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OpenOffice Bloated? 941

Posted by Zonk
from the feeling-the-weight-gain dept.
cygnusx writes "ZDNet's George Ou has been writing a series of posts about Open Office bloat. Includes some interesting system usage comparisons" From the article: "Even when dealing with what is essentially the same data, OpenOffice Calc uses up 211 MBs of private unsharable memory while Excel uses up 34 MBs of private unsharable memory. The fact that OpenOffice.org Calc takes about 100 times the CPU time explains the kind of drastic results we were getting where Excel could open a file in 2 seconds while Calc would take almost 3 minutes. Most of that massive speed difference is due to XML being very processor intensive, but Microsoft still handles its own XML files about 7 times faster than OpenOffice.org handles OpenDocument ODS format and uses far less memory than OpenOffice.org."
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OpenOffice Bloated?

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  • When attempting to replicate one of the biggest bloatware software packages out there, that they make a version even bigger and bloatier!
    • by Megane (129182) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:40PM (#13889807) Homepage
      I would like to take this opportunity to coin the term "bloat-compatible".

      A quick check with Google shows only one hit, on a page full of Baynesian Babble.

    • by demachina (71715) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @03:51PM (#13891645)
      It would be interesting to know if someone has investigated using the symbol hiding capabilities in the newer versions of gcc to eliminate some of the shared object related bloat that most probably afflicts OpenOffice. When you use shared objects for everything every function name gets put in the dynamic symbol table by default. The only ones that actually need to be there are the ones called from the main program and other shared objects. All of the functions and global data that are only referenced by other code in the same shared object don't need to be in the dynamic symbol table or linked at run-time. Windows has used explicit exporting of symbols from the dawn of time, you can explicitly hide or export symbols in newer version of gcc, 3.4 in particular. I think KDE takes advantage of it on gcc 3.4 compiles.

      You can look at the dynamic symbols that ARE loaded when the shared object loads with something like:

      objdump -T /opt/OpenOffice.org/program/*.so

      The bloat is especially accute in C++ code because the mangled function names can be quite long.

      All those symbol names are loaded and scanned to do run-time link the shared objects, it causes slowness at startup which OpenOffice certainly has and you take a big memory hit for stuff that is not useful code.

      Manually keeping track of which symbols need to be exported and which are not is a pain, and is a pain in Windows DLL's. You would almost be better off on something as big as OpenOffice to write scripts to process objdump output and figure out which symbols are actually be called outside the shared object and need to be in the dynamic symbol table.

      On the other hand its kind of good discipline to create an a clean and disciplined API for each shared object which defines the public interface to the shared object. It helps improve modularity, reusability, testability and discipline in general and eliminate bloat when you realize that in fact nothing is actually calling dead code.
  • Consider the Source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mfh (56) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:13PM (#13889546) Journal
    Consider that Intel owns a big chunk of CNET and then you see a possible conflict of interest brewing over an article possibly designed to sink Open Office. Now consider the author, George Ou, who has also posted such titles as, Is the Honeymoon with Firefox Over? [zdnet.com]

    Seeing a bit of a pattern forming.
    • by RPoet (20693)
      This is no bad thing, however. An article like this, pointing out that feature X of OpenOffice.org is n times slower than on Microsoft Office, will only trigger the OOo hackers to optimize and improve. So, in a sense, Ou's effort against OOo will "backlash".
      • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:18PM (#13890191)
        Then there's the old standby, "there's no such thing as bad publicity."

        I know a lot of people who'd prefer bloated, slow and free(as in beer) to less bloated, faster, but $379.95 at newegg.com. Many of those people don't even know there's an alternative to MS Office. I hope they read C/Net.

