The question of what Oracle (news, site) is going to do with the OpenOffice.org (OOo) code has finally been resolved with an announcement today that it will be giving it to the Apache Foundation (news, site).
Needless to say, The Document Foundation (news, site) has been lukewarm on Oracle’s decision as it had hoped that it would be the beneficiary of the code once Oracle decided to throw the hat at it commercially and hand it over to a community.
At first glance, the Document Foundation (TDF), the developers of LibreOffice, was the obvious place for it given that LibreOffice and OOo are two prongs of the same fork, which happened last October. Clearly Oracle had other considerations and now it’s going to Apache.
Oracle and Apache
Oracle says the decision underlines it commitment to the “developer and open source communities” and gives it gives it an established infrastructure to continue into the future. Explaining it, Luke Kowalski, vice president, Oracle Corporate Architecture Group said:
The Apache Software Foundation's model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development.
The Apache Foundation is clearly also happy with the decision. Jim Jagielski, the proposed podling mentor for the OpenOffice.org community during the incubation process said of it:
We welcome highly-focused, emerging projects from individual contributors, as well as those with robust developer communities, global user bases, and strong corporate backing.
However, the Document Foundation was a tad less happy, and although it did say that it welcomed it, it was a welcome with a couple of notable caveats.
Today we welcome Oracle's donation of code that has previously been proprietary to the Apache Software Foundation. It is great to see key user features released in a form that can be included into LibreOffice…” LibreOffice’s statement read.
However, it added that while it had “no doubt” that the decision taken by Oracle was taken in good faith, it will not “achieve directly” the goal of “the reuniting of the OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects into a single community of equals in the wake of the departure of Oracle.”
The Apache community, which we respect enormously, has very different expectations and norms - licensing, membership and more - to the existing OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice projects. We regret the missed opportunity but are committed to working with all active community members to devise the best possible future for LibreOffice and OpenOffice.org.”
However, it’s not all bad. The Document Foundation added that the Apache License is compatible with both the LGPLv3+ and MPL licenses, allowing them future flexibility to move the entire codebase, to MPLv2 or future LGPL license versions.
The Document Foundation believes that commercially-friendly, copy-left licensing provides the best path to constructive participation in, and growth of the project…” the statement said.
Describing the decision as “neutral” for TDF, it added it was -- as always -- open to every company or individual who wants to work with it and, in particular, with the Apache Foundation which it expects to be in frequent contact with over the coming months.
IBM and OpenOffice
For its part IBM (news, site), which introduced Lotus Symphony, its no charge, on premise, office productivity suite based on the Open Document Format standard, in 2007, also appears happy at the decision, as in order for Lotus Symphony to move forward so too does OpenOffice.
And to ensure that it will, it is contributing staff to help the Apache community during the projects incubation period.
In a statement Big Blue said:
… IBM today announced it will take an active, supportive role in the new OpenOffice.org code base submitted to The Apache Software Foundation Incubator. As part of today’s news, IBM will contribute staff resources to collaborate with the Apache community during the project’s incubation period to further the Open Document Format standard.
It’s all still a bit up in the air yet and no one really seems to know where it is going to go. However, lots to come here in the following months so stay tuned.