Archive for December, 2007

Xerox Chooses Infobright for its Marketing Analytics Data Warehouse

December 28, 2007

Toronto, October 5, 2007 – Infobright announced today that Xerox has selected Infobright to provide an Analytic Data Warehousing solution for improved customer insight.

Xerox needed a timely way to perform market analytics on customer data that was stored in several outsourced storage repositories. Completing a new analysis was requiring significant lead-time and building custom reports through an outsourcer was costly. Xerox wanted to bring the data in-house but needed to find a solution that was not as complex and difficult to administer as a traditional data warehouse.

BrightHouse is an analytic data warehouse that takes advantage of the MySQL database server’s pluggable storage engine architecture (http://www.mysql.com/engines). Using BrightHouse, Xerox will have a solution that allows business intelligence analysts to quickly and easily analyze customer data to more rapidly react to changes in the market. BrightHouse has very low administrative and maintenance requirements, resulting in a very low IT overhead for the solution.

“Companies need to rapidly analyze customer data to become more agile in the marketplace”, said Miriam Tuerk, President and CEO, Infobright Inc. “BrightHouse gives users an environment where they can get at the data they need when they need it. “

“The key benefit of using BrightHouse is improved marketing efficiency and effectiveness.” said Gerry Tomlinson, Manager, Business Intelligence, Xerox. “Infobright will allow Xerox to perform sophisticated market analytics in-house so we can identify and react to market changes quickly and provide clear direction to external marketing service providers.”

About Infobright

Infobright provides analytic data warehouse solutions that help businesses analyze vast amounts of corporate data to better manage their business performance. Infobright’s revolutionary approach to analytic data warehousing allows very large amounts of data to be efficiently stored and analyzed. Rather than using brute-force hardware power to increase query performance, Infobright uses knowledge about the data itself to intelligently isolate the relevant information and quickly return results.

About Xerox

Xerox Corporation (NYSE:XRX) is the world’s leading document management technology and services enterprise. A $16 billion company, Xerox provides the document industry’s broadest portfolio of offerings. Digital systems include color and black-and-white printing and publishing systems, digital presses and “book factories,” multifunction devices, laser and solid ink network printers, copiers and fax machines. Xerox’s services expertise is unmatched and includes helping businesses develop online document archives, analyzing how employees can most efficiently share documents and knowledge in the office, operating in-house print shops or mailrooms, and building Web-based processes for personalizing direct mail, invoices, brochures and more. Xerox also offers associated software, support and supplies such as toner, paper and ink.

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FSF releases license for network-distributed software

December 27, 2007

Nearly five months after the release of the third version of the GNU General Public License (GPL), the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has completed the updating of its key licenses by the release of the GNU Affero General Public License (GAGPL). The GAGPL is designed for use with software distributed over a network, such as a Web application or software as a service.

The GAGPL takes its name from an earlier license developed by Affero, a company whose founders included FSF director Henri Pool to provide a means for people to donate to causes over the Web.

In 2002, with the help of the FSF, the company developed the Affero General Public License (AGPL) to cover modifications of its software. Affero felt this move was necessary because the second version of the GPL (GPLv2), which was then the most current one, did not include any language about distributing software as a system. The license is largely a repetition of the GPLv2, except for section 2d, which requires that redistributors of the code must either preserve any existing function to transmit source code or else offer “an equivalent opportunity” that allows “immediate transmission by HTTP of the complete source code.”

The reasons for the license
According to Brett Smith, the FSF compliance engineer, the difficulty with the AGPL was that, because GPLv2 — unlike the current version — contained no provisions for adding exceptions or additional permissions, it was incompatible with the AGPL.

Faced with the growing importance of network-distributed software, the FSF determined that the revision of the GPL would be accompanied by what Smith calls the “spiritual successor” to the AGPL — a license that addressed the same issues, but was compatible with the new version of the GPL.

Although a number of free licenses for network-distributed software have been developed in the past, Brett described them as typically “weak copyleft licenses” because they made proprietary works relatively easy to create. By contrast, the FSF wanted a stronger license that would ensure that, as with the GPL, all modified works would remain free.

A main motivation for this move was the FSF’s hopes to encourage the development of strong free software communities around networked-distributed software. “Part of the reason that the GPL has been so successful,” Smith says, “is that it cultivates communities because it is a strong copyleft license. Because everybody has to play by the same rules, everybody feels encouraged to participate in the community. So we’re hoping the GAGPL starts cultivating communities, too.”

