The transition of Apache OpenOffice to a Top-Level project from the incubator hopefully clears the way for speedier innovation for the cloud.
It's not clear what the Apache folks are going to do for the cloud, particularly as six versions of the much anticipated online Microsoft Office 365 service is set for debut soon. But it is clear that a hosted online version of Apache OpenOffice is being planned.
At ApacheCon Europe from Nov 5-8, one IBM China and Lotus Symphony exec will discuss a vision of OpenOffice for the Cloud -- "Cloud Apache OpenOffice based on HTML5."
Here's an excerpt from the planned talk:
The idea is to "take use of the new characters and capabilities issued by HTML 5 to render the windows of Apache OpenOffice.org running in a server from a web browser and provide document editing capabilities and interaction user experiences within a web page. The vision is to develop a kind of Cloud OpenOffice and dig out the opportunities to compete with MS Office within the internet application and cloud environment.
Cloud offerings for both Apache OpenOffice and The Document Foundation's OpenOffice are underway.
Recently, one Apache OpenOffice exec said that cloud-enabling OpenOffice with support for social networks and standards such as CMIS, OpenSocial and OData are also planned and are a big focus for the next OpenOffice offerings, planned for the first quarter and fourth quarters of 2013.
Apache OpenOffice 3.4 was released in May of 2012. The next release will be the first as a top-level project.
"Since then, the project has been working on new functionality, innovations, and releases targeted for Q1 and Q4 2013," said a statement issued last week about Apache OpenOffice's graduation to a top-level project from incubation. "The project has a strong focus on open standards support, from ODF (the first implementor of ISO/IEC 26300) to future plans for CMIS, OpenSocial, and OData."
On the Apache OpenOffice Wiki, developers discussed how the combination of cloud and social network standards will transform the functionality of the Office suite so that it can be used like Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365:
"We (IBM) did a proof-of-concept along these lines for a demo at a conference last January. Here is the general use case. It was an extension to Impress that would allow the user to send the current slide to the activity stream of an OpenSocial container. It converted the slide to a JPG, presented a dialog for the user to enter a comment and then used the OpenSocial REST API to send this to the server. The slide could then be viewed on the server via the containers web interface. Other users could comment on it. When the document re-loaded into Impress the container would be queried and the latest comments would be retrieved and integrated into Impress, into a side panel.
So the net result was a user could post a slide with a question like "What do you think of this slide?", have it be shared with their friends, and then receive comments back from them. It demo'ed well and seems to have some merit.
One idea would be to integrate such support and generalize it to Calc and Writer. Another idea might be to support other, non-OpenSocial social networks. The key seems to be the ability to convert a portion of a document into a snippet that is web-renderable (HTML or JPG) and track context. Oh, and a lot of OAuth.
Naturally, users are also pushing Apache OpenOffice developers to incorporate strong support for emerging proprietary Office suites, such as the ability to edit and save to docx/xlsx/pptx, as well as integration with mainstream social networks such as the ability to post portions of OpenOffice documents to Twitter or Google.
OpenOffice was created by the Star Division in the 1990's, acquired by Sun Microsystems in 1999 and later by Oracle in 2010. Oracle donated it to the Apache Software Foundation in June 2011.