        TW
    • by slavemowgli (585321) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:18PM (#13889598) Homepage
      I'm not sure I can see the conflict of interest here. Does Intel have an office suite of their own they're trying to sell? Or did they merge with Microsoft recently? :)
    • by Morgaine (4316) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:36PM (#13889765)
      ... an article possibly designed to sink Open Office

      Maybe, maybe not, who knows. But what I find odd is that a simple, easily-measureable property like speed is treated as a religious issue and/or examined for conflicts of interest at all. Why not just measure it in a series of comparative tests as scientifically as possible?

      And then, if Open Office is found to be lacking in speed, fine, no problem! The result simply becomes very valuable input to OO's design and development team, and in all probability will get dealt with very seriously and rapidly and to the benefit of its users.

      There really shouldn't be an issue of contention here, if we're truly techies.
      • The short answer is that speed is not a simple, easily measurable property. It's extremely open to subjective interpertation, which means that absolute measures can be misleading, and more importantly, it's extremely difficult to quantify and measure in an agnostic way. This is why artifical benchmarks are, at best, only casual predictors of real performance. However, they remain extremely popular, especially against those with an axe to grind, because it *looks* like a hard, concrete measurement.

        All this

  • GUI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:15PM (#13889566) Homepage
    Could it be the GUI? Excel uses native widgets and I'm sure is heavily optimized towards MFC (after all, its their API!). I don't think OO has that luxury. I doubt thats the entire issue but it could partially explain it.
    • Re:GUI (Score:5, Informative)

      by bheer (633842) <`rbheer' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:18PM (#13889600)
      Office uses zero MFC. Most of the older bits is Platform SDK C, and is a b*tch to maintain, and the newer parts are C++ *but not* MFC -- I understand the Office team has its own lightweight frameworks, similar to ATL.

    • Re:GUI (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alienw (585907) <alienw...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:38PM (#13889789)
      This would definitely be a factor if you were running it on, say, a 486. Try out the GIMP for Windows, there is no perceptible difference in GUI responsiveness, even though it uses GTK+ instead of the Windows API. I think the main problem with OpenOffice is that it's an ancient codebase and tries to do too much internally. Someone designing it today would probably use platform-specific features more actively instead of trying to make it look the same on every platform (which was the meaning of "portability" about 15 years ago). Not to mention, StarOffice was always a crappy, bloated product and OpenOffice isn't much better.
    • Re:GUI (Score:5, Informative)

      by electroniceric (468976) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:46PM (#13889867)
      IIRC there was an article not too long ago that explained that the main difference between Office and OO is that Office makes extensive use of lazy loading, while OO essentially hammers through loading every library it may need, which not only thrashes the disk once on initial load, but again as you (likely) swap out memory pages. My recollection was that this lack of lazy loading had something to do with cross-platform compiling and linking issues, as well as MS having extensive resources to put into optimizing Office loading that OO did not. My understanding is that Sun hasn't exactly dumped developer time into OO, either, and I believe the focus of this release was compatibility and.

      Typically people solve this problem by preloading a bunch of the relevant libraries at startup, a strategy both MS and OO attempt to employ (viz OfficeStartup and OO QuickStarter). I used to detest that, but if I had 1 or 2GB or RAM and wanted to rely on OO, I might not find it so bad. I think an interesting addition to this comparison would be to see how OO fared with QuickStarter enabled, and what drain that placed on the rest of the system. Likewise disabling the JVM loading.
    • Re:GUI (Score:4, Interesting)

      by silviuc (676999) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:52PM (#13889936) Homepage
      I really can't say. Thing is, MS Office 2000 is snapier and loads faster (almost instantly) than OO 1.1.3 or OO 2.0 on my P II @ 333Mhz machine with 256 MB of RAM. Oh yeah, I run MS Office with Wine.
  • I'll bet (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:17PM (#13889589)
    Excel also crashes faster than Calc! *ducks*
  • by mishehu (712452) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:17PM (#13889590)
    Perhaps the reason that OO uses more private memory than does MS Office is that MS Office links to all the MS dll files, while OO bundles its own internal libraries with it?

    And from article/blog/whatever: "Now to be fair, OpenOffice.org is free and is cross platform, but does this really matter to the 90% of the users in the world who only use Windows?"

