back to article 'It's where the industry is heading': LibreOffice team working on WebAssembly port

The LibreOffice team has been working on a port to browser-hosted WebAssembly, and hopes for a working demo by summer 2021. "It's the way the industry is heading," said Document Foundation board member Thorsten Behrens. Browser-based versions of the open-source office productivity suite already exist in the form of Collabora …

  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    An Inevitable Consequence and Pleasant Result with Advancing Intelligence Sharing ‽ .

    The browser/browsers are the Operating System. And taken logically to its ultimate conclusion, that means you ....... and whenever you see/understand and can realise that, are you a relatively anonymous, and certainly at random times also an autonomous and almighty powerful source and/or force to be reckoned with/dealt with/engaged with ....... for the very simple, and easily understood reason, there be those who so realise that be the situation, that it drives them quite crazy and across to practices which have them having to hide and deny that deep and dark side of their interests which are decidedly and designedly destructive to others?

    Get yourself hopelessly, helplessly entangled in that field and you had better know exactly what you should be doing, and hope that you haven't been doing anything awful, for there be others in there who certainly do, and would take no prisoners nor show any mercy to those worthy of divine retribution and natural justice for what they have done and would do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An Inevitable... ...Intelligence Sharing ‽ .

      4 thumbs up

      2 thumbs down

      Fixed

      Yet no rack owned to stick @

      Is there anyone who can fix this for *little me*'

      Q feels rhetoric though

    2. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: An Inevitable Consequence and Pleasant Result with Advancing Intelligence Sharing ‽ .

      Wow. That was some weapons grade waffle. But have a thumbs up for a) melting my fragile brain and b) using the interrobang. I haven’t seen that in years!

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: An Inevitable Consequence and Pleasant Result with Advancing Intelligence Sharing ‽ .

        Waffle? You be surely dreaming, 45RPM ....... or possibly hoping.

        And whether for or against the notions and motions is wholly dependent upon how good or how bad you want things to be for yourself.

        Take care. Beware. Who dares care share win wins. It's the new IoT Way of the Internet of Things?

  2. sreynolds Silver badge

    If this is the future...

    Then we're all fucked.

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: If this is the future...

      Then we're all fucked.

      You beat me to it.

      +1 and a case of stout for you because I can only upvote you once. 8^7

      But I think it reads better if it says "Then we're all thoroughly fucked."

      O.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: If this is the future...

        Yup, and without the benefit of getting laid.

    2. Bitbeisser
      Devil

      Re: If this is the future...

      Yeah...

      "This is the way everyone's heading!" (Famous last words of a lemming)

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    WHY?

    Yes sreynolds, well said.

    Yet another abstraction layer - metal, OS, browser, application. So more memory and higher processor speed needed, but no gain to the user and lots of security concerns.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: WHY?

      What? There is obvious benefit even for chunks of LibreOffice to be available as webassembly modules:

      - Parse documents from a variety of formats

      - Exporting to ODT / ODS / ODP, and a variety of other formats

      - Manipulate documents

      - Render docs as PDF

      - Generate reports

      - Utilise the spreadsheet engine

      - Utilise the grammar checker

      etc.

      It doesn't impact the desktop so why do you care?

      And even supposing Libreoffice offered access to the suite through the cloud, you're saying there is no gain for users either? Yes such a service would have to have security just like any web software.

      That is besides the point really since it doesn't stop you using the desktop version. And who knows, perhaps if LibreOffice could make cash from selling software as a service to those who want it would help fund further development of the project as a whole.

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    It's the way the industry is heading

    So they're doing it because it's the latest fad?

    Sounds like a great reason to waste coding resources!

    1. Steve Channell
      Thumb Up

      Re: It's the way the industry is heading

      Libra Office on WebAssembly is probably cheaper than re-writing as a HTML5 app, so a reasonable strategy. To survive, Libra/Open Office needs to protect the flank from Microsoft and Google with some kind of web-editor, but it is niche (nice to have) for normal office users.

      Where it is interesting is to provide a benchmark for other desktop apps considering the need for multi-platform deployment.. to look a the performance and bloat and make a decision based on someone else’s pain. The big news in this area will be Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC) as Web-Assembly.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: It's the way the industry is heading

        What I find amusing is that all those companies that have done HTML5, CSS and Javascript versions of their applications are probably realising that they've wasted their time. Maturing Web Assembly versions of the tool kits they used on native platforms and just targeting their existing app source code at a different compiler will probably become seen as the better way to go.

