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Open Office and Java - I'm for it

Posted by johnreynolds on May 12, 2005 at 12:11 PM PDT

From a recent java.net news entry:

"As OpenOffice.org 2.0 approaches version 2.0 final it is being meet increasingly with opposition by free software advocates over its dependency on Java."

I am delighted that Open Office is finally leveraging Java. While early attempts to create pure Java office suites failed (Lotus tried this back in the 90's), Netbeans 4.1 has demonstrated that Swing is up to the task of producing a high quality user interface.

I think we're long past due in seeing an office suite that takes advantage of Java's capabilities (I know OOo is far from embracing this idea, but you can't blame a guy for dreaming).

I know that relying on Java causes ethical conundrums for those who want complete freedom of distribution, but Java is free for download (cost to the end user is not really an issue). It's surprising to me that the many Sun employees who are paid to work on the project use anything other than Java.

If Java really makes you cry, as a short-term solution there's always KOffice. It's really quite nice. Forking OOo is also a great short-term option (and I understand that many of the Java dependencies can be dealt with by using Classpath). Long-term, my bet is that Sun will OS Java, and we can put this issue behind us (or maybe Harmony will really happen).

If you think that we're way overdue for an office suite that embraces Java, please let Sun (and the other OOo contributors) know. If the OOo folks only hear from those who believe that Java is a trap, then Open Office will be sucked into C/C++ hell forever.


Update: Check out this article from NewsForge.com:
Free Software Foundation and OpenOffice.org team up to escape Java trap

Basically, OOo has agreed to make OO work with FOSS Java implementations (most noteably GCJ) and Richard Stallman has dropped his request that OO be forked.

I see a silver lining here for Java... Increased reliance on Java by OO could end up accelerating the development of FOSS Java implementations. Rather then limiting OO to GCJ's constaints, improve GCJ, Classpath, and Harmony.

Update: 26Jun05: NewsForge published another article on renewed interest in The GNU Compiler for Java comes of age.

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