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Apache OpenOffice 4.1.4 released

Newsletter #5

Louis Suárez-Potts

2002 April 21


Apologies for the neglect and delay in getting this Number Five out! As many of you might know, we've been rather busy arranging things for the upcoming release of OpenOffice.org 1.0. For me, the work has included tabulating the vote (still ongoing; if you want results faster, help me), and making sure that the homepage and download page are actually intelligible to the uninitiated.

But the advent of 1.0 is not the only thing that has been involving the OpenOffice.org community. We have just finished moving the Marketing Project to its new home (http://marketing.openoffice.org/), creating the new lang projects (see http://lang.openoffice.org/ for updates), and renewing the Website Project.

As the name suggests, the Website project concerns itself with the "look" and architecture of OpenOffice.org. Our mandate now is to improve these important features. As many of you are aware, the site navigates poorly (think: labyrinth) and seems designed to convince you that you need reading glasses. Well, we'd like to fix these issues. If you are remotely talented with CSS, HTML, or have a good sense of what you think needs fixing and know how (or are willing to learn), please join the project and mailing list. You can subscribe from the project homepage, http://website.openoffice.org/)

To me, it's obvious that OpenOffice.org is right now undergoing an explosion of activity, much of it sponsored by users who want to add to the project and who want to further OpenOffice.org's global availability. But, complementing the enduser activity, the technical projects have also being seeing a surge of work. I would like in particular to point attention to the XML project (http://xml.openoffice.org).

What does the XML Project do? Lead by Michael Bauer, the project "contains support for and implementation of the XML based file format"; and its mission is "to create an open and ubiquitous XML-based file format for office documents and to provide an open reference implementation for this format." Why is this important? Let's put it this way: One of the things that makes OpenOffice.org product distinct and flexible is its XML-based file format. This means that it can work well with other XML-ready applications and it means that it is far abler to take advantage of the global swing to XML than other office suites (yes, that one).

To give an idea of just how flexible XML makes OpenOffice.org, here are the core goals, as listed on the XML homepage:

  1. The file format should be developed in such a way that it will be accepted by the community and can be placed under community control for future development and format evolution.
  2. The file formats should be suitable for all office types: text processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, charting, and math.
  3. The file formats should reuse portions of each other as much as possible (so for example a spreadsheet table definition can work also as a text processing table definition).
If you have more question, you may want to start with the XML FAQS, http://xml.openoffice.org/faq.html.

Of course, As with any developer-centric project, most of the work takes place in the mailing list, and the XML list is persistently one of the more active developer lists. To view archives, please go to http://xml.openoffice.org/servlets/SummarizeList?listName=dev.


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