        Given that html5 apps basically suck, and Web assembly apps may be less objectionable, are we seeing the beginning of the end for html5 apps?

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Given that html5 apps basically suck

          No they don't. Both Google docs and office 365 are perfectly serviceable.

          Is your experience of html5 apps limited to those you wrote?

          1. needmorehare
            Facepalm

            Yes, they do suck.

            Business use case: Create an encrypted spreadsheet (Office XP could do this in 2001)

            Marketing use case: Perform a mail merge involving custom dynamic fields (available since Office 97)

            Academic use case: Adding references to your document (Available since Word 2007)

            Missing packages: Where's the personal database software? Where is LO Base and/or MS Access?

            When decades old software beats out the latest and greatest in common use cases, even when billion dollar companies are involved, you know that these new-fangled HTML5 apps suck. Even more so when entire packages are dropped as a result.

    2. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: It's the way the industry is heading

      Sounds like a great reason to waste coding resources!

      Sounds like?

      It is.

      Nothing but a waste of coding resources.

      You'd think they would have the basic common sense to dedicate it to ironing out all the bugs in LO.

      Jerks ...

      O.

  5. Abominator

    So another bloated web app that will need a browser running at 1.5GB, lots of threads and high local CPU usage. When will people learn. Don't even get be started on the cretinous UI's.

    The only reason for this is to perpetuate the subscription pay for model which businesses love to create nice predictable steady revenues they can ratchet up.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Big Brother

    some success compiling the code, but unfortunately it mostly does not work

    Story of my life, I'm afraid...

    1. midcapwarrior

      Re: some success compiling the code, but unfortunately it mostly does not work

      "team has had some success compiling the code, but unfortunately it mostly does not work"

      Ability to compile as a measure of success seems to be pretty low bar

  7. alain williams Silver badge

    "good for security"

    the document lives on the server, which is good for security

    Maybe if it is your own server, but I can see many running this on xyz-random.com server ... and we see plenty of stories of these being cracked and files exfiltrated, not to mention the NSA grabbing a copy by using the Patriot Act.

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: "good for security"

      ... the document lives on the server, which is good for security ...

      I wonder if the DH that said this can actually keep a straight face while spewing such rubbish.

      I mean, the chap does work in some IT related business, yes?

      Absolutely incredible ...

      O.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: "good for security"

      I also want to know what reasons they think they have for that statement. A document that's stored on a server and rendered on a client is also on the client. The client can take a copy through many means. So why is stored-on-server more secure than stored-on-client when client security is important either way? If it was something like a database where the client only sees a portion of the data, then it would be more secure there, but it's an individual document all of which the user can see.

  8. LDS Silver badge

    "more powerful than a typical PC back in the '90s"

    Yes, and the browser-based bloatware dissipates much of it.... while gatehring "telemetry" to be sent to our overlords... every time I can run a native application it's a relief...

  9. Mage
    Devil

    It's the way the industry is heading

    A totally stupid reason.

    The reason some companies are doing it is to stop selling SW and only rent it. Also so called Cloud based gives them more control.

    Web based is fine for collaborative. It's a stupid bonkers model for local applications with data used by one person at a time.

    Less secure, less private, lower availability, bigger resource and environmental footprint.

    Any Web version has to be purely a complementary option, NEVER the default.

    1. sgp

      Re: It's the way the industry is heading

      But for that reason (collaboration) I'm happy to see another option than MS and Google appear. Maybe some cloud file service like Dropbox can host a version of it and provide a bit of competition for those two. That said, I'm not too sure porting the LO codebase is going to be a success.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: It's the way the industry is heading

      A totally stupid reason.

      I totally agree.

      Did they, did someone, ever sit back and think what is actually needed and would improve its usability? I'm almost certainly not the typical user - probably neither are the other Reg readers here - and I genuinly wonder if nowadays office suites actually fulfil someone's, anyone's needs. (In the meantime, at least, I figured how NOT to open a document in the browser.)

    3. ThatOne Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: It's the way the industry is heading

      > Less secure, less private, lower availability, bigger resource and environmental footprint.

      But so much cooler... Wake up and smell the cloud! Working on your own computer with your own programs is so darn difficult to monetize, "they" have been trying to get rid of it for ages (remember "thin client", way before "the cloud"?).

      So what is LibreOffice doing here? What do they hope to achieve? Prevent LibreOffice piracy? Better monetize their own cloud solution? Frighten Google and its Google Docs Editors? Really? It's all just raw, uncontrolled pride.

