KOffice 2.0, The Vision

KOffice is working on its future, one based on KDE4. KOffice is starting new initiatives with libraries like Flake and Pigment that are going to be used for all KOffice applications. For the users of KOffice those changes are invisible until the 2.0 previews actually start to appear some months from now. Therefore the KOffice crew wants to show you their goals of what KOffice 2 is going to look like. Read more for the whole story.

When I first saw a paper on KOffice back in 1999 it showed the concept of embedded documents which allows me to have a formula or chart in my paper and allow me to update my charts by just altering some cells in my spreadsheet.
The idea that an open source and good looking office suite does that brought me into KOffice.

Now, many years later, we are moving to the next level. KOffice will define so called 'shapes' which can be anything from a simple triangle to a multi-layered image and allow those to be used in all KOffice applications as the building blocks of a document just like they are shapes that the application provides itself. So no more embedded documents which are always square and always start from the top-left corner. This allows for simple things like KWord finally providing simple lines to be drawn, but much more exciting are new features like being able to rotate or skew a KWord text frame. And not only being able to do that in a KWord document, but also in a Krita or a Karbon document.

In KOffice each application will have a specific media that it will specialise in. KWord will obviously specialise in text frames while Karbon will specialise in all sorts of vector graphics. The difference is that the applications will put all that in a Shape and a Tool.

Consider a user who wants to write a paper and have a nice vector graphic in the header of his document. He would be able to load an svg graphic and place it in his KWord document. For tweaking the loaded graphic he can just click on it and at that point KWord will see that the shape is a vector one. KWord will then supply a tool in the toolbox (which is the normal 2-columns toolbar type thing Krita already has) that allows the user to alter the internal vector graphics right inside his KWord document. But without the annoying flickering and replacement of menu and toolbars that happens if the shape was really an external document being edited.

KOffice 2 will still have the most applications there are combined in any single office suite, and on top of that those applications will show an integration that's unparallelled in the industry. Each application really does make the whole more complete by literally making the other applications more powerful.

Every application that uses the Flake library will provide a shape-type that the other applications can use. Want to use that 1 cool Kivio-shape in your Krita painting, go ahead. But the most exciting part is that the shapes come with so called 'tools'. Where each application can use the interaction model for that shape type. And since its determined per shape-type, its the same across all the KOffice applications.

We already see the advantage with a basic interaction-tool that allows moving, rotation etc. of all shape-types. It has features like scaling with the control button down, reserving the aspect ratio of the shape. Unlike in KOffice 1.x that single interaction-tool will be used in all KOffice applications stopping the application from reinventing the wheel, they are literally all running the same code and thus all applications will work consistently towards the user. Definitely a good thing for usability.

Flake in KWord 2

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by Martin (not verified)

Excel is called Excel and not Microsoft Calc.

by ale (not verified)

Yes, and MS is still having headaches because of the "start" button which is used to "shut down".

Only now in Vista does it seem like they can finally get rid of that mistake.

by Boudewijn Rempt (not verified)

Legal reasons, in many cases. Clashes in other cases. KImageShop and KIllustrator attracted the unwholesome attention of reichsanwalt von Gravenreuth. I'm afraid the same would happen to KBase. KPaint already existed, although it has now been superceded by Kolourpaint.

In general, I find it advisable to rename applications as little as posible, which is why all requests for better names will be met by my deaf adder impersonation.

by ale (not verified)

> I find it advisable to rename applications as little as posible

I agree.

But, facing a major release such as KOffice 2 coming up, this might be the only chance to change the names, for years to come.

If the KOffice 2 series turns out to be as good as it promises, and with the possible MS Win userbase, now seems to be the time to do it right.

by Jim Der (not verified)

where does this name come from,
what is the purpose of "14"

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

Carbon is known most by people for the concept of carbon dating; where the 14 comes from.

google for 'carbon dating' to find out more.

by anon (not verified)

Kexi is a proper name, after a cake some people love. Just like Excel is a proper name. That said, look that "Access" is so weird name. Type "access" in Google and you won't find too db-related information. Type in "Kexi" and you will get lots of entries...

