back to article IBM crams Lotus Symphony back into OpenOffice

IBM is contributing Lotus Symphony to the Apache Software Foundation, re-uniting this OpenOffice fork with the "official" version of the project. On Wednesday, IBM said it will donate the standalone version of Lotus Symphony to Apache's project under an Apache 2.0 license. Open Document Format (ODF) architect …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    too little too late

    flogging a dead horse.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: too little too late

      "flogging a dead horse"

      Is that a euphamism for "selling Lotus Symphony"?

  2. LauRoman
    Big Brother

    IBM is the scavanger in this situation.

    Leaving aside the fact how differently Sun treated contributors that had licensed some of the code of OpenOffice (IBM for instance) to others that used only the free version (Suse, Redhat, Canonical), how it would come in and changing importance of bug reports according to which company had submitted it or was affected by it. I dare say that IBM is the coyote here... feeding on a dead animal left by something else.

    After Oracle left OpenOffice for dead after it aquired its owner and basically wouldn't give a frak about what was left of it in the wake of the wave of fleeing developers, guess who urged Oracle to donate the code to Apache? If you guessed IBM, have a cookie. Why would IBM want the code given to Apache? Well if you think they want it out of the hands of a apathic Oracle and into the hands of someone that might do something to it you might be partially right... but that's far prom the real reason. You see if they wanted that, they could just contribute to The Document Foundation.

    Now, what's the biggest difference between LibreOffice and OpenOffice, leaving their names and document icons aside. If you thought the license you now get a cupcake. What does the permisive Apache License let you do (to some extent) that the GPL does not? Come on, you all know this. it's the same reason why Google has Android under an Apache-like license and the reason they have so far held back the source of Android 3.0+ Have a muffin if you thought that using an Apache license may allow you to have some/all of the code spun off into a separate proprietary project. Guess who is the largest corporate user of OpenOffice code after Sun/Oracle... Why yes, it is Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (or the Big Blue as they like to be called now), if you were thinking of them have a donut. IBM would benefit form an Apache sponsored project with a permissive license and that's the reason that they put their Lotus code that they are giving Apache under the same license. It is so that they can make use of it all in a cohesive manner.

    I'm definitely not criticising their behaviour, they are geniuses, evil geniuses mind you, but geniuses non the less. Oracle is absolutely aware of this move but don't really care. Be sure that Apache knows some of this already although they might not admit it yet (not even to themselves) but their excuse is that they can't really allow themselves to treat any new incubator project differently.

    The biggest irony of all of this is that LibreOffice could take some improvements made by OpenOffice because OpenOffice's license alows it, but IBM can't use virtually any LibreOffice code because it would make their own license less permisive so they would have to write a whole lot of code themselves.

  3. Change can be good

    I see rapid development for word processors

    Wow, clash of the titans, which will see the little guy (users) benefit.

    Google with LibreOffice (LO) & GoogleDocs v. Microsoft v. IBM (OpenOffice (OOo)/Smyphony)

    May the best player win!

    By the way, here is a great extention for LO/OOo:

    that let you quickly & easily upload to Google Docs

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I, for one, ...

    ... would welcome Lotus Approach for Open Office, particularly for Linux distros.

    Approach 97 is the only reason I've stuck with XP all this time.

    IMHO Access sux, Base uses Java, Wine just expires when I try to load Approach on top of it, and I'm rather slow at building Apache / PHP/ MySQL replacements for my dbs.

    Still, I have 18 moths or so ...

    1. Neil C Smith

      18 moths?

      Well, if a million monkeys can write Shakespeare, then your 18 moths should be able to write you a good database ... eventually! :-)

    2. gerryg

      18 moths?

      Do you patch your clothes as often as you patch your code?

      <--- sort of looks like a caterpillar

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    So it's official then....

    ..... IBM want to kill OpenOffice! Why else would you lumber OO with cack like Symphony?

  6. dssf

    I, TOO, would love to see Lotus Approach, and WordPro, in OO.o

    And, if Oracle refuses to part with ownership of, then Apache should go wth That might motivate IBM to share more and allow reverse engineering of Approach and WordPro so that devs can sidestep a patent and copyright litigation minefield.

