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OpenOffice.org (OO.o or OOo), commonly known as OpenOffice, is an open source software application suite available for a number of different computer operating systems. It is distributed as free software and written using its own GUI toolkit. It supports the ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument Format (ODF) for data interchange as its default file format, as well as Microsoft Office formats among others. , OpenOffice supports over 110 languages.

OpenOffice.org was originally derived from StarOffice, an office suite developed by StarDivision and acquired by Sun Microsystems in August 1999. The source code of the suite was released in July 2000 with the aim of reducing the dominant market share of Microsoft Office by providing a free and open alternative; later versions of StarOffice are based upon OpenOffice.org with additional proprietary components.

The project and software are informally referred to as OpenOffice, but this term is a trademark held by a company in the Netherlands co-founded by Wouter Hanegraaff and is also in use by Orange UK, requiring the project to adopt OpenOffice.org as its formal name.

History

Originally developed as the proprietary software application suite StarOffice by the German company StarDivision, the code was purchased in 1999 by Sun Microsystems. In August 1999 version 5.2 of StarOffice was made available free of charge.

OpenOffice.org versions
Version Release Date Description
Build 638c October 2001 The first milestone release
1.0 May 1, 2002
1.0.3.1 May 2, 2003 Recommended for Windows 95
1.1 September 2, 2003
1.1.1 March 30, 2004 Bundled with TheOpenCD
1.1.2 June 2004
1.1.3 October 4, 2004
1.1.4 December 22, 2004
1.1.5 September 14, 2005 Last release for 1.x product lineFinal version for Windows 95It can edit OpenOffice.org 2 files
1.1.5secpatch July 4, 2006 Security patch (macros)
2.0 October 20, 2005 Milestone, with major enhancements
2.0.1 December 21, 2005
2.0.2 March 8, 2006
2.0.3 June 29, 2006
2.0.4 October 13, 2006
2.1.0 December 12, 2006
2.2.0 March 28, 2007 Included a security update;

Reintroduced font kerning
2.2.1 June 12, 2007
2.3.0 September 17, 2007 Updated charting component
2.3.1 December 4, 2007 Stability and security update
2.4.0 March 27, 2008 Bug fixes and new features
2.4.1 June 10, 2008 Security fix, minor enhancements, and bug fixes
2.4.2 October 29, 2008 Security fix, minor enhancements, and bug fixes
2.4.3 September 1, 2009 Bug fixes and minor enhancements
3.0.0 October 13, 2008 Milestone, with major enhancements
3.0.1 January 27, 2009 Bug fixes
3.1.0 May 7, 2009 Overlining and transparent dragging available
3.1.1 August 31, 2009 Security fix, bug fixes
3.2 Schedule: January, 2010
3.3 Schedule: May, 2010


On July 19, 2000, Sun Microsystems announced that it was making the source code of StarOffice available for download under both the LGPL and the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL) with the intention of building an open source development community around the software. The new project was known as OpenOffice.org, and its website went live on October 13, 2000.

Work on version 2.0 began in early 2003 with the following goals: better interoperability with Microsoft Office; better performance, with improved speed and lower memory usage; greater scripting capabilities; better integration, particularly with GNOME; an easier-to-find and use database front-end for creating reports, forms and queries; a new built-in SQL database; and improved usability. A beta version was released on March 4, 2005.

On September 2, 2005 Sun announced that it was retiring the SISSL. As a consequence, the OpenOffice.org Community Council announced that it would no longer dual license the office suite, and future versions would use only the LGPL.

On October 20, 2005, OpenOffice.org 2.0 was formally released to the public. Eight weeks after the release of Version 2.0, an update, OpenOffice.org 2.0.1, was released. It fixed minor bugs and introduced new features.

As of the 2.0.3 release, OpenOffice.org changed its release cycle from 18 months to releasing updates, feature enhancements and bug fixes every three months. Currently, new versions including new features are released every six months (so-called "feature releases") alternating with so-called "bug fix releases" which are being released between two feature releases (every three months).

