Office suites

by havoc

GNOME Office feels like a huge missed opportunity to
me. OpenOffice.org is clearly the best choice today, but it’s far from
perfect. Still, GNOME Office isn’t even competing.

To compete, I’m convinced the AbiWord and Gnumeric projects have to
merge; it’s that simple. An office suite is a single project. And then
those developers should see the presentation app as part of their
charter. Sure Gnumeric and AbiWord are architected differently and use
a different approach to portability, but why not suck it up for now
and iterate them toward convergence over time.

There are real paying customers that recognize that the Gnumeric
spreadsheet engine is nicer than OpenOffice.org’s spreadsheet. Jody
has done a fantastic job. But a spreadsheet is too huge to support and
develop two, and Gnumeric is a nonstarter because it’s a spreadsheet
only. It has to be the suite.

Sometimes AbiWord does a better job on Word import than
OpenOffice.org, among other advantages. But again, same problem. A
presentation app is on the roadmap
, granted, but let’s add the
spreadsheet. Most companies don’t choose a word processor; they choose
an office suite.

Another hard but worthwhile decision would be to use the OO.org file
formats. If GNOME Office decided to compete for real, it would take a
couple years to become viable. In that time people will have collected
lots of OO.org files and migration path will be a requirement
dramatically simplified by keeping the same format. One could even
imagine using big chunks of OO.org code via the UNO framework.

An interesting thought would be to pursue Gobe-style
home-user-focused UI enhancements, to further emphasize the usability wins
over OpenOffice.org.

In any case, I just don’t see the hard decisions and bold roadmap
directions. Which is fair; the hackers working on this have the right
to do what they find interesting and valuable, and I’m not working on
it. But I can’t help feeling disappointed by the lack of alternatives
in the office suite category, so I thought I’d whine a little bit.

(This post was originally found at http://log.ometer.com/2004-03.html#6.2)

My Twitter account is @havocp.
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