Friday, November 13, 2009

KOffice at the ODF plugfest and ooocon 2009

I spent the last week in the beautiful Italian city of Orvieto in Umbria, a little over 100 km north of Rome. The reason for that was that something called the ODF Plugfest was arranged by the dutch organization Opendoc Society. The Opendoc Society is interested in spreading the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and in interoperability between different applications using ODF. I was there as a representative for the KOffice community and also for my company KO GmbH that sells services around KOffice and OpenDocument. With me from the KOffice community was Jos van den Oever, also from KO, and Thomas Zander from Nokia.

The plugfest was held during monday and tuesday, and during wednesday - friday, the conference ooocon2009 was held in the same city. I missed the first day due to problems getting away from home and also a late flight into rome. The end result was that I had to spend one night in Rome, which normally would be a good thing but was irritating this time.

The plugfest had around 30 attendants, and the OOo conference 10 times more. It was interesting to see all the implementations of ODF, with as the largest one and all of its offsprings: EuroOffice, Red Office from Red Flag Linux, Symphony from IBM, etc, etc. KOffice is clearly the second largest free implementation and MS Office is quickly stepping up as a new contender with the tenacious Doug Mahugh as its champion.

As expected, the plugfest indicated that there is not yet perfect interoperability, but it also indicated that every application has been improved since last year. Also as expected, most of the problems were found in less used parts of the standard. Rob Weir of IBM brought a test document for OpenFormula, the formula specification for ODF 1.2. Most applications got good results on that test. Some difficulties arose around the definition of color gradients in ODF, where KOffice implements the SVG type of gradients, which are more powerful, but both OOo and MSO implemented the draw:gradient definition from the ODF draw specification. A lot of discussion came out of that one, which will undoubtly lead to an even better result next year. For some of the tests, KOffice didn't implement all of the features in the test yet (e.g. pivot tables) so we didn't get any good result there.

Something that I found interesting is the respect that KOffice receives these days from the other parties. That is a refreshing change from a year ago when many of our announcements often were met with questions of "why not just program on OOo instead?". All of the KOffice developers know that it's not as mature as OOo. We also know that despite this, KOffice has a number of advantages against OOo, such as a well designed code base, built on a solid toolkits (Qt and kdelibs), and only a tenth of the lines of code despite more applications. It is nice to see that this information has now spread outside the KOffice community as well and people seem to understand that with the current speed of development, KOffice will very soon be a viable alternative for the normal user.

During both the plugfest and, especially, the OOo conference were given a number of interesting presentations. The keynotes talked about adoption of ODF and deployment of OOo. Of the technical presentations, I found especially interesting a presentation about the the next version of ODF (1.2) by Rob Weir of IBM, and also about the next generation after that -- ODF-Next. Doug Mahugh from Microsoft gave a presentation about interoperability with MS Office and some choices they had to make. I gave a presentation about an idea for a toolkit called the OdfKit together with Alexandro Colorado (I will blog about that separately).

No week can be spent in Italy without eating and drinking well. The organizers had really spent a lot of effort (and I suppose money) on bringing good food and wine to the delegates. There was a party every night except friday, and the spirits were always high. During the plugfest we were also given wonderful lunches complete with desert and cheese afterwards. Thank you!

All in all, it was a very good week. The surroundings were very nice, the people pleasant, the food very good and the contacts that were made between the communities were great. The OOo people now know a little more about KOffice, and we know more about the team that creates OOo. I will definitely go to the next plugfest and hopefully KOffice will be able to show off even more features then.

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Blogger bradh said...

Hi Inge.

What is the way forward on ODFKit?

4:05 PM  

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