This morning, Oracle announced that they are submitting the codebase to the Apache Software Foundation Incubator. At IBM, we see this as a strong validation of open source, open document formats, and market choice and flexibility in the office productivity arena. Since we launched Lotus Symphony in 2007, IBM has been an active participant in the community, and with the move to Apache, we plan to increase our efforts through human and code contribution.

IBM is no stranger to work with Apache Foundation projects, or other open source initiatives such as and, of course, Linux. The new project at Apache strengthens IBM's ability to continue to offer our own distributions of productivity tools based on the OpenOffice code base and make our own contributions to reinforce the overall community.

Ultimately the goal is to further advance the adoption of office productivity suite alternatives. Over the long-term, we plan to work with other Apache contributors to extend the vision of productivity beyond documents. We are learning much more about the semantic web through our additional work on LotusLive Symphony, and the vision in the research and lab teams has to extend productivity into new realms. Meanwhile, the Apache community can be expected to accelerate adoption of ODF as a primary set of document formats, and to drive ODF compatibility in other products and solutions in the future.

In the short term, you can expect to see the team that develops Symphony take a more active role with the project. We have done a bunch of innovative things and one-plusses on top of the OO.o codebase, including accessibility work, the data pilot engine, and Office 2007 file format compatibility. We have a number of new pieces of innovation under development for future releases that could fit well in the open source version of the product. The team has been thinking hard on how to add value to the project quickly.

We are looking forward to the opportunity to further our leadership in this space, and welcome the expected (and unexpected) participation in efforts that will start to materialize shortly. Clearly, in the Apache world, projects move forward out of the will of individuals, not companies. But we have some really smart individuals in this space, as do some of the other marquee software players who already work on Apache efforts. This should make the whole space a lot more interesting in the months ahead. I'd like to think that, if this plays out right, we could find that reaches the ubiquity of other projects like Linux, with multiple established vendors and upstarts all taking the project forward individually and collectively. Now that would be truly liberating.

Link: IBM to Contribute to New, Proposed Project >
Link: Statements on Contribution to Apache >
Link: Rob Weir (IBM STSM): OpenOffice and Apache >
Link: Bob Sutor (IBM VP): Some remarks on OpenOffice going to Apache >

Post a Comment

  1. 1  Erik Brooks  |


    Ed, something I've always been curious to know - is there a list somewhere outlining the various resources that IBM has actively donating code to open source projects?

    For example: Dojo, OpenOffice, PhoneGap (I just learned that IBM has a developer, per-platform-supported-by-PhoneGap, assigned to fixing bugs,) etc.

    These are all really helpful in demonstrating IBM's commitment to the open-platform strategy, and also helps decision makers when trying to stick with an "IBM-friendly" stack.

  1. 2  Ed Brill |

    A good starting place is { Link }

  1. 3  Jack  |

    "Good news for the desktop productivity market"

    actually good news only for IBM and Symphony, but not for the OOo community. Symphony is not open source so every change in the code won't go automatically to OOo code. IBM can use the community to improve Symphony without give back any improvement.

  1. 4  Pete  |

    "Open" if we want to undermine competitors proprietary product...

    If our product's making good money thank-you very much... then sorry, it won't be "Open"


  1. 5  Ed Brill |

    Normally @3 and maybe @4 would fail site policy requiring real names/valid email addresses and be deleted, but we'll leave 'em alone for now.

    @3 we're committed to contributing and we have been with since we joined the project. Clearly we know much about working with Apache and open source and this opens new opportunities to do more.

    @4 I guess there is a purist's argument to be made there, but the mix of open and commercial software work at IBM has served the market well for a decade or more.

  1. 6  jake |

    what of the libreoffice initiative? Where has the Ooo dev community's loyalties landed after the initial split w/Oracle? Will there be a reconciliation? Is IBM confident that its backing the right horse?

  1. 7  Steve McJones  |

    So this is quite the same move Oracle also did after the Hudson/Jenkins fiasco, just that now IBM/Apache are the goofus instead of Eclispe you still try riding the dead horse?

  1. 8  Ed Brill |

    @6 there's been some discussion of how this announcement pertains to LibreOffice/TDF on Rob Weir's blog entry linked above. I have never been involved in those discussions; one thing to be aware of is that our desire to see OpenOffice as part of a major, established open source community far pre-dates the LibreOffice fork. Their published reaction to yesterday's news was "officially neutral", and I am personally hopeful that the structure of the Apache work has room for the energy of those who have been working on LibreOffice.

    @7 I realize the track record in this space for several players is inconsistent. I also think that in terms of the end customer who will use these products/solutions, the drama around licensing and foundations is not a primary decision criteria. With IBM staff and other contributors, I believe an Apache-driven OpenOffice has significant potential.

  1. 9  KeithCu |

    Any change can be done in LibreOffice.

    Consider the massive complexity of this technology, and the amount of work to be done.

    IBM could help the community by having the core OO developers work in LibreOffice. Note also that LibreOffice could use this help. The proprietary stuff (Notes, Symphony, etc.) doesn’t matter to "us", but why not build that on LO as well?


  1. 10  Daniel Castano |

    I had such high hopes for OpenOffice but there is something missing in it, and I tend to not use it as much as I would love to. And let's not talk about neooffice and its sluggish behavior in my mac.

  1. 11  Chris S  |


    This is good news and I hope IBM keeps up the investment into Open Office AND Lotus Symphony. We use Lotus Symphony in conjunction with our Lotus Notes/Domino platform and it works very well.

    As an accountant/CPA - keep bringing those data analysis features into the spreadsheet product!



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