    If it's legally free to use and does the same task, why wouldn't 90% of the users in the world who only use Windows *not* care? People always look for what's cheaper, sometimes even if it's not better (note how MS became the company it is today...)
    • Not only that but what about all the 'hidden' services that office installs which preloads the DLLs so that office loads faster? Maybe that optimization helps? (Quicken does the same thing too).
    • by gr8_phk (621180) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:16PM (#13890166)
      "If it's legally free to use and does the same task, why wouldn't 90% of the users in the world who only use Windows *not* care?"

      Because they don't care about "legal". Often when I tell someone about OpenOffice, they tell me it's neat but they already have MS Office at home - or at least word. If you tell them "but it's free", they often say they got the MS products free too - illegal of course. They figure why get some free knockoff when they can get "the real thing" free. The ones who paid for MS often got a student price or something, and they really have no incentive to switch until their existing version won't work any more.

      The problem is that everyone has Word or Office already weather they paid for it or not. In that context, OOo has nothing to offer - the other benefits are too abstract for joe sixpack. It's a case where MS benefits from casual copies floating around.

      The situation is the same for others: Mechanical Engineers tend to have a pinched copy of Autocad at home. Artists have a pinched Photoshop. Animators have a pinched copy of Maya. This hurts adoption of GIMP and Blender - sorry, there is no great GPLed CAD program (except for QCAD for 2D). I'm sure there are plenty more examples. If Longhorn can prevent people running illegal copies of all this software, we'll start to see people switch - assuming MS will allow them to run the legally free stuff.

      • by level_headed_midwest (888889) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:43PM (#13890419)
        Here's why more people don't use OpenOffice: 1. THEY'VE NEVER HEARD OF IT. Most people don't know jack squat about computers or programs. They use what everyone else does or what they've seen elsewhere. That would be MS Office because that's what they have at school or work. They don't know that there are any other office suites even out there. 2. If they do know about OpenOffice, they don't like it because if they had ever used it before, the commands are in slightly different places on the menus than in the version of Office they use at work. This made it "too hard to use" because they have to re-learn a few locations of functions. (Interestingly enough, most people I know HATED Office 2003 when it first came out because the commands and menus were a little different than in Office 2000. They said it was impossible to use! Same thing for Windows 98 users than went to XP.) 3. They opened up the most heavily-formatted Office 2003 document they could find- lots of macros and such. It didn't open up quite right in OpenOffice, so they concluded that it was junk, never minding that Office 2000 or XP would have barfed on it worse. I used my Linux-running computer to display a read-only PPT 2003 presentation off of a USB stick after the presenter's computer crashed. He was SO pissed that one hyperlink didn't work right (linked to a non-existant file on the "E:/" drive, but the rest of the presentation was *perfect.*). So he used somebody else's computer with Office 2000. The text boxes were all over the place and his background was gone when they displayed it... 4. You can get MS Office for free from peer-to-peer or by sharing an original disc.
  • by thekel (909848) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:18PM (#13889592)
    Most of the bloat I see results from kludging together work from multiple sources that are not communicating well. Can't they solve this by switching to a faster parser? Or is the format itself flawed? So many questions, this doesn't bode well. Speaking of bloat, why do linux distros come on 5 CDs with multiple versions of every possible thing. Have options is nice, but the fragmentation is getting out of head.
    • The difference is: you don't have to load all applications of a Linux distro at once (haha, it would be nice to try), so you don't feel the "bloat" unless you somehow decide to open all these apps together.

  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:18PM (#13889595) Journal

    It's interesting today to see the bloat and memory hog complaints leveled against the non-Microsoft product while showing MS' version as lean and mean.

    I can't defend the numbers, they do look huge, but we're seeing about one or two articles a week in the trade rags about the latest memory, cpu, cache, etc. advances. Technological advances render all but the most dramatic processing demands almost moot.