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: It's the way the industry is heading

        It's all just raw, uncontrolled pride sheer stupidity.

        There you go, tidied up a bit. 8^7

        O.

    4. druck Silver badge

      Re: It's the way the industry is heading

      One of the main reason I use Libre Office is that the program is 100% downloaded to my machine and the document is 100% on my machine. As long as I have power, no cloud, and no network gets in the way. Once the document is written I can fling it as far in to the cloud as I like, but I still have my local copy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @druck - Re: It's the way the industry is heading

        Yeah, but you can't be properly monetized so nobody is interested.

      2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: LOVE of CHAOS ..... A Norm of Advanced IntelAIgent Default

        druck .... "One of the main reason I use Libre Office is that the program is 100% downloaded to my machine and the document is 100% on my machine. As long as I have power, no cloud, and no network gets in the way. Once the document is written I can fling it as far in to the cloud as I like, but I still have my local copy."

        Anonymous Coward .... "Yeah, but you can't be properly monetized so nobody is interested."

        Oh? Surely it is more the case of "Yeah, but others can't be improperly monetized so a nobody isn't interested."

        Write any great document, which you have complete command and carbon copy control over, and fling it out into the Live Operational Virtual Environments of Clouds Hosting Alienating Operating Systems which are Astute and Autonomous and Advanced and Augmented and ACTive and Almighty, and no fool tool will tell you it cannot be both personally privately and publicly unbelievably rewarding to colossal excess and monumental success, with proper monetisation by all interested an added bonus guaranteeing future growth and excess with successive iterations.

        And ...... there are those and that which will feel duty bound to lavish absolute fortunes on principal parties, authorising and imploring one to either stop with the practice ASAP, for it be so presently catastrophically disruptive and so suddenly, systemically destructive, or continue at full speed ahead with the lush payments freely deposited and graciously and gratefully received in lieu of an appreciative encouraging reward and investment in more of the novel creative same in the pipelines and destined still yet to come.

        For some would that be as a Hellish Problem to Fail to Defeat with Bitter Battles, however, ...... for A.N.Others, is IT with AI as a Heavenly Delight to be Enjoyed and Employed, Exploited and Expanded Upon.

        1. wobball

          Re: LOVE of CHAOS ..... A Norm of Advanced IntelAIgent Default

          Your a bot right? A bullshit, nonsense bot, sent to bore us into submission, right?

          1. sabroni Silver badge
            Thumb Down

            Re: Your a bot right? A bullshit, nonsense bot,

            Used to be. Was more interesting then. Now it reads like human curated bot output.

            Any chance of an 'ignore posts from this user" feature, el reg?

            1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

              Re: Your a bot right? A bullshit, nonsense bot,

              Now it reads like human curated bot output. ..... sabroni

              Now that sounds like some novel progress has been made engaging with caring humans, sabroni, ... one's that can decide whether to be ignorant El Reg residents or not for themselves.

              First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ... Mahatma Gandhi

              What stage[s] do you thing everything is at, sabroni, and on and at what stage[s] are you performing?

              One thing is for sure though, if the present doesn't suit or please you, the future is going to be a real trial and extremely rocky trail which you will do well to survive and prosper on intact with the full use of all available faculties remaining to server your meagre pickings with unspirited means.

              And one wonders now at what raw nerve has been so provoked as to warrant in your head, such an attack of mean unnecessary unpleasantness ...... although a tough and bad day at the office is a common enough default well abused by many and too numerous to even begin to count?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Your... ...bot

                a pretty well-read and understood msg, amanfromMars.

                how strange that noone asks what kind of chemistry should be carbonised. this is a question that makes a reader ponder at.

                a suggestion exists, of course.

                anon by reason.

    5. MrReynolds2U

      Re: It's the way the industry is heading

      I can see a good reason however... the vast majority of CRMs are now web-based. I've tried using Google docs with this and it's vastly missing features. There is apparently a way to link into Office365 but again, you end up losing features (things like headers and footers get messed up). So, if they can bring out a working version, they might well have a future as a choice for online CRM and groupware companies.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: It's the way the industry is heading

        > I can see a good reason however... the vast majority of CRMs are now web-based

        The word "good" is totally unjustified. Yes, it's a reason, probably even the only one, but actually a bad one. As someone else already said, it's akin to the "billions of flies can't be wrong, eat dung" reasoning.

        (Didn't downvote you though)

    6. sabroni Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: A totally stupid reason.

      You're a bunch of cart manufacturers laughing at the new fangled "motor car".

