Oracle ‘donates’ OpenOffice.org to Apache foundation

Oracle has done what Sun should have done a long time ago: put OO.org code into the hand of an independent foundation. The good news is that now a wider participation from corporations and individuals is possible. Hell, even Microsoft can now participate into OO.org development. I hope that soon the fork can be reconciled, too.

My first thoughts is that Apache Foundation is a good home for Open Document Format, ODF. If the license will also change to Apache there will be more opportunities to create an ecosystem on top of the standardized format.The free software movement needs a thriving ecosystem around ODF so that we can edit and exchange office documents between computers, mobile and other devices without sacrifices. So far this ecosystem has failed to materialize and OpenOffice.org as a tool has many flaws (bad/old GUI, heavy and in areas like presentation is just bad).

I personally welcome the change as I never believed that The Document Foundation had enough steam in its engine to radically improve the product. But I believe it can still maintain and improve LibreOffice until Apache’s community will start rolling the next generation of desktop productivity tools.

Oracle ‘donates’ OpenOffice.org to Apache foundation | ZDNet UK.

Comments from Rob Weir and Novell’s Michael Meeks.

Why I wish I could reject your email attachment

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today launched a campaign calling on all computer users to start politely rejecting email attachments sent in secret and proprietary formats: for freedom and the good of the web!  I believe that open standards are the best form to convey information and I think that attachments contribute to spread proprietary formats.

Unfortunately I think that this campaign cannot be joined by mobile phone users because it’s damaging them. None of the mobile operating systems I have stumbled upon offers support for OO.org. Maybe on Android there is a way to read attached ODF files, but through Google Docs (support of Impress file format is missing, though). ODF support on BlackBerry was announced but I couldn’t find mention on their website. I think Meego (formerly known as Maemo) has native support for ODF, but very few people use it. Not sure about other OSes. A search for OpenOffice.org/ODF on Nokia Ovi Store produced no result. That alone excludes 40% of European mobile phone users (millions of people, including me) from joining this campaign. I wish I could join this campaign, but for me is still impossible to view an .odt or .opd on the move, so I prefer to receive a .doc or .ppt that I can use on my OpenOffice.org desktop and also look at it on my phone.

Mobile users still have too little freedom to reject proprietary formats. For Document Freedom Day I would like to add a new item to the FSF’s list of priorities: support for ODF on mobile operating systems, from Android to Symbian to others.

via Why I’m rejecting your email attachment — Free Software Foundation.

OOXML: free software is back to square one

We’re back to square one, 1 ISO standard on each side of the barricade since Microsoft managed to convince the ISO that its proprietary standard, OOXML’  deserves the approved stamp. For all the money Google and IBM have thrown trying to stop it, it seems they’ve lost this battle. But I’ve learned yesterday from a ISO member that there are still 60 days for any country to appeal the decision. Given the irregularities mentioned by many, this is not a remote possibility.

But anyway, I wish we would all move on and focus on two main actions for two main groups of people.’  Developers should focus to deliver good code to compete with Microsoft Office.’  Advocates and lobbyist should instead convince Microsoft customers and Microsoft execs directly to modify the Open Specification Promise in order to fix its shortcomings (and make it compatible with GPLv3).’  I think this will help free software (whose interests don’t necessarily coincide with those of IBM and Google) and I’m sure that there are people at Microsoft ready to listen.

Final stages of the office documents standards war

If you close your eyes and stay in silence for a few minutes you will hear the echo of the fight engaged by Microsoft against Google and IBM (with many more smaller allies) to dominate the future of office documents. I’m now following from the distance and there is so much dust it’s impossible to see who is winning.

It’s clear though who is losing: ISO, the once glorious International Standards Organization lost. Its image of highly respected organization is devastated by the abuse of the inevitable cracks in its regulament that led to many irregularities. It’s easy to blame Microsoft this time: their OOXML proposal is not ready, they’re late in its development and it’s so bloated it’s impossible to implement. On the contrary ISO approved ODF (ISO 26300) is good enough, stable and widely used already.

It’s a sad, sad story, however it will end.

If you’re interested to discuss the issues of open standards and you’re in Milano on April 2nd, I’ll be at OMAT360 to listen to the round table about the implications of file format standards in the society. It’s going to be interesting, with speakers from Microsoft, Adobe, OO.org, public administration and others.

Celebrating Document Freedom Day 2008

A group of free software organizations and companies declared today the Document Freedom Day, a day dedicated to the promotion of Free Document Formats and Open Standards in general. Data lock-in is a very serious issue for knowledge based economy and knowledge workers. All we do is collect data to elaborate information and create knowledge. When we store this knowledge on our computers we better make sure that we will be able to retrieve them any time with ease.

Open standards are the only way to start securing the future of society. Unfortunately greed of companies promoting proprietary standards together with ill advised governments can put our future in joepardy.

Today I join FSFE, Funambol and the rest of the crowd celebrating document freedom with a wider perspective than the just the ‘office documents’ we’re used to. When I think of a document on my computer I think of every file I store in there, every database, every map, every picture, every email message, every bookmark, every calendar entry. That’s my life, my work, my being today and my future, my knowledge, the product of my life. And that’s on my computer as well as on my cell phone and in web-based applications. I want to celebrate open standards, not just ODF, because only with open standard I can still dream of a different computer system where files don’t exist and all the knowledge I need comes to me at the right time, instead of me hunting it. Happy DFD2008.