    In the numbers and benchmarks from this article, unfortunately, this is one of the more dramatic instances. I'm always willing to wait a little more for opening an application, or a file if other factors offset. In this case, free vs. whatever Office goes for now, typically is enough of an offset, but maybe not so for a large company where that extra "time" and computer resources add up big, and the pricing is likely to be more disounted for volume licensing.

    Interesting numbers on the two different speeds on processing XML. Does anyone know or conjecture the difference in the true internal XML data for the comparison? I thought OpenOffice was the more pure in the sense that it is true human readable data in the XML while Microsoft's format is more of an envelope architecture for binary proprietary Office payloads. And, I wonder what the specifics in this test were around that.

    Bottom line for me: I'm still going with OpenOffice, I've been a fan for years.

    • by alienw (585907) <alienw...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:44PM (#13889847)
      I didn't realize how much I hated OpenOffice until I used Word for a while last night. OpenOffice takes about 20 seconds to start on my Linux machine. The latest version of word takes about 3, on a Windows computer with half the RAM and a slower CPU. I've not managed to crash Word in quite a while, while OpenOffice crashes reliably if you paste a figure from, say, Matlab and drag it the wrong way (I have about 20 of those Sun "thank you for your crash report" emails in my inbox right now). And god help you if you want to add captions to your figures, or use "styles", or insert an equation, or do just about anything a good word processor should let you do. As it is right now, I'd rather use Word under VMWare than a native version of OpenOffice. For now, my favorite by far is LaTeX -- even with its arcane syntax, it is a hell of a lot better than anything else out there.
  • by shoppa (464619) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:19PM (#13889609)
    1. vi is a bloated version of ex
    2. EMACS stands for Eight Megabytes and Continually Swapping
    3. Sometimes I just telnet to port 80 instead of using a browser
    I have compiled OpenOffice from scratch... took a while!
  • No Office Gripes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afra242 (465406) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:20PM (#13889616)
    I don't use Windows and haven't since '98. At one point, I ran Linux, but kept a dual boot system with Windows, just for opening complex Word documents. Then, I started using Crossover and that saved me a lot of time and I eventually wiped Windows off my box for good.

    Now I got into OS X, and I run MS Office on it. I must say though, without bias, that MS Office has to be their greatest product. It just works and I haven't ever had any issues with it at all. It is fast, user friendly, stable and usable. Let's face it: when coders code a word processor they will always look at MS Office for implementation ideas. On the Powerbook, MS Office just flies.

    A few weeks ago, I tried to run Openoffice on my Debian box, and there was a huge performance decrease, when compared to running MS Office. It was certainly noticeable. It took a while for a document to open up.

    Though, Office has been around for a long time and Openoffice hasn't, so I'm sure there will be lots of features and performance gains in the coming years for the latter. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on Openoffice.
    • Re:No Office Gripes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by leandrod (17766) <l@@@dutras...org> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:42PM (#13889831) Homepage Journal
      MS Office has to be their greatest product. It just works and I haven't ever had any issues with it

      You must be a very basic user. I had plenty of users with MS Word or MS Excel files that couldn't be recovered — only option was opening an old copy, copying contents and pasting into a new document. Unless it's based on a good template, this entails lots of rework and grief. This simply doesn't happen with OpenOffice.org: the worst I've seen is needing change a troublesome font.

    • Re:No Office Gripes (Score:5, Informative)

      by dominator (61418) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:52PM (#13890498) Homepage
      Though, Office has been around for a long time and Openoffice hasn't, so I'm sure there will be lots of features and performance gains in the coming years for the latter. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on Openoffice.


      That's not true at all. While OpenOffice is "only" maybe 5-6 years old now, it is built on top of the older StarOffice codebase, which has been in development since the mid-1980s. It's not like they started from scratch a few weeks ago...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StarOffice [wikipedia.org]
  • by espek (797676) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:21PM (#13889631)
    Just go ahead and admit it, they both suck for different reasons. We need a third player.
    • by Kynde (324134) <kynde.iki@fi> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:52PM (#13890499)
      Just go ahead and admit it, they both suck for different reasons. We need a third player.

