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Open-Xchange Launches "Open Source" Browser-Based Office Suite

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the perils-of-licensing dept.

Cloud 39

alphadogg writes with news on what Open-Xchange has been doing with the OpenOffice.org developers they hired. From the article: "Collaboration software vendor Open-Xchange plans to launch an open-source, browser-based productivity suite called OX Documents. The first application for the suite is OX Text, an in-browser word processing tool with editing capabilities for Microsoft Word .docx files and OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice .odt files, the Nuremberg, Germany, company announced this week. OX Text doesn't mess up the formatting of documents loaded into the application, said Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange. XML-based documents can be read, edited and saved back to their original format at a level of quality and fidelity previously unavailable with browser-based text editors, according to the company." The other claim to fame is that it supports collaborative editing similar to Google Docs. Unfortunately for anyone hoping to have a Free/Open replacement for Google Docs, it's not actually fully open source: the backend is (Apache/GPL dual licensed), but the front-end code is Creative Commons BY-SA-NC, which is unequivocally non-free and notoriously difficult to define. "[Open Xchange CEO Rafael Laguna] told The H that his interpretation of Non-Commercial in the licensing was such that companies could use the software in-house, but not sell it as a service to others. Companies that want support will have to purchase the software from Open Xchange."

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Their "interpretation" helps, but is insufficient. (2)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224033)

What counts is what a court will see in all of that.

Honestly, it's a shame they didn't stick with something Open Source.

Re:Their "interpretation" helps, but is insufficie (0)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224341)

The back end *is* open source, under the Apache license.

It's only the front end/UI that's CC licensed. And honestly, if you're selling software as a service, you have no business being in the industry if you're not capable of coming up with your own front end for something like that.

Re:Their "interpretation" helps, but is insufficie (2)

Njovich (553857) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224567)

I guess you've never tried to write an office suite in Javascript?

Re:Their "interpretation" helps, but is insufficie (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43265137)

html5 probably helps a little bit too, but i agree

Re:Their "interpretation" helps, but is insufficie (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43233549)

I was thinking AGPL would be sufficient here, but I think what they want is revenue from resellers, when AGPL would only guarantee them changes, which maybe they don't care about.

I guess if it requires payment by threat of force (copyright), it can't be free software.

Incidentally, I recently gave an anarchist group a bit of guff for licensing their posters under CC. Some people don't even get what copyright is.

Oh good (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224039)

This is the stupidest idea I've ever seen. A non-free software suite that's practically in Alpha and any Firefox or Chrome update or IE release or plugin alteration in any of the 3 may break it.

Re:Oh good (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224105)

Never mind the software. As long as you stick to an open file format like .odt, the software become irrelevant. I'd be more worried about WHERE those files are stored.

Re:Oh good (1)

jellyfoo (2865315) | about a year and a half ago | (#43230861)

The world is a bit more complicated than that however. If I send someone a .odt file and they open it up in Word 2010 (which officially supports the format and even registers a file associated with .odt files), Word will complain that the file is corrupt and needs to attempt recovery. Not a good look for an open format.

Having said that, this is due to Office 2010's poor support for the format and only supporting something like version 1.0 of ODTs, whereas LibreOffice writes version 1.2 by default. Unless you know about this however, you're gonna look like a dick for not using .doc and .docx formats like everyone other goddamn person who doesn't care about format politics. So no, theory is different to practice.

Re:Oh good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225115)

The stupidiest thing is that some people still believe that good applications can be developed such that user use them trough WWW browser.

WWW was never designed for applications. All HTML5 to Javascripts, Flash, Java are just bogus and "trial" software for try outs.

Slowly but eventually people will understand that all "Cloud" services are just worthless. It is better that all personal and company data is stored in open format files what are standard (and that there is only one standard instead multiple competitive) what gets developed together by all. And then all data is always stored first locally to devices itself and from there it is up to user / company how they want data to be (encrypted &) copied/moved to their other own devices and servers.

Just cut the middleman, all these stupid online file host services etc.

Company wants to make money (1)

Looker_Device (2857489) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224049)

...Discovers it can't pay workers in goodwill.

