02 April, 2011


I just stumbled upon mmeeks blog where he mentions some of his favorite projects from the LibreOffice GSoC ideas. And it made me happy.

OpenOffice = blegh

Now I've never been a big fan of OpenOffice. I saw it as a huge pile of legacy code with little future. Part of that was due to the "WE OWN OPENOFFICE" Governance from Sun/Oracle, part due the the slowness and UI horror. And part due to developers saying things like
"developing OpenOffice is like brushing your teeth with a chainsaw"
Such quotes don't inspire a lot of confidence

LibreOffice an improvement

The LibreOffice fork solves the governance issue and focusses strongly on cleaning up the code. Still I felt they still had the Millstone of the old codebase around the neck. I've always seen a lot more future for Calligra suite which has a modern code base and innovative features, especially since the inception of KO GmbH. For me, LibreOffice did not seem relevant for anything other than bridging the gap until Calligra was end user ready..
Which in itself is bad - competition is good, OO has a huge user base (slowly moving to LibreOffice now) and the LibreOffice project is a big showcase of Free Software in many ways.

Light at the end of the tunnel

So the post by Meeks lighted up a little spark in me when he mentioned moving over the Canvas to Cairo. Yes, I'm no developer, but I do know that Cairo is a modern technology, good enough to be adopted as the new canvas by the upcoming Qt4 port of Scribus (part of openSUSE 11.4). And it is what GNOME Shell is build upon, not exactly irrelevant either. Meeks also mentions an Android port which would force work on improving performance like it did for Calligra office.

So why is this so special? It's not like OO.o didn't have any plans... Well, frankly, the only improvements I've seen from OO.o over the last years was an addition like Java. Sorry but why oh why add Java to an office suite which is already slow as crap and big as a mountain? Oh, and the discussions about the "awesome UI redesign" ("let's copy the ribbon, badly"). I didn't hear about taking advantage of modern technologies like Cairo. Frankly, the improvements were mostly putting lipstick on a pig, if you ask me.

LibreOffice REALLY brings change!

So now I have the impression that LibreOffice really represents a change. Sure, it's all perception, I know. I'm sure the OO team did some replacing-of-legacy-stuff. And LibreOffice still has a HUGE amount of work to do. They still have the old code base. But the project is revitalized! With all the new developers and LibreOffice in GSoC, there is change in the air. With Calligra going incredibly strong as well (just see the number of ppl here) the Free Software office space looks to be gearing up to good stuff. I for one welcome our new Office overlords, evil or not ;-)