Home of The Tiny Guide to

Open Source Progresses in German and Finnish Cities

January 30th, 2011 Benjamin Horst

Recent encouraging news comes from OSOR by way of Freiburg, Germany and Helsinki, Finland.

Freiburg has found that migrating to for its standard office software package reduced its cost by 75% compared to the cost of a proprietary office suite.

In “DE: Freiburg: open source office three to four times cheaper,” OSOR reports:

Rüdiger Czieschla, head of IT at Freiburg, presented on the city’s use of OpenOffice on 1 December, at a conference in Badajoz organised by Osepa, a project to increase awareness on the advantages of free and open source software. According to him, using OpenOffice cost the city 200,000 Euro. The proprietary alternative would have cost between 600,000 for just a text editor and 800,000 Euro for the proprietary office suite.

ODF compatibility and powerful features like PDF-export also weighed heavily in the city’s decision to adopt in 2007, where it is now installed on 2,300 desktops.

Next, the city council of Helsinki in Finland has determined to undertake a pilot project to implement open source software within the city administration. OSOR’s article titled “FI: City of Helsinki to start open source desktop pilot” explains how the city council voted to initiate the project:

[Johanna Sumuvuori]’s resolution, that tells the city to start a pilot, got the support of sixty council members. “We want the city to get some experience with open source and to find out if we can use it, for instance, to save money. The city is wasting more money every year on proprietary software licenses.”

In the resolution, the council members refer to other public administrations in Finland that are using open source. According to the council members, the ministry of Defence has been using Linux and other open source software for years to develop some of its critical applications. They also point to the Finnish judicial system that has switched to using open source office applications. “Many schools have already switched and in the city of Lappeenranta they estimate this will help to save some 70 percent on the schools’ IT budget.”

With 20,000 desktop computers in Helsinki’s system, adopting open source software could have a significant financial benefit for the city.

LibreOffice Begins!

October 11th, 2010 Benjamin Horst

LibreOffice was announced a few short weeks ago, and time has flown by since then, as community members work feverishly to build out the project infrastructure for the future.

Late last week, Florian Effenberger sent the following email summarizing some of the successes of the first week:

Strong support for the first week of The Document Foundation

The Internet, October 6, 2010 – One full week has gone by since the
announcement of The Document Foundation, and we would like to share some
numbers with the people who have decided to follow us since the first

The beta of LibreOffice has been downloaded over 80,000 times. The
infrastructure has expanded dramatically from 25 to 45 working mirrors
in 25 countries (in every continent), including islands in the Pacific
Ocean. This number is close to half the mirrors achieved by during ten years of history of the project.

People have started to contribute to the code, suggesting features,
committing patches and filing bugs. In just one week, around 80 code
contributions (patches, and direct commits) have been accepted in
LibreOffice from a total of 27 volunteers, several of them newly-won,
with around 100 developers hanging out on the #libreoffice irc channel
which is buzzing with activity (around 14,000 messages sent).

Turning to the wider community, 2.000 people have subscribed to the list
announce@ to keep up with the latest TDF news, and 300 people to the
discussion list discuss@, where there has been an average of 100
messages per day.

To round up the numbers, there are nearly 600 people following TDF
tweets, over 150 following the TDF account, and over 1,000
fans on Facebook. The traffic on the server has been in the region of
500 GB.

In its only official response to the creation of the Foundation, Oracle
has stated: “Oracle is investing substantial resources in With more than one hundred million users, we believe is the most advanced, most feature rich open source
implementation and will strongly encourage the Open Office community to
continue to contribute through”

The Foundation understands from this that Oracle has no immediate plans
to support the Foundation, or to transfer community assets such as the trademark. However, the Foundation hopes this position
will change as the company sees the volunteer community – an essential
component of OpenOffice’s past success – swing its support behind the
new Foundation. In the meantime, the Foundation will continue software
development under the LibreOffice brand.

UX Blog on Prototyping Strategies

May 16th, 2010 Benjamin Horst

Christoph Noack writes about user experience prototyping strategies, based on a presentation he attended at the CHI conference a few weeks ago. He covers the importance, in wireframing, of capturing essential elements while avoiding distracting detail that is not relevant to the design stage.

Current efforts to improve the StartCenter are in this process now. (My concept for the Dashboard is described here.)

Document Freedom Day Today

March 31st, 2010 Benjamin Horst

Today is Document Freedom Day, a global day to promote awareness of the importance of open document formats and open standards like ODF (OpenDocument Format) and HTML.

To catch up on what’s happening around the world today, see the Document Freedom Blog.

For an perspective on Document Freedom Day, see Louis Suarez-Potts’ post titled Document Freedom Day. on AuthorSupportTool

March 21st, 2010 Benjamin Horst’s blog describes a new Extension in Dmitri Popov’s post “Turbocharge Writer with AuthorSupportTool.”

The AuthorSupportTool (AST) extension… dramatically enhances the word processor’s functionality, turning it into a powerful tool for working on research papers and complex documents.

AST provides a number of features, including a Template Wizard with templates for major types of academic documents, a tool to manage bibliographic references, and “focal points” and “work progress” indicators.

These latter two are unique tools. Popov explains, “You can think of the focal points editor as a graphical non-hierarchical outliner which you can use to manage the document structure as a flowchart. The clever part here is that once the flowchart is ready, you can convert it into the traditional document structure where each node (or focal point in AST’s terminology) becomes a document heading.”

