Apache Software Foundation Hits Their Sore Thumb Again

ASF has done a lot of good work with their world-famous server and many other server tools. On the desktop, their venture into OpenOffice.org is another matter. In a recent blog entry ASF attempted to define the benefits of doing things their way but instead pointed out bluntly the real disadvantage where the rubber hits the road, under the hands of real human beings:
“The permissive Apache License 2.0 reduces restrictions on the use and distribution of our code and thus facilitates a diverse contributor and user base for the benefit of the whole Open Document Format ecosystem. Within an Apache project it is possible to rise above political, social and commercial differences in the pursuit of maximally effective implementations of freely available open standards and related software tools.”

Claiming ASF is good for everyone including the end user is wrong. Clearly, the end user is a part of the ODF ecosystem, the largest and most important part. While ASF permits modifications to source code to be distributed it does not require source code to be distributed. That has serious implications for end users:

  • malicious software can be added and hidden,
  • freely donated source code can be exploited by software vendors but not passed on to users of later versions of software, locking end users in to vendors (the donated software source can still be accessed but only ported to new applications with greater difficulty and without features added after the original donation),
  • developers of donations do not benefit by having their source code published if the source code is not released by other developers,
  • only people who have access to the source code can really support the applications, and
  • the lifetime of released binaries may be very short as platforms move on to newer APIs.

So, there are real practical disadvantages to the way ASF handles OpenOffice.org for developers who want source code to live on, for developers who want feedback from end users and for end users. OpenOffice.org is mostly used on client machines so the number of instances can be orders of magnitude larger than distribution to servers. This magnifies the impact on the end users, who are totally left out of Apache’s vision. End users are part of the ecosystem. They use the software more and provide valuable feedback to developers. Preventing them from properly debugging such widely distributed software is a severe shortcoming of ASF’s way of doing things. The ASF rises above nothing but put their head in the sand, ignoring real problems of hiding the source code.

see Open Letter to the Open Document Format Ecosystem

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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11 Responses to Apache Software Foundation Hits Their Sore Thumb Again

  1. oiaohm says:

    I am still not in the habit of typing libreoffice all the time.

  2. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon other than fact some of my non checked english causes MS Office 2010 to lock up.

    Sorry MS Office does not work with me. I will stick with open office and languagetool for first processing. At least that way I get my work saved and not eaten by a crashing office suite.

    Really kindly don’t be smart ass and suggest item that does not work and would cost me time not save me anything.

    Of course Clarence Moon I can expect you to miss the finer points of english. business is to 1 or many. Does not have to mean all businesses.

  3. Clarence Moon says:

    All I can say, Mr. Oiaohm, is that the most important part of “just because business are running on MS Office does not make there default document format ooxml” is the part that admits “business (sic) are running on MS Office”. That is what MS takes to the bank. By the way, you might try it yourself. The grammar and spell checker in MS Office would do wonders for your prose!

  4. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon just because business are running on MS Office does not make there default document format ooxml.

    Most common business standard is the older formats due to stability.

    Basically commerce will change to ooxml when it becomes a stable format.

    In fact business to business is more likely to be PDF.

    Have you ever used http://www.alfresco.com/ or any of the Large scale ERP.

    Sorry but the MS stuff is toy products. Clarence Moon. MS Office or Libreoffice is quite suitable to any of the proper ERP’s they don’t care these days.

    Really Clarence once you get high end MS Office is no longer important.

  5. Clarence Moon says:

    It would seem to me that the joke’s on you, Mr. Oiaohm!

    Virtually all of the commerce in office products is contained in MS Office today. Most businesses run their office schedules and document collaboration systems based on MS Office as a client suite. Impoverished or otherwise rubes like yourself may long for Microsoft to get their just desserts and suffer some sort of economic ruin, but if that ever comes, it will be far too late for it to punish the fellows like Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer who have long ago banked tens of billions of dollars of personal wealth.