      "We won't be wasting our money or time working on internal combustion engines, too heavy, look how light my new axle is!!"

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: A totally stupid reason.

        Like "runs on any device with a browser" isn't a useful feature.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: A totally stupid reason.

          > Like "runs on any device with a browser" isn't a useful feature.

          Indeed, it isn't. What's your point?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A totally stupid reason.

        ""We won't be wasting our money or time working on internal combustion engines, [...]"

        Now if they had invested in improving their electric cars they would have been ahead of the curve. The ICE solved the problem of cities being increasingly polluted by horse manure - and replaced it with other pollutants.

        In the UK attempts are being made to re-open stretches of railway lines axed in the 1960s when lorries and cars were seen as the future of transport. Home working is reverting to the distributed style prior to the industrial revolution.

        "Every solution breeds new problems"

  10. karlkarl Silver badge

    One of the main benefits of open-source was it could avoid heading in the same stupid directions as the money driven industry.

    It is a little sad to see LibreOffice wasting their time. However, so long as it doesn't impact negatively the "real" version, I don't see it as an issue. Perhaps they can get a few quick bucks that will help fund lasting improvements to the software.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      " it could avoid heading in the same stupid directions as the money"

      But it wasn't ever able to avoid heading in the same stupid directions as fashion....

      1. Steve K

        Re: " it could avoid heading in the same stupid directions as the money"

        .and indeed some stupid directions of its own making?

  11. nijam Silver badge

    > It's where the industry is heading

    The same kind of reasoning as "Eat shit, billions of insects can't be wrong."

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

    I've used StarOffice / OpenOffice / LibraOffice for more than 20 years because it mostly works, it reads all .doc files (which MS Word doesnt) and is unlikely to go away. No other reason.

    The codebase was always a mess and there is absolutely no need for a 125Meg footprint for a level of functionality little different than what took a around a 1Meg footprint back in the late 1980's. Just very sloppy coding. Of course we had to write the core line layout and frame layout functions in assembler back then (for speed) but as I look at the feature set, when it comes to actual real world use scenarios, I just see massive bloat.

    If anyone bothered to actually profile the code they would find that a good 95% plus of that 125M was due to very bad code partitioning with serious dependency fan out. Low frequency calls accounting for most of the module inter-dependency. And a good 80% of the feature code used to support user work scenarios that account for < 0.001% of all actual real world usage.

    Featuritis makes perfect sense for commercial products in a regular upgrade cycle. You need the income. But for not-commercial product featuritis just adds to code entropy with zero change in the feature use frequency profile. Purely dead weight.

    So Libre Office is usable for casual use but for real world daily professional use it was never really in the running. I see far too many real bugs that indicate serious code problems even in causal use. When you have written a couple of WP/DTP codebases over the decades its very easy to not only spot the bugs but work out the most probably why for them.

    So why dont I dive in and fix the bugs I see? Because I looked through the source code when Sun first open sourced it and having waded through the swamp for a little while said - No Thanks., I'm outta here. Seen way too much code like in the past. In commercial products. Always either thrown away eventually and rewritten or else the product died eventually under the weight of bugs. I need to get paid good money to do that kind of very frustrating low productivity work

    So any WebAssembly version will be unstable and buggy as hell. Absolutely guaranteed.

    Will look good on someones resume though.

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

      1Meg? I used to run Wordstar in 32K. Supercalc needed no more either, nor DBase II if it comes to that. 1Meg is bloat!

      And MacWrite used to run, with a GUI recognisable and usable by da yoof ov tooday, in 128k. I mean, it was rubbish, but it ran.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

        Ah yes. But that version of Wordstar was not a full-screen WYSIWYG WP with page layout features and integrated graphics. Think Quark XPress 2.0 level features but a few years earlier. And a lot more usable. The actual footprint for a full graphics largish doc with footnotes etc was around 160K to 200K. Not sure of the numbers for the earlier MS/DOS versions of WordStar but WordStar2000 had a hell of a lot of code overlays. So code kept getting swapped in and out. From the floppy disk. Thats why people bough AT's and installed it on the 5Meg harddrive. All those overlay loads.

        As for MacWrite on the 128K Mac. As there was only 59K total memory for the application on the 128K so MacWrite tended to crap out after about 4 or 5 pages. If I remember correctly it started throwing TRAPV exceptions not even BombBoxes if you pushed it too hard.

