OpenOffice.org: A 'dying horse'?

commentary OpenOffice.org contributor Michael Meeks calls OpenOffice.org a "dying horse", and states there are only 24 active core developers.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

commentary A very interesting post from OpenOffice.org contributor Michael Meeks makes the whole OO.o project look rather shaky--according to him, the total number of active, core developers is currently 24:

Crude as they are--the statistics show a picture of slow disengagement by Sun Microsystems, combined with a spectacular lack of growth in the developer community. In a healthy project we would expect to see a large number of volunteer developers involved, in addition we would expect to see a large number of peer companies contributing to the common code pool; we do not see this in OpenOffice.org. Indeed, quite the opposite we appear to have the lowest number of active developers on OO.o since records began: 24, this contrasts negatively with Linux's recent low of 160+. Even spun in the most positive way, OO.o is at best stagnating from a development perspective.

Urgh. I love the idea of OO.o, and I happily use it at home, but the problem is fairly serious, it would seem. So what does Meeks propose as a solution?

Kill the ossified, paralyzed and gerrymandered political system in OO.o. Instead put the developers (all of them), and those actively contributing into the driving seat. This in turn should help to kill the many horribly demotivating and dysfunctional process steps currently used to stop code from getting included, and should help to attract volunteers. Once they are attracted and active, listen to them without patronizing.

That, and generally "distance the project from Sun". Meeks doesn't hold much hope for either of these options getting wholeheartedly implemented, though. And he calls OpenOffice.org a "dying horse". Not pleasant.

Personally I think Openoffice.org is great--it's free and it does pretty much everything I want it to. Of course, it has to keep moving on, and I hope it does so. These crunched times are certainly an environment in which such a suite should flourish.

This article was first published as a blog post on ZDNet UK.

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