Message: previous - next
Month: November 2011

Re: [trinity-devel] KOffice Suite

From: Kristopher John Gamrat <chaotickjg@...>
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 16:08:03 -0500
On Tuesday 22 November 2011 03:30:06 pm Darrell Anderson wrote:
> > Any evaluation should not be how these apps compare to MS
> > Office, but are they palatable for most people for many
> > tasks? Don't look for missing esoteric features. Forget
> > about importing and exporting MS Office files. Focus on
> > usability by typical users with common needs.
> > 
> > I think everything you have said was just invalidated by
> > this paragraph. What is a user with common needs? almost
> > 100% of the time that involves MS compat one way or another.
> > It is unrealistic to pretend that users won't need this.
> > And what do we do when they say "oh no I can save my
> > .docx file", do we just say "oh well most common
> > users don't need that?". No.
> Everything I said was invalidated? Oh Calvin, so melodramatic! :D
> I do struggle with the concept of what is a typical or common user. I hesitated before using those terms but did so anyway. :)

We need to use the lowest common denominator: They expect to be able to turn on their computer, have it work, and do all their work without having to switch between two or more different programs or operating systems, and they want to have the least wait time, effort, and software to do their work. For example, they won't want to boot to Windows, do all their work, then reboot to Linux, nor do they want to wait for their Linux system to boot, then open a Windows VM and wait for that to boot. Nor will they want to use KOffice, just because they like it, then open it in MS Office to make sure it was formatted correctly.

> First, we are discussing TDE users. That fact distinguishes those users from other users because a TDE user is using a Linux based system and not Windows. Few users of Linux based systems are as naive as the majority of Windows users. :) That is, many Linux based users have a clue about computers.

Except the new converts. Even today, I as a Linux user am still somewhat naive, though not nearly as naive as a few years ago when I used Windows exclusively.

> Second, how much does a TDE user need or care about MS Office compatibility? I don't know the answer. I suspect many don't care. Primarily they are interested in using computers to satisfy their needs and wants, not some brain dead boss's. Thus, any office suite provided with TDE should satisfy the basic office needs of a TDE user and not an enterprise user.

Even for office use, MS format is often needed.

> Jeepers creepers, Calvin, just the other day you were screaming to use markup languages for documentation... :D
> I don't want to completely ignore compatibility. I am only stressing that our selling point is personal usage, not enterprise usage. I don't know that enterprise support is sustainable for our small team size.

Perhaps then for personal and normal office use. We don't need to go all the way up to full-fledged enterprise.

> I suspect for simple documents that KOffice will import MS Office documents. I can test that. Yet users need to understand that the more complex the document the more likely importing will be disappointing. We need to provide a little tough love, so to speak. I still have floppy disks from the early 90s of a software package that was nothing more than many dozen file conversion filters. The challenge of file compatibility is nothing new. There never has been a smooth solution and never will. If there was then none of us would support the idea of open formats. :)

The hard core FOSS-only people at GNU still would ;-)

The solution I can think of here is to provide a warning box when people open a MS Office document. Tell them that since we do not work with Microsoft or have access to the code, support for their format is not and will never be perfect and may yield unexpected results.

> We have to sell some realism with usage. Yet if we focus on the positive aspect of personal (and perhaps small office usage) then I think these apps might surprise us all.
> Regarding compatibility, professionally I am required to work in Windows, primarily FrameMaker and Word. I have no illusions about using KWord, LO Writer, or (eew!) WINE. I use virtual machines and run those apps natively. I am realistic about what I need to do. KOffice is not for such people. If I did not have those professional requirements I suspect I would be more than happy with LO Writer or KWord.

WINE is not an illusion for MS Office, I tested this myself with Office 2003 and 2007. While it may not be perfect, it isn't perfect with running them on Windows either. I can't comment on FrameMaker since I've never heard of it.

> As I mentioned, with respect to export compatibility, this is a social conditioning challenge. We need to teach people to use the underlying PDF print engine.
> We probably do need to look into a docx import filter.

> > With that said, I am not against supporting OO/LO as long
> > as that focus is tight integration with TDE. I hate the
> > OO/LO file picker dialogs. They are useless compared to
> > KDialog. Menu and toolbar look-and-feel needs help. Tim was
> > working on some of that a while ago but I don't what
> > happened. I think Tim told the LO people the TDE team would
> > maintain the hooks needed for TDE integration.
> > 
> > This is important obviously, and we don't want to roll
> > out a premature LO picker. I think it is safe to say that
> > OpenOffice is all but dead...
> I'm including OO just to be nice. We still need an integrated TDE file picker.
> > Agreed, but we also need to make long term decisions. No
> > point putting weeks of labor into a product just to drop it
> > in a few versions. Make sense?
> Makes sense, which is why I recommended some serious evaluations before we get to any discussion point. How can any of us honestly discuss the future of app that none of us use? Even you admitted to not using the apps in any constructive manner. I admitted as much. That excludes both of us from deciding the future of KOffice. I already stated I am willing to help with such evaluations. I understand from a coder's perspective that you might be resistive to supporting a huge code base such as KOffice. Yet if the focus is personal (and perhaps small office usage), then the maintenance perspective changes.

Better integration with LO is a good idea, but only because not everybody will like KOffice, even if we do continue it :-)

MS Office compatibility is not the most important aspect of continuing to include KOffice, but should certainly be included. The whole reason I've always used OOo/LO instead of KOffice is because of school -- I occaisionally need to use MS Office format for assignments, and LO just has better support. I'll never expect support to be perfect, but there are other users who will want it, whether for education, job, or sharing documents with friends. A lot of Windows and Mac users will use TDE when they switch to Linux, and they'll be coming from a world where MS Office is the dominant format. Yes, they can use VMs and dual booting, but what if they can't afford the licensing or they don't want a VM or a dual boot? That leaves them with WINE, but if MS Office is the only thing they use it for, they might not want it. I've even talked to a few people over the last few years that have said that since they're switching to FOSS, they want to just take the plunge and go all the way (as in, use only FOSS, and eliminate the proprietary stuff, including Flash and Java), yet they need MS Office format for work.

The most important aspects of keepingg KOffice is usability, stability, and support for recent ODF specs. MS Office support is secondary.

Kristopher Gamrat
Ark Linux webmaster