Although Smith did not say so, presumably a major motivation was the hope that, if a strong free license were available at this relatively early stage in the development of network-distributed software, then free software would become a major player in the field as it grows.

Early in the revision of the GPL, the FSF rejected the idea of trying to use the new provisions for non-standard exceptions and permissions to make the GAGPL a special case of the GPL, as the Lesser GNU General Public License (LGPL) has become in the third version. Instead, the GAGPL was made a separate license on the grounds that it covers specific circumstances and, Brett says, “to reduce confusion.”

Unique features of the license
Despite this distinction, the text of GAGPL follows the latest version of the GPL closely. Aside from the appropriate changes to the name of the license, the main differences in the two licenses occur in the Preamble and Section 13.

The Preamble to GAGPL begins by explaining that the license is “specifically designed to ensure cooperation with the community in the case of network server” software and explains that the license “requires the operator of a network server to provide the source code of the modified version running there to the users of that server.” The Preamble ends by emphasizing that GAGPL is not a version of the AGPL, although “Affero has released a new version of the Affero GPL which permits relicensing under this license.”

The other major difference from the GPL occurs in Section 13. In the GPL, Section 13 specifically states that GPL-licensed works may be combined with works licensed under the latest version of GAGPL. However, although the GPL “will continue to apply to the part which is the covered work,” the special requirements of GAGPL’s Section 13 will apply to the combined work as a whole.

These special requirements require that distributors of modified code must “prominently offer” the source code to “all users interacting with it remotely through a computer network” at no charge, including any work released under the GPL. A second paragraph in the Section then echoes the requirements in the GPL’s own Section 13.

Next steps
With the release of GAGPL, the FSF has completed the updating of its preferred licenses. Although modifications to the GNU Free Documentation License are still being discussed, according to Smith, the differences between software and written material make it extremely unlikely that the GPL, LGPL, or GAGPL will be affected by these discussions.

However, Smith stresses that GAGPL is not necessarily the FSF’s final response to the issue of network-distributed software. “This is obviously a very rapidly moving field, and internally the free software community still hasn’t figured out exactly how to respond. Licensing, while an important part the issue, is only part of it.” As the field grows, Smith expects that the issues surrounding it will also evolve, as will the best practices for free software in the field.

“GAGPL is not going to solve all the problems,” Smith says. “And we know that. But this is a good option for people who are concerned about this issue, and we think it will do a lot to help them.”

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for Linux.com and IT Manager’s Journal.

MySQL to Help Customers Lower Total Cost of Ownership, Increase Business Performance, and Enhance IT Flexibility on Integrated SAP Platform

December 26, 2007

LAS VEGAS — October 3, 2007 — MySQL AB, developer of the world’s most popular open source database, today announced its plans to optimize the MySQL Enterprise Server for the SAP NetWeaver® platform.

At the SAP® TechEd ’07 event being held in Las Vegas this week, MySQL and SAP AG also announced that the sales and support of the MaxDB database will revert back to SAP, in order to unify the product’s development, distribution and support under one organization. MaxDB (formerly SAP DB) is the database that powers SAP® Business ByDesign™, the company’s recently-announced on-demand software solution for midsize companies — in addition to SAP® Business Suite and SAP® Business All-in-One.

“Organizations are increasingly adopting open source databases such as MySQL for critical business applications,” said Nimish Mehta, senior vice president, Enterprise Information Management, SAP AG. “Our work with MySQL AB, the leading open source database provider, will open up new paths for our customers to explore and unlock the transformative power of enterprise SOA.”

“This new phase of MySQL’s relationship with SAP will make it easier for our enterprise users to adopt and optimize the SAP NetWeaver business platform,” said Mark Burton, MySQL AB’s executive vice president of Sales, Channels and Alliances. “SAP and MySQL share a desire to deliver scalable and flexible software solutions that help empower enterprise IT organizations to quickly respond to their changing business dynamics.”

About SAP NetWeaver

The SAP NetWeaver platform enables rapid but controlled business process change by incorporating business functionality – exposed as ready-to-use enterprise services and process components – through its enterprise services repository. It also provides an integrated platform of composition technologies for managing SAP business process solutions and composing new applications that address customers’ specific business requirements.

For more information on the MaxDB database, please visit www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/maxdb. The MaxDB community forum is located at www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/forum?forumID=90.

