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OpenOffice Coder On StarOffice 6.0's Beta Release 235

Posted by timothy
from the another-promising-one dept.
kevin@ank.com was there last night when "Max Lanfranconi of the OpenOffice project spoke to the Silicon Valley Linux User Group on Wednesday morning's release 6.0 of the LGPL'd office suite. When the project was opened two years ago, it was missing online help, spell-checking, and printing which had been based on proprietary commercial libraries. With release 6 the open source community has replaced these missing features." Read on for some more information on the new release, courtesy of Kevin.Update: 10/04 22:11 GMT by T : Several readers have pointed out that the 6.0 release is actually the beta of StarOffice 6.0. Though StarOffice is based on OpenOffice code, there's not actually a new build of OpenOffice yet. OpenOffice's is currently at build 638.

"Release 6 also gets rid of the old Star Office desktop of version 5 which was generally disliked for its annoying tendency to cover up all of the other windows you were working with and make it difficult to interact with your X Window Manager.

The application suite has programable APIs for each of the applications, exposed through a custom object request broker named UNO. In an impressive demonstration, Max showed live update of a spreadsheet with real-time stock data, all under the control of a small Java application. Changed data were reflected throughout the spreadsheet table with each update as the sheet recalculated each cell based on the new input.

Max freely admits that there are still weaknesses in the code. He pointed to the ten year lifespan of the mostly C++ code base, and hopes to see the code improved with the use of more modern C++ features. In browsing through the source tree I don't find that the code is in nearly as bad shape as Max portrayed it. Admittedly I've only seen a tiny fraction of the code (at 3.7 million lines, OpenOffice is by far the largest open source project in the world), but my random sampling showed very good coding practises, like preprocessor guards around each header include to reduce compile time due to reopening headers that have already been processed. Even with these measures in place however, the full system takes upwards of 15 hours and 1.5GB of disk to build on currently available hardware.

System load time for the office suite has been significantly reduced (about 20s on Max's 500MHz laptop with 128MB memory) by removing several libraries from the link process and instead loading them on demand. Over the next year or more Max hopes to see more modularization of the code base with the eventual goal of seperating the monolithic program into seperate applications linked together through an object request broker.

Q&A went on until we got kicked out of our room, so there is a lot more that is new about OpenOffice than I've described here. If you are interested you can pick up a copy at OpenOffice.org, or at one of its mirrors around the world."

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OpenOffice Coder On StarOffice 6.0's Beta Release

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  • by earthforce_1 (454968) <earthforce_1@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @03:02PM (#2389481) Journal
    How does it stack up against Star Office 6.0 Beta?

    A side by side feature comparison would be nice...
  • by Bilbo (7015) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @03:07PM (#2389521) Homepage
    Sheesh... Just installed the StarOffice 6.0 Beta on my system yesterday!

    Does anyone know specifics on the differences between OpenOffice and StarOffice versions 6.0? I think that StarOffice is actually based on the new OpenOffice source code base. (Or, is it the other way around?) Theu look very similar. Are there significant technical or feature differences?

  • Ecological niches (Score:5, Interesting)

    by marm (144733) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @03:26PM (#2389638)

    First of all, excellent to see that OpenOffice is out. The Free software community needs a solid heavyweight office suite with all the bells and whistles, and Open Office is shaping up to be exactly that.

    I think we're also seeing the development of two quite distinct niches for Office software, at least on Linux and other Free *nix. Perhaps a little like the split used to be between MS Works and Office:

    On the one hand, we have OpenOffice, a big heavyweight that has features pouring out of its ears, but which is not tremendously tightly integrated to any desktop, nor perhaps the most intuitive set of programs to use. It's also heavy on system resources and diskspace, but that's the price you pay for having all the bells and whistles.

    On the other hand, there's the younger, lighter suites like KOffice. Leaner, faster, easier, and more tightly integrated with the desktop. At the same time, lacking a few features that may be necessary for some people, but satisfying the needs of an average Joe quite well.

    It seems to me there's a place for both of these in the Linux desktop landscape, and frankly, I think this is great.

    Or rather, it will be great once they can read each other's file formats ;)

  • Re:Good load time? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by praedor (218403) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @03:28PM (#2389649) Homepage

    Kword starts in seconds. Wordperfect for linux starts in seconds. Lyx starts in seconds. Abiword starts in seconds. StarOffice/OpenOffice starts in many, MANY seconds.


    Sorry, no excuses. There is no inherent reason that a wordprocessor should take that long to startup, regardless of what libs it uses.

  • by leperjuice (18261) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @03:36PM (#2389698)
    You've (and others) have told us that StarOffice is to OpenOffice as Netscape is to Mozilla. But that tells us very little other than the fact that one is a derivative of the other.

    The question is, what does StarOffice provide that is different? What licensed software has been included and how does it affect the suite?
  • by Odinson (4523) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @03:58PM (#2389804) Homepage Journal
    Why aren't we bundling too. It is time.


    Is there a freedom software distro for Microsoft Windows. Such a thing would be a great boon. They should be everywhere like AOL cd's.


    Such a thing should include ...


    OpenOffice, Mozilla, Gimp, Apache(not enabled by default), Perl And so on...


    I mean really how many people would buy office XP if they had a shiny "new" cd sitting around with a free compatible equivilent. It is the perfect opportunity to move people to the apps, and then the OS looks much more tempting.


    And no most people don't write vbs scripts in word they have enough trouble with fonts and margins.


    Could some Linuxish orginiztion pick up the tab for the creation or shipping???

  • by ryanvm (247662) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:00PM (#2389815)
    Whether or not OpenOffice 6 has been released (apparently it has not); I can tell you that it is really starting to look good as an MS Office replacement.

    I recently had a user with a corrupted MS Excel spreadsheet that would immediately crash Excel every time it was opened. I tried Excel 2000, Excel 97, Excel Viewer, and nothing worked.

    So, I tried to open it with the Win32 version of OpenOffice build 638. Hmmm, so far so good - it opened with no problems. I saved it as a native OpenOffice document; reopened it in OpenOffice; and exported it as an Excel document. Finally, I tried to open it with Excel and it worked like a charm!

    So if nothing else, OpenOffice makes a nifty file repairer for MS Office documents. ;-)

  • Re:Photos? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DoubleD (29726) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:02PM (#2389825)
    I cannot try it on linux right now but it looks and functions pretty well in windows 2000 ( i downloaded it today and have tried it for all of 5 minutes).

    link [geocities.com]
    (follow the link on the index page, from what i remember geocites does not like direct image linking.)

    Here is a screenshot of an existing word 2000 document with an embedded excel object opened sucessfully in OpenOffice. Elsewhere in the document (a 42 page technical document) some tables are too wide and some automatic page numbering is right aligned instead of centered. All in all a good translation of a moderatly complex word document. I am impressed.

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