OCT
10
2007

LinuxWorld.com.au: KOffice 2 on Windows

LinuxWorld.com.au spoke with our very own Sebastian Kügler, and is reporting about the future of porting KDE 4 and its applications to Windows in an article titled KDE's Windows Weapon: KOffice 2.0. "With OpenOffice.org receiving a lion's share of commercial support and market awareness for a free office suite, KOffice 2.0 has the potential to challenge its dominance with innovative features and a leaner code base." The article discusses the pros and cons of porting free software to proprietary platforms noting, "there is a community building around KDE on Windows and KDE e.V. sponsored a meeting to help people get the port to Windows going."

Comments

It is heartening to see the work going into KOffice at the moment. In some ways, this is more exciting than KDE 4 itself.

Porting to Windows will hopefully gain the suite more developers and also strengthen the OASIS format's position. Now that the suite's architecture is coming together, there should be a platform to build upon.

As per my other recent comments, I hope that the KOffice developers look seriously at the innovations that were in Lotus Smartsuite, both in terms of features and usability. If they can build something as elegant, responsive and intuitive as Lotus, they will gain users from OO.org and, far more importantly, from Microsoft.

Go for it, Thomas Zander and team! :-)


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

I know this is wayyyy late to mention, but I couldn't agree more.

GO KOFFICE GO!


By JayBee at Thu, 2007/12/20 - 6:00am

"potential to challenge its dominance"... does this means we'll finally
see some more compatibility with odf and windows formats?


By mark at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

As per my previous comment, I certainly hope it means compatibility with ODF. If OO.org, the new IBM suite (which I understand is based on OO.org), Google and KOffice all start to really support ODF, it will help to undermine Microsoft's proprietary formats, especially if Governments and archive offices start demanding it more and more as well. The latter will point to those suites already using ODF and pressure MS to follow suit.


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

IBM's new office suite is their own codebase but with OOo import/export filters for ODF. It's not really much of OOo.


By matt at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Thanks for explaining, Matt.


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Actually it is a fork of OOo version 1, with support for ODF, but the default format is a new proprietary format they invented. However the code on the whole is still largely the OOo 1 base.

I really want to see the Lotus Symphony UI ported to the OOo 2.3 codebase.

I really want to see KOffice get better filters for MS Office. That is the deal breaker for me.


By T. J. Brumfield at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

One more proprietary format is exactly what we do NOT need. What is their rationale behind this? Are they trying to undermine Sun's success? I can't imagine IBM being a serious challenger to Microsoft by introducing a new proprietary standard.

By the way, why don't IBM open source Lotus Smartsuite or at least recommence development of it? Are there technical issues with legacy code or are there licencing problems? It was the best office suite I have ever used. From a personal user perspective, Smartsuite '97 is still ahead of OO.org in 2007. All I would like to see added to it is ODF support and a clean up of some of stability bugs.


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

IBM plans to be a major contributed to OOo, so I'm hoping many of the Lotus "improvements" make it way into upstream OOo, and that we won't need Lotus and the new proprietary format. I think it exists to make IBM money.


By T. J. Brumfield at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

As I understood it, IBM contributed a little code, but they're not really planning on contributing a lot at all. Which makes sense, as they must've seen how hard it is to get working on the spagetti mess OO.o's codebase is, and how difficult it is to get code accepted by Sun.


By Jos Poortvliet at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Who knows, they might give KOffice a chance as a platform to contribute to then. At least it's code is readable and it's developers welcoming contributions.


By Andre at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

That's not true. IBM promised a team of decent size working full-time in OpenOffice as of OOcon in September (the number was said to be around 30 developers). They haven't yet started doing *any* work though.


By Brush at Sun, 2007/10/14 - 5:00am

currently we see the struggle for the ISO standardization and IBM plays a strong role here.

Essentially converters to or from ODF shall be independent so that all office apps can use and benefit from them and take ODF as their own language.


By Andy at Mon, 2007/10/15 - 5:00am

ODF is the standard fileformat from KOffice, and though support in the 1.x series isn't perfect, it's getting much better... Actually, I'd even worry more about OO.o supporting ODF properly, they're rather stubborn when it's about interpretation of the spec (they're kinda "my way or my way").