In October 2008, version 3.0 was released, featuring the ability to import, but not export, Office Open XML documents, support for the new ODF 1.2 document format, improved support for VBA macros, and a native port for Mac OS X.

Future Developments

OpenOffice.org 3.2

In December 2009, OpenOffice.org will release version 3.2. It will include several new features, including performance enhancements.

OpenOffice.org 3.3

In future versions, the user interface will be overhauled beginning with Impress, the presentation application.

StarOffice

OpenOffice.org inherited many features from the original StarOffice upon which it was based including the OpenOffice.org XML file format which it retained until version 2, when it was replaced by the ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument Format (ODF).

Sun subsidizes the development of OpenOffice.org in order to use it as a base for its commercial proprietary StarOffice application software. Releases of StarOffice since version 6.0 have been based on the OpenOffice.org source code, with some additional proprietary components, including the following:
  • Additional bundled fonts (especially East Asian language fonts)
  • Adabas D database. (The OpenOffice database module is not Adabas)
  • Additional document templates
  • Clip art
  • Sorting functionality for Asian versions
  • Additional file filters
  • Migration assessment tool (Enterprise Edition)
  • Macro migration tool (Enterprise Edition)
  • Configuration management tool (Enterprise Edition)


Features

According to its mission statement, the OpenOffice.org project aims

OpenOffice.org aims to compete with Microsoft Office and emulate its look and feel where suitable. It can read and write most of the file formats found in Microsoft Office, and many other applications; an essential feature of the suite for many users. OpenOffice.org has been found to be able to open files of older versions of Microsoft Office and damaged files that newer versions of Microsoft Office itself cannot open. However, it cannot open older Word for Macintosh (MCW) files.

Platforms

Platforms for which OO.o is available include Microsoft Windows, Linux, Solaris, BSD, OpenVMS, OS/2 and IRIX. The current primary development platforms are Microsoft Windows, Linux and Solaris.

Support for Mac OS X exists for OS X's native Aqua user interface, as of version 3.0. Previous versions require the X Window System component to be installed. NeoOffice is an independent fork of OpenOffice, specially adapted for Mac OS X.

Operating system compatibility



Components

OpenOffice.org is a collection of applications that work together closely to provide the features expected from a modern office suite. Many of the components are designed to mirror those available in Microsoft Office. The components available include:

Module Notes
Writer A word processor similar to Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. It can export Portable Document Format (PDF) files with no additional software, and can function as a basic WYSIWYG editor for creating and editing web pages.
Calc A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3. Calc provides a number of features not present in Excel, including a system which automatically defines series for graphing, based on the layout of the user’s data. Calc can also export spreadsheets to the PDF format. (See ooWriter entry, above, for details of PDF).
Impress A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote. It can export presentations to Adobe Flash (SWF) files, allowing them to be played on any computer with a Flash player installed. It also includes the ability to create PDF files, and the ability to read Microsoft PowerPoint's .ppt format. Impress lacks ready-made presentation designs. However, templates are readily available on the Internet.
Base A database management program similar to Microsoft Access. Base allows the creation and manipulation of databases, and the building of forms and reports to provide easy access to data for end-users. As with Access, Base may be used as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources and MySQL/PostgreSQL. Base became part of the suite starting with version 2.0. Native to the OpenOffice.org suite is an adaptation of HSQL. While Base can be a front-end for any of the databases listed, there is no need for any of them to be installed. Raw SQL code can be entered by those who prefer it, or graphical user interfaces can be used.
Draw A vector graphics editor and diagramming tool, similar to Microsoft Visio and comparable in features to early versions of CorelDRAW. It features versatile "connectors" between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts. It has similar features to Desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher. Draw can also export its creations to the PDF format. (See ooWriter entry, above, for details of PDF).
Math A tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. Formulae can be embedded inside other OpenOffice.org documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.


