The effort to bring OpenOffice, an open-source version of what was once StarOffice (Sun’s application suite) needs folks working on it.
“We need people on this project,” Bill Roth, the group manager of OpenOffice.org, told Daniel Drew Turner in an
eWEEK article. “It’s a two-phase license. As long as you’re compatible with the file format and have API [application programming interface] compatibility, you don’t have to give back the code. If your work is not compatible, you have to produce documentation on the changes you’ve made.”
OpenOffice.org is the open source project through which Sun has released the technology for the StarOffice Productivity Suite. StarOffice is a downloadable cross-platform office productivity suite that includes components for word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail, graphics, Web publishing, scheduling, database, and management applications.
On April 11, Sun released the build information for the OpenOffice code after initially releasing the general C++ code the previous October. All of the StarOffice source code is available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) as well as the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL). Sun will participate as a member of the OpenOffice.org community going forward.
At the 2000 Open Source conference in Monterey, Sun Microsystems announced their plans to release the current source code for Star Office, renamed OpenOffice. In October, Sun released the source code for the StarOffice suite, opening the way for possible development for the Mac under OS X by others. The reason for the open-source, according to the company, is to follow its core principles to develop and support open standards and compete on implementations. Other reasons include the development of a higher quality product as more development means fewer bugs and new features coming faster to market, as more programmers would be working on the product.
Sun is releasing the work it has completed on the Mac OS X port to the OpenOffice.org community. Sun said it believes that there’s enough support within the Mac OS X community to continue development on the port, and is inviting Mac developers throughout the world to “contribute their efforts to finishing the work that must be done to make this port a strong rival to other office software suites,” according to the official announcement of the Mac OS X port.
The problem is that the Mac OS X port is still looking for a project lead. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be anyone actively working on the Mac OS X port, according to eWEEK.
“As far as I know, only a few developers have taken up the [Mac OS X porting] effort, and that only happened quite recently,” Kevin Hendricks, associate professor of operations and information technology at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, said. (He has pitched in on the Mac OS X porting project.) “The effort desperately needs more help if it is to progress.”
Progress has been made — and is being made, albeit slowly. For one thing, Mac OS X has been a bit of a moving target with its ongoing development. There have also been issues with the tools. In
an interview on the OpenOffice.org Web site, Hendricks noted problems with the GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) compiler that he told eWEEK was his “primary tool” in the porting work. And the tool issues still haven’t been resolved, he said. Complicating the work with Mac OS X, Hendricks said, is the fact that Apple needs to maintain and tailor GCC code for work with Mac OS X development.
Hendricks suggested that developers interested in assessing the work that still needs to be done on the Mac OS X port refer to the
Mac OS X To-Do page on the OpenOffice.org Web site, according to eWEEK. As for OpenOffice coming Mac OS 9 or earlier versions, don’t hold your breath.
“It gets pretty messy going from Unix to Mac OS 9,” Scott Hutinger told eWEEK. “It takes way too much time to port due to many factors.”