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OOo

Does the Open Document Format still matter?

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One of the core topics of this blog -at least one of the main reasons it came to existence- was open standards: their benefits, their advantages, and their value as a fundamental component for digital innovation and ultimately software freedom. This is still the case of course, but today I will try to show how one open standard in particular, ODF, has failed in its approach until now and could very well make a remarkable comeback.

This is not to say that ODF is a bad idea or that it is not a good standard; it is all this and much more. However I have realized with the hindsight of several years since it became an official ISO standard that the expectations about its adoption and its development have been defined the wrong way. Hence the title of this post.

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ODF - the state of play - The future of ODF under OASIS, now that the standards war is won.

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ODF - open document format - is an open, XML-based rich document format that has been adopted as the standard for exchanging information in documents (spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word processing documents), by many governments and other organisations (see, for example, here), including the UK Government. This is despite strong opposition by Microsoft; but I have seen Microsoft's proposed "open XML" standard and, frankly, it is huge and horrid (in the word of standards, these go together). If I remember correctly, the early draft I saw even incorporated recognition of early Excel leap-year bugs into the standard.

ODF is now a pukka ISO standard, maintained by OASIS, under the proud banner: "The future is interoperability".

My personal thoughts, below, are prompted by an ODF session at ApacheCon Core titled "Beyond OpenOffice: The State of the ODF Ecosystem" held by Louis Suárez-Potts (community strategist for Age of Peers, his own consultancy, and the Community Manager for OpenOffice.org, from 2000 to 2011), and attended by very few delegates - perhaps a sign of current level of interest in ODF within the Apache community. Nevertheless, and I am talking about the ODF standard here, not Apache Open Office (which is currently my office software of choice) or its Libre Office fork (which seems to be where the excitement, such as it is, is, for now), the standards battle, or one battle, has been won; we have a useful Open Document Format, standardised by a recognised and mature standards organisation, and even Microsoft Office supports it. That's good.

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Editable version UK’s ODF guidance

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A free software advocate has created an editable version of the UK government’s Open Document Format manuals, the “ODF Guidance”. Making the texts available on the Github software development repository facilitates others to edit, update and translate the texts, explains Paolo Dongilli, uploaded the documents to Github on 28 October.

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Announcing Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2

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28 October 2015 - The Apache OpenOffice project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of OpenOffice 4.1.2. You can download it from the official website http://www.openoffice.org/download

Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 brings stability fixes, bug fixes and enhancements. All users of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.1 or earlier are advised to upgrade.

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Sharing Work Is Easier With An Open Document Format

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The Open Document Format (ODF) is one such format. ODF was specified by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), an industry consortium which aims to produce standards for e-business.

Key players in OASIS include the tech giants Sun Microsystems (now part of the Oracle) and IBM. Sun has been one of the main drivers of the format as it grew out of the format used by its free OpenOffice application. In 2006 the Open Document Format was approved jointly by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) as an international standard for office software.

Sun promised not to enforce any of its patents against implementations using the OpenDocument standard, although there can be much uncertainty associated with patents.

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Happy Birthday, OpenOffice.org!

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15 years ago the original OpenOffice.org source code was published by Sun Microsystems, on Friday, October 13, 2000, a Full Moon day. The source code that changed the Free Software office suite world and laid the basis for LibreOffice.

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Apache OpenOffice Coming

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  • Next Version of Apache OpenOffice Coming Soon

    There is a new version of OpenOffice on the way. The suite of productivity tools has a long and stories history, and the Apache Software Foundation is now the steward of it. According to an announcement, development of Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2 is almost complete and the release is coming shortly.

    The new version is slated to bring better Microsoft Office interoperability (including Sharepoint compatibility), as well as multiple improvements to all individual applications, including Writer, Impress, Draw, Calc, and Base.

  • Apache Is Going To Release A New Version Of OpenOffice

    Five years ago today marked the fork of OpenOffice.org into LibreOffice and coincidentally the Apache Software Foundation put out news this weekend that a new version of OpenOffice is coming.

Coming soon... Apache OpenOffice 4.1.2

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A new OpenOffice update, version 4.1.2, has been in preparation for a while. Born as a simple bugfix release, it became an occasion for some deep restructuring in the project: several processes have now been streamlined (and some are still in the works), new people are on board and infrastructure has been improved.

Now the wait is almost over, and we are approaching the final phases before the 4.1.2 release. But we still need help with some non-development tasks, like QA and final preparations (press release, release notes and their translation).

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UK Cabinet Office Says “Hello, You Must be Going” to ODF

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Technological evolution is famous for obsoleting wonders created just a few years before. Sometimes new developments moot the fiercest battles between competitors as well. That seemed to be the case last week, when Microsoft announced its Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on…(wait for it)…Linux, the open source software assailed by the company’s prior CEO as a communist cancer.

It also saw the UK Cabinet Office announce its detailed plans for transitioning to the support of the OpenDocument Format (ODF), a document format that was just as fiercely opposed by Microsoft in the most hard-fought standards war in decades. But at the same time, the Cabinet Office announced its commitment to work towards making document formats as close to obsolete as possible.

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Dutch Standards Board mulls making ODF mandatory

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The Standardisation Board of the Netherlands wants to make the use of the Open Document Format mandatory for Dutch public administrations. ODF is one of the required ICT standards in the Netherlands, following a policy dating from 2007. However, the document format is ignored by most. This should change, said Nico Westpalm van Hoorn, the chairman of the standards board, speaking on Tuesday at the ODF Plugfest in The Hague.

