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Sun Microsystems

OpenOffice Coder On StarOffice 6.0's Beta Release 235

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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  • Photos? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wind_Walker ( 83965 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:02PM (#2389482) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I'm just a visually-oriented person, but I would really like to see some photos of this thing in action before I take the time to download the latest version.

    The article states that "Release 6 also gets rid of ... its annoying tendency to cover up all of the other windows you were working", but I can't seem to find any screenshots on their website or anywhere else. I have no doubt that the look & feel is similar to Microsoft's Office suite (also Corel's WordPerfect, but I digress) but I'd like to know if they got rid of their start-button oriented interface.

    Anybody had this working and would be willing to GIMP a screenshot?

  • Good load time? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morris57 ( 23356 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:06PM (#2389509) Homepage Journal
    I can't believe that 20 seconds on a 500 Mhz machine is a good load time for a word processor!

    This is the sort of thing that will be thrown in my face when I try to tell people to give OpenOffice a shot.
  • The obvious answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ekrout ( 139379 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @04:06PM (#2389512) Journal
    Here's an SAT-style analogy:

    StarOffice OpenOffice as

    Netscape 6.x Mozilla

    It's as simple as that.
  • Coding practices (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Earlybird ( 56426 ) <slashdot.purefiction@net> on Thursday October 04, 2001 @05:04PM (#2389838) Homepage
    • ... 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 ...
    Um. Like who doesn't do this? Due to the nature of C++, this is required to avoid redefinitions that would otherwise occur on multiple inclusions. Given this, it has little to do with reducing compile time; for that you use pre-compiled headers (support for which isn't expected in GCC until 3.1 or later).

    To evaluate coding practices, I would look at

    • Consistent coding conventions: syntax, identifiers, directory layout etc.

    • Presence of good comments (German ones don't count ;).

    • Application of good OO principles (which, contrary to a surprising number of people's opinions, apply to all languages, not merely explicitly OO languages like C++), such as encapsulation, modularization, etc.

    • Application of good OO patterns (GangOfFour-style).

    • Use of interfaces ("abstract base classes" in Bjarne terminology) to decouple API interfaces from their implementation.

    • Presence of unit tests.

    • Presence of assertions and other kinds of code guards that contribute to "self-documenting" and "self-testing" code.

    • etc.

  • by cgreuter ( 82182 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @05:14PM (#2389887)

    (at 3.7 million lines, OpenOffice is by far the largest open source project in the world)

    I wasn't sure about this, so I took a look at the linux kernel source:

    $ cd /usr/src/linux
    $ find . -name \*.[ch] -exec cat \{\} \; | wc -l

    So OpenOffice is bigger than the Linux kernel, but only by around 15%. I don't know if you can say it's by far the largest.

    Yeah, I know I'm being pedantic.

    dash dash Chris

  • Re:Good load time? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MikeV ( 7307 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @06:21PM (#2390019)
    Hmmm, lessee - Word takes, what, 10 seconds or so if portions of MS Office had been pre-loaded on bootup. On a 900Mhz 256Ram machine. Cost? $300+. OO takes 20s on a 500Mhz laptop (not exactly a PC there, nor a muscle machine either). Cost? Free.

    Frankly, I'll take OO and drink my coffee for a few extra seconds knowing at the end of the day I can afford to take my family out to Chili's and a movie... Big deal if it takes a little longer to start up. It does what you need it to do. Edit documents, spreadsheets and all that jaz (hopefully sans Clippy [tm]). It looks fairly decent and feature full. It can open and save a variety of formats. And your cash-flow doesn't dip into the negative when you license the thing...

    I think the average user/company will take that into account too - also the fact that it will only get better and faster as development continues and that you and/or your company won't be ripped off with yearly per seat/per user license fees and forced upgrades... An extra few seconds - that's all? Fella, take another sip of that coffee and enjoy the pace - you've just been given 10 more seconds or so to enjoy life before the grinding stone hits... :)
  • Re:OS/2 is dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by os2fan ( 254461 ) on Thursday October 04, 2001 @08:04PM (#2390435) Homepage
    To me, it seems that you must be living some sheltered life, using MSN to filter your news or something.

    From Microspeak Universal Translator [os2hq.com] at www.OS2HQ.com

    Microspeak: disappeared; no longer in use.
    Real Meaning: a product that does not have monopoly market share.
    Usage: "It's only a matter of time before Netscape Navigator is *dead*."
    Agenda: To make everyone think that as soon as a Microsoft product is leveraged into a high market share, all the alternatives instantly vaporize.

    IBM pull more profit from OS/2 then RedHat makes revenue. It is better supported, and was the original inspiration that made Linux possible. I mean, TeamOS2 was the first grass-roots movement that showed that people could move an OS by themselves.

    Sure, Linux is based on bits and peices from free UNIX stuff, but there's a lot of OS/2 and TeamOS2 mentality in it.

    OS/2 is the future now. If OS/2 dies now, maybe the whole industry dies in five year's time.

    And, by the way, it's a pretty narrow-minded person who can only spell a word one way.

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.