And don't count on more support for the proprietary formats, it's a lot of work and nobody in the current KOffice team is willing to do that. So unless you or someone else wants to step up and waste your time, it's not gonna happen anytime soon.


By Jos Poortvliet at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

I was with you until you said "waste your time, ...". I know that some people think it's a bad idea to support proprietary formats, and I know that most current KOffice developers don't want to do it. However, calling it a "waste of time" is to go too far. I think it would benefit KOffice very much in terms of user base if we got better support for the MS Office file formats.

If somebody wants to do the work to improve the MSO filters, I for one will welcome it very much.


By Inge Wallin at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Actually the legacy MS Word file format import filter isn't at all bad, actually, it supports nearly everything. The big problem has always been that KWord didn't support the features encoded in those files, like tables or images well enough.


By Boudewijn Rempt at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

This depends on your definition of "not bad at all" :
If you're meaning "it just read text as it would do with a plain text file"
I can agree, if instead you were meaning "it can import and export in a
fairly decent way" then you must have a rare version of KOffice-4 got
back from the future, here even the OOo level is sci-fi for KOffice.


By nae at Thu, 2007/10/11 - 5:00am

The import filter supports everything except for one type of image for word versions up to 2000. It's just that, as I said, KWord cannot display the imported content very well. You don't have to agree with me, you just have to read the libwv2 code and the filter code in KOffice.


By Boudewijn Rempt at Fri, 2007/10/12 - 5:00am

Just import an odf file you wrote in OOo, then save it.
(or just wait for autosave)...
Often it's completely scrambled, almost always you need
to reopen the original OOo file if you were so wise to
do a backup.


By nae at Sun, 2007/10/14 - 5:00am

"waste your time" probably refers to the fact that such work is hard and never done. So you work and work and only get a tiny fraction closer to compatability, and then MS invents a new format :(


By carewolf at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

improvement yet

Koffice has a lot of things going for it. Its lightweight, integrated, and fast but still has many features I need. Its a one stop shop for documents and images, but some parts of it still need some improvement.


By Skeith at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Kword orgonizes the document structure as frames and pages, not sections and subsections. This very 'feature' has prevented me from using it effectively, for a long time.


By yzhh at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Yes, it is trying to incorporate some lightweight DTP features, which are not necessary for general writing, as opposed to document production.

I guess you are aware of LaTeX and graphical front-ends such as Lyx. They are outstanding for writing academic documents but you may find they are overkill. There is a learning curve involved as well.


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Yes, you are right, for many pages/frames are not useful. We wont be removing them as others find that useful but we will focus on sections / subsections more in a future release.

More TeX like thinking is on my roadmap for KWord, but not for KOffice 2.0 (the first of the KOffice2 releases) just yet.

Cheers!


By Thomas Zander at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Awesome! A TeX approach sounds great, Thomas. I am becoming more and more encouraged about this project all the time. Quality typesetting printed output would be great, too.


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

How about a semantic mode? The idea is that you press a button, and all the raw formatting controls ("Bold", "font X", "indent this paragraph 2 mm", ...) disappear from the UI, leaving only semantic controls, such as "Section", "Quotation", "Emphasised". Just like in LyX, and very clean! What exactly qualifies as semantic vs. raw formatting should be configurable (though there should be sensible defaults). Actually, I would imagine that you would tie this setting to document templates, so when you load the "corporate letter" template, only the relevant formatting options are shown in the UI ("Sender address", "Letter body text", etc. in this case, and perhaps even "Bold", if the template creator had poor taste).

If you really need to, you can always "cheat" and use raw formatting, by temporallily turning off semantic mode. But the raw formatting should then be highlighted in the document when you switch back to semantic mode, and you should optionally (depending on the template settings) be warned when saving the document. This would help keep documents clean and machine parseable (which may be important in an organisational setting) and also help when collaboratively editing a document; no more ever expanding lists of styles ("Normal", "Normal1", "plain text", "untitled", ...) that seem to creep into a document when it has been passed back and forth a few times between editors, and no mysterious formatting left in by others.

