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Linux Office Suites

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the my-money-is-on-koffice dept.

News 331

Cowculator writes: "Sun Microsystems will release the beta version of StarOffice 6.0 in October, with the development version already available. This ZDNet article has some more details, including a link to the development version..." Other submitters sent in notes about Gobe Productive and Hancom Office 2.0, not to mention KOffice and the Gnome office applications. As far as I know all of these are lacking the single most important thing, a robust and complete set of import filters for Word, Wordperfect, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.

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331 comments

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243687)

fp

GOATSE man - dead at 79 - *sniff* (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243846)



I'm so sad my asshole is crying.

Goatse Man Obituary. [stileproject.com] This is a link to StileProject.com - no actual picture of the Goatse man here, but it does have porn banners so beware.

Goatse man. Truly an american icon.


Did some coke tonight (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243689)

I still can't feel my face!

I hope CmdrTaco and the rest of the /. crew is having this much fun tonight!

Re:Did some coke tonight (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243701)

You're a nigger, aren't you?

Doing drugs and writing bad english (replace "is" with "are") is a dead giveaway.

Re:Did some coke tonight (0, Offtopic)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243713)

My God, is SlashDot turning into fuckedcompany.com? Let's hope not.

Let's trust the moderation system gets rid of crap like this, so we can deal with the issues.

-me-

whatever (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243723)

There's just something ironic about reading a reference to the fuckedcompany.com on Slashdot with VA Linux ad on the top of the screen...

Re:Did some coke tonight (-1)

buttfucker2000 (240799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243724)

Slashdot has been Invaded by Martians!


o o

/ \

| |

\ ______/

/ \

| [@][@] | __________________

| ^^ |_/ \

| VVVVVV <_SUCK MY COCK AND |

\_______/ \ FUCKEN LIKE IT! /

* | | \________________/

/ ___/ \____

|| / \

|| | | *** | |

|| | |* *| |

|| | | *** | |

\\ | | | |

\\ | |_____| |

\\ VVV _[_]_ VVV

\\ / \

\\__/| | |

| | |

| | |

| | |

__/ | \__

/______|______\

LAMENESS FILTER

This Martian is Copyright © 2001 keesh. You may redistribute it under
the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 or later.

Re:Did some coke tonight (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243736)

So, where's the cock you fucking cockteaser?!

Re:Did some coke tonight (-1)

buttfucker2000 (240799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243765)

Slashdot has been Invaded by Martians!
o o
/ \
| |
\ ______/
/ \
| [@][@] | __________________
| ^^ |_/ \
| VVVVVV <_SUCK MY COCK AND |
\_______/ \ FUCKEN LIKE IT! /
* | | \________________/
/ ___/ \____
|| / \
|| | | *** | |
|| | |* *| |
|| | | *** | |
\\ | | | |
\\ | |_____| |
\\ VVV _[_]_ VVV
\\ / \
\\__/|(| |)|
| | ||
| |_||
| \./|
__/ | \__
/______|______\
LAMENESS FILTER

This Martian is Copyright © 2001 keesh. You may redistribute it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 or later.

Re:Did some coke tonight (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243814)

Thank you!

Re:Did some coke tonight (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243824)


Crew is singular.

He proably is a nigger though.

Goase man - Dead at 79 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243840)



The slashdot community will no dobut miss this great man ...

Goatse Man Obituary. [stileproject.com] This is a link to StileProject.com - no actual picture of the Goatse man here, but it does have porn banners so beware.

Truly an american icon. or not.

Just as important (5, Insightful)

alanjstr (131045) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243692)

Just as important, the lack of EXPORT filters! If you're going to send a document to other people, they need to read it too.

Re:Just as important (1)

DeadPrez (129998) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243735)

Luckily XML is a standard and most if not all office suites will support it. I think many web browsers will be able to read XML as well. It is far more important to get some decent import filters than export at this point (not that export wouldn't hurt). Even Microsoft has stated their default save type will be XML.

The key to grabbing a strong user base is to make a decent office suite that allows you to convert all your documents MS Office documents to XML.

Re:Just as important (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243754)

XML is little use if it's along the lines of
<msword2003>
<encodedbody>
<CDATA[[
klgfwe;lgn;4wp39 orweo;info;we23oih23hgolwerngfwoe;rlig
ew;rokwe;lrkjnwelk;rj
wperitjwelrkt
]]>
</encodebody>
<msword2003>

Which is perfectly valid XML. XML is not a magic panacea that fixes all ills. It's way, way overrated - you still need a description of what the hell the tags actually mean. (And, with MS, usually another 3rd party document describing the differences between what they say they mean and what they actually mean)

(And XML is just an annoyingly verbose form of certain Lisp S-Expressions, anyway. )

Re:Just as important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243760)

yes, the encodebody closing tag should be encodedbody, for valid xml, and the last tag should be a closing tag, not an opening one. My point still stands. XML does not cure everything.