Moreover Kexi, Krita are proper words. OTOH, KWord is not... that's why we could think about naming it "KDE Word" instead... Same for KSpread.

by Thomas (not verified)

Please keep up the good work. KDE needs its own Office Package for diversity and integration.

KOffice is fast and nice!

by Neo-Rio (not verified)

Does KOffice support other languages? I've been having a hard time getting Japanese text into Kword via SCIM-anthy. Is there a way to do this at all?

by Boudewijn Rempt (not verified)

Should work without a hitch -- at least for 1.5.1, Bart Coppens fixed scim input. I don't know Japanese and my Chinese is a long way in the past, but I've used KWord succesfully for Russian and Greek.

by biquillo (not verified)

I successfully configured CJK input in any Linux application. Is really easy with kubuntu dapper, just install skim and anthy or any plugin you like and follow this guide to setup your enviroment. I can now write japanese in konsole also :D


I missed really much write furigana or ruby text in linux, I also tried with OpenOffice but the support it's really bad. Any intentions on implement this feature in Kword? Anyone knows any "good method" to write furigana in Linux?

Thanks in advance :)

by Lee (not verified)

This sounds like a huge step forward, really building on the new rendering features in Qt4. I'll be excited to see KOffice 2 :)

I do have a concern or two though. One is memory use. If this core library does everything, and editing SVG in KWord doesn't load a new app/kpart, but instead works as just another tool, then won't that mean loading the entire KOffice suite for every app? I assume you've thought of this, so I'm mostly just asking what cool technology I'm missing that allows you to do this :)

Secondly, have their been any more thoughts towards document processing in KWord as opposed to just word processing? I meant to get a proposal together for this, but I've been really pushed for time, and it's a pretty complex thing to cover in detail.

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

On memory usage;
KParts work because they dynamically load (and unload) a library to do all the work.

I've just incorporated loading of tools from dynamically loaded libraries via the same concepts. Shapes are next.
The cool technology behind this is actually the same; kparts from kdelibs. Well, the funny thing is that they were invented by koffice a loong time ago and moved into kdelibs later. But thats beside the point ;)

With a dozen separate libraries startup time might suffer, but there are many ways to make the user experience no less (and I don't mean splash screens!).
You have my word that it is our highest priority to make sure we are and will stay really fast and lean :-)

I'm not sure what you mean with document processing.

by superstoned (not verified)

After all, just mmapping the libs won't use much mem, now, would it? As long as the most important libs get loaded soon to avoid a slowdown with startup?

I still don't fully understand this linker stuff, but I wonder how it could help here...

by Rex (not verified)

thats great, already look forward to the future... but kspread still doesnt compare to gnumeric or openoffice's calc... samething could be said about kword vs abiword and openoffice's writer. How long do we have to wait, how often do you need to re-write and re-design? people are after more features, and less bugs, the current koffice suite unfortantly offers the opposite.

by Boudewijn Rempt (not verified)

That's nonsense. KOffice 1.5 has more features and fewer bugs than 1.4; and the same was true for 1.4 version 1.3 and 1.3 version 1.2 and so on. Every version has more features and fewer bugs.

And in any case, you don't have to wait. You're not being asked to wait. I for one don't care whether you wait or not. You're welcome to use other software, you're welcome to use ours, you're welcome to work on other open source office software, you're welcome to help us with ours. Take your pick -- but if you need to rant, get your facts right, or don't rant.

by superstoned (not verified)

Indeed. I've been using Kword for all my work since what, 1.2 or something. Ok, it didn't always work smoothly, but what does? I love your work, Boudewijn & friends...

by Robert Knight (not verified)

Both Gnumeric and OpenOffice Calc have had a lot more input from experienced developers and it shows. KOffice 1.5 is at least a start in the direction of fixing the basics but there is a long way to go.