      Patience young padawan. So far the biggest problems with OO have been the lacking features compared to the M$ Office aswell as interoperability with the M$ Office. We're obviously getting somewhere now that people start benchmarking and complaining about memory usage. Seriously, five years ago no one would've even bothered to check memory usage when comparing those products, there wasn't much to compare.

      For the record, I'm not saying OO ain't bloated, so it seems, and perhaps there's been too much pressure to reach interoperability and feature richness, but it's too early to condem it. Time will tell wether their internal design is good or not. Can it be made faster/leaner/meaner without too much sweat and tears...
  • by Moby Cock (771358) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:21PM (#13889635) Homepage
    This is total garbage. I have been using OO 2.0 at home since it was released and I have noticed no lag compared to Office which I have to use at work. I do not have quantitative numbers to present, but I can certainly attest anecdotally that this blogger is flat-out wrong. I notice no appreciable speed difference between the two suites while processing the same files. (The machines are roughly equivalent at home and office)
  • NeoOfficeJ (Score:4, Informative)

    by ontheheap (824062) <ontheheap@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:22PM (#13889637) Homepage
    I recently purchased an iBook G4 which came with a trial edition of Office.Mac (or whatever it's called). I used it for the 45 days of the trial and then switched to "OpenOffice.org for the Mac," otherwise known as NeoOfficeJ. The only thing I've noticed thusfar is that Neo takes about 1.5 times longer to run initially, and it seems to take longer to save files. Other than that I really haven't noticed any other differences in performance.
  • No Methodology (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anderm7 (68050) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:23PM (#13889651) Homepage
    These articles are complete garbage. No mention of methodology is made. What files were loaded, what conditions were they loaded under. Was it the same machine, or a very similar machine. What distro, what JVM, and on, and on, and on. Sounds like another MS shill to me.
    • Re:No Methodology (Score:4, Insightful)

      by archen (447353) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:00PM (#13890010)
      I wouldn't say they're garbage just no methodology for pointing out the obvious. MS Office 2k spanks OO.org on Windows on every machine I've tried it on - on both speed and memory.

      Besides which, if there are that many vairables to OO running "well" then at least you could say MS office is consistent.

      It doesn't really matter to me since I'll be using OO anyway. Besides which now that the open source world (Koffice, etc) have also pleged to support the OASIS format, we should be able to pick and choose our word processors in a few years without worrying about compatability. Open office isn't our last hope, it's our foot in the door.
    • Re:No Methodology (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bastian (66383) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:02PM (#13890029)
      Yeah, because, you know, nobody else has been complaining about how slow and bloated OO.o is, or how slow and bloated StarOffice was. OO.o is perfect. Everyone in the Linux community is just perfectly satisified with their choice of office software. I know I am.
  • Bought (Score:4, Informative)

    by Psionicist (561330) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:24PM (#13889656)
    He is already anti-Open Document http://government.zdnet.com/?p=1723 [zdnet.com] and heavly pro-Microsoft http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/ [zdnet.com] so this is not unexpected.
  • by zippity8 (446412) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:28PM (#13889693)
    Not to argue about whether or not OOo is more bloated than Office, but George Ou has always seemed to be ranting pro-MS and putting forth statements like this just to get the reaction.

    Here's his webpage [lanarchitect.net]

    And his other ZDNet entries [zdnet.com]

    Also, you might want to check out the comments already posted to his review of OOo beta2 [zdnet.com]
  • Lets see... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shads (4567) * <(gro.sudahs) (ta) (sudahs)> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:29PM (#13889695) Homepage Journal
    ... open office being slow:

    Java, now I'm no language bigot, but Java is slower than C (but more portable without changes in code).
    It's a replacement for the most bloated piece of windows software and has most of the same features.