A WELL DOCUMENTED binary format is superior to a badly documented XML format, especially froma bloatedness standpoint.

Very few non-trivial XML documents are actually self-documenting to any useful extent, anyway.

Re:Just as important (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243794)

Even Microsoft has stated their default save type will be XML.

I think you mean MSXML [microsoft.com], which, knowing Microsoft, will wind up subtly incompatible with any other XML out there.

Re:Just as important (1)

Wyzard (110714) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243795)

Except XML isn't a predefined markup language; it's a framework for defining your own markup language. XML gives you a standard syntax for writing tags, but leaves it up to you (the application programmer) what the tags should be called and what their attribues mean.

So MS Word might indicate bold text using, say, <format textweight="+2">, while AbiWord might use an HTML-like <bold>, and both would be valid XML but the two programs would still be clearly using different file formats. It would, however, at least make it easier to write "converter" programs.

I agree that open-source office suites need to be able to import "standard" formats such as .doc; otherwise people would be forced to use proprietary products for their work because they need to be able to exchange files with others. Limiting options isn't what open-source software is about. :-)

That's what rtf is for (3, Informative)

gperciva (240690) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243743)

Word processors dating back to the DOS days can read Rich Text Format. If you're sending it to a windows newbie who panicks when it doesn't say ".doc", tell him to open it anyway -- word will understand it.

Re:That's what rtf is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243770)

In fact, word will understand it even if you change .rtf to .doc in the filename (I hate the way windows doesn't go either fully-typed FS like VMS and BeOS, or typeless like UNIX) - so you don't need to upset the poor luser's sheltered existence at all, if you don't want to.

Re:That's what rtf is for (5, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243785)

RTF doesn't support tables, embedded objects, headers/footers, TOC, index, etc.

Completely unacceptable for most companies.

Great for simple documents to retain tabs, bold/underline/italic, etc.

Re:That's what rtf is for (1)

uchian (454825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243871)

RTF doesn't support tables, embedded objects, headers/footers, TOC, index, etc.

Let's be honest though - doing anything complex with tables is a PITA (the interface for manipulating tables in office is totally un-intuitive, and trying to do everything right so that TOC and indexes render correctly is a PITA. I have little experience with embedded obects so can't comment.

But except for them, everything that you mentioned, trying to implement them is a PITA anyway.

Re:That's what rtf is for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243799)

or just give it a .doc extension and no one will be the wiser.

Re:Just as important (4, Insightful)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243755)

I think it's important to state that both important *and* exporting are as important as each other. Being able to send word-compable documents to business colleagues is every bit as important as viewing incoming ones properly.

As far as MS changing the formats to force incompatability goes (which they will undoubtedly continue to do, as per normal course of business), the one thing the industry has working in their advantage, is that they end up creating incompatability for their earlier products, as well. That's why we see as "Save-as Word95/97" option in Office. They create their own incompatabilities in the process. That works to the advantage of the industry, against this monopolistic behaviour.

Anytime someone saves something in the latest office format, they break Word 95, 97, as much as they'd break StarOffice. And StarOffice has historically tracked the import formats closely enough (at least for Word) to keep up with the previous gen of office products. If they fall behind a couple of revs, the race will be over.

-me-

Re:Just as important (5, Informative)

Surak (18578) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243808)

I should also point out that the link to the "StarOffice source code" is a link to a very old verison of OpenOffice.org. Those seeking StarOffice source code should go here to get the latest build [openoffice.org].

Re:Just as important (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243853)



Please forgive me for my typos - I am greiving ...

Goatse Man Obituary. [stileproject.com] This is a link to StileProject.com - no actual picture of the Goatse man here, but it does have porn banners so beware.

Even if you didn't enjoy his work, I'm sure you were fooled into clicking on his link. Truly an American Icon.

Microsoft has you by the balls (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243694)

Importing will never work fully without the cooperation by Microsoft.

Buy the fucking license you freeloaders and encase it in a binary module if you're worried about tainting your "precious" GPL code.

Import/Export (2, Insightful)

faust2097 (137829) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243696)

I'd think that the whole point of an exercise like this was not to ape all of Microsoft's features but to produce a compatible alternative. Without file compatibility these remain purely academic exercises. Besides, haven't all versions of Office since 2000 used an XML derivative for file storage?

Re:Import/Export (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243718)

XML sucks cock. I don't know it and I'll never learn it.

ASCII based system is both wasteful and time consuming to parse.