(All right, I have suggested this before on the dot.)


By Martin at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

If a LaTeX approach is taken to typesetting, there would be occassions when explicit codes would be needed, just as in typing raw LaTeX into vi or emacs. There would be occassions when the user would want to turn ligatures for "ff" and "fi" off. Maybe some kind of character palette could be used, just as it is already for accented characters, anyway.

Once the document is written, it could be parsed through LaTeX itself and output as PDF or DVI (to enable onscreen print preview) and then printed, all within KWord itself (using suitable Kpart viewers.) Is this a feasible approach?


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

If you could, I'd appreciate if you can satisfy my curiosity as your example made me curious :) Why would you want to turn ligatures off for a section of text? (KWord2 automatically generates them)

Thanks!


By Thomas Zander at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

There are certain circumstances where it is not warranted and you can switch them off in LaTeX. I really cannot think of any examples at present. I'll try to find an example and return to you.


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

I think I remember reading that the convention was that ligatures should not be used for compound words where the boundary would be on an f. I can't recall any anyway. And I don't know if it is a strong requirement, or convention used only in English typography or if it is applied elsewhere.


By Luciano at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

I think I remember reading that the convention was that ligatures should not be used for compound words where the boundary would be on an f. I can't recall any anyway. And I don't know if it is a strong requirement, or convention used only in English typography or if it is applied elsewhere.


By Luciano at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Found this in Wikipedia's "Typographical Ligatures" article:

Sometimes, a ligature crossing the boundary of a composite word (e.g., ff in "shelfful"[2]) is considered undesirable, and computer softwares (such as TeX) provide a means of suppressing ligatures.

Further down in the article:

TeX is an example of a computer typesetting system that makes use of ligatures automatically. The Computer Modern Roman typeface provided with TeX includes the five common ligatures ff, fi, fl, ffi, and ffl. When TeX finds these combinations in a text it substitutes the appropriate ligature, unless overridden by the typesetter. Opinion is divided over whether it is the job of writers or typesetters to decide where to use ligatures.


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

You can easily suppress a specific ligature for such words already: by adding a ZWNJ (zero width non-joiner, Unicode code point: U+200C) between the two letters where no ligature may be formed. So you can enter: s+h+e+l+f+ZWNJ+f+u+l and you get the result you want.


By Eimai at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Sure, you can do that. But very few people will know how to typeset the word "correctly". Maybe an exception dictionary may be used to make the right choice. How do you enter a zwnj anyway?


By Luciano at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

In Gedit you have a context menu for example to input these special characters. It's also present in the Qt4 TextEdit demo program, and I hope it will become available across KDE4 text input boxes. If there isn't such a context menu available you can copy the glyph from KCharSelect: U+200C.

Anyway, a dictionary may be too hard to do, since it would probably be never complete, and there's the added complexity for languages like Dutch or German that can assemble different words into one.

Chances are more likely that if you're that conscious about the typography in your text, that you know about ZWNJ.


By Eimai at Thu, 2007/10/11 - 5:00am

"In Gedit you have a context menu for example to input these special characters."

You can also press ctrl+U200C and then let go ctrl.


By xyz at Sat, 2007/10/13 - 5:00am

German for instance has infinite possibilities of compound words. Sometimes a ligature between the last character of the first word and the first character of the second word shouldn't be a ligature, especially if the charcaters before are already a ligature. A common example (new German ortography) is "Sauerstoffflasche" (oxygen cylinder). "Sauerstoff" has a ligature at "ff" and the third "f" belonging to the next sylable is spelled separately and therefore should be separated.


By Arnomane at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

It's ff, not fff - unless you are hold to write "Schlechtschreibreformdeutsch". ;) Repeating a consonant three times in a row is such a nasty looking, damn stupid idea...


By Carlo at Thu, 2007/10/11 - 5:00am

That's a misconception actually... "Sauerstoffflasche" was always supposed to be spelled with a triple "f" and is unaffected by the German spelling reform, just like "Balletttruppe" and "fetttriefend" (triple consonant followed by another consonant). The change only affects such words as "Stoffetzen" (now "Stofffetzen") or "Brennessel" (now "Brennnessel") and of course the famous "Schifffahrt" as in "Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaft"...


