The Free and Open Productivity Suite
Apache OpenOffice 4.1.5 released

The Project

The project is an historic development for the open systems world and the open source movement. In a networked age, the rules by which software is created, defined, and distributed are being redefined. Software, in essence a powerful form of expressing human knowledge and logic, is entering the realm of other free and open forms for the expression of human ideas. The pervasiveness of the network has been central in driving this redefinition of the qualities of software. The need for certain forms of software to be available in an equitable form becomes very apparent, especially when related to the creation, exchange, and communication of information. It is important to note that in recent times, some of the most significant forces that have influenced change in our information-centric world have resulted from the use of tools and formats for mechanisms such as e-mail, Web servers and Web browser, IRC, and even the very recent Instant Messenger service. All of these software-based infrastructures have shifted to be foundational in nature, based upon technology standards and formats available to all innovators, without restriction.

The project establishes these same freedoms for the software technology used for information collection commonly called office documents. As a result of these office document formats and the implementation of their accompanying software application utilities becoming foundational technologies — freely available to all through the project — office documents have made the important transition from the proprietary world to become universal, incorporated into the foundational network information standards. The project marks the beginning of an era of universality for office productivity documents as well as their arrival as network standard formats and services.

What is Open is the open source project through which Sun Microsystems is releasing the technology that powers the globally popular StarOffice™ productivity suite. The project establishes the necessary facilities to make this open source technology available to the developer communities worldwide. Source code technology will be made publicly available via the Internet in both tar-ball and CVS formats. The project site will provide forums for direct communications and discussions among developers. Plus, the project site is constructed to provide a center for full and comprehensive information regarding all aspects of the project and its technology. This includes details on the technology and how it can be used as a basis for further innovation, for example, from API and architectural documentation through to planning, news, and promotional information.

The network hosted community can be found at /.

Why is Sun Microsystems doing this?

Strategic Background
Sun Microsystems was founded in 1982 upon three principles. First, that open systems' strategies for technology will ultimately expand the markets for information technology products more successfully than those derived from a proprietary basis. Second, that the network was to become the foundation upon which all computing platforms would be constructed in such an open systems world, expressed by Sun's visionary slogan "The Network is the Computer™". And third, the law of innovation commonly described by Bill Joy, (co-founder of Sun Microsystems and original leader of the seminal open source BSD project) as "Innovation will occur" and its corollary, "that it will occur elsewhere" requires that strategies must be sought to embrace the concepts of the innovators who will be "elsewhere" by definition.

Sun recognizes that all the successful software and network technologies it uses and develops must have these foundational principles at their core. A brief review of Sun's statements and actions from its beginning will show a consistency in developing the means to build itself upon these same principles.

Office Productivity for a Networked Age
Because future computing is being designed and built with the network as its foundation, Sun Microsystems has been committed to the development, adoption, and deployment of the network-based Open Information Architecture. From the core of TCP/IP to e-mail, NFS™, XML, and Java™ technologies establishing the standards for this Open Information Architecture has always been a primary goal for contributing towards open systems and enabling a viable and compelling information computing future.

By 1998, it became clear that the office suite formats and utilities would need to become standardized and fully open definitions of the Open Information Architecture. The knowledge that the diverse forms of devices by which people would access and use the network and its computing resources would expand far beyond today's PC-class device meant that this would become a critical requirement. In August 1999, Sun acquired Star Division, Inc., the developer of a comprehensive, multi-platform, office productivity suite technology that was gaining momentum on open systems platforms. The Star Division technology offered the ideal technology basis and engineering talent to deliver on Sun's strategic objectives for an open definition of these formats and utilities. The component-based language and platform-neutral architecture of the StarOffice utilities were ideally suited to form the basis for an open office productivity suite. Prior to the acquisition, work towards XML-based office document file formats had also been progressing.

Since then, a focussed effort has been placed upon development of both the technologies and the details of the strategy necessary to introduce this next critical piece of the network-based Open Information Architecture. The launch of the project introduces this initiative.

Future StarOffice Productivity Suite from Sun Microsystems
Sun Microsystems' engineering efforts that will deliver future versions of the StarOffice productivity suite will be derived directly from the technology base. Sun will use the single master CVS source base as its own engineering master source base. Thus, developers from all communities will be able to see Sun's development contributions on a daily basis and be able to become directly involved in the development of the technology as well as the branded StarOffice productivity suite.

For more detail regarding technology, a complementary white paper will be available that provides an in-depth overview of the component features, component system, XML formats, APIs, and environment enabling.

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