Re:Import/Export (-1)

buttfucker2000 (240799) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243733)

Slashdot has been Invaded by Martians!
o o
/ \
| |
\ ______/
/ \
| [@][@] | __________________
| ^^ |_/ \
| VVVVVV <_SUCK MY COCK AND |
\_______/ \ FUCKEN LIKE IT! /
* | | \________________/
/ ___/ \____
|| / \
|| | | *** | |
|| | |* *| |
|| | | *** | |
\\ | | | |
\\ | |_____| |
\\ VVV _[_]_ VVV
\\ / \
\\__/| | |
| | |
| | |
| | |
__/ | \__
/______|______\
LAMENESS FILTER

This Martian is Copyright © 2001 keesh. You may redistribute it under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 or later.

Who cares about... (-1, Troll)

Bruj0 (114447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243704)

Winword, exel all that shit. Thouse are propietary formats. I say lest get rid of em!

The only chance the industry has against microsoft (5, Informative)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243705)

...is StarOffice, in my opinion. If these guys can prevent MS from having the only application suite that can properly handle their monopoly-induced standard file formats, then there is *choice* in the industry. If StarOffice fails, then it's MSWord, MSExcel, and PowerPoint, for the forseeable future that will dominate business communications.

I think StarOffice got off to a wonderful start. I'm very concerned about their progress. The next major version will really be a turning point in the industry one way or the other. If it's solid, and it rocks, with great compatability, then there is a great alternative to office. If it's buggy, or doesn't work well with office formats (especially Excel, where it's the weakest), then MS will win. And I'm going off to live on a deserted south pacific island.

Sigh... If I had to bet, it's depressing where I'd probably put my money... Sun's dropped the ball a few times lately.

Tip to the folks working on it: cool object oriented design is neat, but it's usability, stability, and compatability that will make StarOffice a success. Don't try to do things beyond MS Office, just match it on all fronts! Anything else is an esoteric waste of time.

-me-

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (2, Funny)

601 (518954) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243746)


-- snip --
If it's buggy, or doesn't work well with office formats (especially Excel, where it's the weakest), then MS will win. And I'm going off to live on a deserted south pacific island.
-- /snip --

You can't move to a deserted south pacific island. Microsoft already bought them all.

Don't try to do too much, though! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243756)

Tip to the folks working on it: cool object oriented design is neat, but it's usability, stability, and compatability that will make StarOffice a success. Don't try to do things beyond MS Office, just match it on all fronts! Anything else is an esoteric waste of time.

Don't even try to match it on all fronts, IMHO. As much as MS would have it otherwise, most Office users are only using a very small subset of the functionality available.

If you can support bulletproof import/export of simple Word documents, with basic things like the formatting, cross-references, tables and so on working reliably, you've got 99% of the portability problems solved. The big issue is the number of documents that already exist in Word format, which people will continue to need to read/edit in whatever new format they're stored. Most of those documents don't use super-advanced VBA scripts, half a million text boxes and WordArt.

Now, if you can go one better, and fix the terminally annoying bugs in Word -- cross-references not updating properly and woefully broken bullets and numbering spring to mind -- then you've also got a technically superior product that solves real problems that MS Word doesn't. Add in the silly omissions -- genuine three-part headers and footers, as used by many, many business documents, for example -- and you're clearly winning.

Of course, similar arguments apply to other Office applications, particularly Excel and Access. I'm simply highlighting Word because the issues are likely to be more widely understood.

Re:Don't try to do too much, though! (1)

feces_tossin_primate (513194) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243769)

"As much as MS would have it otherwise, most Office users are only using a very small subset of the functionality available."

I agree with the lameness of word, but don't you see? you just proved the joe-sixpack-only-needs-M$ arguement.......therein lies the challange for Linux in the corporate world... What is the compelling "feature" that you will give the end user that M$ has not... pleeeeze don't give me the "stability" rant...???

Re:Don't try to do too much, though! (1)

kervel (179803) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243791)

- easy layouting for free like kword does ...
the frame-based approach of kword is almost unique (for wordprocessors intended for personal use). its not ready yet, okay, but once it will be possible to create complex layouts in a few mouseclicks. Try it, you'll use it even for simple tasks ...
- being free. Microsoft will start acting against warez.
and some features for not-so-basic use:
the open xml format makes it very easy for eg perl scripts to generate abiword/kword docs (even with embedded graphs and so, try it!). and microsoft VBA will never match the power of perl, linked with things like SQL databases, and the tons of modules available at CPAN.
and the kword source is really clean and easy to understand, making it easily extensible (don't know about abiword).

Re:Don't try to do too much, though! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243801)

Yopu're getting the "stability" line anyway. Take your medicine. It's good for you.

Stability is very important in a corporate setting - If I'm a manager, and a secretary says "I'm running a bit late, my computer crashed and ate that document", she's might well telling the truth in the current widnozey environment.

OTOH, if she's using KOffice or Open Office on a Linux box, she's probably lying. Even if the application crashed (itslef a very rare occurrence), the chances of the filesystem having munged the document are tiny, and the system will almost certainly not have rebooted in the random fashion Windows is fond of (in Win2k's case, doing it while you're not looking...)