About MySQL
MySQL AB develops and supports a family of high-performance, affordable database products. The company’s flagship offering is ‘MySQL Enterprise’, a comprehensive set of production-tested software, proactive monitoring tools, and premium support services.

MySQL is the world’s most popular open source database software, with over 11 million active installations. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing organizations use MySQL to save time and money powering their high-volume Web sites, business-critical systems and packaged software — including industry leaders such as Yahoo!, Alcatel-Lucent, Google, Nokia and YouTube.

With headquarters in the United States and Sweden — and operations around the world — MySQL AB supports both open source values and corporate customers’ needs. For more information about MySQL, please visit www.mysql.com.

The World’s Premier Luxury Online Fashion Retailer Relies on Open Source Database to Support High Volume Transactions and Growth

December 25, 2007

London –- 9 October 2007 -– MySQL AB, developer of the world’s most popular open source database, today announced that NET-A-PORTER.COM, the world’s premier luxury online fashion retailer, has standardised on MySQL Enterprise to support its continued growth, scalability and quality requirements.

Since launching in June 2000, NET-A-PORTER has successfully established itself as a luxury brand and is now the premier online destination for women’s designer fashion. Today, over 1 million women log on to NET-A-PORTER each month to read, browse and shop the latest fashion offerings from the world’s cutting-edge labels.

“Providing the highest quality service to our customers is crucial to the success of our business,” said Daniel Cooper, Technical Services Manager, NET-A-PORTER.COM. “MySQL Enterprise gives us the support and service we need to do this.”

NET-A-PORTER had been using the free Community Edition of MySQL for a number of years, and has now standardised on MySQL Enterprise with a comprehensive Gold subscription. This commercial database package features production-tested software, proactive monitoring tools, and premium support services.

MySQL AB’s expertise lies in helping users to cost-effectively manage explosive growth in their businesses through innovative database products and commercial services based on proven best practices. The company’s database server is a recognized standard for a modern “Scale Out” application architecture — replicating multiple database servers on low-cost commodity hardware – as opposed to the traditional “Scale Up” approach of replacing systems with larger, more complex and more expensive infrastructure.

Net-a-Porter will be showcasing their MySQL based architecture at MySQL’s upcoming Northern Europe Customer Conference in London on 16th Oct at the Cavendish Conference Centre. Further information can be found at http://www.mysql.com/news-and-events/events/emea-conference-2007/.

About NET-A-PORTER.COM

NET-A-PORTER.COM launched in June 2000 and has since successfully established itself as the internet’s premier fashion e-commerce destination. Offering unprecedented access to the best international fashion brands via worldwide express delivery, NET-A-PORTER has developed a cult following with Fashionista shoppers from all corners of the globe. NET-A-PORTER.COM sells over 150 top fashion labels focusing on the latest must-have items from the International fashion runway collections. The company offers express delivery worldwide with same day delivery in London and Manhattan.

About MySQL

MySQL AB develops and supports a family of high-performance, affordable database products. The company’s flagship offering is ‘MySQL Enterprise’, a comprehensive set of production-tested software, proactive monitoring tools, and premium support services.

MySQL is the world’s most popular open source database software, with over 11 million active installations. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing organizations use MySQL to save time and money powering their high-volume Web sites, business-critical systems and packaged software — including industry leaders such as Yahoo!, Alcatel-Lucent, Google, Nokia and YouTube.

With headquarters in the United States and Sweden — and operations around the world — MySQL AB supports both open source values and corporate customers’ needs. For more information about MySQL, please visit www.mysql.com.

China puts hopes in Loongson CPU

December 24, 2007

China, which has long wished to develop its own computer industry, has chosen to go with Linux on the software side. Loongson is its hope for the hardware side.

The Institute of Computing Technology (ICT), a department of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), has been developing the Loongson processor since 2002. Rather than use the x86 instruction set used in chips from Intel and AMD, Loongson uses MIPS, an instruction set patented by MIPS Technologies. This means that Loongson chips are unable to run the full version of Microsoft Windows, so they run Linux instead.

Loongson-2F, the latest version of China’s homegrown processor, will be released in November, according to CAS. Longsoon-2F will operate at a frequency of 1.2 to 1.5GHz, matching the speed of the low-end Pentium 4 processor while consuming only around 5 watts of power. Unlike its predecessor, Loongson-2E, Loongson-2F will support DDR2 SDRAM and USB 2.0.