I think the route of the problem is that KOffice has an identity crisis. As far as I can tell, nobody knows exactly where it is supposed to be going. Krita and Kexi seem to have well understood roadmaps, but not the core apps.

OpenOffice.org on the hand has a clear purpose - a free alternative office suite which is easy for MS Office users to migrate from and which provides the same or similar features.

Gnumeric has very clearly stated goals on the front page of its site: http://www.gnome.org/projects/gnumeric/

KOffice doesn't. Although the words "comprehensive" and "integrated" appear on its site, and they do turn up in the mailing list a lot, but they don't really mean anything. The 'integration' is something which only really applies at the source level and aside from the use of standard KDE dialogs and ioslaves etc, doesn't mean anything else particularly from the user's point of view over and above that offered by OO.org or Microsoft Office.

I see a lot of organized KDE bashing in these forums lately. I don't know if they are paid for or they are merely pushing their rabid (gnome-only) POV.

Either way, the bashing is relatively clever and 'sophisticated' - notice how the conclusion always draws attention to abiword, gnumeric and gnome 'office'. Although references are also made to OO.

Having tried using abiword/gnumeric many times over the years, I know that they are CRAP. In fact, in my memory abiword never loaded because some archaic fonts were missing ( it didn't start using GTK 2 until recently). Even after it started using GTK2, it had font issues. Gnumeric was better but always crashed when I tried to do anything at all with it.

Now, I agree openoffice is a mature product and its probably the only such OSS office suite.

I look forward to Koffice reaching its 2.0 milestone, brimming with elation, and features. Meanwhile, I also urge gnome lackeys to give up their missionary zeal and actually be useful to the OSS.

by superstoned (not verified)

point is, there IS no Gnome-Office. ok, a few totally not connected apps which happen to use GTK2 are sometimes refered to as Gnome-Office, but it takes more to be a office suite...

Someone call the whaaambulance its an emergency!

Seems like this article got linked from Desktop Linux, and that's where the 'Abiword and Gnumeric' crowd came in from.

by Wackou (not verified)

Seriously, congratulations for the work you're doing, keep it up!

I have to admit I'm not a user of office programs on a regular basis, although I have to use them from time to time, and KOffice is actually the first office program that I didn't hate after 5 minutes of using it. I actually quite like it!

I do not like MS Office, nor OpenOffice (because it's an exact copy), because of the way they push you to write documents that just seem "hackish" to me. KWord seems much more natural to use, and this even without the "help" from clippy (which is just an obnoxious hack/patch for bad interface design).

And to all the people that complain: if you don't like it, don't use it. KOffice developers don't owe you anything, it's rather the opposite. I am thankful to them for doing what they do, and I can't wait for KOffice 2 to be out (with KDE4 and amaroK 2... ahhh...)

Also, I think they're doing the right thing, because fixing a bad design is _much more_ important than fixing little glitches here and there, accumulating patches over patches until you get a mess out of it (think linux vs windows). Being a programmer, I can't recall the number of times that rewriting something from scratch eliminated all the bugs I had that would have taken weeks of slow and painful and boring bug-fixing, when there was even no possibility for them to appear in the new design.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank the KOffice team and encourage them to continue innovating so as to produce the *only* office suite that is pleasant to use (which is its major feature to me)

by Helms (not verified)

This is another example of Linux idiots at work:

1) Why do Linux idiots always add layers of features onto non-working or broken code?
2) Why do Linux idiots always hype their projects, while ignoring the serious problems and bugs?
3) Does anyone really need, or want, or plan to use KOffice?
4) Why not cancel KOffice, and have those developers clean up the mess that is the KDE desktop?

by Boudewijn Rempt (not verified)

Tell me, did writing this little bit of tripe make you feel real good? Made you feel a superior man? Do you think it shows yourself as a fine, upstanding, cooperative, honourable human being? Did you genuinely think you were able to influence any of the people who spend more of their free hours per week on this stuff than is either healthy or advisable? Who, in all probability, know more about writing software than you? Are you proud of yourself, satisfied with yourself?

by superstoned (not verified)

i think someone should be able to remove posts like this...

by ale (not verified)

> the mess that is the KDE desktop

Still, there are thousands and thousands of KDE desktops used in organisations everywhere worldwide.

by Paul Eggleton (not verified)

> 3) Does anyone really need, or want, or plan to use KOffice?

