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OpenOffice Newsletter May 2006

May 31st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The May 2006 OpenOffice.org newsletter came out today. Read it on the mailing list archive or the OpenOffice newsletter blog.

Many big events this month, including:

Chandler Update

May 30th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The Open Source Applications Foundation just released another milestone build, Chandler 0.7alpha2:

“The work in Alpha2 centers around three areas:

  • Enhancing the calendar and fixing a number of problems reported by our users
  • Introducing some light-weight scheduling workflows
  • Focusing on the other areas of the PIM by building out the basic table features”

For all the improvements, take a look at the New in Alpha 2 page.

Novell Leads Chinese Linux Market

May 29th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Internet News reported (back in March) that Novell held the top spot in the Chinese Linux market, measured by revenue.

“Novell is claiming again that it is the Linux leader in China. This time the data comes from China-based analyst firm CCID Consulting, which reported that Novell holds a 25.1 percent revenue share of the China Linux market.”

Meanwhile, Fedora, Sun Wah, and Turbolinux are also competing very successfully in China, and not just against other Linux distros: “In a recent press release, Turbolinux cited 2004 IDC data that reportedly give them a nearly 25 percent market share of the Chinese desktop OS market. In April, they signed China’s biggest bank representing over 100 million customers.”

France Adopting ODF in Massachusetts’ Footsteps?

May 27th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Erwin Tenhumberg translates some French documents discussing the gradual standardization around ODF for French governmental documents.

He quotes:
“RIT0025 Il est RECOMMANDÉ d’utiliser le format Open Document pour les échanges de documents bureautiques semi-structurés (traitement de texte, tableur, présentation).

RIT0026 Il est OBLIGATOIRE d accepter tout document au format Open Document pour les échanges de documents bureautiques semi-structurés (traitement de texte, tableur, présentation).

RIT0027 Il est INTERDIT de faire une migration depuis le format bureautique couramment utilisé par une organisation, vers un format autre que le format ouvert Open Document.”

Roughly translated, these read:
Use of OpenDocument format is recommended for the exchange of semi-structured office documents (word processing, spreadsheets and presentations).

Accepting any office document in OpenDocument format… is required.

Migrating from an organization’s current office document format to anything other than OpenDocument is forbidden.

The last sentence is particularly interesting, because it prevents the use of Microsoft’s new XML file formats. They don’t exist yet, so they cannot be the current format for any organization. This means that any French government agency that wants to use MS Office 2007 will have to use the ODF plugin (that isn’t in the wild yet), or save files to the old MS Office formats, or just keep it simple and straightforward, and migrate wholly to an ODF-native suite like OpenOffice.org.

Tenhumberg links to a collection of official French documents on this new regulation.

Wireless Philadelphia Coming Soon

May 23rd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

CNET reports “Philly Wi-Fi project passes final hurdle.” Pricing breaks will be available for low-income subscribers, while the standard access cost for 1Mbps download speeds is only $20 per month.

Earthlink won the contract to install and manage the system, while Wireless Philadelphia, a newly-formed nonprofit, will “oversee the citywide Wi-Fi project and also provide training and low-cost computer equipment to low-income families.”

Wireless Philadelphia’s mission statement is quite high-minded:

“Wireless Philadelphia aims to strengthen the economy and transform Philadelphia’s neighborhoods by providing wireless internet access throughout the city. Wireless Philadelphia will create a digital infrastructure to help citizens, businesses, schools and community organizations make effective use of this technology to achieve their goals while providing a greater experience for visitors to the City.”

Can’t wait to see how this works out! I think it will prove a clever economic development strategy, and that other cities will quickly follow suit.

Open Source’s Global Development Tree

May 22nd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The open source development process has really grown to encompass input from all parts of the world. Even in an era of global business, few corporations can match the reach of open source projects. They have mastered the art of turning users into volunteers and developers, and thus have gained a foothold in almost every nation on every continent.

For several examples, see the current articles below that discuss contributions from Brazil, Oregon, USA, and South Africa. It’s fascinating to see the more positive side of globalization, the humanist side, that is illustrated by non-profits and is most honed by the collaborative efforts of open source software projects–the new vanguard of positive NGO contributions to worldwide development.

OpenOffice contributions from Brazil include a Portuguese language grammar checker that will grow to support English and other languages next.

The Open Source Lab at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, hosts the net infrastructure for a growing cadre of FOSS projects.

Accessibility options for the disabled are being supported by the South African government and developed by local coders and other volunteers.

Sam Hiser: “What Does the [ODF] Plugin Accomplish for Organizations?”

May 21st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

On his blog PlexNex, Sam Hiser asks What Does the Plugin Accomplish for Organizations?

He writes:

“Among the sappers of office-worker productivity is MS Office Version Madness, which describes the document incompatibilities arising from Microsoft’s customary changes to its document file format recipes in Word 6.0, Office 95, 97, 2000 and XP which make documents inaccessible with various permutations of office suite versions and make everybody enormously frustrated and which also harm productivity in just about every office setting. (I needn’t go into it because the experience is universal among this white-collar PC-using audience; however, I might add that the end of Version Madness is also a very attractive prospect to individual PC users at home, school or SoHo.)

The Plugin ends Version Madness because it provides a single, unified file format in which all modern versions of MS Office can work — file conversions going both ways — as well as handles repeated round tripping smoothly.

For state governments, like The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was the very first organization to put out a call to hear if any such Plugin might exist, the move to the open standard OpenDocument Format is intelligent and wise. The strong case for ODF in the document-centric business processes of regional, state & municipal government will eventually be universally obvious.”

Three OpenOffice Links du Jour

May 18th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Rene Agredano of the Times-Standard writes “Goodbye, Microsoft Office, Hello OpenOffice.”

Solveig Haugland answers a series of questions on using various OpenOffice features in “Bridging the Gap Between Office and OpenOffice.”

Finally, CNET reports “ISO approval ‘unlikely for Microsoft Open XML’.”

125 Million New ODF Users with Lotus Notes

May 17th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

InfoWorld announces that 125 million new users will gain ODF compatibility in “IBM to adopt ODF for Lotus Notes.”

The author, Ephraim Schwartz, writes that Lotus Notes’ next release “will include an ODF-compatible version of OpenOffice embedded in the Notes e-mail application. It will include word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications, giving users the ability to create, edit, and save documents natively in ODF.”

“Code-named Hannover, the new Notes version will be available with the productivity editors included to all Notes users who are current on software maintenance contacts. IBM estimates that number at 125 million users.”

New MacBooks and 770 Software Update

May 16th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

It’s a good day for both Mac and Maemo users!

Apple released the much-anticipated MacBook today, to replace the iBook and 12″ PowerBook. It sports a 13.3″ widescreen, Core Duo chips, great software (of course), and is available in white or black.

Nokia updated the 770’s OS to Internet Tablet 2006, which includes the jabber-based Google Talk and support for additional SIP-based VOIP programs in the future (specifically mentioned was Gizmo). It also includes a new on-screen keyboard for better text input, and some behind-the-scenes improvements to the OS, too.