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March 31st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Slashdot discusses the status of the MSOOXML ballot, and, unfortunately, the proposal may actually pass. Votes are to be revealed today, so we cannot be wholly sure of the outcome, but it looks bad. Irregularities, questionable tricks and strong-arm tactics have been alleged in a number of countries (hence Slashdot’s title for the story, “OOXML Will Pass Amid Massive Irregularities”).

The longterm damage to the ISO is hard to gauge–will it come to be seen as a mouthpiece for the company with the most cash and the least scruples?

The harm to companies that try to use MSOOXML, and to the marketplace in general, is sure to be large and tangled. MSOOXML could represent a decade of cleanup work, if its adoption becomes common in the software market (though I still have some hope that, even as a rubber-stamped ISO “standard,” it won’t be popular among users).

We await further news…

Update: Groklaw is keeping track of the controversy and countries with voting irregularities including:

OpenOffice 2.4 Released

March 28th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

OOo Ninja’s got a screenshot-full post on new features in 2.4, which was released yesterday.

See the official 2.4 feature notes at (check out more screenshots) and the Slashdot release announcement:

“The multiplatform, multilingual office suite has announced the release of version 2.4. New features include 5 PDF export enhancements, text to columns in Calc, rectangular selection in Writer, bug fixes, performance improvements, improvements supporting the growing library of extensions such as 3D OpenGL transitions in Impress, and much more. Downloads are available either direct or P2P. In September, 3.0 will add PDF import, Microsoft Office 2007 file format support, and ODF 1.2.”

Also, the OpenOffice website user interface was updated and it looks great.

OpenProj 1.0 Released

March 27th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

OpenProj 1.0 has been released, and the software has now passed 350,000 downloads since inception.

It’s a Java-based project management application that works well for my purposes as a simple and occasional project management software user. I’d like to see the UI improved a bit (mostly the top bar of buttons and the menus), and perhaps consider a switch from its “CPAL” open source license (based on the Mozilla Public License, but I am not very familiar with CPAL itself) to LGPL or something less controversial within the open source community.

Another positive development is that OpenProj is being distributed bundled with StarOffice 8.0 in Europe which will provide it with good visibility, and strengthen the featureset available to StarOffice buyers as well.


March 26th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Northxsouth, a small company of web developers with offices in San Francisco and Sao Paulo, Brazil, represents a new global archetype that has shaped, and been shaped by, the methods of open source software.

In their own words, “Many of us are also involved in open source and free software projects. We were using online collaboration tools as a part of our day-to-day work for open source projects where no two people involved lived in the same city. Being accustomed to secure messaging, voice-over-ip and groupware, we gained a unique edge. Our network of opportunities and trusted talent expanded beyond the Bay Area and we started working on free software projects in Latin America as open source gained momentum there.”

The Northxsouth blog has kept track of interesting developments in the world of Free Software, including a recent survey titled “Free Software Becoming Entrenched in Brazil,” where they report “As time goes on, free software is becoming institutionalized within Latin American businesses, public sector systems, non-profits and NGOs.”

There had been much press a few years ago during the announcements of migration plans to open source, but not a lot of news since. This indicates that much has been happening during this time. (The FOSS adoption survey itself is here.)

Cuba Also Rejects MSOOXML

March 25th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Contrary to what was recorded in September, Cuba also intends to reject MSOOXML, announces Groklaw.

“The Cuban National Bureau of Standards has reportedly sent an email to the three names NBs are supposed to notify at ISO, Toshiko Kimura, Keith Brannon, and Martine Gaillen, reporting that Cuba votes to disapprove OOXML.

“But the startling news is that the email claims that Cuba voted no in September but that its vote was miscounted.”

If true, this is an example of an extraordinary abuse of the process. Hopefully Cuba can record the vote they feel is right before the final tally is recorded.

India and Poland to Reject MSOOXML

March 24th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

India’s rejection of Microsoft OOXML is definite and consistent with its previous ballot, Groklaw announces:

“I’m very happy to report that despite all the pressure to get India to change its vote, India has stalwartly voted No once again to OOXML. That will, I hope, encourage others to vote what they truly believe is right.”

An even more positive development is that Poland appears prepared to reject MSOOXML in its bid to become an ISO standard, a reversal from its original vote. (The only qualifier here is that a bewildering array of new rules have suddenly been implemented, and cautious observers are concerned a technicality could be used to disqualify Poland’s change of vote.)

“There is a report by Borys Musielak of that Poland met to vote on OOXML on Thursday. Of 45 members of the committee eligible to vote, 24 showed up to vote, and it split almost down the middle, with 12 for, 10 against and 2 abstaining. This is extraordinary, since Poland voted yes in September, despite the technical committee being opposed. I call that progress.”

Note that consensus is required, not a simple majority vote, hence the rejection. Adoption in Malaysia

March 21st, 2008 Benjamin Horst

For the past few years, Malaysia has been on the forefront of the ODF-MSOOXML struggle as well as the Office competition. However, bit by bit they have been moving in the direction of the open source camp.

A recent press release informs us that a Malaysian government agency has chosen to migrate to OpenOffice, in “MAMPU Migrates to”

Quoting the entire short press release:

“The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), today officially adopts a policy to migrate to the open source productivity suite. This is in line with the Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Master Plan, which calls for government agencies to reduce costs, increase freedom of choice and interoperability.

“From April 1st, MAMPU will start adopting the OpenDocument Format (ODF), standard for all new documents created. ODF, the ISO open standard for electronic documents, is also the default format for The agency will also uninstall all copies of Microsoft Office by the end of 2008.

“To ensure a smooth migration, presently over 80 agency staff have been trained by the Open Source Competency Centre (OSCC). Additional staff will then be trained internally by the IT department, which will also provide support for”

Combined with a strong presence in Singapore and the Philippines, and a recent 20,000-seat government migration in Vietnam, it appears that Southeast Asia is quickly becoming a major stronghold of the OpenDocument Format and itself.

Edit: The Open Malaysia blog covers this story with greater detail. 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.

Open Social Web Bill of Rights

March 19th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

The Open Social Web blog has written a Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web, outlining fundamental principals they feel should be respected by all providers of social networking tools and services.

These rights include an individual’s ownership of his or her personal information, control of how that information is shared with others (other individuals and advertisers, of course), and the ability to grant persistent access to personal information to trusted external sites such as aggregators and other services.

It’s a great project, but the blog only has one post. They provide links to other affiliated blogs, information, and events, but I’d like to see more activity taking place on this site. Creating an open social web is an important project to help maintain the ideals of the internet and world wide web, so I hope to see a strong community of supporters, advocates and developers form in this area. Conference 2008: Beijing

March 18th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Beijing won by a landslide in voting for 2008’s Conference location, Willy Sudiarto Raharjo reports (based on an email from John McCreesh).

This is the first OOoCon to be held outside of Europe, and reflects the rapidly-growing OOo community in China.

Beijing RedFlag 2000 is the local representative for the bid, and Peter Junge was the co-lead managing the process. Their influence in the Chinese software market is large, and this conference should help show the world how OOo and ODF-based applications are succeeding in the PRC.