        Now MacWrite on the 512K Mac was very usable and useful. As was WriteNow. Wrote multi hundred page documentation on a 1Meg MacPlus using them. Still miss WriteNow.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

          Wordstar was WYSIWYG, at least it was with the printer I had...

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

            I had a Silverreed EX44 typewriter with serial interface to turn it into a printer, all hooked up to my Newbrain computer with CP/M. Sigh. Happy days.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

        32K? You were lucky...

      3. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

        "32K?!? We used to dream about having 32K! We barely had 8K in our MITS Altair. And every time it got unplugged we had to toggle in BASIC from a fuzzy 7th-generation Xerox copy of a mimeograph. But it was a computer to us!"

        Sadly, the above is actually true. And I'm not even at retirement age yet...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

          We had 16K. But as it was core memory you could trip over the power cable and just plug it back in again. The boot loader was only about 10 lines though. In octal. For the paper-tape boot-loader.

          Altair Basic...wasnt that about 3.5K? Ouch. So you could not afford the 4K EPROM then. I think they were about $60 S-100 cards.

          1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

            Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

            Altair Basic...wasnt that about 3.5K? Ouch. So you could not afford the 4K EPROM then. I think they were about $60 S-100 cards.

            It was an academic lab project: build the computer, make it do something. The EPROM was for wimps, we were told; toggling in BASIC would toughen us up.

      4. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

        The bloatware brigade has always been well ahead in the race against Moore's law.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

      Once upon a time Mozilla Firefox used to ship as a smallish executable with 50 or 60 DLLs. But then somebody said this is stupid because we need to load most of those DLLs anyway so let's just statically link them into the executable and they did. Startup times improved because the OS didn't have to resolve, and dynamically load all those DLLs. But it's still modules & components under the covers.

      The same has happened with LibreOffice. The DLLs are consolidated so it looks monolithic but under the covers it's a bunch of modules linked together. So I imagine if there were a WebAssembly version they could pick and choose how modules loaded up. It probably makes more sense to be more granular in that situation and it does not follow that everything has to be loaded for anything at all to happen.

      In fact from a development perspective it probably makes sense to break it down into small pieces with well defined dependencies since they can play around with stuff and see how it works.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So instead of 125Meg to run a basic wordprocessor it will now be 500Meg plus..

        Which just goes to prove that the codebases are spaghetti. Neither properly partitioned or layered. Horizontally or vertically. If you need to muck around with DLLLoad issues on startup then the core code / common code is neither. And if so many functions in a module are exported symbols then that is another red flag that the modules are not actually that modular. The only symbols that should be exported are external service call entry points. And the only symbols that should be imported are core / common / platform services.

        But there again just how many of the people making those decisions actually traced through a full DLL resolve / execute call chain. ASM Instruction by instruction. Based on personal experience almost none. Everything like this is just a zero cost black box function to most people. Not the couple of dozen / couple of hundred instructions it actually is. Same with platform API calls.

        Or a bit like when people mix exceptions and template in C++ methods with multiple exit points. You should see all the machine code that generates for even a small expression line count method. The worst example I've seen was about 25 line of simple C++ code using exceptions, templates, RTTI etc that generated a 44 page final pre-processor stage output listing. That was not even the ASM disassembly. That code was very easy to optimize. It was thrown and and rewritten in straightforward C++ which was about 5% the exe size. And unlike the original code, did not crash the shipped product.

        First rule of this sort of software development. If you dont know exactly what is going on under the hood then always assume it is actually very computationally expensive. You will almost never be wrong.

  13. phogan99

    "Where the industry is headed"

    Where those in the industry that want to sell software as a service and cloud storage are headed.

    Web Assembly can f*ck off. First, thing I do on a fresh browser install is hobble webasm as much as possible, if not disable it. Same for Javascript, install NoScript on Firefox.

    I'll stick to old versions or goto Open Office before I use this.

    1. sgp

      As long as the desktop versions remain available, you don't have to worry. Wasteful given their limited resources though.

  14. 45RPM Silver badge

    I don’t need everything to run in the web. In fact, where possible, I’d rather that it didn’t. I like being able to work offline. What I would like to see is seriously lightweight software. Seriously, who needs Excel most of the time? Or Word? And no one needs to be subjected to PowerPoint or Access! I’d like something else, please.

    Instead of frigging around with Office Clones, on the web of all places, can we have some lightweight integrated packages again? Microsoft Works, for example, or Claris Works - I loved them, and I’d choose them again in a heartbeat (Claris in particular, which let you draw any of its supported document types into any document).

