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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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  • Released?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Teancom ( 13486 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:01PM (#2389480) Homepage
    If it has been, sure doesn't know about it. All that is available for download are some "recent builds" with not "W00t! First Release!" hysteria anywhere. Maybe the title should have been "OpenOffice guy interviewed, betas available". But that might be expecting too much from poor Timothy.. I mean, he'd have to actually follow a link!

  • Uhhh.. no. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Majix ( 139279 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:05PM (#2389505) Homepage
    Open Office 6 was not released on wednesday. They released a build called Open Office 6 beta 638c. It's more like a milestone release on the way to a proper version 6. Sort of like what mozilla does. The final version isn't scheduled for some time yet, see the roadmap [].
  • by rb2297 ( 56465 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:06PM (#2389517) Homepage
    Staroffice 6.0 beta and Open Office 638C are the same build. Sun simply added some licensed software to it and bundled it. At least that is my understanding.

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

    by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:09PM (#2389535) Journal
    Unfortunately (actually, it's a good thing), no single company controls the Linux desktop/operating system, so we therefore can't make some `Start-up Wizard' that loads when the OS boots-up and makes start time 4 times faster (think M$FT Windows/Office).
  • by Sir_Real ( 179104 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:12PM (#2389551)

    Current Mirror Sites
    Type URL Login Password Source Binaries Solver Maintainer
    FTP openoffice 633 (all platforms) 633 (all platforms) Bartek Maruszewski
    FTP 633, 627, 625, 617 633 (Linux, Win32), in 5 MB parts Michael Niblett*
    HTTP 633, 627, 625, 617 633 (Linux, Win32), in 5 MB parts Michael Niblett*
    HTTP 633 (ZIP for Win32) Rahmat M. Samik-Ibrahim
    FTP 633 (ZIP for Win32) Rahmat M. Samik-Ibrahim
    FTP 633 (ZIP for Win32) in 1440000 byte parts Rahmat M. Samik-Ibrahim
    HTTP 633 (ZIP for Win32) in 1440000 byte parts Rahmat M. Samik-Ibrahim
    HTTP * localized ZIP H.Z.
    FTP All current binaries, solver, and source; files in parts. Nelson Lau
    FTP All current binaries and source, all platforms. Alfredo Aguayo.
  • by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:13PM (#2389558) Journal
    Read some of the comments above. They're basically the same piece of software (think Netscape 6.x / Mozilla analogy). "Staroffice 6.0 beta and Open Office 638C are the same build. Sun simply added some licensed software to it and bundled it."
  • Re:Released?? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Teancom ( 13486 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:13PM (#2389560) Homepage
    Yes, but as other people keep pointing out, OpenOffice != StarOffice, and even StarOffice 6.0 is still in beta. So no matter how you squint, it still isn't "released" :-)

    But I *will* have to try that beta....

  • openoffice (Score:5, Informative)

    by andy_from_nc ( 472347 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:16PM (#2389580)
    I've not yet gotten the release but I'd have to say OpenOffice is a big improvement in many ways over StarOffice. Unfortunately, the build I got a month ago didn't allow conversion between html docs and swd (or whatever its called now), which really annoyed me. Its a toss up whether loosing that horrid desktop thing is worth it. (I like to publish everything I document as HTML).

    It does seem to load substantially faster and run a tad more stable than Star Office did.

    All in all I have pretty good luck converting to and from M$ Word. The changes are usually the same types of things that happen when switching the printer settings around on M$ Word.

    Unfortunately, I've less luck with the Spreadsheet piece. It writes XLS files in a really weird format (I looked at it via biff view and via my project it doesn't always load properly and sometimes crashes excel.
    (long story on the differences, too boring for here)...

    So can you ditch Office and use OpenOffice -- not if you're a big spreadsheet user that needs to talk to Excel, but for most people -- definately!

    (In open office's defence, they use glibole2 which is some of the nastiest looking C code I've ever seen -- see You have to expand about 20 layers of macros to even understand one line of code! Its a miracle they can write anything)
  • Get it from Akamai (Score:5, Informative)

    by TrumpetPower! ( 190615 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:21PM (#2389615) Homepage

    First, as others have noted, this is just another beta.

    Having said that, if you want to get the sources, stop Slashdotting and get it from Akamai []. At least they've got the bandwidth to deal with the load.


  • by lonenut ( 165873 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:22PM (#2389619)
    Star Office has released version 6.0 beta.
    See the banner on Sun's homepage []

    OpenOffice is currently offering release 638
    See [] for details.

    Are they related? Yes. Are they the same? Certainly not!

    Please try to clarify this point in the posted article!
  • Re:Photos? (Score:2, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:48PM (#2389759) Homepage Journal
    It looks like this []. Next time poke around a little bit.

    (Oh, and for those who whine about that's StarOffice and not OpenOffice, let me iterate, THEY ARE THE SAME BUILD OF THE SAME SOFTWARE. Just like Mozilla & Netscape 6)
  • Re:Photos? (Score:1, Informative)

    by stantron77 ( 466575 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:50PM (#2389769) Homepage
    Here []you go. It is the Windows version of StarOffice (I am at work), but it should be just about the same look and feel as the linux OpenOffice.
  • Re:Photos? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shandon ( 53512 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:52PM (#2389783)

    Here's a screenshot from the prior build 633. [] It clearly shows that the new version has a program oriented interface rather than the extended desktop with a Napoleon complex that was StarOffice 5.2.

    This new interface is shared with StarOffice 6.0 Beta, and it's pretty clean and functional. I've been playing with both for the last couple of days, and I'm reasonably impressed.

