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25 Highly-Anticipated Open Source Releases

April 6th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

ComputerWorld publishes a lengthy piece titled 25 Highly-Anticipated Open Source Releases Coming This Year.

It’s a roundup of some major open source project releases scheduled for the rest of this year, although article commentors pointed out a number of important projects that weren’t mentioned… which shows how important and enormous the field of open source has become.

Firefox 3.5, Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10, Android, Maemo, Eclipse, OpenOffice.org 3.1, Kaltura, Dimdim, Foswiki, WordPress, several open source hardware projects, and much more.

It’s going to be a huge year for open source!

Lotus Symphony Wiki

February 5th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

IBM has been a significant promoter of two of my major interests: wikis (specifically for corporate intranet content management) and OpenOffice.org (specifically, IBM’s “distro” of it called Lotus Symphony).

One place where the two converge is in the Lotus Symphony Wiki, developed as a collaborative space for Symphony-related information.

IBM’s wiki engine has a very strong design architecture and user interface, so I’d like to learn more about it. (I have not seen it in use elsewhere, so I wonder if it’s in-house, or expensive, or targeted only to big enterprises…) Likewise, Symphony itself has been a great citizen of the OpenOffice ecosystem, introducing creative new user interface concepts that I think could be adopted by OOo itself (especially document window tabs and a tools sidebar).

One approach I think Symphony could take that OOo itself has struggled with, is to achieve pre-installation on new computers from OEMs. IBM’s relationship with Lenovo should help convince them to offer Symphony instead of Microsoft Works, at the very least. OEM installations would help introduce Symphony and the ODF format to many new users, helping to further expand its global userbase.

Foswiki 1.0 Beta Series

December 29th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Foswiki, the heir of TWiki, has released some first betas for the version 1.0 landmark release after its forking from TWiki.

Kenneth Lavrsen emailed the list to inform us of the first beta, writing:

It is with great joy and pride that I can announce the release of Foswiki 1.0.0 Beta 1

It is a beta!! It should not be used for production sites. But it is very stable now and absolutely worth trying.

For normal users please download and install it and confirm that your
existing webs work just fine.

Development has been happening quickly on Foswiki, which I find very exciting after having watched TWiki seem to stagnate for a long time without knowing what was happening to it.

(See Foswiki’s User Guide to learn more about wikis in general and Foswiki itself.)

Foswiki Arrives

November 26th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

After a rift in the TWiki project led to a fork, the new version has chosen its name and formally launched as Foswiki, for “Free and Open Source Wiki.

Foswiki’s project goals are:

  • “Foswiki promises new (and long-awaited) features, while maintaining a clear upgrade path for existing TWiki installations.
  • Foswiki is an open-source project, publishing its work under the GNU General Public License.
  • The Foswiki community is dedicated to democratic governance, free of commercial influence and trademark issues.
  • We want our marketing finally to live up with our product and be as good.”

I am looking forward to continued Foswiki growth, and I anticipate it will remain an excellent wiki for both intranet and internet use cases.

ODF@WWW Wiki Becomes an Official Incubator Project

November 17th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

ODF@WWW, Kay Ramme’s wiki project built on OpenOffice and ODF, has been accepted as an official incubator project, Ramme announces.

He presented it at the recently-concluded OpenOffice.org Conference in Beijing and writes, “Since last week ODF@WWW is an Official Incubator Project :-) You find it’s home page at http://odf-at-www.openoffice.org.”

Integration with and adoption of Web 2.0 concepts has been an important development strategy for OOo, and this is a strong adaptation of wiki concepts into the familiar word processor paradigm. Its growth should be interesting to observe and groundbreaking in many ways.

Chandler User Stories

July 16th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

It’s been a long time since I mentioned OSAF or Chandler here, but the project continues to develop and grow and progress toward a 1.0 release.

The website (built on TWiki) has a section I just noticed called User Stories, which shows how real people are benefiting from Chandler every day. It’s great to see the variety of tasks to which Chandler is suited and it’s also helpful in thinking about how it can fit into your daily work flow.

ODF Wiki

June 25th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Combining two of my interests, Kay Ramme of Sun has created “ODF@WWW,” an ODF Wiki. It includes some of the capabilities I had envisioned in my post about an OpenOffice wiki extension, and adds some cool new ideas of Ramme’s own.

Thinking about the rich editing ability of OpenOffice, and the lightweight collaboration of a wiki, Ramme “understood that these two approaches may be married to become an “ODF Wiki”, combing their strengths – simple editing and simple publishing – while eliminating their weaknesses…”

He jumped right into the project: “I installed an Apache webserver, enabled WebDAV, did some (hacky) bash scripting, and got the following.”

It’s a great start, and I am looking forward to what Ramme develops next with this project.

OOo Extensions: Wiki Publisher

April 29th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The OpenOffice.org Extensions ecosystem continues to grow. In fact, the OOo development team has adopted a strategy of providing some core functions as extensions, in order to keep the code base smaller but allow users to selectively adopt features useful to them.

While I have not tested it yet, I just discovered the Sun Wiki Publisher extension, which sounds like a great tool to get more people using company intranet wikis, among other uses.

VentureCake on OpenOffice 3

March 8th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

OpenOffice.org 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 OpenOffice.org, 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.

Wikipedia to Support ODF

January 14th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Wikimedia Foundation, the organization responsible for the Wikipedia, has announced plans to support ODF export from the MediaWiki wiki engine.

From the press release:

“This technology is of key strategic importance to the cause of free education world-wide,” said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “It will make it possible to use and remix wiki content for a variety of purposes, both in the developing and the developed world, in areas with connectivity and without.”

In this multi-stage project, the last will bring support for ODF.

“The third stage, planned for mid-2008, will be the addition of the OpenDocument format for word processors to the list of export formats. “Imagine that you want to use a set of wiki articles in the classroom. By supporting the OpenDocument format, we will make it easy for educators to customize and remix content before printing and distributing it from any desktop computer,” Sue Gardner explained. This work is funded through a US$40,000 grant by the Open Society Institute.

“The technology developed through this cooperation will be available under an open source license, free for anyone to use for any purpose. It ties into the MediaWiki platform, the open source technology that runs Wikipedia. As a result, thousands of wiki platforms around the world will have the option of providing the same services to their users.”