    Perhaps less sensibly, and proving that I might be a smidge old-fashioned, I’d also like to see some big-hitter choice again. I’d like to see the return of WordPerfect as a cross platform leviathan and alternative to Word. I’d like to see Resolve and Lotus 123 again. Okay, perhaps I am just being silly and unnecessarily nostalgic.

    1. WallMeerkat

      > ClarisWorks

      Nostalgic fondness of this as it was used for IT lessons in secondary school. Back when DTP was the big thing, it was relatively easy to drag and drop items from drawing, embed spreadsheets and the likes.

      Sometimes I'll fire it up on DosBox or my old Mac Mini G4.

      Would love something like this as part of an OS base install. Perhaps we should start a project OpenClaris? :D

      I felt Lotus Symphony, based on OpenOffice, was slightly similar in that it felt like one application as you could have tabs for different documents.

      1. Steve K

        Symphony

        Unless I am missing something, Lotus Symphony was around (certainly on DOS) years before OpenOffice.....

        1. 45RPM Silver badge

          Re: Symphony

          You’re missing nothing. Quite right. But the name got recycled a few times. I had a friend with Symphony on his Amstrad PC1512. When he upgraded to a mighty 12MHz Goldstar 286 he got Symphony for Windows 3.

          By that point I’d graduated to ClarisWorks on my SE/30.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Your closest option to Works these days is Google Docs which is in the cloud.

    3. Just an old bloke

      Nothing wrong with old software.

      No, your're not being silly. It's what many users want. I'd be happy with Wordstar, dBase II and Supercalc, the memory limitations would be a problem though. I still use photo imaging software for web stuff thats 25 years old, U-Lead Photoimpact because it's very quick, everything can be done with keystrokes and it's great at creating lightweight decent resolution graphics.

      Have you ever loaded an old Netscape browser? Jeez they are fast, dangerously insecure but quick.

      Anyone got a copy of Sidekick?

  15. I code for the bacon
    Facepalm

    Deja Vu...

    ...Behrens said LOOL is based on the HTML5 Canvas element that displays the document, but that "all the rendering, all the interaction with the document, all the editing" happens on the server...

    So, we're returning to the old and not-so-good days of the X terminal then... Oh my...

    1. wegie

      Re: Deja Vu...

      "...So, we're returning to the old and not-so-good days of the X terminal then... Oh my..."

      : NFS Server Thor not responding

      : NFS Server Odin not responding

      Gaze blankly at screen

      Go away and make a mug of coffee

      : NFS server Thor not responding

      Go and have lunch

      : NFS server Odin not responding

      Start writing report in longhand in the lab book.

      Do we really want to go back to this? Really?

      1. gerdesj Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Deja Vu...

        The times they are achanging. I have an NFS mount on my laptop over wifi and twenty yards of ethernet for my music collection. I can shutdown without using the power button even if I lose comms with the server. It even reconnects after wake up from suspend.

        Now that's progress!

        (I have plenty of other ways of making data go poo poo than NFS.)

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Deja Vu...

        Seems most people forgot WHY a PC was so amazing and sought after in the first place: freedom.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Deja Vu...

          Yeah, but money...

          Ownership of tools and resources by the Great Unwashed has been slowly phased out so you can sell them the same thing over and over again. It started with music and movies, and goes on with software.

          Ideally you will rent your computer terminal, and rent the software running on it by the use. Think of the freedom and the savings, especially when your software service provider closes shop and your files disappear with him because CRMed to his solution...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Deja Vu...

        An urgent call from one of our offices. Their X terminals were crawling on rendering any screen. It had been ok the day before - so they declared it must be a local network fault.

        Took a network capture. The lan was running ok - but the volume of traffic to the terminal was enormous. The acid question "what did you change?". The answer eventually was an official updated X library was doing the rendering with many, many repetitive primitive commands. Reverted to previous library - all worked ok hardly exercising the lan.

    2. MarkSitkowski

      Re: Deja Vu...

      "So, we're returning to the old and not-so-good days of the X terminal then... Oh my..."

      What's wrong with that? I only use my PC as an X-terminal, so I can connect to OpenOffice-2.2 (among other things), which does everything I need.

  16. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Mushroom

    I see I'm not alone

    One of the few times I wish that wasn't true. Webassembly isn't a disaster waiting to happen. It's a slow-motion train wreck with an equally inevitable result.

  17. Howard Sway Silver badge

    I remember a browser that ran in office software

    Lotus Notes had an embedded browser in the late 90s (think it was probably IE embedded as an ActiveX).