    Lotus Approach is an award-winning, friendly, end-user relational database, as it is billed. I is eons easier than Access, FoxPro, and even Paradox, and even in some case and FileMaker/Pro, depending on what you're doing. I've looked at them all, including AlphaFive and Sesame Database. I have invested YEARS (since 1993/1994) in doing things in Lotus Approach, educationa, work and contract work related (to speed up things to save them time and money and give me more skills) because doing things in spreadsheets was a ROYAL PITA, and doing them in Access would be overkill as well as take me too much time to bother learning. Even a former Access programmer didn't have time to use Access and grudgingly allowed me to temporarily inject Approach into my work flow. Saved weeks, and he was impressed.

    Alas, Approach, while VERY actively supported by a thriving user base and programmers and professional developers, is behind the times for the harder modern stuff. It is EXCELLENT at prototyping and reverse engineering things to be made somewhat easier, but it is not corporate/enterprise grade, and it definitely has nil two-way interactive usage for web projects. It has no horizontal sliders on repeating (detail view) panels. It could use maybe 25 more updated smart assistant scripts or macros in the table creation interface. It DEFINITELY deserves a stand-alone runtime executable so users can deploy apps that don't demand downstream users buy into Lotus SmartSuite or go outside the app environ if everything is there and well thought out.

    I have since ~2001 or 2002 moaned and groaned and begged Lotus/IBM to "Open Source" SmartSuite. They won't budge, citing patent issues with non-contactable sharers of various patents. I countered with them bringing in Linux/Open Source devs into a sterile local for a few months of sequestered work, working on a decompiled SmartSuite with the dubious/ominous/minefield portions of code functionality ripped out and allowing the devs to restore the behavior but not the word-for-word compiled code that IBM does not own. Still, no response, after all these years. Then, they went with Symphony, which disheartened and devastated MANY of us SmartSuite users who chewed our nails waiting to hear that Symphony would be a new, forked, clean, faithful rebuild of SmartSuite. It was quite disheartening. For years I've sat on stuff that I cannot or do not want to expose for fear others will run off and beat me to market with my own ideas because I cannot program and don't have time nor trust to allow others to see it before I can deploy it and establish my creations as mine.

  7. K. Adams

    So, let me get this straight...

    IBM, after having stiffed the ASF by not backing Harmony in addition to OpenJDK, is now attempting to return to^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H bribe its way back into's Good Graces by donating Lotus Symphony?

    Don't get me wrong... IBM has probably done more than just about anyone to protect Open Source projects (except maybe pre-Attachmate Novell, which heroically defended Linux from attack by SCO), and to foster their collective development into enterprise-grade software. And for that, IBM deserves quite a bit of praise.

    However, IBM really let the F/LOSS (Free/Libre` Open Source Software) community down when it threw 100 percent of its weight behind Oracle in the Java Wars. This is troubling, because it was hoped that Apache Harmony could eventually be shipped pre-configured with Tomcat as a "fully certified" JSP servlet platform. Since Oracle won't provide Apache with a TCK license under terms suitable for Apache's own use, it is unlikely that a certified pre-packaged Harmony/Tomcat servlet platform will ever be released (which would have gone a long way toward making Tomcat a lot more stable and easy to use).

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Kidding - right?

    @Rob Weir - "He noted that IBM has already done a lot of work replacing GPL and LGPL dependencies and that this work could help accelerate an Apache release of OpenOffice."

    Rob - do you really think that's a commendable act? Un-GPL'ing community contributed code, for the chance you might make a profit, and then maneuvering the donation of the code by Oracle to Apache instead of TDF? I think you must have no idea the amount of volunteer work that people have put into this office suite for years.

    I sure hope your version of OOo or Symphony or whatever you are going to call it IMPROVES drastically and rapidly -- If you are going to act this callously, you should at least put out a product that's worth looking at.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    I used to work for IBM and they tried to force sym-phony on us. It is a total waste of time and effort. This is an attempt to KILL OO.