Ever heard the saying "A bad workman blames his tools" - well, since windows really is a bad tool, bad workmen get away with this a lot - that's the real reason mediocre employees love "windows solutions" left right and centre - they know that the status quo is that they can get away with blaming downtime on windows, rather than themselves.

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (2, Insightful)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243761)

I think StarOffice got off to a wonderful start.

Dude, StarOffice sucks. There is no other way to say it. Why does my Office Suite need it's own start button and desktop? WTF were they thinking?

Apparently, it doesn't use the standard Windows Open/Save dialogs, so you get some confusing thing instead. There is no file tree! If I'm six directories deep and I want to save something on the desktop, I have to click "up", "up", "up" six times. If I want to save to a network drive, I have to go up to the desktop, then my computer, then the network drive. Why don't they use the regular Windows popdown which shows all your network drives, etc?

I could go on and on about all the shit that's wrong with it. I wish they would just hire ONE interface designer to work with the 100 programmers. PLEASE. This is not hard, this is stuff anyone can observe in the first 5 minutes of using it.

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (1)

complex (18458) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243779)

i agree, the staroffice start button is an incredibly bad design idea. however, you can turn it off rather easily. i was able to when i last user staroffice approx. 8 months ago.

complex

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (1)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243792)

Ummmm, it needs it's own start button and desktop to try and compete with Windows/Office with paradigms that work, and people are familiar with. I despite Microsoft's business practices, and am a huge Linux/BSD/Unix fan, but frankly, X, Gnome, and (to a slightly lesser degree) KDE just don't match up to a general user's ability to work efficiently, as with Windows. Yes, KDE/Gnome/etc., are more flexible. That doesn't matter. Windows is more intuitive. Anyhow, without digressing into that religious argument:

Star office's integrated environment is a strong counter move to the monopolistic anti-competitive OS/Application integration that MS is famous for. But to their implicit and explicit bundling aspects, you *can't* compete with Office with just your application; you need a desktop environment, too, to pull everything together to a greater degree.

Using StarOffice as indendant word processing/spreadsheet/presentation applications under X just wouldn't come anywhere near as close to competing with Office, as StarOffice does. If X had stronger (and non-competing) application standards, this would be far less of an issue.

-me-

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (2)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243800)

Ummmm, it needs it's own start button and desktop to try and compete with Windows/Office with paradigms that work, and people are familiar with.

Huh? We ALREADY have a start button, and we already know how to use it. Just add yourself to "Start/Program Files/Star Office" and everyone will be fine.

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243836)

He was talking about on Unix platforms. Besides, Sun has said the desktop is to go due to poor user feedback, so that'll all be water under the bridge soon.

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243793)

Go pull the latest build of Open Office. They did away with the separate desktop concept.

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (5, Informative)

savaget (26702) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243831)

According to this article, the integrated desktop and probably the start button will be gone in version 6.0.
quote

OpenOffice, and its predecessor StarOffice, are integrated office packages and include a word processor, web browser, and spreadsheet tools. In fact, StarOffice 5.2 contained just about everything a desktop user could need, including an integrated desktop. But with the adoption of desktop environments such as GNOME and KDE, future releases of StarOffice and OpenOffice will no longer carry the integrated desktop.

end quote

The above quote is from the following source:

LWN.net [lwn.net]

Re:The only chance the industry has against micros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243815)

Sun's dropped the ball a few times lately.

If you tried, just a bit harder, you could possibly be about 3% more vague.

How has 'Sun's [sic] dropped the ball...'?

what about wordperfect (1)

nilstar (412094) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243711)

what about wordperfect's filters? when wordperfect for linux was first released it had a fairly exhaustive set of filters. anyone know if those filters have been updated (eg for ms office xp)?

Sad News... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243712)

I just heard some sad news on TV, apparently Slashdot website creator, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, was rushed to the hospital this afternoon after having his penis sliced off. Authorities say the accident involved Rob's penis, his computer, and an illegal computer device imported from China that was designed to stimulate the penis during cyber-sex. The authorities aren't releasing many details yet as to how it happened, but they suspect that the device malfunctioned which caused his penis to be sliced off. However, there is speculation among the Slashdot community that the Open Source Operating System "Linux" is to blame, for its faulty structure and lack of professional development. There is no word of whether there was any foul-play involved from hackers amongst the Linux community.

Re:Sad News... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243860)



This is REALLY sad news ...

GOATSE MAN, dead at 79

Goatse Man Obituary. [stileproject.com] This is a link to StileProject.com - no actual picture of the Goatse man here, but it does have porn banners so beware.

There is a tear in my beer tonight, brother.

Exchange clone yet? (1, Offtopic)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243714)

The only thing that ties me into M$ office is exchange server. IT doesnt have the web gui or pop enabled. Im almost ready to install VNC and run exchange under it.

