Isn't it what people are used to?

Story: Wasted Efforts in F/OSS – Office SuitesTotal Replies: 2
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Jan 20, 2006
7:10 AM EDT
They grow up using MS Office, so they want something that will work with it and look like it and open its files. That's OO, right now.

What you want in the way of a simple text editor/equation editor does exist: its Lyx. Very fine writing tool, maybe not quite strong enough in terms of export file formats. There are great outliners too - Leo or Treeline are outstanding in this functionality. Kate is a very nice text editor for writing. So it does exist somewhat, if people have the courage to throw away their WP and use it.

There is a much deeper question however which isn't related to the product imperatives: are Office suites actually social contributors?

There's a good argument to the contrary. Word Processors make it hard to write by confusing formatting with composing. Powerpoint corrupts the process of presentation and collective consideration of data for a decision, by making people rely on a series of ambigous bullet points. Excel corrupts the business planning and business case process by facilitating the exploration of one scenario in insane levels of detail and specificity, while ignoring others.

In many ways business decision making had better tools when we had to rely on a simple one page statement of financials, a set of assumptions that people could argue about, and a five page paper setting out the facts, the arguments and the recommendations. All done by typewriters.

But that was before Prozac, that other great corruptor of business decision making...

Jan 20, 2006
7:30 AM EDT
Here here.

Personally I go for Abiword on the lightweight crack-out-an-article side of things. It conforms very nicely to the way I write. I use gnome's spreadsheeting app. Thinking on it, there are quite a few stand-alone "office" apps I use, none of them part of a suite.

There are many established layout engines on which to base a word-processing frontend. LaTeX etc. all (of which LyX is a very nice frontend, thanks for pointing it out Alcibiades) . These are available and quite mature.

All of the infrastructure, of *all* of the tools in the GPL realm is available for anyone to use... which is better than everyone using the same core infrastructure and then arguing about how it should be maintained, directions it should go in, etc.

This happens on the kernel side of things frequently, with things getting done because people put faith in Linus to "do the right thing". He usually does. The only reason people cede the authority is because the kernel is necessarily centralized. It's components are more complex by far than an office suite, and change far more rapidly. This necessitates a huge workforce that needs a central authority to arbitrate decisions.

As I've said before, each open source project is made for it's users reasons. Be they commercial sale or simply meeting a need, training a skill or just for fun, that's why it's made. There isn't a magical quotient of "free time" which is made available for other projects because someone didn't write an Office Suite app. All that effort might then go toward watching the latest episode of "Tripping the Rift" or similar activities... which wouldn't be as beneficial to me as another Office project :).

Jan 20, 2006
7:40 AM EDT
1. Great idea, Herschel. You could be on to something! 2. r_a_trip, don't be negative. I know it's tough sometimes, as I have to fight that too much myself, but it rarely helps. 3. Alcibiades, right on.

Terror ends with righteousness. Isiah 54:14 (KJV)

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