Some unfortunate news have been spreading around the web recently concerning « OpenOffice.org dying » and has sparkled some interesting articles. I got interviewed here, some very good answer to those extravagant claims was posted on the Sun OpenOffice.org’s blog, and I am pretty sure that we will read more and more about it soon.
I would just like to mention three additional points before describing my view of a “ post-Novell” OpenOffice.org.
The claims made by Michael Meeks, especially the ones related to the kind of data he shows do not take into account the extensions repository. I agree that extensions are by definition not part of the code base, but given the rate of upload of new extensions we’re having at the moment (50 extensions during December 2008) this starts to become non-trivial. Hence the data does not take into account the contributions made almost exclusively by non-Sun staff.
Michael makes all those claims and that’s his right to do so but -and that’s not an ad-hominem attack- one should remember that Michael Meeks has not contributed a single line of code to OpenOffice.org since two years. Both his own blog and the logs of the commits show that Michael is nowhere to be seen. What shall we be doing with this? Pretty simply, I value both code and non-code contributions (contrary to Michael), and I have a hard time understanding where Michael stands anywhere in our community. Calling OpenOffice.org anything similar to a dead horse is a strong statement for someone who does not contribute, but only criticizes a project.
Some time ago stats about CVS commits surfaced and the results were eloquent: Sun was by far the strongest contributor. Others counted Novell, Red Hat, Debian, etc. But these were not the second largest contributor. The label “ community” was the second one. By this it was meant, people with no “famous” affiliation contributed more than anything Novell was.
So will we survive a fork from Novell? I do believe we will. First, the fork is already made. I haven’ t seen developers leaving in flock to go-give-your-code-and-let-us-make-money-for-ourselves.org
Second, a fork is only really interesting if at some point it sensibly differs from its parent. Concerning the parent, I think a lot of work has to be done but things have improved a lot, the product is great, adoption is exponential and the future looks exciting. The fork itself is a bit of a mystery. Of course, we will likely see some bug hunting and a bunch of cool patches that will end up being implemented inside OpenOffice.org unless those patches are actually ported to the fork. There will also be the much-overstated bazaar-like incremental development (so you don’t need a roadmap in theory) to consider, but above all, my little finger tells me there will be a lot of “contributions” made to ensure the fork will support more and more
Microsoft Novell technologies and hence stay the faithful and loyal second of Microsoft Office for ever.
Still excited about go-oo? Be my guest, go ahead and contribute!