A small program for Windows and Linux that runs when the computer starts for the first time. It loads the core files and libraries for OpenOffice.org during computer startup and allows the suite applications to start more quickly when selected later. The amount of time it takes to open OpenOffice.org applications was a common complaint in version 1.0 of the suite. Substantial improvements were made in this area for version 2.2.
Is used to record user actions and replay them later to help with automating tasks, using OpenOffice.org Basic (see below).


It is not possible to download these components individually on Windows, though they can be installed separately. Most Linux distributions break the components into individual packages which may be downloaded and installed separately.

OpenOffice.org Basic

OpenOffice.org Basic is a programming language similar to Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) based on StarOffice Basic. In addition to the macros, the Novell edition of OpenOffice.org has Microsoft VBA macros support since version 2.0, a feature partly incorporated into the mainstream version with version 3.0.

OpenOffice.org Basic is available in the Writer and Calc applications. It is written in functions called subroutines or macros, with each macro performing a different task, such as counting the words in a paragraph. OpenOffice.org Basic is especially useful in doing repetitive tasks that have not been integrated in the program.

As the OpenOffice.org database, called "Base", uses documents created under the Writer application for reports and forms, one could say that Base can also be programmed with OpenOffice.org Basic.

File formats

OpenOffice.org pioneered the ISO/IEC standard OpenDocument file formats (ODF), which it uses natively, by default. It also supports reading (and in some cases writing) many legacy and current proprietary file formats (e.g.: WordPerfect through libwpd, StarOffice, Lotus Software, MS Works through libwps, Rich Text Format), most notably including Microsoft Office formats.Since version 3.0 the default format of OpenOffice.org is based on draft versions for OASIS ODF 1.2.The OpenDocument specification was "approved for release as an ISO and IEC International Standard" under the name ISO/IEC 26300:2006.

Microsoft Office interoperability

Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 is the first Microsoft Office version that allows opening and saving OpenDocument text files (*.odt).

OpenOffice.org has published extensive documentation from their analysis of the closed Microsoft Office binary formats.

Sun Microsystems has also developed an ODF plugin for Microsoft Office which enables users of Microsoft Office 2000, 2003, XP and 2007/SP1 (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) to read and write ODF documents.

Development

Overview

The OpenOffice.org API is based on a component technology known as Universal Network Objects (UNO). It consists of a wide range of interfaces defined in a CORBA-like interface description language.

The document file format used is based on XML and several export and import filters. All external formats read by OpenOffice.org are converted back and forth from an internal XML representation. By using compression when saving XML to disk, files are generally smaller than the equivalent binary Microsoft Office documents. The native file format for storing documents in version 1.0 was used as the basis of the OASIS OpenDocument file format standard, which became the default file format in version 2.0.

Development versions of the suite are released every few weeks on the developer zone of the OpenOffice.org website. The releases are meant for those who wish to test new features or are simply curious about forthcoming changes; they are not suitable for production use.

Native desktop integration

OpenOffice.org 1.0 was criticized for not having the look and feel of applications developed natively for the platforms on which it runs. Starting with version 2.0, OpenOffice.org uses native widget toolkit, icons, and font-rendering libraries across a variety of platforms, to better match native applications and provide a smoother experience for the user. There are projects underway to further improve this integration on both GNOME and KDE desktop environments.

This issue has been particularly pronounced on Mac OS X, whose standard user interface looks noticeably different from either Windows or X11-based desktop environments and requires the use of programming toolkits initially unfamiliar to most OpenOffice.org developers.Early versions of OpenOffice.org required the installation of X11.app or XDarwin. Version 3.0 runs natively using Apple's Aqua GUI.

Other projects

A number of products are derived from OpenOffice.org. Among the more well-known ones are Sun StarOffice, NeoOffice and IBM's Symphony. The OpenOffice.org site also lists a large variety of complementary products including groupware solutions.

