Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Firefox and OpenOffice

I should guess the recent release of Firefox 3 and the upcoming release of OpenOffice.org 3 (I still wonder why the name of the software should have .org attached to it) will give a new boost to Free Software, especially GNU/Linux. Firefox is already the best browser feature-wise. With the large number of useful and interesting addons, no other browser can really compete with it. But then, there are people who have been using some other browser for a number of years who do not want to change for any reason. Well, that is their problem.

The beta version of OpenOffice 3 is available for testing, and it seems to have a number of new features. Since I am not familiar with any recent version of M$ Office (since Office 98 I think), I am not in a position to compare the two. But the improvements over version two of either application is great, and we know that version 3 did not take much time after version 2 came out. This is considerably faster than the rate at which M$ brings out its software. Consequently, I am sure Free Software applications will soon surpass proprietary software in quality, if they already have not. I am not saying this as the main reason for using Free Software. On the other hand, I am pointing this out since there are people who have been citing lack of features as the reason for not migrating to FS. I am sure very soon such people will not be able to use that as a reason for not migrating. Moreover, remember that people used to say that Free Software, developed by amateurs during their spare time, cannot be good? This is a validation of a community based production model of creative works. And this can be emulated in other spheres of creativity including music, literature and videos. May the era of creative freedom bloom!


shirishag75 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shirishag75 said...

hi Sasi,
Its not a simple and shut case of just more features or less. People would also take a couple of less features, but they would be looking for service, support and addition to the feature-list for their requirements.

Another issue with an example :-
What happens when say an .odf/.odt file crashes a certain version of say Openoffice.org. They may not be well-versed and don't need to file bugs. They would willingly pay somebody to do for them. But what to do in the interim period. If you look at the implementations of say the .odf or .odt with other applications like abiword or kword both are far from satisfactory (try using the latest .odf specs) . Similarly, say even if the old versions, the renderings are still not upto the mark.

I don't mean to say its all bleak, what I mean to say these are the things we as a community need to be aware of, bring it to the projects notice and get some workable results.

Can you for example cite a study of say odf 1.1 which is the stable version of the spec as to how a certain document renders in these 3 applications, all of which are free software. Do all of them render the word-processing documents as same?

Extrapolate the results with the 5 applications the whole suite has. Now for each file format there needs to be atleast 3 different applications. Are there 3 different applications which specialize in that field. It would make for some interesting reading for sure. Also would add as a bolster to companies and individuals to try out,use, give support to others as well.

Had to delete the above comment as it didn't come out right.

Sasi said...

Hi shirish,

I don't understand your point. You say that users would be looking for service, support and addition to the feature list for their requirement. I really don't find the need for much service, especially in the case of an office suite like OpenOffice. The office suite may crash, but you can always restart the application. In the case of OpenOffice, if it did crash, the document is automatically recovered when it is restarted. And I can't imagine Microsoft responding to the need of a user. Even if it did, you would need to find more money to buy the next version. As far as crashing is considered, any application can crash. If it is due to something in a file that it has opened, who is going to repair it? I admit that most external formats do not open well in Abiword or Kword. But what other application opens MS Word documents? In most cases, you simply lose the document. Opening documents in one format in another application has always been difficult or even impossible. The advantage of odf is that it is an open format and anyone can implement it. And will, today or tomorrow.