    I use OO presently, it's not a speed demon thats for sure. However, A) It's free, B) Keeps me from having to run a windows emulator for word docs and scuh. So it's a win win. The equation would be ... 500$ vs lackluster speed, good compatability, and 90% features of office.
  • So true (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:31PM (#13889713)
    Honestly, I want to love Openoffice and to advocate it... I have worked in finance on excel, dealing with huge huge spreadsheets and many graphs... Have you tried to plot a 10 000 points graph in OOo Calc vs excel... in excel it is done in less than a second... In OOo the application will freeze for half and hour before slowly starting to display the graph. Cherry on the cake it will conviniently try to write "ROW" under each point in a huge ugly font. After that, changing the data means of course waiting half an hour again because the chart is updating. OOo calc simply doesn't do the job, how hard I wish it would.
  • No kidding... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dr. Zowie (109983) <slashdot@nospAm.deforest.org> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:31PM (#13889716)
    The Mac port of OpenOffice (NeoOfficeJ) is so bloated that by default it starts up in the background when you log in! That's a crappy solution because it sits there hogging swap space until you want it.

    I can start Mac Pages, Inkscape, Keynote and even the Gimp before NeoOfficeJ is finished loading. Now that's slow.

  • by clare-ents (153285) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:31PM (#13889722) Homepage
    Well, according to the Misco catalogue I received this morning MS Office standard costs £300.
    At my local computer shop, RAM costs £75/GB, so I could have 4GB of RAM for my machine.

    On a price performance comparison MS Office uses 7MB and OO.org uses -3960MB.

  • by BenjyD (316700) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:31PM (#13889724)
    Just to attempt to forestall all the Java posts - Openoffice.org is written almost entirely in C++, not Java.
  • by chill (34294) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:33PM (#13889742) Journal
    I've tried to use Open Office on my machine at home (dual-P3 800 MHz, 1 Gb RAM) and have always gone back to KOffice. OO has always felt "bloated" to me. It takes much too long to start up, and everything seems to slow down a little on my machine.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, Abiword and Gnumeric load very fast and seem to fly during use. KOffice is a touch slower than Abiword/Gnumeric but still light years ahead of Open Office. It also has a very snappy feel to it. Abiword works on Windows, Mac and Linux. Yes, I know, this doesn't address databases or presentation software.

    IMHO, there should be no question mark, but more of an exclamation point.

      -Charles
  • by LexNaturalis (895838) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:33PM (#13889743)
    The responses on ./ and the response from the F/OSS people will demonstrate whether Open Source is superior to Microsoft (or any closed-source company). If people just justify the results and claim that OO is still better just because it's Open Source, then in reality Open Source will lose. I think this is a time for the community to notice the problem, admit the problem, and then try to fix it. If the problem can be solved to the point where load times/memory usage is on par with Microsoft, then the Open Source community will prove that it is competent and able to produce a superior (or even equal) product that has the other advantages (freedom, lack of restrictive licenses, etc) that Open Source brings to the table.

    Or... people can just whine and show the world that they're a bunch of babies who accuse people of being shills and just ignore the problem.

    I, for one, hope the former occurs. I'll admit I'm not a good enough programmer (yet) to do anything about the problem now, but I hope the Open Source programmers who are capable will tackle this problem and fix it w/o making petty excuses.
  • by newSlashUser (455811) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:35PM (#13889761)
    if i remember correctly, after compiling oo2, it ran very well and fast. the precompiled bins were def slower. my guess is that these tests were run on a windows machine. so just switch to nix and compile, its that easy.
  • by sarguin (702714) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:40PM (#13889808)
    Go to the Options and uncheck the Java option (Use a java runtime environment). After this, OpenOffice.org start like a breeze...
  • Appologists (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jone_stone (124040) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:40PM (#13889815) Homepage
    There are a remarkable number of OO.o/FOSS appologists here. The answer to this surprising result seems clear to me:

    Microsoft makes good software!