Re:Exchange clone yet? (1)

Svenne (117693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243752)

VNC? Don't you mean VMware?

Re:Exchange clone yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243804)

It might be cheaper to buy an old K6-2 or pentium, and run the windows VNC on it, than pay the VMWare non-student licence fee.

Re:Exchange clone yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243803)

Use the web, pop3, or imap functionality of Exchange. It DOES exist. Or you could use the Bynari client.

Re:Exchange clone yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243852)

He probably has to deal with a (probably clueless) company IT department - I mean he just *said* that the IT dept. didn't have pop enabled. This usually extends to "won't enable".

As a vertical-market developer in a larger corporation, I have often run into situations where I know more about the servers than "IT services" do.

But telling them their job, even very nicely, usually results in them digging in their heels and doubly determined not to do whatever you suggested.

Corporations are made up of ordinary human beings, most whom stupider than even the average reader of slashdot, and they spend most of their lives engaged in petty power struggles and trivialities that they think are important. Personally, I've found that it's quite relaxing to spend most of my time aloof from them, occasionally dipping into the mundanity and manipulating lesser intellect's pitiful "emotional responses".

Gobe... (2, Insightful)

V50 (248015) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243717)

From my BeOS days I remember Gobe Productive having pretty good Microsoft Office Filters.

the best office suite (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243722)

is a blonde secretary

Re:the best office suite (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243731)

Redheads with a short hair rule!

Re:the best office suite (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243807)

Where do you live? My country is ruled by a very old man.

Slow Down, Cowboy!
Commodore Taco hasn't come yet!

Re:the best office suite (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243818)

Yeah. If you're a lesbian.

Re:the best office suite (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243865)

i'm a lezzy trapped in a man's body

of course (2)

Micah (278) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243728)

Complete filters don't do too much good if the program doesn't support all the features. Footnotes, for example, are missing from some of these.

Filters are certainly important, but we won't have truly won the battle for open standards until proprietary closed formats like Office are no longer the de-facto format that everyone expects. I want these programs to stand on their own merit.

Office suites are commodity software that everyone needs, and Open Source offerings in this area are increasingly impressive. So I think there's hope.

of course (3, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243823)

It's true that you'll never convince someone to switch away from Word if the feature they need isn't supported. The problem is that
  1. MS can add features indefinitely and let open-source developers play catch-up.
  2. It leads to open-source bloatware. The whole monolithic application thing is a disaster. It would be much better to have functionality like spell checking, etc., split off into separate applications.


The problem with open-source bloatware seems to be even more severe than with closed-source bloatware. Look at how slow Mozilla is compared to IE. (Okay, YMMV, let's not start a flamewar -- that's just what I found recently when I compared performances on my system.) And complexity is the enemy of open-source projects -- it raises the barrier to entry for people who want to contribute.


I also don't know what you do about lusers who send one-page text e-mails as Word attachments. Even if a certain version of Star Office can read Word 98, it'll be broken when Word 2004 comes out. Are the same lusers really going to be clueful enough to realize they need to convert back to Word 98 before they send it?


Probably a better solution is to convince everyone who currently e-mails Word attachments to start e-mailing PDF attachments. It could still be used inappropriately, but at least everyone could read it with open-source software.

ms office compatiblity. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243729)

The lack of import filters is regrettable, but hardly surprising - as soon as they do work properly, Microsoft will make bloody sure to change the format again.

The other factor is that even if the word/excel/powerpoint import is working, people act all surprised if their embedded Viso drawings/ autofcad dxfs etc don't work. It's pretty silly to expect them to work too, unless you've got some magical linux version of autocad (come home to unix autocad!) or visio installed. KDE's KParts framework is as capable as OLE on windows (although I wish they hadn't dropped CORBA), but it can't embed applications that don't exist.

Export filters are pretty irrelevant for the majority of word or excel documents -

MS Word will silently load files saved as .html or .rtf anyway - even if you rename the extension to .doc. So the poor lusers don't even know it's not MS word format...

Excel loads CSV fine, even CSV with embedded formulae in standard enough infix notation. Once again, this covers a large number of cases, although it's not as transparent as just renaming a .rtf to .doc , and "pretty graph" style applications need something more powerful.

Powerpoint is more problematic - although I've noticed that the flashier and more advanced the powerpoint presentation, the less likely it is that it's saying anything useful. :-)

MS Clones (1)

Antoshka (444302) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243730)

It's amazing that nobody even tries to make something a little different than the well known MS Office. Even that name Office appears almost everywhere. What office? A law office, a construction company office or a municipality office? I bet all of them have different needs. Why MS put all that programs in a single package? Perhaps because, as usual, they earn more money due to this model? Then why everybody needs to clone it?

Re:MS Clones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243768)

Because nobody is going to switch from Office (the de facto office standard, regardless of what type of office it may be) to an alternative unless they can be sure ALL of their existing documents will be readable by said alternative.

