Some open source projects are simply the result of history.

Story: Wasted Efforts in F/OSS – Office SuitesTotal Replies: 1
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Jan 23, 2006
8:25 AM EDT
OpenOffice did not start as an open source project. It was originally developed by StarDivision as StarOffice, a proprietary office suite for OS/2 and a few other platforms including Linux later on, and when Sun purchased that office suite and freed the source it quickly became a flagship open source development project.

Its position in the open source community is as much an accident of history as anything else, and its current form and functional state is still largely based on the state it was in when it was first turned over to the community, although improvements are being made.

Other open source "office suite" projects are closely tied to certain specific desktop environments (like KOffice) or predate the appearance of OpenOffice by many years (like Applixware's commercial offering), or else are efforts to bring together a series of formerly independent applications under some sort of common umbrella.

Some folks want a single huge/monolithic environment in which each application runs, while others prefer a much looser type of connection between the applications in their suite or no actual suite at all.

Given the decentralized native of the open source community (which is, in reality, several hundred smaller communities which share roughly the same values), and given the diverse nature of user preferences and developer vision, it's no wonder that we have several parallel efforts. That seems to be the norm for almost any type of software developed in an open source context.

Grand unified visions usually tend to be the product of dictatorship (be it benevolent or not) rather than of democracy.

Jan 25, 2006
10:57 AM EDT
rsteiner - you are correct in nearly everything you stated. Nonetheless, I think the problem is more generalized than I expressed it so far. The purpose of writing about the errors, is it may induce some to reflect upon both the goal and the path chosen. Simpler, many times, is the better route.

Discovery can follow torturous routes, in research of non-trivial problems more error and failures are to be expected. Calling attention to errors should be just seen as part of the process.

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