NeoOffice

NeoOffice is an independent port that offered a native OS X’s Aqua user interface even before such integration was available in OpenOffice.org. Its releases lag behind the official releases, due to its small development team and the concurrent development of the technology used to port the user interface.

Other projects run alongside the main OpenOffice.org project and are easier to contribute to. These include documentation, internationalisation and localisation and the API.

OpenGroupware.org

OpenGroupware.org is a set of extension programs to allow the sharing of OpenOffice.org documents, calendars, address books, e-mails, instant messaging and blackboards, and provide access to other groupware applications.

There is also an effort to create and share assorted document templates and other useful additions at OOExtras.

A set of Perl extensions is available through the CPAN in order to allow OpenOffice.org document processing by external programs. These libraries do not use the OpenOffice.org API. They directly read or write the OpenOffice.org files using Perl standard file compression/decompression, XML access and UTF-8 encoding modules.

Portable version

PortableApps.com distributes a version of OpenOffice.org designed to run the suite from a USB flash drive.

OxygenOffice Professional

An enhancement of OpenOffice.org, providing:

  • Possibility to run Visual Basic for Application (VBA) macros in Calc (for testing)
  • Improved Calc HTML export
  • Enhanced Access support for Base
  • Enhanced color-palette
  • Enhanced help menu, additional User’s Manual, and extended tips for beginners
It provides free of charge for personal and professional use:
  • More than 3,200 graphics, both clip art and photos.
  • Several templates and sample documents
  • Over 90 fonts.
  • Additional tools such as OOoWikipedia


Extensions

Since version 2.0.4, OpenOffice.org has supported extensions in a similar manner to Mozilla Firefox. Extensions make it easy to add new functionality to an existing OpenOffice.org installation. the OpenOffice.org Extension Repository lists more than 390 extensions. Developers can easily build new extensions for OpenOffice.org, for example by using the OpenOffice.org API Plugin for NetBeans.

OpenOffice.org Bibliographic Project

This aims to incorporate a powerful reference management software into the suite. The new major addition was slated for inclusion with version 3.1 (due April 2009). but the current status is unclear.

Security

OpenOffice.org includes a security team, and as of June 2008 the security organization Secunia reports no known unpatched security flaws for the software. Kaspersky Lab has shown a proof of concept virus for OpenOffice.org. This shows OOo viruses are possible, but there is no known virus "in the wild".

In a private meeting of the French Ministry of Defense, macro-related security issues were raised. OpenOffice.org developers have responded and noted that the supposed vulnerability had not been announced through "well definedprocedures" for disclosure and that the ministry had revealed nothing specific. However, the developers have been in talks with the researcher concerning the supposed vulnerability.

Ownership

The project and software are informally referred to as OpenOffice, but project organizers report that this term is a trademark held by another party, requiring them to adopt OpenOffice.org as its formal name. (Due to a similar trademark issue, the Brazilian Portuguese version of the suite is distributed under the name BrOffice.org.)

Development is managed by staff members of StarOffice. Some delay and difficulty in implementing external contributions to the core codebase (even those from the project's corporate sponsors) has been noted. Another potential turnoff is that third-party developers are required to sign an agreement that effectively transfers copyright of their code to Sun Microsystems Inc.

Currently, there are several derived and/or proprietary works based on OOo, with some of them being:
  • Sun Microsystems' StarOffice, with various complementary add-ons.
  • IBM's IBM Lotus Symphony, with a new interface based on Eclipse (based on OO.o 1.x).
  • OpenOffice.org Novell edition, integrated with Evolution and with an OOXML filter.
  • Beijing Redflag Chinese 2000's RedOffice, fully localized in Chinese characters and with support for English.
  • Planamesa's NeoOffice for Mac OS X with Aqua support via Java.
  • Go-oo, a branch of OpenOffice.org.