CAS also says that Loongson Box, a computer with the Loongson processor but without a monitor, keyboard, or mouse, will begin mass production in early 2008. ICT has authorized STMicroelectronics to produce Loongson chips and Loongson Box. STMicroelectronics will cooperate with Mandriva and use Mandriva Linux as the operating system for Loongson Box, which also features GNOME, Wallpapoz, and gDesklets, and supports virtual desktop.

Behind-the-scenes controversy
Originally, ICT claimed that Loongson has completely independent intellectual property rights. As it turned out, however, ICT had been using the MIPS instruction set without obtaining a license. ICT asked the government to pay for the license at $200,000 per generation of Loongson chip but was refused. After failing to come to an agreement with MIPS Technologies, ICT had to stop referring to the Loongson chips as MIPS-compatible processors.

To earn back the trust of the government and the Chinese people, ICT launched many ambitious yet ultimately fruitless plans over the past two years. For example, it promised to produce a 1,998-yuan ($250) laptop for Chinese students in 2007, but finally declared that the price would be at 5,000 to 6,000 yuan ($660 to $800) when it might go on the market next year.

ICT had to resort to international cooperation to settle its trust problem. It worked with STMicroelectronics to get a proper license; STMicroelectronics had signed a licensing agreement with MIPS Technologies for the MIPS64 architecture. ICT hopes that STMicroelectronics, one of the 10 largest chip makers in the world, can help improve Loongson’s production technology. In exchange, STMicroelectronics has a five-year agreement to produce and sell Loongson processors and computers in markets around the world. According to the agreement, STMicroelectronics will pay ICT $2 for each Loongson chip sold.

Loongson Box won’t make inroads into the market soon because of its poor price-performance ratio. Last year, ICT trial-produced 1,000 Loongson Box products and sold them at 1,599 yuan ($210), but the price of the mass-produced Loongson Box will be higher than the trial-produced version. With display, keyboard, mouse, and CD-ROM, its price may reach $400, which is no less than many better-performing computers with Intel or AMD CPUs. Loongson’s lone advantage seems to be its low power consumption.
A plus for ICT is that the Chinese government will support Loongson chips regardless of the price-performance ratio. Once Loongson chips can meet basic demand, China plans buy them for its army, government offices, and public education. In addition, some local governments have been purchasing computers for China’s rural areas to demonstrate the achievement of the “new country construction.” It’s estimated that China’s rural areas will utilize at least 6 million computers in 2007 and 2008, giving Loongson a big boost in this arena.

Chen Nan Yang is a Chinese freelance journalist and former IT director in the Chinese government.

MySQL AB Expands Presence in Italy

December 23, 2007

Milan, Italy — October 30, 2007 — MySQL AB, developer of the world’s most popular open source database, is building on its European organisation with a new sales office in Milan, Italy to focus on supporting corporate customers. The new Country Sales Manager for Italy, Luca Gargaglione has a strong and successful background in managing sales operations with companies like MicroStrategy, Vignette, and most recently Interwoven, where he served as Country Manager Italy for the past four years.

On November 8 in Milan, the database vendor’s first public event in Italy will take place. The Italian MySQL team invites users and customers to learn about the company, its products and services. In addition to presentations by MySQL AB, there will be sessions from IT analyst SIRMI S.p.A. and distributor Magirus Italia S.p.A. More information about the ‘MySQL in Italia’ event is available here.

In 2006, there were over 630,000 downloads of the MySQL database server by Italian users. By expanding its activities in Italy, MySQL will try to leverage this interest in its enterprise database by offering corporate customers and software vendors cost-effective commercial licensing, production support, and professional service options.

MySQL AB is partnering with a number of large and leading Italian resellers and systems integrators to deliver MySQL solutions to the enterprise market, including Magirus Italia S.p.A.
Contact Information:
MySQL AB
Corso Vercelli, 11
20144 Milano, Italy
Phone: +39 06 99268193

The company’s Italian Web site is available at www-it.mysql.com.

“It’s been a pleasure for Magirus Italy to have the opportunity to distribute and support MySQL range of products through a long-standing partnership,” says Primo Bonacina, Managing Director of Magirus Italia. “Thanks to MySQL solutions and services, we have extended our open source portfolio, allowing our partners to have new business’ opportunities in the region.”

About MySQL
MySQL AB develops and supports a family of high-performance, affordable database products. The company’s flagship offering is ‘MySQL Enterprise’, a comprehensive set of production-tested software, proactive monitoring tools, and premium support services.