    Okay, call me a troll, but I've tried a lot of free software over the years and I almost always find it lacking. Microsoft's stuff, on the other hand -- most particularly Office and Windows -- is remarkable when you consider how much they do and how efficiently.

    One of the biggest areas in which FOSS is lacking is the boring optimization and debugging that's vital for world class software. The truth is that Microsoft is huge and has lots of money, so they can afford to spend time on that important finishing polish. There's an old saying in computer science: The first 90 percent of the work is easy, the second 90 percent wears you down, and the last 90 percent - the attention to detail - makes a good product.
  • No kidding? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by misleb (129952) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:48PM (#13889895)
    Anyone who has run OO on Linux knows very well that it is bloated. Not only is it bloated, but it uses some homegrown toolkit for the GUI. I won't even use OO, personally. Normally I don't have a use for an office suite, but when I do I'd rather us MS Office, which isn't a problem because I now have a Mac sitting next to my Linux box. Of course, I have never paid for MS Office. Maybe if I had to pay for it I wouldn't use it.

    I'm sorry, but OO is one of the worst examples of what open source is capable of.

    -matthew
  • External XML (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @12:57PM (#13889993) Homepage Journal
    XML is a data interchange format. We've finally arrived at the era where apps can interchange data in XML without (necessarily) being trapped in a proprietary data format. But that doesn't make XML suitable for internal data representation. Apps should use internal data formats that support their native performance, and serialize data objects to XML for interchange, including storage. Using XML internally when performance thereby suffers is the bad kind of lazy, bad design that saves development time at the manifold expense of user time.
  • by squoozer (730327) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:01PM (#13890024)

    I don't want to be an apologist for OO but you can't deny the fact that MS has had about 10 years long to get MSO right than the OOo people have had to get OO right. Now that isn't to say that we should or will have to wait ten years till OO is as good as MSO is today but we should cut them a bit of slack if the software isn't a slick an lean as it could be. In a very short period of time the OOo team have gone from nothing to something that can rival MSO. Assuming the pace of development continues OO will, I feel, be as good as MSO in two years.

    • by dozer (30790) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:38PM (#13890913)
      You can't deny the fact that MS has had about 10 years long[er] to get MSO right than the OOo people have had to get OO right.

      Are you joking? StarDivision was founded in 1986, and some code found in OOo goes back almost that long. StarOffice was created in 1994. Depending on how you count, I would say that StarOffice and OpenOffice are within a year or two of each other in age.

      Two years until OOo is as good as MSO? You're dreaming! I'll take that bet.

      Personally, I use Gnumeric for all my spreadsheet tasks, and I eagerly await the day when Abiword doesn't randomly crash when a document contains footnotes.

  • by D3m3rz3l (914486) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:34PM (#13890333)
    I'm not sure how feasible it is to profile such a large program, but I'm sure Microsoft profiles the daylights out of their stuff. Do OOo developers profile things like the start-up time? After all, you can't start optimizing things unless you figure out exactly what is slowing it down. Is it the Java run-time engine? Is it because it needs to load a lot of libraries that MS Office does not need to (because of dynamic linking to Microsoft DLLs). Maybe when loading certain data sets, the program goes into a pathalogical state, creating hundreds of thousands of small objects? I don't know.

    But things like analyzing profiling data and then optimizing are not fun to most people. Even more so if it means that an algorithm needs to be re-written. After all, if the "open file" operation needs a complete re-think + re-write, who's going to do it? It's not "fun". After all, the "open file" operation already exists. Generally, I think programmers like to build *new* things as opposed to fixing old things. And in this case, it's not even a matter of "fixing". It's a matter of rewriting. I presume that at Microsoft, if Word's "open file" operation (run with me on this for a minute) is uber-slow, then somebody is going to *have* to fix it, or not get a good performance review/etc. However, in the case of OOo if no one makes it faster, well, it does not negatively affect the person who wrote the slow version in the first place (not to discredit OOo authors or anything. They've done a phenomenal job given that they do this for fun and not profit).