    Now they're trying the opposite way around. It's ridiculous to download 30MB just for a quick bit of text editing and formatting, which is the limit of what most people want from browser based editors. And rather a futile effort anyway, when most LibreOffice users run Linux and have it available on their desktops.

    Whatever's next for wasm? A browser that runs in a browser?

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I remember a browser that ran in office software

      Whatever's next for wasm? A browser that runs in a browser?

      LibreOffice implemented in wasm, implemented in a browser, implemented in a VM, implemented in Systemd.

      You’re welcome. Sleep well and don’t have nightmares :)

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: I remember a browser that ran in office software

        You joke but it will happen.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I remember a browser that ran in office software

        It has always seemed rather aesthetically satisfying to be able to run an OS in a VM in an OS in a VM....

        Basically Creator Recursion - with Occam's Razor deciding that only the first layer was necessary - and no Creator.

  18. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Mushroom

    They can rewrite it is WASM..

    .... when they've darned well finished the native version!

    Charting on Calc is a maze of twisty passages, all alike.

    Mailmerge is still a geek poke-fest, without the simple ability to transfer a template document and it's matching database to another computer.

    1. MarkSitkowski

      Re: They can rewrite it is WASM..

      "Charting on Calc is a maze of twisty passages, all alike."

      I believe you need to make your way to the Bird Chamber, having thrown the axe at the Dwarf.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: They can rewrite it is WASM..

        Every time I try to insert a chart in Calc, I get eaten by a grue. It's an odd bug, but a longstanding one.

  19. Blackjack Silver badge

    Computers and laptops have powerful enough hardware. Smartphones are either too crappy to run webapps or powerful enough is better to install the App version because the Internet will go down.

  20. Tail Up
    Happy

    Fancy one still does care

    As long as even the apps for trading are server-based, why still worrying for 3-letter agencies patriotting out one's lab data with its browser-based addons?

    I see. Must be not a trader. That explains why one's brain muscle is not being under anaesthesia, and one's neck joint is radarring the changes going on around, in a proper manner.

    TY somebody for the on-the-fly downvoting. I didn't even finished the post, but thumb up was already mine bgg

  21. Matt Black

    Basic compatibility with Office (my reality)

    Until I can generate/read basic Word and Excel using Libre Office without significant format errors... I am locked to MS. I don't like that but it's true... This is therefore mainly irrelevant to me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Matt Black - Re: Basic compatibility with Office (my reality)

      YMMV

      In LO I can open documents written in old unsupported versions of MS Office without signifficant format errors. To me that is mainly relevant but the discussion here has nothing to do with Microsoft Office. We were talking about online versus offline LO. Please stay with us here.

  22. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "a smartphone today is more powerful than a typical PC back in the '90s"

    Undoubtedly.

    It's limited to a pathetic screen size though, so the PC still wins in functionality and ease of use.

    Besides, do you really think people are going to be typing 150-page documents on a smartphone ?

    1. quxinot

      Re: "a smartphone today is more powerful than a typical PC back in the '90s"

      More importantly, smartphones today are rather pathetically slow for having as much computing power as they do.

      The software is craaaaaap. Sadly, that's where the industry has been going.... and going... and..

      1. Dave 15

        Re: "a smartphone today is more powerful than a typical PC back in the '90s"

        Crap... That's very very polite. The folk developing it need to make themselves known as i have some bon medical implants for them

    2. Dave 15

      Re: "a smartphone today is more powerful than a typical PC back in the '90s"

      Well don't try a Nokia with Android one that may have specs beyond a 90s pc but it is so full of problems it would take a week to type even on a keyboard that works (following the latest update the keyboard on the Nokia is good for about 5 chars between lockups, down from the 8 to 10 before. And it has yet to receive a phone call where both sides can hear each other.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Then we're doomed

    Nothing that relies on firefox works longer than a few weeks because they can't stop tinkering.

    Excel was successful because it had continuity and, apart from the usual Microsoft bugs could always be relied on to work. Libreoffice were supposed to be providing office apps for businesses - like Firefox they obviously have a death wish.

    They obviously want to follow our favourite open source software provide - Adobe - and will shortly be moving to a subscription cloud-based model soon.

  24. bazza Silver badge

    The nuts thing about WebASM becoming something of a defacto standard is that, eventually, someone will do a CPU that uses WebASM for its instruction set, or as an extension of it. And then where will we be?