In May 23, 2007, the OpenOffice.org community and Redflag Chinese 2000 Software Co, Ltd. announced a joint development effort focused on integrating the new features that have been added in the RedOffice localization of OpenOffice.org, as well as quality assurance and work on the core applications. Additionally, Redflag Chinese 2000 made public its commitment to the global OO.o community stating it would "strengthen its support of the development of the world's leading free and open source productivity suite", adding around 50 engineers (who have been working on RedOffice since 2006) to the project.

In September 10, 2007, the OO.o community announced that IBM had joined to support the development of OpenOffice.org. "IBM will be making initial code contributions that it has been developing as part of its Lotus Notes product, including accessibility enhancements, and will be making ongoing contributions to the feature richness and code quality of OpenOffice.org. Besides working with the community on the free productivity suite's software, IBM will also leverage OpenOffice.org technology in its products" as has been seen with Lotus Symphony. Sean Poulley, the vice president of business and strategy in IBM's Lotus Software division said that IBM plans to take a leadership role in the OpenOffice.org community together with other companies such as Sun Microsystems. IBM will work within the leadership structure that exists.

Go-oo

As of October 2, 2007, Michael Meeks announced (and generated an answer by Sun's Simon Phipps and Mathias Bauer) a derived OpenOffice.org work, under the wing of his employer Novell, with the purpose of including new features and fixes that do not get easily integrated in the OOo-build up-stream core. The work is called Go-OO a name under which alternative OO.o software has been available for five years. The new features are shared with Novell's edition of OOo and include:
  • VBA macros support.
  • Faster start up time.
  • Improved GTK theme handling (especially dark-coloured).
  • "A linear optimization solver to optimize a cell value based on arbitrary constraints built into Calc".
  • Multimedia content supports into documents, using the gstreamer multimedia framework.
  • Support for Microsoft Works formats, WordPerfect graphics (WPG format) and T602 files imports.
  • Export for Office Open XML files such as docx, xlsx, pptx by using Novell OpenXML Converter.


Details about the patch handling including metrics can be found on the OpenOffice.org site.

Reviews

In September 2005 Federal Computer Week issue listed OpenOffice.org as one of the "5 stars of open-source products." In contrast, OpenOffice.org was used in 2005 by The Guardian newspaper to illustrate what it claims are the limitations of open-source software, although the article does finish by stating that the software may be better than MS Word for books. OpenOffice.org was featured by eWeek several times, version 2.0 was reviewed by Linux Magazine and previewed by other media. Version 2.0 PC Pro review verdict was 6 stars out of 6 and stated: "Our pick of the low-cost office suites has had a much-needed overhaul, and now battles Microsoft in terms of features, not just price." The reviewer also concluded following:

In early October 2005, ComputerWorld of IDG reported that for large government departments, migration to OpenOffice.org 2.0 cost one tenth of the price of upgrading to Microsoft Office 12. The Computerworld story quoted Con Zymaris of Cybersource, who in turn referred to the Massachusetts' secretary of administration and finance Eric Kriss, who presented the estimate of costs in a meeting hosted by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council on September 16, 2005.

The above information dates from January 2006 or earlier. Links to reviews of the October 2008 version 3 and earlier releases are to be found on the Oo.o website.

Market share

It is extremely difficult to estimate the market share of OpenOffice.org because OpenOffice.org can be freely distributed via download sites including mirrors, peer-to-peer networks, CDs, Linux distributions and so forth. Nevertheless, the OpenOffice.org tries to capture key adoption data in a market share analysis

A weekly updated report from exo.performance.network shows the Market Share between Windows users between 13% and 14% as October 2009.

Although Microsoft Office retained 95% of the general market as measured by revenue as of August 2007, OpenOffice.org and StarOffice had secured 15-20% of the business market as of 2004 The OpenOffice.org web site reported more than 98 million downloads as of September 2007.. OpenOffice.org 3.x reached one hundred million downloads, just over a year since its release .