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today's howtos

Leftovers: Software

  • SOGo v3.0.0 released
    After about 1.5 year of development, Inverse is extremely happy to announce the immediate availability of SOGo v3.0! This release is considered ready for production use.
  • Tupi 0.2 revision git06 (Kunumi)
    After a year without significant activity, this release has an special meaning not only because it represents the continuity of the project but our strong intention of making of Tupi a professional tool for educational and young artists communities around the world.
  • [RetroShare] Release notes for final 0.6.0
    v0.6.0 is now considered final. This post summarizes the main lines of work since the release of 0.6.0-RC2 (last june).
  • OpenShot 2.0.6 (Beta 3) Released!
  • OpenShot 2.0 Beta Is Now Available for Public Testing
    The update is the third full beta release of the revamped video editor but only the first to made available for public testing. Backers of the OpenShot crowdfunding campaign have been able to use beta builds of the hugely revamped non-linear video editor since January.
  • Atom 1.5.0 Has Been Released
    Atom is an open-source, multi-platform text editor developed by GitHub, having a simple and intuitive graphical user interface and a bunch of interesting features for writing: CSS, HTML, JavaScript and other web programming languages. Among others, it has support for macros, auto-completion a split screen feature and it integrates with the file manager.
  • HPLIP 3.16.2 Brings Support For Debian 8.3, Linux Mint 17.3 And New Printers
    As you may know, HP Linux Imaging and Printing (HPLIP) is a tool for printing, scanning and faxing for the HP printers.
  • Ixion 0.11.0
    Version 0.11.0 of the Ixion library has been just released. You can download it from the project’s home page.
  • Now You Can Use uTorrent Without Ads, Thanks To New Subscription Model
    In the past, the parent company Bittorrent Inc. has relied on an ad-based revenue model to keep uTorrent up and running, but now they have realized the need for a premium experience for the users by charging a nominal amount. Until now, bundled software that hides inside the uTorrent installation package has only consumed space on your computer. The development team is well aware of this issue and that’s why they have come up with the ad-free uTorrent.

Kernel Space: Linux, Graphics

  • Linux kernel bug delivers corrupt TCP/IP data to Mesos, Kubernetes, Docker containers
    The Linux Kernel has a bug that causes containers that use veth devices for network routing (such as Docker on IPv6, Kubernetes, Google Container Engine, and Mesos) to not check TCP checksums. This results in applications incorrectly receiving corrupt data in a number of situations, such as with bad networking hardware. The bug dates back at least three years and is present in kernels as far back as we’ve tested. Our patch has been reviewed and accepted into the kernel, and is currently being backported to -stable releases back to 3.14 in different distributions (such as Suse, and Canonical). If you use containers in your setup, I recommend you apply this patch or deploy a kernel with this patch when it becomes available. Note: Docker’s default NAT networking is not affected and, in practice, Google Container Engine is likely protected from hardware errors by its virtualized network.
  • Performance problems
    Just over a year ago I implemented an optimization to the SPI core code in Linux that avoids some needless context switches to a worker thread in the main data path that most clients use. This was really nice, it was simple to do but saved a bunch of work for most drivers using SPI and made things noticeably faster. The code got merged in v4.0 and that was that, I kept on kicking a few more ideas for optimizations in this area around but that was that until the past month.
  • Compute Shader Code Begins Landing For Gallium3D
    Samuel Pitoiset began pushing his Gallium3D Mesa state tracker changes this morning for supporting compute shaders via the GL_ARB_compute_shader extension. Before getting too excited, the hardware drivers haven't yet implemented the support. It was back in December that core Mesa received its treatment for compute shader support and came with Intel's i965 driver implementing CS.
  • Libav Finally Lands VDPAU Support For Accelerated HEVC Decoding
    While FFmpeg has offered hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding using NVIDIA's VDPAU API since last summer, this support for the FFmpeg-forked libav landed just today. In June was when FFmpeg added support to its libavcodec for handling HEVC/H.265 video decoding via NVIDIA's Video Decode and Presentation API for Unix interface. Around that same time, developer Philip Langdale who had done the FFmpeg patch, also submitted the patch for Libav for decoding HEVC content through VDPAU where supported.

Unixstickers, Linux goes to Washington, Why Linux?

  • Unixstickers sent me a package!
    There's an old, popular saying, beware geeks bearing gifts. But in this case, I was pleased to see an email in my inbox, from unixstickers.com, asking me if I was interested in reviewing their products. I said ye, and a quick few days later, there was a surprise courier-delivered envelope waiting for me in the post. Coincidentally - or not - the whole thing happened close enough to the 2015 end-of-the-year holidays to classify as poetic justice. On a slightly more serious note, Unixstickers is a company shipping T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, posters, pins, and stickers to UNIX and Linux aficionados worldwide. Having been identified one and acquired on the company's PR radar, I am now doing a first-of-a-kind Dedoimedo non-technical technical review of merchandise related to our favorite software. So not sure how it's gonna work out, but let's see.
  • Linux goes to Washington: How the White House/Linux Foundation collaboration will work
    No doubt by now you've heard about the Obama Administration's newly announced Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP). You can read more about it on CIO.com here and here. But what you may not know is that the White House is actively working with the Linux and open source community for CNAP. In a blog post Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation said, “In the proposal, the White House announced collaboration with The Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII) to better secure Internet 'utilities' such as open-source software, protocols and standards.”
  • Why Linux?
    Linux may inspire you to think of coders hunched over their desks (that are littered with Mountain Dew cans) while looking at lines of codes, faintly lit by the yellow glow of old CRT monitors. Maybe Linux sounds like some kind of a wild cat and you have never heard the term before. Maybe you have use it every day. It is an operating system loved by a few and misrepresented to many.