KOffice, the KDE office suite, has always stood behind the OpenDocument Format (ODF) as an industry standard. Now with KOffice 2.0 around the corner, with OpenOffice.org quickly becoming a new leader, and with Microsoft to release its own so-called "open" format, ODF and the interoperability that it promises is more important than ever. The KOffice developers will meet in Berlin during the weekend of May 12th-13th to do as much ODF-centered development as possible. Read more to find out what this can mean for KDE at large.
First a little background. In May 2006 the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (the OpenDocument Format) was voted an ISO standard for office documents. KOffice is one of the initiators of the format, and has its own representative on the OASIS technical committee: David Faure. Since KOffice 1.5, OpenDocument has been the default file format, making it the first office suite in the world to implement the format.
During the last year the KOffice developers have been working on the next generation of KOffice, based on Qt and kdelibs version 4. This will bring new qualities to KOffice, like improved text layout, better embedding of new data types, and also support for new platforms like Windows and MacOS X.
With a new platform (qt4, kdelibs4) comes new possibilities. The KOffice architecture has changed much since the 1.x days and therefore much of the old code has to be reimplemented. The KOffice developers will gather at the KDAB offices in Berlin during the weekend May 12th-13th to design the new ODF infrastructure and also implement as much of it as possible during 2 frantic days.
That is not all, however. Many people in KDE recognize the importance of ODF as a standard that ensures interoperability. The meeting will also include the participation of Aaron Seigo, who will represent kdelibs and other parts of KDE. The idea is to create a library like kdepimlibs (perhaps to be named kdedoclibs) that will be usable by all KDE applications to create and view ODF files.
KOffice will always be a prime ODF editor suite, but there is no reason to believe that other applications won't need to create or view simple ODF documents. Tobias König of okular will also be present at the meeting to present his view on what is needed to implement effective ODF support in okular. Other potential uses are the creation of tables or diagrams from kde-edu applications, invoices from Kraft (see last Akademy presentations), and so on. There is no end to the potential possibilities.
This OpenDocument library will not be ready for KDE 4.0, but a preliminary goal is to finish the design and also have the first version of it ready for KOffice 2.1 and KDE 4.1. We will produce reports on the progress during and after the meeting so that the KDE community is kept well informed about the progress. We believe that this initiative will help make KDE the premier desktop for business and school use and also produce a strong platform for years of exciting future development.