    Note - the document open in the screenshot is an imported 1.5 Meg Word file with 37 images, footnotes, comments, revisioning, styles and formatting and everything else brought in just dandy.

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

    by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:58PM (#2389802) Homepage
    Unfortunately (actually, it's a good thing), no single company controls the Linux desktop/operating system, so we therefore can't make some `Start-up Wizard' that loads when the OS boots-up and makes start time 4 times faster (think M$FT Windows/Office)

    What the hell are you talking about?

    The only thing that Office has ever done on boot-up (and only the first time you run it) is to run BIND and WALIGN on all of its files -- which takes all of the DLL's entry points and binds them to the other DLLs they use with a timestamp, so if anything changes it can use the older mechanism.

    This kind of thing has been available to all Windows developers for years. I use it myself; it makes your apps load pretty much instantaneously instead of taking forever.

    Of course, this annoys my bosses when they want to insert splash screens... which annoys me when they tell me "put it up for 5 seconds regardless".

  • Unicode my ass (Score:3, Informative)

    by Moritz Moeller - Her ( 3704 ) <.mmh. .at.> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @05:14PM (#2389889)
    I guess MS also includes copy of the last document I scanned, an encrypted list of the last 30 URLS you clicked plus what software was installed. Here is what an SO-6 document looks like (hint: unzip it)

    As you can see unicode is used here as well. Also READABLE XML. Looks okay doesn't it?

    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <!DOCTYPE office:document-content PUBLIC "-// OfficeDocument 1.0//EN" "office.dtd">
    <office:document-content xmlns:office="" xmlns:style="" xmlns:text="" xmlns:table="" xmlns:draw="" xmlns:fo="" xmlns:xlink="" xmlns:number=" " xmlns:svg="" xmlns:chart="" xmlns:dr3d="" xmlns:math="" xmlns:form="" xmlns:script="" office:class="text" office:version="1.0">
    <style:font-decl style:name="Arial Unicode MS" fo:font-family="&apos;Arial Unicode MS&apos;" style:font-pitch="variable"/>
    <style:font-decl style:name="HG Mincho Light J" fo:font-family="&apos;HG Mincho Light J&apos;" style:font-pitch="variable"/>
    <style:font-decl style:name="Thorndale" fo:font-family="Thorndale" style:font-family-generic="roman" style:font-pitch="variable"/>
    <style:font-decl style:name="Albany" fo:font-family="Albany" style:font-family-generic="swiss" style:font-pitch="variable"/>
    <text:sequence-decl text:display-outline-level="0" text:name="Illustration"/>
    <text:sequence-decl text:display-outline-level="0" text:name="Table"/>
    <text:sequence-decl text:display-outline-level="0" text:name="Text"/>
    <text:sequence-decl text:display-outline-level="0" text:name="Drawing"/>
    <text:p text:style-name="Heading">This</text:p>
    <text:h text:style-name="Heading 1" text:level="1">IS</text:h>
    <text:p text:style-name="Text body"/>
    <text:h text:style-name="Heading 10" text:level="10">wetzgdfhdfh</text:h>
    <text:p text:style-name="Marginalia">TITLE</text:p>
    <text:p text:style-name="Marginalia"/>
    <text:p text:style-name="Salutation">My FRIEND</text:p>
    <text:p text:style-name="List Indent">Klar?</text:p>
    <text:p text:style-name="List Indent"/>
    <text:p text:style-name="Signature">Testpeter</text:p>
  • by jonabbey ( 2498 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @06:18PM (#2390008) Homepage

    To the poster who was asking why you needed such a huge code base for a text editor, try loading a complex MS Word doc and then save it using StarOffice 6's native file format, 'sxw'. The sxw format is actually a pkzip file which contains a bunch of XML files and the associated image resources.

    If you look at the content.xml file, you'll get an idea of the vast amount of formatting and structural information that is retained in an MS Word style file.

  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @06:25PM (#2390041) Homepage Journal

    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.

    There exists such a distribution of GNU software compiled for Win32 [], available in the UK. Too bad cheapbytes doesn't seem to sell anything similar. However, cheapbytes does sell this CD [] containing DJGPP (a 32-bit DOS C compiler) and "LLC" (LCC?) for Win32.

    What you're really missing is a business model. AOL's model is to give away the bisks and sell the connection.

  • by jfunk ( 33224 ) <> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @07:32PM (#2390314) Homepage
    I don't really think that's accurate, at least in some respects.

    I find that Mozilla is overall more stable and has more (useful) features than Netscape 6.x. OpenOffice has less features than StarOffice, spellchecking being the biggest one.

    You are right, however, about how Sun and Netscape use the projects.
  • Re:Photos? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DoubleD ( 29726 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @08:27PM (#2390507)
    I was able to import a word 2000 document with equations. They viewed alright but were not editable. OpenOffice brings up a warning that the equation was created with a newer (yeah right) version of equation editor and blanks out the equation. Saving the word document through word to word 95 format did not help. However saving as rich text converted the equation objects to a graphic format that OpenOffice seemed to like just fine. Alright enough charity download it yourself and play with it :).

  • by Turmio ( 29215 ) on Friday October 05, 2001 @12:20AM (#2390889) Homepage
    Actually, Linux 2.4.10 is ~3.7 million lines of code, if you measure the way you did. You forgot to include the assembly code (*.S files).

    (07:15:17)(tj@ganga)(/usr/src/linux)$ find . -name \*.[chS] -exec cat \{\} \; | wc -l

    And Mozilla isn't very far behind either with its 3515317 lines of code contained in *.{cpp,c,h,idl} of just cvsupped tree.

    Someone want to check how big are the latest glibc, gcc and XFree86? Probably over 1M lines of code each.

    /me is even more pedantic :)

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