The Work Progress function “provides a visual timeline as well as essential info about the current document, including word and page count, number of illustrations and tables, and so on. Here you can also specify the duration of the project and set milestones.”

New Marketshare Numbers

February 14th, 2010 Benjamin Horst

In recent discussions of marketshare, two key facts stand out. The first is that OOo’s marketshare is much higher than most observers expected, and the second is that Microsoft Office’s marketshare is much lower than common knowledge has long dictated.

The current discussion of market share was first touched off by, which published “International OpenOffice Market Shares” about a week ago. In this article, author Thomas Hümmer was able to determine approximate installed base / market share of and other competing office suites and broke down the numbers by country. Leading countries include Poland and the Czech Republic at 22%, Germany at 21%, France at 19% and Italy, Spain and Denmark close behind.

Hümmer points out some contributing factors to these high numbers, including the fact that many of their public administrations have adopted ODF or for their own use. He also notes the correlation between high adoption of OOo and Firefox, which itself has nearly 50% market share in both Poland and Germany, an increase from several years ago, when Firefox was in the same range as OOo is today. OOo’s continued growth thus seems very likely to follow a similar trajectory.

And what of the low marketshare numbers posted by MS Office? For years, common knowledge has been that “everyone has Microsoft Office” installed, which, to give it a number, one might translate to 95%. However, Webmasterpro found no country with greater than 88% penetration for MSO, while most were much lower (the USA only posted 75% installation of MSO, in fact). Germany and Poland were even lower, at 72% and 68%, respectively.

More discussion of this interesting new information can be found at Computerworld UK, in “Has the Irresistible Rise of Begun?” by Glyn Moody, at OStatic’s “ by the Numbers” by Joe Brockmeier, and in many other recent articles.

Denmark to Adopt ODF

January 30th, 2010 Benjamin Horst

Danish project members pointed out the Danish Parliament’s decision this week to require government data be stored in open formats. They developed a list which explicitly included ODF and excluded MSOOXML.

The original article can be found at: ODF Wins the Document Format War (via Google Translate).

It’s also covered in English at The Register (Danes Ditch Microsoft, Take ODF Road – At Last) and OSOR.EU (DK: Danish state administrations to use ODF).

The Register: “Parliamentary parties decided – after four years of deliberation – to use the Open Document Format in all Danish state office documents.”

OSOR.EU points out:

“The open standard ODF is recognised by many European member states. Next to Denmark it is also a national standard for public administrations in Belgium, Germany, France, Lithuania, Sweden and the Netherlands. ODF is recommended by Norway and it is one of the document standards at NATO.

“ODF is a document standard supported by many office applications, including most open source office software packages. The list of software companies supporting ODF include Sun Microsystems with its StarOffice, Google with Google Docs, IBM with Lotus Domino and Workplace. Microsoft supports ODF in the second edition of its 2007 version of its Office suite. Earlier versions require a plugin made by Sun Microsystems. ODF support is also included in the office suite Hangul, used by many of Korea’s public administrations and the office suite Itchitaro, which is popular in Japan. Open source applications that can handle ODF include OpenOffice, K-Office, Abiword, Gnumeric, Scribus and TextEdit.”


November 22nd, 2009 Benjamin Horst

My team recently created a demonstration site to promote Six Apart’s new Motion platform and provide a space for community members and fans to share with each other at Share

The site is ideal to quickly post questions, links, and images and to embed videos and spark conversations within the community.

Still to come is custom design work and an ongoing promotional campaign to introduce the site to the broader community of and open source fans. Adoption in Munster and Denmark

October 24th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Add to the catalog of European governments and agencies adopting two more:

eGov Monitor announces that Germany’s city of Munster has chosen to standardize on OpenOffice for its school IT in German City Münster Launches Pilot Project For its Schools To Adopt Open Source Software:

At the moment, teachers are trying out OpenOffice in two schools. The suite will be made available to all schools in November 2009. “We plan to make OpenOffice the default office application for schools”, said Citeq’s spokesperson Stefan Schoenfelder.

The second note comes from community member Leif Lodahl of the Danish localization project, who writes:

We are experiencing a very important breakthrough in
the municipalities right now.

City of Gribskov has been using OpenOffice for a few years.

City of Tønder has been using OpenOffice in schools for about a year.

City of Lyngby-Taarbæk has decided to use OpenOffice in schools.
According to the local newspaper this is only the first step towards a
compete change from MS to OpenOffice in the administration as well

Even the Mayor is happy 😉

Another city close to Copenhagen is about to implement a new version of a
Case- and Document Handling System, that integrates OpenOffice into it. From
then, more than 90% of new documents will be produced with OpenOffice.
Expected to be implemented beginning of November this year. (I will talk
about this case at OOoCon this year).

Thanks for the update, Leif! Turns 9

October 14th, 2009 Benjamin Horst

Right about now, is celebrating its ninth birthday. (Catch for the birthday cake logo before it’s gone!)

The project and the software have achieved much in nine years. Highlights to date include helping launch the OpenDocument Format, creating a complex application that supports all the main computer platforms, distributing hundreds of millions of copies, building a userbase of possibly one hundred million users, and saving governments, businesses, students and home users hundreds of millions of dollars collectively in software licensing fees.

Here’s to the next nine!