Yes, I do. I want my office suite to be integrated well into my desktop environment - and as I run KDE, the best choice for that is KOffice. Sure, it may have a few issues, but it's improving. I look forward to KOffice 2.0.

Keep up the good work guys, and ignore these worthless trolls.

by superstoned (not verified)

well, you don't really have a choice. OO.o is a pile of crap, big, bloathed, unstable and missing many integrative things like proper KIO support. Koffice might not have as many features as MS office and OO.o, but at least it WORKS...

by s (not verified)

The idiocy is not limited to Linux, but I agree that it is stupid and irritating the way more slow buggy features are layered on top of the existing slow buggy features. Far better to have a stable responsive app that can actually be relied upon to work. At present this is a strength of KOffice (over OpenOffice.org) so I hope these things take priority over feature-bloat.

Having said that, some features are important because they're widely used, and it's equally annoying to see them ignored for the sake of gimmicks that may look impressive but aren't really useful. KWord is a word processor. It's nice that it has desktop publishing features, but most people use word processors for business documents, letters, academic papers, etc. I don't give a stuff if I can rotate my text frame 45 degrees to the left. I want to be able to sort tables, work collaboratively on long documents with users who may be running MS Word, etc. etc. Until KOffice does its core business well, I couldn't care less about its bells and whistles.

by terracotta (not verified)

In case you hadn't noticed what they are going to do is not so much bells and wistles, but creating a framework where improved code on one program immediately affects another program, this way resources are spent better, KDE's main feature are these frameworks that allow easy development afterwards. It's why amarok has become so good in such a short time for example. Creating something similar for Koffice will help in improving koffice faster in the future.

by Prashanth Kumar (not verified)

Was wondering if there would be better plotting capabilities in KChart and flexibility in data plotting with KSpread (plotting multiple datasets in same graph...). Such a feature would definately be of use to scientists and engineers, and perhaps others in related fields...

by walter hoogerbeets (not verified)

I really like KOffice, i wish, i wish i could use it at my job. So this is why i want to share what i have been thinking about while working in my office.
I use 'that' office suite at work. Have no choice. It's no fun, but on the other hand, the differences with KO and OOo are actually quite small. There is no fundamental difference between the three. KOffice should make a fundamental difference.
I think i might have an idea for such a difference. Many people who work in an office have a modern desk top computer or a laptop, but still they have a pile of paper on their desk and a virtual pile on their hard disk. This is because most knowledge workers make their product out of a great amount of very non-isotrope information. A report is almost always based on a collection of emails, .docs, articles on paper, pages from books, webpages, .pdfs etc.

Nowadays, there is only one way to order all this information: printing it all, and using lots of Post-It memo's. No joke. I'm considered a nerd, but i don't see any other solution. Printing & Post-It.

If KOffice wants to make a difference, tackle this. Please, drive Post-It out of business. One possibility would be to make an integration between Konqueror, KWord and some mindmapping-tool. On your screen, it should be possible to order your sources (i.e. the many totally different documents which form the base of your product), the essential parts of those sources (i.e. quotations with clear links to the sources), and the text you are writing.

The easy way to implement this is a three-pane window: one for your text, one showing the contents of your 'sources' folder on the HDD, and in between an ordered listing of the relevant quotations from the source.

Probably there are better solutions. I am not a hacker, i cannot make this myself, that is why i try to share my experiences as a knowledge worker. I hope someone from the KOffice team gets inspired by my story. I really think the challenge for KOffice is getting beyond Printing & Post-It.

Sounds like you're describing BasKet Note Pads: