IBM to close down Symphony, its OpenOffice fork

IBM to close down Symphony, its OpenOffice fork

Summary: Going forward, IBM will be putting its efforts behind the Apache Foundation's OpenOffice instead of its own OpenOffice fork.


Get ready to say good-bye to IBM's Symphony office suite.

Get ready to say good-bye to IBM's Symphony office suite.

In a brief note, Ed Brill, an IBM product line manager, announced that IBM has likely seen its last release of Symphony, its OpenOffice fork. Later, in the blog's discussion thread, Eric Otchet, Symphony's product manager, seemingly confirmed that this was the end of the road for Symphony when he wrote about Apache OpenOffice the IBM Edition as if that would be IBM's successor to Symphony.

In his blog posting, Brill wrote:

Lotus Symphony 3.0.1 is our latest release. There are many enhancements in this release including support for 1 million rows in spreadsheets, bubble charts and a new design for the home page.

This will also likely be the last release of IBM's own fork of the OpenOffice codebase. Our energy from here is going into the Apache OpenOffice project, and we expect to distribute an "IBM edition" of Apache OpenOffice in the future. We have contributed the Lotus Symphony code into the OpenOffice project, along with human resource across development/product management/marketing organizations. I'm excited by what I see happening at Apache, but for now, the new release of Symphony keeps the current project updated for existing and potential customers.

What does that mean for existing Symphony developers and users? Otchet explained:

Symphony 3.0.1 add-on installer for Notes is available today in FixCentral. This will update the version of Symphony embedded in the Notes client.

The new Apache OpenOffice code will NOT be based on Eclipse. We are donating the Symphony code to the Apache project. The sidebar in Symphony is C++ code today.

Future releases of Symphony 3.0.1 ( fixpacks) will be still be based on Eclipse/Expeditor. Symphony 3.0.1 will be included in Notes 8.5.4 ( in the box) with the exception of the Mac client. Mac will be standalone only due to some Cocoa/Carbon issues.

We will continue to offer support for our Notes customers on maintenance if they want to use the Apache OpenOffice the IBM Edition when it is available instead of or in addition to Symphony. We will not have the ability to embed the Apache OpenOffice the IBM Edition into the Notes client.

We are looking at how to extend our Symphony LotusScript support to the Apache OpenOffice code in the future.

Symphony 3.0.1 will continue to be supported for the lifecycle of the Notes 8.5.x clients. This will be through fixpacks and maintenance releases as needed.

This move can't come as too much of a surprise. In July 2011, IBM started donating its Symphony code to the Apache Foundation, which is now overseeing the remains of the OpenOffice project. I say “remains” because most of the development energy in the OpenOffice family has been going to the LibreOffice fork. Many users and Linux distributors, such as Ubuntu, have replaced OpenOffice with LibreOffice.

What does this mean for users? If you're a Symphony user, I see little reason to worry. Call it Symphony or call it Apache OpenOffice the IBM Edition, you'll still have IBM office suite support. For other suite users, I see this as just one more bit of proof that LibreOffice, not OpenOffice, represents the future of open-source office suites.

Related Stories:

IBM throws its source code and support behind OpenOffice

LibreOffice expands users and reach

LibreOffice motors right along with a new release

Apache vows to develop, protect OpenOffice

What the heck is happening with OpenOffice?

Microsoft Office 15 technical preview kicks off

Topics: Open Source, Collaboration, IBM, Software

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  • I would not call Symphony an OOo fork

    Symphony's UI is based on the Eclipse framework. It may be using some code from OOo, but it definitely has more non-OOo code to be called a "fork".

    Derived from OOo, YES. A fork, NO.
  • RE: IBM to close down Symphony, its OpenOffice fork

    How is IBM donating code to OO another sign that LibreOffice is where its at?
    • RE: IBM to close down Symphony, its OpenOffice fork


      Seriously. SVJN is literally the worst tech writer on ZDNET.
      x I'm tc
      • Really?

        There are a long and distinguished group of zdnet bloggers that can easily claim to be the worst on zdnet. SVJN is a mere child compared to them.
  • Finally, someone makes a relatively smart decision in Open Source

    What a concept! IBM combines resources instead of working "Parallel". IBM made a good call to support one of the main branches of OO rather than keeping their separate branch. This is good as it concentrates resources in one spot rather than the shotgun approach.

    While one may debate the wisdom of choose Open Office instead of Libre (obvious the author is prejudiced towards Libre), the wisdom and benefits of concentrating efforts in one project will yield better results than going it alone.

    Bravo IBM.
    • RE: IBM to close down Symphony, its OpenOffice fork

      @Cynical99 ibm, like oracle, intends to keep a tight grip on this so called open source software. this is the only reason they are going for open office as opposed to libre which has the community as well as industry backing.
  • RE: IBM to close down Symphony, its OpenOffice fork

    @Nameless, I think his view has to do with the comparative amount of development between OO and LO. Apache no longer gets its financial (and licensing) support from Oracle. This means that for the past year ALL Apache services have been moved from Oracle-hosted sites to Apache-hosted sites; and all Apache code (including OpenOffice) has been reviewed in order to replace code licensed under LGPL to code licensed under ALV2. That's why there's been the delay in any new releases of OO.<br><br>I believe Mr. Vaughan-Nichols is assuming that the lack of releases during this time of code review means that OO development has stopped, when the opposite is true. What IBM will be bringing to the mix are the Symphony plug-ins that enable Symphony (and soon, OpenOffice) to link with other applications and extend its capabilities.
  • RE: IBM to close down Symphony, its OpenOffice fork

    I don't mine Symphony, and I like the layout better the OO or LibreOffice - but LibreOffice (I'm using the current 3.5rc2) has better performance. Unfortunately the support for MS .docx is still horrible (but that's MS's fault). I will still be interested in testing out OO & OO IBM edition in the future.
    • MS support is horrible .... and so is the support for ODF

      @mrdt Create a file on LibreOffice, format the hell out of it then save it. Come back the next day, open the file on the same machine with the same software (ie: no updates) and the file will not open with the same format as created.

      Sorry, but LibreOffice may be faster .... but faster means nothing when it can't do the job right.
  • Three times

    IBM chooses to pull AOO in Symphony and then push it back. Or the other way round: push Symphony in AOO and then pull it back.
    This seems to be OpenOffice its fate: to be dominated by a single large company. First Sun, then Orcale, now IBM.
  • Still mistating, misundersatanding, or plain just don't care

    Steven, You changed your previous false statement to:

    "IBM, which first strongly supported OpenOffice no longer formally supports OpenOffice as an IBM product, Symphony."

    This is also entirely false. Although you link to your own article as a source (again) this article does not support what you are claiming now. In fact that article quotes an IBM Product Manager who clearly stated that support for Symphony was continuing:

    "Symphony 3.0.1 will continue to be supported for the lifecycle of the Notes 8.5.x clients. This will be through fixpacks and maintenance releases as needed."

    You can go back to Ed's blog (which you also selectively quote) here, where he says:

    "IBM is continuing our support for Lotus Symphony, until we are able to offer an IBM-supported version of Apache OpenOffice that best meets the current and future needs of our current and prospective customers."

    How can you possibly spin this into a negative statement about IBM's commitment to Apache OpenOffice? It boggles the mind.