Film at eleven!

Now do what others don't want to (1)

future assassin (639396) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224055)

and keep the users and their content as your customer and not your product with strong privacy and security features.

Control and vision for the project (2)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224131)

It seems to me that this company hopes to make money off of this project, and in part as a result, wants to maintain control over the project and its vision.

What use is inventing something if someone will immediately fork it into another project that will both be more popular, and avoid what makes it different from the other projects out there.

I think it's a new maxim of the internet that over time, all projects eventually devolve to being social media. I wouldn't want that to happen to my open document project...

Re:Control and vision for the project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228803)

The obvious use case is that you know more about how to support such systems and can thus provide a better service to customers.

Protip: This is the Information Age. Selling 1's and 0's to folks with computers is like selling Ice to Eskimos. It's fucking dumb! The ability to configure the bits is what's important, not the actual bits -- those are in near infinite supply. Economy 101 states that they are, thus, worthless.

Fragmentation is awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43224153)

If there's one thing better than an incomplete open source office suite with questionable file format support, it's nine of them.

Wait what? (4, Informative)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224213)

Google docs is free for home AND business use.

Re:Wait what? (5, Informative)

danhuby (759002) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224437)

This is free for home and business use also. The non-commercial restriction applies to the operators of the software, not the users of it.

Google docs on the other hand is completely closed source.

We're talking about the front end code right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43226015)

That's the javascript loaded into the browser? That's proprietary but I would say that the source is viewable as opposed to "closed". There's in fact a pulldown in the browser called "view source".

Re:Wait what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43224449)

There is nothing free about a service that mines your content to advertise to you. Privacy has value.

And no sane business with anything remotely confidential should be trusting it to the public cloud. Good luck on your next audit.

Re:Wait what? (1)

rizole (666389) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227055)

And has the disadvantage of being Google.

Re:Wait what? (1)

styrotech (136124) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227369)

Google docs is free for home AND business use.

Google docs is only free for business if you were an existing customer and got grandfathered in before they changed it.

For new business customers, there is no free tier any more. And frankly I wouldn't expect them to keep the free grandfathered in plan around either.

Re:Wait what? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227665)

I think you're thinking google apps, which docs is a part of... but docs can also be used stand alone for free. There seems to be a bit of a loop hole, but google's EULA basically says we do w/e we want w our shit, so while it can be free, it can also become drastically unreliable. That's what I was able to come up with, I know for like contractors and their businesses, they don't have to pay, but as you grow, new standards start to apply, I think the cut-off is 10 ppl, but I could be wrong.

Researching this... google's licensing is getting to be as bad as microsoft's.

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227419)

Is the code able to be legally downloaded, modified, and used in your own project code?

Re:Wait what? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227687)

relevance? why don't you ask google?

For collaborative editing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43224243)

I use http://gobby.0x539.de/ [0x539.de] (GNU GPL'd)

Oh really? (2)

sootman (158191) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224289)

"OX Text doesn't mess up the formatting of documents loaded into the application"

If that's true, it'll be the first time in 20 years.

Re:Oh really? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43224511)

It's not that hard, actually. If your XML parser isn't doing something wrong, what you write back out will be what you loaded in. All you need to do is keep it in the original format, and NOT try to convert anything (I'm pretty sure this is where every office suite messes up non-native documents).

Keep your hands of anything you don't know what means, and only change the things the user changes (i.e. if the user fixes a spelling mistake in the middle of a paragraph, don't change the paragraph formatting, don't break the paragraph into several paragraphs, and don't touch anything outside that paragraph.

To do this while supporting multiple document formats, you cannot have a native format. Instead you need an interface and a replaceable backend. You can still have your own format, but it needs to be just another backend.

Re:Oh really? (1)

sootman (158191) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227179)

> Keep your hands of anything you don't know what means, and
> only change the things the user changes (i.e. if the user fixes
> a spelling mistake in the middle of a paragraph, don't change
> the paragraph formatting, don't break the paragraph into several
> paragraphs, and don't touch anything outside that paragraph.

