Forking OpenOffice

By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2004-05-14 Print this article Print

The OpenOffice editors are essentially the same base stack that Sun is using with the Java Desktop System? Technically, no. They were derived from the OpenOffice project, but we forked away from that over a year ago. We componentized them and tried to slim them down a bit, and we also added a whole bunch of fixes and features and cleaned them up. We will not advertise these as OpenOffice editors; we will be clear that they are OpenOffice-derived and they will support OpenOffice formats, and we encourage people to use OASIS and OpenOffice doc formats in addition to Office ones.
Its very important to communicate that this is not a StarOffice play. Were not positioning this as an Office competitor orb as a take-on-Microsoft play.
Nor are you positioning this as a competitor to JDS? No, were not. In fact, early on, we had some analysts who worked with us under nondisclosure, and they specifically said, "Whatever you do, dont do an anti-JDS play because that basically has not worked with customers." Its a message of, "Customer, you made a stupid decision at one point, and youre going to have to go let us help you change that bad decision you made," as opposed to providing additional services and added value around existing editors people may have. Lets say you just had an Office environment today. But if you wanted to add Workplace documents to that environment, you now have a managed store trickle-synched back to a managed server environment where end-users can create or store documents. Those are automatically backed up, shared, access-controlled, can be part of business controls and reporting, you can have corporate policies enforced, you can have access to multilevel storage and the whole enterprise content management set of services that IBM and other provide, if you so choose. Well also use this technology to power things like WebSphere Portals. The next version of WebSphere Portals will take advantage of this technology for offline portal application support. Well be using it in IBM industry solutions—for example, weve already started working in banking on a Bank Branch Office Transformation solution. And weve already started working with some ISVs—Siebel, PeopleSoft, Adobe and a bunch of smaller-tier ISVs. Are there any aspects of IBMs J9 JVM code that are not compatible with the Sun JVM? I dont think so. The team has worked with Sun on this for some time. To give you an example of how compatible it is with other environments, Siebel took an application that was 90,000 lines of Java code, and in less than a week, they brought it over for mobile use. They only had to change 20 lines of code out of 90,000, to basically take a server-based Java application to a client front-end running on top of this J9 JVM. Next page: Its not your fathers eSuite.

Steve Gillmor is editor of's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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