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OpenOffice Coder On StarOffice 6.0's Beta Release 235 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, 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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I've got a bad feeling about this.