By Nils at Thu, 2007/10/11 - 5:00am

If you have a section written in Turkish for example, or any other language with dotless i. The difference between f+i and f+dotless i is too small when the dot is merged with the f, so in Turkish they don't use that fi ligature.

But the better option for that is to just let the user tell the program which language he's writing in (or better: a desktop input language switcher, see http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/SIGs/Fonts/Dev/LanguageAwarenessProblem), and let the font do its OpenType magic (and if it's a good font, the ligatures will be disabled for those languages).


By Eimai at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

I'd love you to try out one of the KOffice2 alpha versions (alpha 4 coming out next week together with KDE4-beta3) and tell me what you think about it.

The reason I ask is because there is a side-panel that already does most of what you seem to want. The text tool has a sidepanel with 2 tabs that are all about styles. You can ignore the first tab if you want ;) There are paragraph and text styles which come from the document-template. So if you want 'Sender Address" etc. you can create those styles and I hope you will share the document with others so they don't have to go through the style-making process (this remind you of TeX yet? :)

Some KOffice users recently started; http://koffice.wikidot.com I think it would be great if people that figure out this stuff write tutorials / hints etc on that wiki. And maybe even upload docs there (or point to them).

Cheers!


By Thomas Zander at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Sounds good. I'm trying to finish a post-grad thesis at the moment, so I won't have time to play with it much until the end of the year, though. :-(

What about typesetting printed output with nice ligatures and fonts. Is this on your agenda?


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Yes it is (well, its on the agenda of Trolltech, the makers of Qt, which I recently joined). And in fact it already works in a large set of cases. But could certainly be improved.

Ligatures, professional printing (WYSIWYG) and various DTP like features are already working. There are known issues with reading of certain font-files and you'll see so called 'kerning issues' mostly because of fonts not getting read properly by the common libraries.


By Thomas Zander at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Great! You are giving me all good news today, Thomas! :-)


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Thats a reward for me waking up to the first comment on this story which has my name in it :) :)


By Thomas Zander at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

Glad to be of service! :-)


By The Vicar at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

I don't like the page structure but I love frames. I just wish they were steroid-laden frames like in Framemaker. Heck, I just wish Framemaker were available for free *nix.


By David Johnson at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

One thing I really liked in Framemaker were the abundant options in anchored frames. I made a LOT of those available in KOffice2, the need some more UI tweaking, but the actual layouting code is in place already.

This means that you can anchor a frame in text and have it aligned on the binding-side of the page. Which is great for advanced layouted books :)


By Thomas Zander at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

I personally consider the porting of Koffice to windows, and even it's development to be a complete waste of time. It is something that I consider to be the downfall of the linux community. And that is, instead of working together on one project, they have multiple of projects focusing on the same thing. The Koffice team would be better working with OpenOffice, or finding another project. I'd rather have one application that works bloody good, than a multiple of projects creating the same sort of application, but are all mostly useless and crap. Come on people, find a strong project and work on it, rather than trying to progress likewise projects.

I will personally never use Koffice, I find OpenOffice to be far better.


By Richard Bollinger at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

First, development of KOffice is not a waste of time, why?
1. KOffice was started before When Sun released open source version of StarOffice - or OpenOffice.org.
2. OpenOffice.org's codebase is far more complex to a new developer to start (You can imagine, it's codebase started somewhere in 80's with Star Office). Many parts of KOffice 2.0 are rewritten from scratch and hence it provides even more structured code of KOffice.
3. OpenOffice.org is nowhere near lightweight, and some people really need lightweight office suite (here KOffice comes).

and second, you can't ask people to work on a specific open source project because they work on their free time.

third, if KOffice (and other KDE 4 applications in general) is available on Windows / other platforms, it will attract more developers and maybe in few years we can have enough developers to catch with OOo ;)


By fyanardi at Wed, 2007/10/10 - 5:00am

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