MySQL is the world’s most popular open source database software. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing organizations use MySQL to save time and money powering their high-volume Web sites, business-critical systems and packaged software — including industry leaders such as Yahoo!, Alcatel-Lucent, Google, Nokia, YouTube and Booking.com.

With headquarters in the United States and Sweden — and operations around the world — MySQL AB supports both open source values and corporate customers’ needs. For more information about MySQL, please visit www.mysql.com.

Online library reaches million book milestone

December 22, 2007

An international venture called the Universal Library Project has made more than one million books freely available in digitized format. The joint project of researchers from China, India, Egypt, and the US has the eventual aim of digitizing all published works of man, freeing the availability of information from geographic and socioeconomic boundaries, providing a basis for technological advancement, and preserving published works against time and tide.

One and a half million books in more than 20 languages, including Chinese, English, Arabic, and various Indian languages, are now accessible via a single Web portal. The online library includes rare and out-of-print books from private and public collections around the world.

“There are plenty of books that are no longer in copyright, and that have long been forgotten, but which would be useful to scholars, students, and just the general population,” says Michael Shamos, a copyright lawyer, computer science professor, and co-director of the project at the Carnegie Mellon University in the US.

“There is a tremendous amount of knowledge that we thought would be lost to mankind if we didn’t start digitizing,” he says.

The project believes digital books on the Internet should be free to read, instantly available, easily accessible, printable on-demand, translatable to any language, and readable to both humans and machines. Additionally, with the advent of low-cost technology like the One Laptop Per Child project’s XO laptop and ebook readers, digitized books are expected to reduce the cost of learning by replacing the repetitive cost of books with a one-off computer purchase and freely downloadable information.

According to the researchers’ estimates, the Universal Library collection currently represents a mere one percent of the approximately 100 million books to ever have been published. Shamos expects only half of the published books in existence to be found in physical libraries around the world, so the task of physically locating a rare book can be a tedious process.

“The only way you can obtain an out-of-print book is to find a library that has one, and either travel to that library, or obtain that book through an interlibrary loan,” he says. “It’s a very slow process, especially considering that without seeing the book, you might not know if there’s anything interesting in it for you.”

When the project was initiated in 2002, members expected other research and commercial projects to digitize only around 50,000 books. Google Book Search is one such project that was started since that time; in recent years, it has come under fire for alleged breaches of copyright. While Shamos expressed a high regard for Google’s efforts and the publicity it has attracted to book digitization, he said the Universal Library Project had “similar but different” goals.

“We want to digitize all published works of man; I don’t think that anybody at Google would ever say that’s what their goal is,” he says. “Their goal is to sell advertising, and one of the ways that they find to sell advertising is to create a Web site that has such rich content that people want to visit it all the time. I don’t think that Google has any interest in putting Sanskrit works up on their Web site.”

Like Google, the Universal Library Project faces issues in publishing copyrighted books online. As such, books currently under copyright are only available in part via the Web portal, while books that are not bound by copyright restrictions are fully and freely available online.

Citing a need for information to be freely available, Shamos expects these copyright restrictions to become less of an issue in time, as publishers adapt to the low-cost business model that digital books offer.

“Copyright is going to become less and less significant [because] through digitization, the cost of publishing is vanishingly small,” he says. “As the cost of copying goes down, the value of works goes down, and the ability to make profit from them goes down.

“There is a difference in reading for pleasure and reading for information; what is going to happen, I think, is that copyright is going to end up focusing on works of entertainment and not works of information.”

High numbers
The Universal Library Project is the brainchild of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, and has received $3.5 million in seed funding from the National Science Foundation. The project has also received in-kind contributions from the Zhejiang University in China and the Indian Institute of Science in India that have been valued at $10 million each, and has more recently forged a partnership with the Library at Alexandria in Egypt.

With more than 1,000 workers in about 50 scanning and digitization centres around the world, the Universal Library collection is growing at an estimated 7,000 books per day. There is a fair way to go before the project reaches its lofty book digitization goals; even so, the researchers have set their sights on eventually including content like music, artwork, lectures, and newspapers in the library.

“We believe that by having a universal library with all published works of man, and having multiple sites all around the world that house the entire content, it will be impossible to destroy these works,” Shamos says.

“There can never again be a destruction of the library of Alexandria. There could be a destruction of the building, but there can’t be a destruction of the works, and so this makes the creation of man impervious to changes in political regime, culture, Moirai.”