Other large scale users of OpenOffice.org include Singapore’s Ministry of Defencemarker, and Bristolmarker City Council in the UK. In Francemarker, OpenOffice.org has attracted the attention of both local and national government administrations who wish to rationalize their software procurement, as well as have stable, standard file formats for archival purposes. It is now the official office suite for the French Gendarmerie. Several government organizations in India, such as IIT Bombaymarker (a renowned technical institute), the Supreme Court of Indiamarker, the Allahabad High Courtmarker, which use Linux, completely rely on OpenOffice.org for their administration. In 2008 Grafton Fraser Inc, a Canadian Men's Wear company, dropped Microsoft Office for its store computers and now run OpenOffice.org exclusively.

On October 4, 2005, Sun and Google announced a strategic partnership. As part of this agreement, Sun will add a Google search bar to OpenOffice.org, Sun and Google will engage in joint marketing activities as well as joint research and development, and Google will help distribute OpenOffice.org. StarOffice was formerly distributed with the Google Pack.

Besides StarOffice, there are still a number of OpenOffice.org derived commercial products. Most of them are developed under SISSL license (which is valid up to OpenOffice.org 2.0 Beta 2). In general they are targeted at local or niche markets, with proprietary add-ons such as speech recognition module, automatic database connection, or better CJK support.

In July 2007 Everex, a division of First International Computer and the 9th largest PC supplier in the U.S., began shipping systems preloaded with OpenOffice.org 2.2 into Wal-Mart and Sam's Club throughout North America.

In September 2007 IBM announced that it would supply and support OpenOffice.org branded as Lotus Symphony, and integrated into Lotus Notes. IBM also announced 35 developers would be assigned to work on OpenOffice.org, and that it would join the OpenOffice.org foundation. Commentators noted parallels between IBM's 2000 support of Linux and this announcement.

Use of Java

In the past OpenOffice.org was criticized for an increasing dependency on the Java Runtime Environment which was not free software. Because Sun Microsystems was both the creator of Java and the chief supporter of OpenOffice.org, the software maker drew accusations of ulterior motives.

Version 1 depended on the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) being present on the user’s computer for some auxiliary functions, but version 2 increased the suite’s use of Java requiring a JRE. In response, Red Hat increased their efforts to improve free Java implementations. Red Hat’s Fedora Core 4 (released on June 13, 2005) included a beta version of OpenOffice.org version 2, running on GCJ and GNU Classpath.

The issue of OpenOffice.org’s use of Java came to the fore in May 2005, when Richard Stallman appeared to call for a fork of the application in a posting on the Free Software Foundation website. This led to discussions within the OpenOffice.org community and between Sun staff and developers involved in GNU Classpath, a free replacement for Sun’s Java implementation. Later that year, the OpenOffice.org developers also placed into their development guidelines various requirements to ensure that future versions of OpenOffice.org could be run on free implementations of Java and fixed the issues which previously prevented OpenOffice.org 2.0 from using free software Java implementations.

On November 13, 2006, Sun committed to release Java under the GNU General Public License in the near future. This process would end OpenOffice.org's dependence on non-free software.

Between November 2006 and May 2007, Sun Microsystems made available most of their Java technologies under the GNU General Public License, in compliance with the specifications of the Java Community Process, thus making almost all of Sun's Java also free software.

The following areas of OpenOffice.org 2.0 depend on the JRE being present:

A common point of confusion is that mail merge to generate emails requires the Java API JavaMail in StarOffice; however, as of version 2.0.1, OpenOffice.org uses a Python-component instead.

Retail

The free software license under which OpenOffice.org is distributed allows unlimited use of the software for both home and business use, including unlimited redistribution of the software. Several businesses sell the OpenOffice.org suite on auction websites such as eBay, offering value-added services such as 24/7 technical support, download mirrors, and CD mailing. One retail site, Open Office Anywhere, also offers the ability to run the suite using just a web browser.

See also



References

Further reading



External links




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