Similarly, few companies are willing to invest the time and effort needed to train employees on a completely new suite of applications. Therefore, the application must mimic Office as much as possible if they want corporations to actually adopt it.

And while your statement that users all have different needs may be correct, it is not feasible for the software vendor to make a separate suite of applications for every company. Support expenses alone would kill the vendor (Oh, you have xOffice version carpenter-2.1... let me call that up... You have version real-estate-attorney-3.21? Hold on a sec).

Even with the source code available to the client, I seriously doubt any corporation would hire someone full-time to modify the application for them. It makes no sense at all.

Re:MS Clones (1)

MrAl (21859) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243781)

Watch for Gobe Productive then. They have a pretty cool office suite that doesn't try to immitate Word. Works like a charm, it's fast, and carries a small footprint.

I can't wait for it's release...

Re:MS Clones (0)

core10k (196263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243813)

It's for historical reasons; it used to be called an office suite, and magazines churned out lots of hype about these bundled packages called 'suites'. It was great buzzword compliance. Microsoft created a dominant package called 'Office,' and so that's the generic term nowadays instead of suite or office suite.

Re:MS Clones (1)

Tom Hoke (518957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243833)

Well I can't speak for the other Office packages but we started from Scratch with all the experience garned from doing ClarisWorks, and AppleWorks GS before that. Our goal has never been to create an office clone. We started with a blank sheet - not a running copy of each of the Office apps. -Tom

My experience with StarOffice... (1, Troll)

exceed (518714) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243732)

My experience with StarOffice wasn't very good. I didn't get a chance to really look around it alot because it was so slow on my K6 @ 266mhz with 64mb of RAM. I believe it's coded in Java (which would make sense, since StarOffice is made my Sun). Hopefully this new release is a little speedier, I'll give it a try when it becomes stable.

Re:My experience with StarOffice...(It's not Java) (1)

splante (187185) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243757)

No, it's not coded in Java. It does have a Java API so you can interface to it from Java, though.

Re:My experience with StarOffice... (4, Funny)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243780)

my K6 @ 266mhz with 64mb of RAM.

So you're the cheap non-upgrading bastard that's to blame for the slowdown in the tech industry...

:)

How about intermediate formats? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243734)

It's obviously pretty essential for users to be able to transfer between the office suites in question and MS Office, if the others are to gain any kind of mainstream acceptance. However, most MS Office users don't actually use something like 90% of the functionality. It's the other 10% that's important.

Further, the only really important Microsoft Office applications are Word, Excel and Access. There isn't the same volume of existing data that must be readily accessible for the other applications.

Now, suppose you could get a solid intermediate format covering those basics (something XML-based, perhaps) adopted as some sort of standard by the free software/open source guys, and have all these office suites using it. It then just needs someone to write a single filter for, say, MS Word docs, to convert to and from the intermediate format, and then all the other Office suites can do it.

I can't believe no-one's thought of or attempted this before, but I don't know of any actual examples. Does anyone else? It must be technically possible; at least, if it's not, you haven't got a hope of converting to the format used by any individual free/open source office suite either.

Re:How about intermediate formats? (4, Interesting)

Pfhreakaz0id (82141) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243841)

>>Further, the only really important Microsoft Office applications are Word, Excel and Access.

Actually I'd say, for most businesses this is the order: Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint. For more some, (without a decent IT staff) Acess would be after word. Do you wonder why people don't leave outlook after numerous virus attacks? It's that useful, that's why.

thats really the problem... (2, Informative)

jonnystiph (192687) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243741)

We really need import filters


I know that this is common knowledge, but perhaps an example of why this is so fscking important will help.

I worked as a sysadmin for the 2600 linux desktop rollout [slashdot.org] for the supreme court of Wisc. The only reason that roll out failed was because of lack of filtering from Word Perfect/M$ Word.

If we had those filters, the Circut Courts Automation Process (a derivative of Supreme Court) would be all linux desktops. That would have been an amazing advance in the world of linux to the desktop.

And Access (2)

Stephen VanDahm (88206) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243742)

People where I work [theonion.com] are fond of mailing around single-table Access databases. WHY?? grrr....

Re:And Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243789)

Ya, I could rant all day about Access being one of the most misused programs around. Why I ever install that in the first place is beyond me. I should just remove it from the transform and then install it on demand when some user thinks they need it. Usually after I show somebody how to generate simple reports using Excel, they will dump access all together.

More than Office 2K! (0)

Martigan80 (305400) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243745)

The fact is also that StarOffice is an all around office suite. One program with many integrated features, the biggest being able to read and use M$ Office2K programs. It is the one office suite that allows M$ and *nix machine to comunicate on a .doc(ument) level. And A big PLUS is that the icon setup is much like office which allows easy converstion from M$ to a *nix system.

