Cloud-based Apache OpenOffice aims to woo mobile users

Cloud-based Apache OpenOffice aims to woo mobile users

Summary: A cloud-based version of Apache OpenOffice being worked on could extend the productivity suite to mobile devices.

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More details have emerged about the forthcoming cloud-based version of Apache OpenOffice (AOO).

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A cloud version of OpenOffice writer, AOO's document editor, was shown at a presentation at the ApacheCon Europe event in Germany this week.

The presentation, by IBM Symphony Documents team members who work on the AOO project, said having a platform-independent, cloud-based deployment would allow AOO to be used on mobile devices - massively increasing the potential user base of the productivity suite.

Implementing this HTML5-based version of AOO would come at a "small" cost to the development of AOO, the presentation added.

The prototype version of cloud AOO runs from within a web browser. The browser connects to a remote server running a "headless" instance of AOO that listens to the actions the user performs and returns XML snippets that are used to render the OpenOffice GUI.

Future enhancements to the system could feature an adaptive UI, which would align its style with that of the mobile OS being used.

The Apache Software Foundation has said the code for cloud AOO is at an early stage. The team are reportedly facing challenges in ensuring smooth rendering of the GUI across different browsers and in working with the fact that OpenOffice processes can't be shared among users.

The team working on cloud AOO has previously said it hopes the SaaS spin-off would allow AOO to compete with Microsoft in the cloud services space, where Microsoft has its Office 365 offering.

Another talk at ApacheCon demonstrated how to integrate Apache OpenOffice with OpenSocial, the open APIs that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks.

The team working on AOO plans further integration with standards for sharing online information, such as CMIS, OpenSocial and OData, in the releases of AOO due out next year.

Topics: Cloud, Enterprise Software, Mobility, Open Source, Software

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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15 comments
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  • This is great news

    This will break expensive MS monopoly on the office suite. It will also allow Office apps available free/affordable price.
    Van Der
  • Great news

    If they can nail this down and get close to 100% compatibility with office, this will be a real winner.

    (PS To increase productivity, they should shutter Libre Office and everyone should get back to work on the "real deal".)
    x I'm tc
    • You have it backwards

      LibreOffice is the "real" deal, and is several versions ahead of OO. Shutter OO if you must, but leave LO alone.
      itpro_z
      • agreed

        The people who left OpenOffice to form LibreOffice left for a reason.
        theoilman
      • Say what you will

        But OO is the original and LO is the fork. IBM has thrown their weight behind OO. The bulk of the action is behind OO. And OO has the name recognition.

        OO is where the action will be from now on.
        x I'm tc
    • Re: and get close to 100% compatibility with office

      Even Microsoft has given up on that goal (Office RT). Seems it's important to fewer and fewer people nowadays.
      ldo17
  • From the "OMG, I thought OO was long dead" files

    LibreOffice owns the desktop space for now and Google Docs is to date, a "good enough" solution for the cloud. No one is looking to use a fat, heavy office suite in the cloud, ever.
    zaine_ridling
    • Never?

      Ever? Ever is a very long time :-) And ai'm willing to bet that in less than a decade all the software in the cloud will be as feature rich as the currently are on your local PC. Why? Because it is far more economical to work inside the cloud and because network speeds are evolving towards sppeds that seemed rediculous only a few years ago. The cloud will become mainstream, the home pc will be running only the software necessary to work with your cloud data.
      kleykenb
    • LibreOffice owns the market?

      Who are you trying to fool?

      I think you're only trying to fool yourself.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: "LibreOffice owns the desktop space for now

      Perhaps, with the most popular GNU/Linux distros. However, most lightweight Linux distros default with Abiword and Gnumeric of Gnome Office. A few examples:
      o Xubuntu (currently ranked 26th at distrowatch.com)
      o Crunchbang (currently ranked 20th at distrowatch.com)
      o Lubuntu (currently ranked 15th at distrowatch.com)
      o Puppy Linux (currently ranked 12th at distrowatch.com)

      Of course, users can choose to later download and install LibreOffice if they need more features and their hardware is up to it.

      And from the Apache OpenOffice home page:

      http://www.openoffice.org/?lang=en-US
      "Over 20 million downloads of AOO 3.4 (since May, 2012)

      One could guess that these downloads are mostly Windows users as LibreOffice is the default office suite included with most (except for lightweight) Linux distros .

      Finally, on the desktop, nothing comes close to Microsoft Office's dominance.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • up to it?

        unless their computer is 15+ years old with an archaic distro on it, everyone's computer should be able to run libre office with no problems. hell, they have it running on android phones that have ubuntu loaded onto them just fine. freaking phones.
        theoilman
        • RE: up to it?

          There are plenty of people in the world that would be delighted with an old PC running "an archaic distro" (note that some of these "archaic distros" run a 3.x Linux kernel). Especially, in regions with high levels of poverty such as Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean. With the poverty rate currently around 16% in the U.S., I suspect that there are plenty of people here too.

          And don't forget about Internet access. Only about 1/3 of the people on the planet have Internet access. It's quite low in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean.

          Have you heard of the digital divide?

          "Global Digital Divide The Issue
          http://ucatlas.ucsc.edu/communication/digitaldivide.php
          Rabid Howler Monkey
  • We have those that are on one side or the other of the fence

    A lot of the dislike with OpenOffice may have been with Oracle running the show.

    I look forward to what the Apache Project may have going forward with OpenOffice and Apache web servers.
    RickLively
    • There's more than one fence (don't forget Gnome Office and Caligra Suite)

      And the "dislike" started long before Oracle acquired Sun as Sun was heavy-handed with their management of OpenOffice. Oracle was merely the last straw. They tried to monetize OpenOffice after the Sun acquisition, failed and didn't really know what to do with it afterwards. The Document Foundation forked LibreOffice before Oracle could come to grips with a strategy for OpenOffice' future. After the fork, they bowed to IBMs wishes that they donate OpenOffice to The Apache Foundation.

      Most lightweight Linux distros (aka mini-distros) ship with Abiword and Gnumeric. My go to office apps remain Abiword and Gnumeric (of Gnome office), on both Windows and Linux. I use OpenOffice on Linux for my backup office suite as it is a bit less bloated than LibreOffice, even if it does lack some of LibreOffice's newer features.

      And, speaking of the Cloud, their is a free online collaboration service for Abiword:

      https://abicollab.net/
      "AbiCollab.net is a collaboration service based around the free AbiWord word processor. It allows you to write documents together with your friends in real time.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • what I really, really want to see

    is Openoffice and Libre Office ported to chrome browser/ChromeOS using NaCl. it should be a really easy port with NaCl, and it would be near perfection as far as mobile office is concerned.
    theoilman