ASF's positive 
actions with OOo give me a good feeling about the future.

But there's that Bull Elephant again, so I keep a wary eye out.


Cheers
GL   



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