    Of course, there are an equal number of programmers who like to fix security holes and so forth, but patching a security hole is one thing, while re-writing major algorithms in a large program is another. There are of course some programmers who love optimizing code (Michael Abrash?). But I think they are far and few between. Very often, once something works, an attitude sets in that "It's working. Now don't break it". And optimization in it's early stages will often break things.

  • by Theovon (109752) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:56PM (#13890537)
    I'll begin by saying that I mostly use Linux, and I use OpenOffice even on Windows when I can help it. One reason is that I don't want to give money to Microsoft, but there are other reasons as well, including my belief that Free Software is the key to the advancement of IT in the future.

    But this situation is pure hillarity. OSS fans have their list of reasons why Linux (or some Linux app) is better than Windows (or some Windows app). Two reasons near the top are that Windows is slower and more bloated. These reasons are sited often and are part of the OSS mantra.

    So I find it incredibly ironic that now that the shoe is on the other foot, the tables are turned, etc., that these very same people are dismissing "bloated" and "slow" as unimportant.

    No, you idiots. "Bloated" and "slow" are ALWAYS bad, even when they apply to an OSS application. That means there's something wrong with OpenOffice.org, and if you have half a brain in your head, you have to accept that it's broken for that reason. That doesn't mean you should stop using it or feel disillusioned. And defending your beliefs in the face of this embarrassment just makes you look stupid and inconsistent. HAVE SOME FREAKING STANDARDS, and have them ALL THE TIME, not just when they make your favorite thing look better. It's time for you to have egg on your face, admit it, and take it like an adult. And then the next thing you need to do is stop wasting your time and fix the problem.
  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:21PM (#13890716) Homepage Journal
    The Excel team at Microsoft have always been a bunch of hardcore performance-and-utility fanatics, and the quality of Excel reflects that. In my opinion it's the only component of Microsoft Office that's worth anything, and I dearly wish it was available as a separate program so fat incompetant slobs like Word could be left to scrounge for users on shareware sites.

    To maintain performance and compatibility, they refused to get drawn into the COM morass for many years... they interoperated with but didn't depend on COM. At one point they were even using their own compiler. Setting OOO Calc up against Excel is like comparing a donkey to a thoroughbred, and never noticing that the rest of the horses in the stable with the thoroughbred are broken down old screws.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @02:21PM (#13890721) Homepage
    To what extent is this just the proper natural evolution of a large scale application?

    Step 1: Functional demo, very lacking in features and stability. This would be StarOffice up through the 5.x series, and the OpenOffice 0.x series.

    Step 2: Dramatic increases in stability and completion of all the major technical functions, but with a somewhat clunky or non-intuitive interface. OpenOffice 1.x.

    Step 3: More user friendly and natural interface, but performance is not yet up to par.

    Step 4: Performance optimization.

    Each step is the natural evolution from the prior state. The initial state is an idea, which leads to a functional demo. The functional demo gets poked at by a few outsiders who say, "This might be a good idea, but it doesn't support features X, Y, and Z, and it crashes all the time." That feedback leads to the incorporation of new features and advances in stability. Then a larger group of outsiders uses it and says, "Yeah, this is getting good - it does everything I need it to, but the interface is a little goofy, so I'm sticking with my current solution for now." That feedback leads to user interface improvements. Those improvements lead to a much larger group using the software, and more people using the software full-time, those people say, "Wow, this is really well done, but look at how much (CPU|RAM|disk space|bandwidth) it uses." Which should, inevitably, lead to performance optimization.

    That sounds like the natural sequence to me. In fact, that whole process - release, listen, refactor, wait till the end to performance optimize - has always been a big part of successful projects and is now becoming a big part of standardized software development models like those that come under the Agile umbrella. It would be worse if there had been a lot of unnecessary performance optimization that had lead to an unmaintainable code base.

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