In September 2014, rumors were flying that Apache OpenOffice was floundering and might soon merge with LibreOffice. The rumors were denied, but revived in March 2015 when Jonathan Corbett used development activity statistics to show that OpenOffice was seriously short of developers, and had corporate support only from IBM. Now, OpenOffice's most recent report to the Apache Foundation appears to reinforce these previous reports, and then some.
To be fair, the report is listed as "a working copy and not to be quoted." However, I am discussing it anyway for two reasons. First, much of the report was mentioned in earlier reports, which suggests that its information is accurate. Second, when I contacted Jan Iversen, the new OpenOffice Chair, three weeks ago, he gave the same warning even more strongly. Since then the contents has gone through at least one more draft, but with little change of content, which makes me suspect that the excuse is an effort to delay discussion of the content. If I am mistaken, the fact will eventually become obvious, since the report is, after all, a public document.
The two companies already work together and enable Kolab users to read and write Kolab-hosted documents directly via the Open Standard WebDAV protocol.
Now they are taking this collaboration to the next level. Kolab says in a press statement, “To further improve the user experience and ease of configuration of LibreOffice products, engineers from the two companies will be working on an automated Kolab filecloud setup process at the Kolab Summit in a dedicated development room.”
While we've been looking forward to the new features of LibreOffice 4.5 as the leading open-source office suite, version 4.5 is no more. The next version of LO is now going to be LibreOffice 5.0.
To some surprise, this morning in Git, the version was bumped to 5.0 (184.108.40.206.alpha0+). There was no branching of LibreOffice 4.5 as it seems LibreOffice 4.5 is itself being renamed to LibreOffice 5.0.
One may notice that the points listed above loosely match the main points usually mentioned when discussing the benefits of ODF in the more standard settings of the desktop. This is not surprising, but it was not necessarily intended; if anything this is a testimony to the value of a standard like ODF and its importance. The key point here is that when it comes to the cloud and big data, ODF is both a factor of transparency and innovation. This is something worth promoting and is a potential path to renewed success of ODF in the future.
Back in July last year, I wrote about an incredible opportunity for the open source world. After years of disappointments, and despite the usual lobbying/threats by a certain large US software company against the move, the Cabinet Office announced that it was officially adopting the Open Document Format (ODF) for sharing or collaborating on government documents. At the time I exhorted everyone involved to do their utmost to make this work, since it was the biggest chance to show that open standards and open source were not just viable as a government solution, but actually better than the alternatives.
While I do not believe that office suites will disappear, I do believe that the need to be completely integrated into cloud-like environments, whether centralized or distributed, is key to insure potential and an actual future for any desktop software. Because of these trends, the news are of strategic importance to LibreOffice and to software freedom and digital rights in general. At a time when the Internet and cloud services become more and more centralized, the competition diminishes and so do users’rights. “LibreOffice Online” is really good news, and it should make you happy. More specifically, what was announced leads to two distinct outcomes: