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Mac Aqua Port: State of the Union

April 21st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Philipp Lohmann writes a status report on the Mac Aqua port:

“Roughly a year ago Sun joined the Macport community. The goal we – meaning the macporter team which Sun was now part of – set ourselves was that the Aquaport should be on par with the other platforms by the time of OOo 3.0 beta -which is now almost upon us.”

He announces the goal has largely been met, barring a few bugs. In fact, I have been testing an alpha version of the Mac Aqua port for a few weeks now and have been extremely impressed with it. 3.0 Alpha Screenshots

March 20th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Thanks to a recent comment on an earlier post here, and a mention on Erwin Tenhumberg’s blog, I’ve found OOo Ninja’s post of screenshots from 3.0 Alpha.

Some great features are due to arrive in this release toward the end of the year. They include an upgraded notes feature (with display in the margin), side-by-side page view options, an improved user interface theme for Calc, native table support in Impress, and the native Mac version!

Erwin also mentions in his blog the download rate of OOo has reached 1 million per week, an astronomical number that even still does not represent the total number of users, since many will get their copy from other repositories, Linux distributions, CDs, or pre-installed with a new computer.

VentureCake on OpenOffice 3

March 8th, 2008 Benjamin Horst 3.0 is coming this fall, and many people are already starting to get excited about it. VentureCake is excited about its PDF import, native Mac OS X Aqua interface, and more:

“We love, hereby referred to as OpenOffice like normal people do. We like the fact it does pretty much everything we need for free, we like the out-of-the box PDF and Flash support, its better-than-Word ability to work with large documents, and the joys of using a standard file format that’s actually, you know, a standard.”

The article lists a boatload of planned new features that will be really cool, including the PIM (Thunderbird + Sunbird), support for saving files in wiki syntax (MediaWiki is already supported), hybrid PDFs, and others.

Hybrid PDFs in particular seem interesting. VentureCake states “The whole Openoffice suite can save ‘hybrid’ PDF documents that can be viewed as PDFs or edited as OpenDocument files.” This should bring even greater compatibility to the suite and make it much easier to work with companies still using legacy applications like Microsoft Office…

Finally, the extensions user experience will be upgraded to make it feel much more like Firefox’s, which I think will make it far more popular among OOo users.

This is going to be a major upgrade, possibly as significant as the move from 1.x to 2.0, and it should bring legions of new users along with it.

Mac Update

February 7th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Mac OS X Aqua port of OpenOffice has been making rapid progress after the addition of several fulltime developers to the team. There’s still a long way to go, but with OOo 3.0 scheduled for this year, OS X will finally be an equally-supported platform. It makes sense to invest in the Mac now, as OS X’s US web usage share reached nearly 8% in December 2007, and continues to increase rapidly.

Download an Aqua OOo development snapshot here.

Highlighting KDE on Mac OS X

February 5th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

In KDE 4.0’s cross-platform strategy, Mac OS X plays a key role. The KDE TechBase keeps track of KDE on Mac OS X projects here.

While 4.1 will bring the final release for OS X, there are plenty of things to play with now. I’m particularly interested in KStars, the KDE PIM, and KOffice itself.

I’ve long been a proponent of OpenOffice, but I don’t see KOffice as a threat to OOo. Rather, I think the two are complementary, each with a different primary focus, and yet also helping each other by forming a strong argument for ODF. With ODF, there’s no need to fight for sole software hegemony, since we’ll still be compatible with everyone else regardless of our personal application preferences. As OOo and KOffice grow, they bring more users to the ODF file standard. And as ODF grows, it lets more people freely choose OOo, KOffice, or one of the many other compatible programs.

If a politician were discussing this issue, they’d call it “growing the pie,” not just changing the relative sizes of its slices. That’s good for all the communities involved!

Ars on Cross-Platform KDE 4.0

January 25th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Since the KDE 4 Release Event, it’s been a week full of KDE news and reporting, both for me and across the web.

In that vein, Ars Technica provides some news on the KDE 4.0 release as well. They also seem pretty excited about the cross-platform capabilities it introduced.

Author Ryan Paul writes, “The open-source KDE desktop environment is making the jump across platforms with broad support for Windows and Mac OS X. The core KDE desktop programs, the KOffice suite, and the Amarok music player are actively being ported.”

While he encountered minor issues testing KDE applications on Windows, most were just user interface glitches, and Paul is enthusiastic about what a cross-platform KDE will bring to the world:

“Broad support for Windows and Mac OS X is an ambitious goal, but the KDE development community appears to have made a very good start in that direction. Many of the new abstraction layers in KDE 4 are geared towards increasing portability and reducing dependence on platform-specific mechanisms. KDE definitely enriches the Windows and Mac OS X software ecosystems and will likely be welcomed by many.”

For Mac users, Paul provides a few helpful links which I’ll simply quote here: “For additional details about the Mac OS X port, check out this recent blog entry written by Reed. The binaries can be obtained via BitTorrent from the KDE TechBase page for the Mac OS X port.”

Yet More Applications Supporting ODF

December 4th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

More applications seem to announce support for ODF every day. Erwin Tenhumberg writes a post titled “Fast-Growing ODF ISV Support” about this very fact:

“I refer to Solutions wiki page for a list of products. The three new products I found out about today are DEVONthink and DEVONnote as well as EMS SQL Manager for SQL Server. DEVONthink seems to be a note taking software with ODF support for the Mac platform and EMS SQL Manager for SQL Server allows importing and exporting ODF data into or from databases.”

Mac OS X Leopard’s Native ODF Support

October 18th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The next iteration of Mac OS X, codenamed Leopard, will be released on October 26. Out of many new features, one mentioned on Apple’s website is native support for ODF files in TextEdit.

More broadly, this may mean that Apple has developed libraries for ODF support, which will make it easy for developers to leverage in apps they build for the Mac platform.

Once the installed base of 25 million Mac users completes the upgrade to Leopard, we’ll see another expansion of the installed base of ODF capable users come along with it!

Thoughtfix Compares N800 and iPod Touch

October 10th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

The prolific tablet blogger Thoughtfix has written a thorough side-by-side comparison of Nokia’s N800 and Apple’s iPod Touch.

In my opinion, both are great devices (I only have an N800 though), and Thoughtfix agrees on that point. However, he tests and compares which is preferable for varied use cases, and finds that each has its stronger niches.

“The iPod touch paired with iTunes will be my media player of choice… The Nokia N800 is far more powerful as an Internet device.”

Hopefully both will thrive, and help establish this emerging category of tablet devices that may one day be as important as PCs or cellphones are today!

Install Drupal with MAMP

September 5th, 2007 Benjamin Horst

As I get deeper into researching Drupal for some upcoming projects, I was seeking a way to install it on my MacBook for home testing purposes.

Along comes MAMP, a pre-packaged installer for Apache, MySQL and PHP on your Mac OS X system. And Rob Cottingham provides a tutorial for installing MAMP and Drupal on your Mac. Very handy!

Five quick steps, and you’re up and running. I was able to install and configure everything while also watching Law and Order.