So if I add 6 sentences to a paragraph that causes that paragraph to go to the next page, and an item at the end of the paragraph that is linked to a large footnote gets pushed to the next page, and the section becomes a page longer as a result, and the whole document becomes a page longer as a result... magic happens? What about watermarks, custom headers and footers, tables, and the million other things that every modern word processor lets you do?

I'm not saying this new thing is any worse than what's already out there -- I'm saying I doubt it's any better. Reverse-engineering and perfectly interpreting 20 years of MS Office formats is just about impossible.

Re:Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43225831)

They don't claim that files opened, modified, and saved won't be unaltered. They imply that they will be rendered comparably, as in "not messed up".

Free Free not freeloading (1, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224515)

The license appears to be what I use. Licensed for free to non-commercial entities, can be changed, but changes must be returned. Can't be adapted by commercial enterprises and sold. This makes sense for most purposes. Recall that copyleft became fashionable because creators wanted to let people use and modify their work, but did not want commercial enterprises to modify slightly and copyright the work from under them. In most cases complaints against OSS is by commercial enterprises that want to steal the work and use it for their own profit.

I can't really tell what the model for this software, but the usefulness of the Google Docs suite, for my purposes, is the online storage on Google Drive. It makes management of documents easier when one is not always on the same computer, but does have usually on internet. Of course it is assumed that google makes it's money by mining the documents, so I would not necessarily use it for business applications.

It will be interesting to see what happens when we have an online office suite that can be one-clicked installed on a private domain. For basic work it can't be that far away.

Re:Free Free not freeloading (1)

Njovich (553857) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224619)

non-commercial entities

There is not a single person in the world that can tell for sure they will fall under this magical 'non-commercial' category in a court of law.

What they say is basically that they allow 'in-house' use. Well... that's not covered by copyright at all, they don't need CC to allow it. It's freeware, but in no way is the frontend open.

Re:Free Free not freeloading (4, Funny)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224671)

the usefulness of the Google Docs suite, for my purposes, is the online storage on Google Drive

Really? For me it's the rich feature set, agile development model and lightning-fast application speed that has made it a paradigm-shifter to rival Lotus Notes or MySpace.

Re:Free Free not freeloading (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#43225743)

Of course it is assumed that google makes it's money by mining the documents, so I would not necessarily use it for business applications.

If you're a business and if you decided to actually pay for the service, Google Drive can actually get pretty expensive.

They'd be crazy to mine that information. It would be the equivalent of Amazon trying to sell books and kitchen appliances to its AWS cloud customers.

Wrong use (4, Informative)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | about a year and a half ago | (#43224905)

Creative Commons licenses are not meant for software. They are meant for, and work much better with, artistic expressions such as music, stories, paintings, movies, etc.. The terms are a bad match for software and it will cause no end of problems.

It sucks. (2)

drolli (522659) | about a year and a half ago | (#43227209)

Online text editors all suck. Forgive me the formulation. I can not say it in another way. They have capabilies somwhere between word 5.0 running from 3.5 inch floppy disk on ms-dos and ami pro running on win3.1 a 4MB 386sx 22years ago, I have actually not seen a single one which would outdo ami pro from back then, on a machine with 1/1000 of the ram and 1/1000 of the computational power.

My top ten of fuckups in the online text editos (actually some also many android office suites:

1) Formulas
2) Focus on decent style sheet support
3) Decent floatign objects
4) Decent Table of content etc. support
5) Serial letter functions?
6) Integrated thesaurus (yes, word 5.0 for dos had that)
7) Decent working in non-WYSIWIG modes
8) Equivalent of draft mode/outline mode ....

Re:It sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43228991)

Have you heard of Latex, Vi(m) and Emacs?

Re:It sucks. (1)

drolli (522659) | about a year and a half ago | (#43237045)

Yes. Use these whenever i want to typeset a serious document.

Can you read first lines of posts?

Re:It sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43230511)

Top ten?

You even numbered them!!!

Gold

Re:It sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43234659)

"Eight" is the new "ten"

Is it free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43227499)

Its hard to tell with that website.. ick.

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