As well as the official talks at FOSDEM we will also be hosting 5 talks in the KDE developers room. The KDE FOSDEM team interviewed the speakers to get some background. The first interview is with Raphael Langerhorst whose talk is titled "KOffice - Desktop Integration and Workflow Automation".
Raphael Langerhorst with his Nephew
Please introduce yourself and your role in KDE
I was born in 1983 and I live in Austria, somewhere between Linz, Salzburg and Passau (Germany) in the countryside; I am also a vegan (strict vegetarian) from birth on. The quiet place we have at home is very precious to me and I enjoy it a lot - sitting in the garden or in the woods, reading books or... working with my laptop.
We got our first computer when I was 6 years old, a 286. Currently I'm studying IT in Wels, after having spent 5 years on an electrical engineering school (with "Matura") and doing my national service at the Red Cross. During the technical school we learned C, C++ and Java. I also started to work on a couple of projects during this time.
Well, KDE development started with a patch for KSysGuard in December 2003. Then I saw the summary about KOffice from the Kastle meeting. It mentioned the move to the OASIS Open Document format. Seeing the compatibility between KOffice and OOo in the near future caught my interest. So I joined the KOffice mailing lists to check the progress of this "feature". Since then I sent various patches to the mailing list (KSpread, documentation, ...) and got a CVS account in July 2004 I think. I never had much time left for KOffice though, which makes me feel quite sad since I'm probably one of those who wouldn't mind full-time KOffice development.
When I have time for KOffice I spend it on bug hunting and documentation. In the near future (depending on available time) I might do more QA (Quality Assurance) work for KOffice and even promotion work - I just started as a KDE trainer for one of the larger training institutes in Austria.
I also play the piano and the violin, which I enjoy a lot.
What is the current state of KOffice?
Getting close to the 1.4 release! But there is still much to do (see next question). The current state is a stable 1.3 version of KOffice which had been released a year ago and had already its fifth minor release.
Today KOffice offers a stable office suite for the standard components. There are a few rough edges left though, which are being worked on of course. KOffice is lightweight and thus performs very well even on old hardware. Still it brings lots of features and good KDE integration. In particular the KDE integration is one of its greatest strength, which is vital for business environments.
For home users KOffice is an easy to use, lightweight office suite for daily work.
What have been some of the recent developments in KOffice?
Many smaller improvements have been made since KOffice 1.3. The main focus since the last release has been the implementation of the OASIS Open Document file format. Krita and Kexi are also improving fast and might be included in the next release.
KPresenter has recently got master pages support. There were also some design improvements of KSpread during the last months, and more radical changes are planned after KOffice 1.4.
I think that the most important features for the near future are the OASIS file format support and the additional KOffice components, Krita and Kexi. All this could already happen for the 1.4 release, but there is still work to do.
And recently David Faure became the KOffice Release Manager again.
Kexi has a Windows version available, do you think KDE applications should be ported to Windows and are we likely to see this happen to other applications?
In fact there were a few people talking about creating a native KDE on Windows port and some work is already done.
Whether applications should be ported to Windows or not depends on the point of view. Windows is a rather different platform than POSIX which makes porting not too easy. A lot of opinions have already been expressed. I just want to add to it that the developers should care for clean KDE code. I personally don't want to see it happen that larger code portions are changed just to fit on Windows. I would rather prefer to build on POSIX compliant extensions to Windows (Microsoft has some available!!) and make these a requirement for KDE. This would surely result in less dirty code AND in better operating system standard compliance.
Some more individual applications will likely be ported, but I don't think that KDE will be ported completely in the near future.
How many people are currently working on KOffice
Well, there is Krita, Kexi and KPlato, which are more independent and even have their own mailing lists.
All together there are about 15 people working on KOffice. 1 for KPlato, around 4 working on Krita and about the same for Kexi. Then there are 3 to 5 developers improving the older KOffice applications like KWord, KSpread, KPresenter and Kivio. Sadly Karbon14 and Kugar are not well maintained because of lack of developers. Other smaller parts like the KOffice Workspace or KFormula also have no particular maintainer. Two or three people are working on documentation. Additional help is of course always welcome and appreciated.
What is the current roadmap for KOffice and when will we see the promised native OASIS file formats?
There are no particular dates set for releases yet, but so far we have decided to release KOffice 1.4 with KDE3/Qt3 early this year. The next major release will be KOffice 2.0 which will build on KDE4/Qt4.
Much work has been put into the OASIS Open Document format and most of the implementation is done. But it will be a close race with the 1.4 release, also because the file format really needs much testing before we can switch to it as native format. So far the OASIS file format is only for Karbon14, KWord, KSpread, KPresenter and KFormula since OOo does not have equivalent components of the other KOffice components. Thus there has not been much effort (or human resource) to add specifications for such applications. It might be possible that KPlato comes up with an OASIS specification for project management though.
Both Kexi and Krita will be included in KOffice 1.4. KPlato will probably be included with KOffice 2.0.
When this has been accomplished KOffice is a really complete office suite, having integrating components for text processing, spreadsheets, presentations, flow charts, pixmap and vector graphics, report generation, database frontend and project management as well as formula editing and a chart engine. Including a common workspace!
How do you see the relation between OpenOffice.org and KOffice?
First, I don't see a competition between these office suites. Both have their strengths and are suitable for different situations. A very important advantage of both office suites is their common file format in the near future. This will make seamless document exchange possible and it won't matter which office suite is in use.
A big advantage of KOffice is its KDE base, which makes it more lightweight and integrated. OOo brings its own framework which makes the codebase bigger and harder to maintain, but it is necessary to be cross platform. And this is what makes OOo more suitable in mixed environments - OOo builds the bridge between Windows and Linux/Unix whereas KOffice might be a better choice in pure KDE environments. OOo is also a suitable bridge between many legacy file formats and the OASIS Open Document format.
Seen this way OpenOffice.org and KOffice really complement each other rather than compete.
KOffice is missing a logo, do you have any suggestions?
Yes, actually. Recently there had been some KDE Look contests for various applications that had no logo. I think we could launch such a contest to have a logo ready for KOffice 1.4. The results produced in previous contests are really good quality.
Have you ever considered adding a talking paperclip to KOffice?
Honestly, no :)