You still need MS licenses.... (3, Interesting)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243750)

99% of people don't even have a clue that there is a world outside MS Office. I have problems receiving email attachments from these folks, because they have no idea that not everyone uses Outlook/Exchange.

They've never seen any other mail clients, and don't understand why people outside the company can't read their HTML mail with embedded OLE objects and attached vCard files. I play games with them... they send me Rich Text email, I change it to plain text and send it back. Their client is set to send Rich Text by default, so it gets changed back. Then if I reply again, I change it back to plain text. They must wonder what the hell is going on.

Many people could get by just fine with an "alternative" office suite, if they didn't have to exchange files with the computer illiterate.

Your a Real Professional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243816)

"I play games with them...They must wonder what the hell is going on."

Good for you, your doing business the way everyone should.

You should be proud.

Re; Why OpenOffice? (4, Insightful)

Bodero (136806) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243751)

Personnaly I don't like to see every two days in my mailbox those "where is the Desktop?", "it was better before!", "Companies need professional Scheduling management tools!" postings.

My biggest concern (having implemented Star Schedule server for 30 people so far in a 50-employee company) is that no regard at all has been given to the groupware functionality in OpenOffice. I have very few gripes with Star Schedule, but will need to explain why the newest verions of Star Office cannot be used with the Schedule Server.

If someone were to start a project to make a newer better groupware tool for open office (or some other open-source cross-platform tool), I would find a way to contribute (as I think quite a few others would).

Unfortunately it seems as if ogsproject [ogsproject.org] has died.

Maybe if someone took action and said "All groupware discussions will take place on groupware@openoffice.org" or similar, then at least it wouldn't appear on discuss.

Does Sun not care that there are customers of their software who will be left stranded with data in an obsolete server and egg on their face. I hope not.

Re:Re; Why OpenOffice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243783)

Have you emailed sun to tell them this? In my experience, they listen to their customers far more than MS do, and they really shouldn't be blind to group scheduling requirements.

(MS prefers to tell their customers what the customers want - which works surprisingly well for MS, unfortunately)

I would suspect, however, that they may be intending to add the groupware functionality to the "premium" or "enterprise" edition of Star Office - similarly to the differences between Forte for Java enterprise edition and Netbeans. That way the majoiryt of users, who don't need all the corporate fuinctionality, get the use the product for free, and the corporates, who can afford it anyway, pay for their minority requirements.

StarOffice (3, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243758)

I must say.. I recently switched to using StarOffice even in windows, just for consistency.

Everyone says 'it's not the same as office'. no. It's not. And it doesnt' have every last feature, but it has it's own unique features, and is a deadly office suite nontheless.

The only real hurdles I've come across so far, that prevent me from converting the entire office, are a) embedded VB (important in some sheets... very important) and b) I can't figure out how to open Password-protected Excel sheets.

What about Office XP formats? (2, Interesting)

Jon_E (148226) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243759)

Didn't the format just change again? .. and from what I can tell the MS corp store in Redmond no longer carries Office 2000 ..

Regarding some 'proprietary'f eatures... (2, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243764)

like embedded VB and stuff....

Sometimes, as a business, you have to fit what you do to the tools you have. There will never be a perfect replacement for office, but there will be things just as good (Like staroffice). You will always have to change the way you do certain things.

Wrong (2)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243771)

Wrong! HancomOffice has an excellent set of MS Office import/export filters. It looks to be a very complete and mature product and I'm looking forward to seeing what it can do. Especially with Hancom's recent alliance with theKompany, giving it Kivio (Envision), Aethra (QuickSilver), Quanta+ (WebBuilder), and reKall (easyDB) to add to the HancomOffice package (story on the Dot [kde.org]). Of course, I'm still rooting for KOffice though :-)

do something different (2, Insightful)

mj6798 (514047) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243773)

Nobody will ever compete with Microsoft Office head on--not because people can't technically produce anything better, but because Microsoft sets the agenda. Lotus SmartSuite probably had the best shot, and it failed even in situations where people got it for free.

But Office is a cumbersome dinosaur. Office-based business applications are flaky, difficult to use, and unreliable. Office can be dethroned.

What we really need to do is to figure out how to get the same jobs done with something that is compellingly better: software that enables web-based collaboration, software consisting of small, specialized, downloadable applications, software that's much easier than Office to extend and program, even for non-programmers.

Gobe has great filters (5, Insightful)

loosifer (314643) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243788)

Gobe actually has great import/export filters, but they're even better: They actually developed an API that anyone can write to, so if they port the API and the filters over to linux (which they are apparently doing), then any application can choose to just write to that API and will immediately be able to save or write in any of the M$ formats that Gobe supports.

BTW, this functionality is based on how BeOS does translation for other formats, too, mainly graphics. Linux could really use to take a lesson from this, because it was one of the coolest and best functionalities of BeOS. Hopefully Gobe will port the full API over, not just the filters themselves.

