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New OpenOffice Group Blog/Portal

December 29th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Zimbio has launched an OpenOffice portal and group blog, which they classify as a “People’s Guide.”

The portal consists of a group blog, news, video and blog search trackers, links, feeds and a forum. It looks like a nice foundation that could grow into a sustainable community!

Let’s see if I can get SolidOffice added to one of their feeds…

OpenOffice Base and MS Access Files

December 28th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

In her series of articles for, Solveig Haugland writes OpenOffice Base: Converting data and files from Access.

Liberating MS Access files by opening and converting them into Base’s native ODF file formats is a large piece of the open standards and compatibility puzzle, and Solveig shows how to do it with ease.

Linux Journal’s FOSS Retrospective

December 27th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

It’s a good time, at the end of the year, to review the progress we’ve made.

Linux Journal’s Glyn Moody writes What Can’t Open Source Achieve in the Next 10 Years? in which he looks back at the past ten years of progress in open source and reflects on what the next decade may bring:

“I take it for granted that open source will be as successful on the desktop as it has on the server – with the caveat that the desktop itself may well be far less important in ten years’ time. I also assume that everyone will be using ODF as the standard for document interchange and storage…”

OpenOffice Monthly Newsletter

December 23rd, 2006 Benjamin Horst

December’s edition of the monthly newsletter has been posted.

It’s been another busy month for the OpenOffice freedom-fighters. Some major migrations from Microsoft Office to were announced in Finland, England, Belgium and the Netherlands. (OpenOffice adoption in Europe overall is happening at a fast and very satisfying pace.)

Meanwhile, ODF is also gaining ground. Brazil’s government is beginning to standardize on ODF for its office documents and has deprecated other legacy (Microsoft) formats! As the biggest country in Latin America, and a trendsetter, one can expect the rest of the continent to follow suit in the near future.

Finally, more and more software programs and projects are filling in the ODF ecosystem. Libraries are being written in many languages to create and modify ODF files, showing the truth behind early predictions that a standard file format for office documents would unleash the gates of innovative new tools and products.


December 21st, 2006 Benjamin Horst

In addition to rethinking the cost of hardware and distribution of computing resources around the globe, the One Laptop Per Child project has made some major changes in GUI assumptions as well.

Mike Hearn writes a review of the OLPC graphical user interface:

“This UI is quite simply one of the deepest and most interesting redesigns of the desktop user interface ever produced.”

Mike has a list of at least 20 innovative ideas included in the OLPC, but to me one of the most interesting is, as he writes, “Network and presence is fully integrated into the core of the design.” This is a major departure from existing OS GUIs, which mostly derive their design from pre-network blueprints.

OOo Template and Clipart Contest Finishes

December 20th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Five thousand dollars in prizes were awarded last week at the conclusion of the Template and Clipart Contest, reports the Ubuntu Blog.

LXer announces “The contest resulted in some superior and innovative work. “Some of the templates show just how advanced and flexible’s OpenDocument format is as both a Word and Spreadsheet ODF processor. The winning templates and many others breaks a myth that cannot do advanced editing functions like Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel. It is obvious that has come of age and is more than just a free alternative to MS Office but is an extremely worthy competitor” said Russell Ossendryver.”

Project sponsor has already committed to a second annual contest in 2007 because of this year’s success.

Solveig’s 2.0 Book is Here

December 18th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Solveig Haugland’s 2 Guidebook is now available for purchase.

She announces it on her blog:

“I am delighted to announce that my 2 Guidebook has been published!

More specifically, I have gotten the rights back and have self-published it.

The 2 Guidebook replaces the 2.x Resource Kit on Amazon, which is never coming out.”

Why OpenOffice uses ODF

December 15th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

Michael Brauer, Sun employee and member of the OpenOffice team, writes an interesting piece titled Why uses OpenDocument.

It begins with a strong philosophical stance on ownership of information: “The documents that our users and customers create with belong to them, not us. They, not us, must be able to read or process them in the near, far, and very far future. And they, not us, must have the choice to use whatever application they want to do so. And they, not us, have to bear the consequences if this is not given.”

Brauer discusses the decision, in 2000, to create a new file format from scratch, but based on existing standards, because as a true standard file format, it must be application-neutral. This distinguishes ODF from Microsoft’s OOXML, which does not make any effort to be application-neutral. (Its overarching goal is not to introduce any incompatibilities with the new Microsoft Office file format, and nothing more.)

Further, the ODF standard development process also prioritizes two major goals: Open source community members must be able to join, and all work must be done in public scrutiny.

Following these methods keeps corporations honest and prevents the process from veering off under the control of any single interest group. Again, the ECMA standardization process being followed by Microsoft OOXML does not meet these criteria.

ODF is, in its development process and its final form, a far more open and inclusive format than its competitor. More people can participate in or watch over its development, more developers and organizations can implement it in their own projects, and end-users will have greater control over their data when saved in ODF.

OpenOffice 2.1 Released

December 14th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

OpenOffice 2.1 was just released with a number of small fixes. (Download it here.)

Take a look at the discussions on Slashdot and Digg for some early feedback.

Firefox Keeps Booming in Europe

December 11th, 2006 Benjamin Horst

The Inquirer reports on a survey that shows Europe-wide use of Firefox has hit 23.2%, with one country (Slovenia) at 40.5%.

Finland is at 39.3%, Poland at 33.6%, Germany at 33%, and France at 20.7%.

What’s the global situation? Pretty good, for our band of freedom-fighters:

“Worldwide, Europe – at 23.2 per cent – is just behind Australasia (23.4%) in its use of the foxy browser. According to Xiti, 14.5 per cent of North American surfers use Firefox. Its smallest market share is in South America, where it accounts for just 11.1 per cent of active browsers.”