Sage 50 HR 2007 Software Suite Ships with Embedded MySQL Database

December 21, 2007

LONDON –- 1 November 2007 — MySQL AB, developer of the world’s most popular open source database, today announced that the new Sage 50 HR 2007 software suite is now shipping to small businesses in the UK with embedded MySQL database technology. The announcement was made this morning at the Sage Visions 2007 conference in Telford, UK, and follows a global agreement between the Sage Group plc and MySQL AB signed last year. Sage also plans to embed MySQL into two other products, Sage 50 Accounts and Sage 50 Payroll, which plan to ship this time next year.

Part of Sage UK’s new Sage 50 suite, Sage 50 HR 2007 is designed to help small businesses manage their people by recording, tracking and storing key information, such as employee details, training, time keeping, and professional skills in one place. This allows HR information to be easily updated, accessed and analysed — giving companies the ability make well-informed decisions and comply with legal guidelines.

“MySQL is an extremely good fit for our small business software suite,” said Klaus-Michael Vogelberg, Chief Technology Officer of The Sage Group plc. “It’s low maintenance, cost-effective and easy to use, which are all key requirements for SMEs in multi-user environments. It also enables us to empower our customers with more choice in how they use their Sage products in relation to operating systems and other applications.”

Sage 50 HR 2007 integrates employee details with Sage Payroll 2007, enabling employee records created in Sage Payroll to be exported to Sage 50 HR, saving time and reducing duplication. Globally, Sage plans to embed the MySQL database in additional products. In the coming months, Sage will be shipping its Simply Accounting software suite in Canada, and in 2008 its Peachtree suite in the US, with embedded MySQL database technology.

About Sage Group plc
The Sage Group plc is a leading global supplier of business management software solutions and related products and services, principally for small to medium-sized enterprises. Formed in 1981, Sage was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and now employs over 13,000 people worldwide.

About MySQL
MySQL AB develops and supports a family of high-performance, affordable database products. The company’s flagship offering is ‘MySQL Enterprise’, a comprehensive set of production-tested software, proactive monitoring tools, and premium support services.

MySQL is the world’s most popular open source database software. Many of the world’s largest and fastest-growing organizations use MySQL to save time and money powering their high-volume Web sites, business-critical systems and packaged software — including industry leaders such as Yahoo!, Alcatel-Lucent, Google, Nokia, YouTube and Booking.com.

With headquarters in the United States and Sweden — and operations around the world — MySQL AB supports both open source values and corporate customers’ needs. For more information about MySQL, please visit www.mysql.com.

KOffice’s stance against OOXML more practical than political, developer says

December 20, 2007

In the recent accusations that the GNOME Foundation has been supporting Microsoft’s OOXML format at the expense of ODF, KDE has been presented as a counter-example. Based on a KDE News article, Richard Stallman suggested that “major KDE developers” had announced “their rejection of OOXML” and urged GNOME to do the same. More recently, a widely linked story on ITWire used the same article to declare that KDE has taken a “principled stand” against OOXML. However, if you go the source, the story is more nuanced than these claims suggest.

True, KOffice — not KDE, which is a separate project — will not be implementing OOXML in a hurry, and part of the reason is political. However, the decision is also a practical one, and KOffice has not rejected the possibility of supporting OOXML in the future.

David Faure has been a KDE developer for nine years, and a KOffice developer almost as long. He has worked on Konqueror, KDesktop, and many of the KDE core libraries. In KOffice, he has focused mainly on the KWord word processor. In addition, Faure has sat on the OASIS technical committee for ODF since 2003, where he represents KOffice’s concerns, and helped steer through modifications required by KWord, such as support for frames repeated on each page and a desktop publishing mode.

Few developers, you may safely say, are stronger advocates of ODF than Faure. Speaking unofficially for his fellow KOffice developers, Faure says, “What we like about it is that it was designed from the start to be independent of the design of the application, like HTML or XML. It is also based on many existing standards.”

By contrast, Faure is scathing about OOXML. “Microsoft is pretending to everyone that they have an open format. What they want is to convince companies and governments that their format is open, so people will use the format in the future. But in reality, as you can see in many postings on the Web and on blogs about the technical problems with that format, OOXML is just as closed as [Microsoft’s previous binary] format.” He says that the complexities of the format mean that only Microsoft Office is ever likely to be able to implement it completely, adding bluntly, “It’s all just make-believe.”