  10. Tchou

    "Lotus Approach is the award-winning...

    ... relational database designed to manage, analyze and report on business information. It offers breakthrough ease of use, unprecedented cross-product integration, connectivity, and outstanding power and analysis capabilities. Computing features maximize the sharing of information in the organization. Approach offers tight integration with *Lotus Notes*...."

    .... Okay, so it's rubbish by-design.

    1. dssf

      Not rubbish by design.

      At the time, it was awesome when PC Mag/et al graced it with awards. Problem is is that Lotus missed the ball many times and for political or funding reasons things slid. They probably ahd fundamental itnernal issues that led to their being bought out. I temped there, in the South Bay for about 11 months on one occasion and about 3 weeks on another. It WAS fun. But, it was only the cc:Mail division with Notes deves. I used to like Notes, the drawer version. As an Approach user, one needn't USES Notes.

      Approach is billed as being tightly integrated with Notes, and that to me is a PR disaster, given the number of people who totally LOATHE Notes. I think Approach was a bit too good for individual desktop users who could run their own reports, logging in to Ingres, Sybase, MS SQL, and some 10 other architectures, via login controls (not the most robust, but at least they could pacify many sysadmins who were not ordered to use only mssql and ms access or foxpro), and ad hoc create reports based on what they were allowed to access.

      I tried off and on over the years to lean and use Rekall and especially Omnis Studio, since I learned about and used Omnis (not Omnis Studio, but Omnis) at Bay Networks on a Mac, when Bay was still around, around ~94. But, the people at Omnis Studio seemed to go well out of their way to make Omnis Studio a tech support dependency-producing product. Every time i tried to do in Studio something that was a cinch in Approach, Studio had to run me through a convolusion ringer. Studio had a lot of promise for me, but from around 99 to 2003, I got exasperated. I'd had enough and in despair gave up. Looked at more recent products (mentioned in my earlier post) but they demand a footprint and pricing I cannot sign on to. Stuff I want to do I want to NOT coerce me into hiring a batallion or even platoon of devs. I can prototype it in Approach and then say "THIS is the look and feel and behavior I want the user to see and enjoy to the extent possible." And, I don't want it to be OS dependent.

      OO.o had a lot of promise, too, but some of the devs there just flat out RE-EFFING-FUSED to bother looking at or giving a courteous nod of impressment with Lotus WordPro. With ooo, we got a major Word clone, and they didn't bother making tabbed documents a reality. Sections and Divisions in Word Pro make document handling a snap, but in OO.o it drove me into a rage with their refusing to take my suggestions to make the interface flexible so that LWP and MSW users using both products could use OO.o without bastardizing their workflows.

      OO.o didn't even come with a database back then. Then, there was what? Kexi? Then Base? Those devs didn't seem to give one iota of a nod to Lotus Approach or even Filemaker. Those two made data imporation and update/add/delete easy. WYSIWYG is paramount in importance for small shops that don't have time and money to burn fixing every week something that should stay as intended. I have so much heartache I feel my pain rivals the energy of solar winds. Why do devs have to be so obstinate. It's not just lawyers and marketing forces. Too much pride gets in the way. it's the kind of pride that pervades many South Korean developers who refuse(d) to create banking software that would work wtih more than jsut windows and more than just IE.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Hmmm... Interesting?

    Concept: proprietary spec or public spec

    ODF is sort of interesting but what may be better by far is not an ODF but an xDF where x = some regional area.

    x = Europe

    So Europe agrees a general spec or bundle of specs for software suppliers along lines of: your proprietary spec is pleasant but we want a European standard so any software solution provider can make us applications to create documents that are:

    (a) application agnostic

    (b) hardware agnostic

    (c) impervious to proprietary variants and variations


    (Wonder why nobody did it sooner? and of course x = Russian, Slovak, Japanese, Chinese, African, ... or even WDF = Worldwide Document Format).

    It is nice to run with proprietary spec but wouldn't a regional standard spec for all be nicer still and still nicer?

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