    Maybe some day a few thousand developers will be summarily laid off and their families made to suffer some setback until they find a new gig. Maybe they will have to move from the sunny Pacific Northwest to Cupertino or its environs, too.

    But I am sure it will be too little and too late to satisfy your needs!

  6. oiaohm says:

    Dr Loser wrote, “Nobody voluntarily chooses to use ODF, and I mean nobody, on the grounds of its technical merits.”

    Again I refer this twit to National Archives around the world.

    They have chosen ODF for long term storage on its technical merits. Format is properly documented.

    Docx has not been properly documented.

    Transition form of docx basically requires you to implement 90 of the old doc bit because they can be embed in the new docx files kinda a random.

    Libreoffice has got better compatibility with docx by in fact bridging to there doc system.

    Basically “I can understand not wanting to work with the original doc standard” If this is true. Docx transitional form requires you to basically implement 90 percent of the old doc standard because binary blobs of it can be dropped inside the so called new docx files. Yes transitional docx that is out there now is a horrid mess.

    MS failed to make a nice clean break that is why ooxml uptake is so slow.

    Can you now understand why a lot are waiting for MS to get out of transitional that should be MS office 2012 before implementing compatibility.

    Basically there is no proper ooxml stuff released yet other than the case that OpenOffice once used it writer that was producing 100 percent to ooxml spec docx files result was MS Office 2007 and 2010 crashing due to sections of the standard in them not being implemented yet.

    Sorry Docx is not a standard its a joke at this stage.

  7. About the time I found GNU/Linux, it was unusual to have a PC in a classroom. My classroom had no PC at first but I found a bunch of donated PCs and put them to work. They did not have anything more than simple text, Lose ’95. StarOffice was available as a free download for GNU/Linux which is what I ended up with. It was perfect for my classroom because there was no budget for anything at any hihger price. It’s technical merits were quite adequate. StarOffice was available for a couple of years before OpenOffice.org became available. Apart from crashing, OpenOffice.org 1.0 was quite satisfactory for education. By 2.0 it was no longer crashing. I did choose OO.o on its technical merits.

  8. Dr Loser says:

    “… on the grounds of its technical merits,” Robert.

    You didn’t choose it on those grounds; you chose it on other grounds.

    Actually, I applaud you for that decision (it’s not one I would make myself, but so what?).

    But whatever draws people to OOo, it sure ain’t the technical merits.

    Do try to represent other people’s arguments accurately, will you?

  9. ray says:

    If that doesn’t work for you, there always Libreoffice. Apache probably did this to have a difference to Libreoffice.

  10. Huh?

    ODF is preferred by anyone who wants independence from M$ and/or a long life for documents.

    Dr Loser wrote, “Nobody voluntarily chooses to use ODF, and I mean nobody, on the grounds of its technical merits.”

    That’s nonsense. I choose to use ODF for any document I produce with LibreOffice. Why would I think of doing otherwise? No one in my home has that other OS running. I can export PDF for anyone on the outside so my whole universe is independent of .docx. There are many millions more like me who have chosen ODF purely on its technical merits. It works. A huge bonus is that M$ has no control over it.

  11. Dr Loser says:

    Internecine bitching, the curse of the so-called free and open world.

    “Open Document Format ecosystem?”

    Unless they mean the equivalent of a petri dish in a virtual lab somewhere, there is no such thing.

    Nobody voluntarily chooses to use ODF, and I mean nobody, on the grounds of its technical merits. It lives on merely as a statement of principle, not as an actually useful format.

    Heck, there are people out there (and in fact I agree with them on this) who would rather use PS/ghostscript or TeX as their document standard of choice, rather than this wretched still-born so-called “standard.”

    Isn’t it about time that the OOo/Libre-o guys stopped bashing their head against a brick wall and admitted that it is quite possible to work with docx? I can understand not wanting to work with the original doc standard, which is a pile of piss, but surely a standard that is actually transmissible across the Walled Garden of Linux is a good idea?

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