Filters are a moving target... (2)

Thag (8436) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243796)

Once a good set of filters are out there, Microsoft WILL change the file formats, guaranteed. Ask the OS/2 people what maintaining compatibility with M$ was like, and how much it helped them.

We really need to be saying "Linux office suites are very powerful, and aren't horrible buggy feature landfills like M$ Awfulest. Moreover, they exchange data really well WITH EACH OTHER."

I agree that the M$ filters are necessary, but I don't think in the long run they'll be a selling point. Less bugs and fewer crashes will be the real selling points.

Jon Acheson

Encrypted .doc? (2, Insightful)

Mekanix (127309) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243802)

So, how long do you guess it will take M$ to introduce a default-encrypting-scheme on .doc and all their other proprietary formats and starts haunting all the Word-et-al-filter-authors for breaking the DMCA?

GOATSE man - dead at 79 - True! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243806)



I'm both embarassed and proud to post this -

Goatse Man Obituary. [stileproject.com] This is a link to StileProject.com - no actual picture of the Goatse man here, but it does have porn banners so beware.

I'm sure we'll all miss him - Truly an american icon.

Will include mysql driver for connecting MySQL db? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243809)

Please i am waiting for these feature for a long time!
Will include mysql driver for accesing Mysql databases directly using StarOffice Base.
It has been for a long time in TODO [openoffice.org] list, in Openoffice homepage:
"You can connect indirectly to a MySQL database using the existing ODBC and JDBC database drivers. This project could benefit from an driver that accesses a MySQL [mysql.com] database directly"
Come on MySQL, Openoffice developers give us a good notice, It will be great.

Filters are important but.... (1)

MarsDude (74832) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243810)

As far as I know all of these are lacking the single most important thing, a robust and complete set of import filters for Word, Wordperfect, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.

Or some db development thingy like ehm ... say MS-Access?? Lots of small businessess can use that kind of thing.

Applix not mentioned (0)

jmd (14060) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243819)

I thought Applixware Office Suite had a pretty good set of filters. I used it a few years ago and was quite impressed.

what about WINE? (1)

Andyrew2000 (445021) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243825)

I see all these screenshots of all these people running word and office on linux with wine (flawlessley, they say). As a user of Worperfect Office for linux and windows, I would say that wordprocessing for linux has definately arrived, but with spreadsheets and presentations, there is a long way to go (there is progress, though). As a linux novice who sees the task of tweaking with WINE as daunting, if not impossible, i would like to see an easy-to-use version of wine that installs MS office and all the pre-tweaked wine stuff automatically when supplied with an MS office CD (allowing users to point to a windows partition to use the original windows .dlls). Many companies/users who might consider linux allready own licences to MS office, so such a program would greatly simplify migration to linux. Oh well, that's just my two cents-- please don't flame me 'cause this is my first post.

Re:what about WINE? (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243845)

Well, there's vmware, vmware express, win4lin, etc. No need to use wine - why not use the real thing (a real copy of Windows) and get bug-for-bug compatibility? That's what I do.

What if MS tried this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243844)

What if MS adds some light security/encryption to there file formats and then anyone who writes an importer for them gets busted under the DMCA?

That would suck.

Attention, moderators (0, Offtopic)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243856)

To the jerk with moderator points who has gone through this article and moderated down everyone who said anything bad about StarOffice, FUCK YOU.

There is a post by a guy who said "it's slow on my K6 266mhz, but I'll try it again when the new version comes out" and you moderated him as a "-1, troll"?

I pointed out that it was dumb of them to not use the standard Windows file Open/Save dialog boxes because it confuses users, and you hammered me as "-1, flamebait".

You are missing an important guideline for moderating - not to let your feelings get in the way. What a joke. How would you feel if some Microsoft flunky got mod points and moderated up everything that said "Linux sucks!" - probably not good, yet what you have done is the same thing.

If you want to see people's REAL experiences with StarOffice, you should read this article at a threshold of "0", otherwise you aren't getting the whole picture, which is that it's a good alternative, but also that it has a lot of problems. Thanks for reading.

Re:Attention, moderators (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2243857)



GOATSE Man, dead at 79

Goatse Man Obituary. [stileproject.com] This is a link to StileProject.com - no actual picture of the Goatse man here, but it does have porn banners so beware.

WHY GOD

All you need is .doc (2, Insightful)

Jacek Poplawski (223457) | more than 12 years ago | (#2243867)

Developers can write better and better office software, they spend hours, days, and months to make it more stable, more powerfull, and more user friendly, but all you need is import/export .doc files.
So Microsoft is safe, he will have office monopoly forever, becouse users don't need features, they just need to open and save .doc file with pure text (sometime with different fonts and bolds).Am I the only one who is happy with LyX (yes, without learning LaTeX) ?
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