Yet, despite these strong opinions, in talking about the decision not to support OOXML, Faure says, “The main reason is not political. The main reason is lack of resources.”

Faure explains that, for the past year, all of the project’s energies have been devoted to KOffice 2.0, a massive rewriting of the entire office suite. “That means that support for other formats comes later,” he says. “We need first to have a working application before we can import files.”

Under these circumstances, trying to develop support for OOXML would be almost impossible. “It is a very complex format,” Faure says. “Its type of XML is almost as complex as the old binary format. And with the old format, the old .DOC format, we only ever managed to get to the point where we could import text and its formatting, but not images.” Besides, he says that he has seen “a large number of deficiencies” in OOXML, leading him to conclude that “it will be very difficult to implement. We might start at some point, but who knows when we would finish?”

That said, contrary to the impression left by many media reports, KOffice has not ruled out eventually supporting OOXML. “But it has to come from user demand,” he says, noting that user demand was why KOffice tried to support earlier Microsoft formats. “I haven’t seen many user requests for OOXML just yet. It would be completely illogical for us to work on that format right now just because Microsoft says it is the future and before users demand it.”

At the same time, Faure admits that these practical concerns have “a good political side effect. If we had good support for [OOXML] now, it would be an impetus for people to switch to that format. And that’s exactly what we don’t want to happen. So you could say that it’s a political game for us. By not starting that format just yet, we try to make people switch to ODF, because that’s a much better format for the future.

“If Microsoft really wanted to do something open, something good for people, it would switch to ODF and help extend it for whatever they need instead of trying to do their own thing, which defeats the purpose of having one standard. The whole idea failed when Microsoft decided to stay in its own game instead of joining us. That’s my main regret in all of this, and I hope that more and more people support ODF instead.”

Faure is only one developer, and does not officially speak for the entire KOffice team. However, he is a prominent one, and a recent blog entry by Cyrille Berger, another KOffice developer, shows that that he is not alone in his views.

KOffice developers like Faure and Berger deserve credit for balancing practical and political concerns in the middle of the OOXML controversy. Moreover, Faure in particular, has worked five years to improve the ODF standard. In both these ways, KOffice in general stands in marked contrast to the GNOME Foundation, which has ignored the politics of the issue in favor of the practical by rushing to support OOXML after only recently become involved with the development of office format standards.

However, neither of these comparisons justifies the idea that KOffice — let alone KDE — has shown a high-mindedness that GNOME lacks. In fact, the idea seems a distortion of at least some of the opinions prevalent among KOffice developers.

Both KOffice and GNOME have been navigating the same shoal-ridden waters. The difference is that KOffice — perhaps because of greater knowledge due to Faure’s involvement with OASIS — has managed to avoid running aground, the way that GNOME appears to have done.

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for Linux.com and IT Manager’s Journal.

Microsoft Office System Webcast: Compatibility Tips for the 2007 Office System File Formats: Collaborating with Users of Earlier Versions (Level 300)

December 19, 2007
Summary

Are you using or considering the 2007 Microsoft Office system and wondering what you need to know to collaborate effectively with users of earlier Microsoft Office versions? The new file formats for the 2007 Office release offer tremendous benefits, from better security to easier editing. So, if concerns over the need to roundtrip documents between the 2007 Office release and earlier versions are keeping you from taking advantage of all that these new formats can do, get tips and tricks that can help you share your documents without losing valuable functionality. In this webcast, we  focus on the differences in behavior when you share Microsoft Office Word 2007, Excel 2007, and PowerPoint 2007 documents (the Office Open XML Formats) versus saving your documents in the previous  file formats (Compatibility Mode). Learn what features are available only when working in the new file formats and get help for making the right collaboration choices for your particular document needs.

Presenter: Stephanie Krieger, Microsoft Press Author and Office System MVP, Arouet.net

Stephanie Krieger is a Microsoft Office Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and author of two books, Advanced Microsoft Office Documents 2007 Edition Inside Out and Microsoft Office Document Designer (Microsoft Press, 2007 and 2004, respectively). She has helped many global companies develop enterprise solutions for the Microsoft Office System and taught numerous professionals how to build great documents by understanding how Microsoft Office programs “think.” Stephanie writes for several Microsoft Web pages and frequently delivers Microsoft Office webcasts. Visit her blog, arouet.net, for a regularly updated collection of tips