    This has happened before with Java (Sun, ARM both did chips that understood Java byte code).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      WASM already is a web standard.

      https://www.w3.org/2019/12/pressrelease-wasm-rec.html.en

      Best example I have seen of WASM is autocad running in a browser.

  25. bazza Silver badge

    WebASM Bomb?

    So, has anyone done a web browser that is itself compiled to WebASM? If that browser had itself as its default home page, that could make for a very recursive loading experience...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...all this technology discussion misses the point......

    ......namely......the quality of the WRITTEN PRODUCT hasn't changed since the quill pen and inkpot!!!!!

    Oh yes.....it might be PRETTIER.....fancy fonts, footnotes, bullets, indents, page numbers......etc.........etc.....................

    ............but the CONTENT still no better than what I wrote with Wordstar on my Osborne and CP/M-80 running in 64K of 8-bit memory...........

    Progress? Well.............progress for anoraks, but no progress for anyone else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Elledan
    Meh

    This is where the industry is heading, just like in the 90s

    Anyone remember Java? Software would no longer be bound to the shackles of a singular OS, but could run freely within the alternative reality of the Java Runtime Environment. Java would run on desktops, on servers, mobile devices (J2EE, anyone?) and in browsers (Java Applets).

    Of course, Applets got universally canned as an inefficient use of resources and a blatant security risk. Now, with WASM it's easy to say that 'but it runs inside a sandbox', which is true, and yes, it is more efficient than JavaScript. Unfortunately, WASM's sandbox has a big missing side wall in the form of the JavaScript runtime, which has been blasted open over the years in the form of JIT performance enhancements and APIs like Canvas and WebGL.

    So basically WASM and as a corollary LibreOffice-In-The-Browser is basically the whole Java Applets debacle, rehashed. I guess learning from history still isn't a popular pastime.

    1. dajames Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: This is where the industry is heading, just like in the 90s

      ... mobile devices (J2EE, anyone?) ...

      Mobile devices? That'd be J2ME, then?

      Brilliant Idea that was ... Hey let's make a cut-down version of Java whose runtime will fit on a mobile phone ... in, say, 32k! We'll leave out floating point, because that's always the first thing people leave out, and ... I know, security, that's a big chunk of stuff.

      Yeah, good idea ... nobody could ever need security on a mobile device!

      1. Elledan

        Re: This is where the industry is heading, just like in the 90s

        Ah yes, all those years of server-side Java development must have affected my faculties :)

        I have never had the pleasure of developing with J2ME, but I heard some stories of all the fun one could have with it. Presumably it ended up being mostly used to implement some basic games and utilities with on feature phones and that was about it.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: This is where the industry is heading, just like in the 90s

      Java may have been an early attempt to solve the same issues but it didn't have the built-in browser support or standards to pull it off seamlessly. e,g, a Java Applet was basically responsible for rendering its allocated box of space in the browser making it look ugly and out of place since it didn't share styles, the rendering context or stuff like Z-order, transparency etc.

      WebAssembly use the DOM for stuff like rendering and is implemented in the browser. It means the user has NO IDEA that the website is using wasm or js or a combination of both. For developers it means they can use any language or technology that can emit wasm bytecode which opens up a ton of possibilities. You'd think people would rejoice given how much of a problem JavaScript has become but apparently not.

      1. Elledan

        Re: This is where the industry is heading, just like in the 90s

        WASM at this point is basically a way to speed up JavaScript, as all contact with the outside world for a WASM application goes via the JS runtime.

        It's really more of an admission that JavaScript is too slow to be usable rather than a way to run arbitrary code written in any language in a browser. The latter is more a consequence of the former.

        It's also really questionable whether the HTML DOM is at all a good framework to build a UI in. Many voices say it is not, and we may end up with UIs being rendered in WebGL inside a Canvas at some point. At which point I'm not sure why one didn't just use C++ with GTK+ or Qt and compile it for a few different platforms.

  28. St33v
    Megaphone

    vim ftw

    and R for 'calc's.

    :wq

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: vim ftw

      and R for 'calc's.

      and A for 'orses, B for pork, C for th' highlanders, etc etc...

  29. ecofeco Silver badge

    Where's that quote from 2 weeks ago?

    Ah here it is. Damn, I forget the credit.

    “All too often, technologists solve problems by introducing additional layers of technology abstractions and disregarding simpler solutions, such as outreach and engagement,” he wrote.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Where's that quote from 2 weeks ago?

      "“All too often, technologists solve problems by introducing additional layers of technology abstractions and disregarding simpler solutions, such as outreach and engagement,” he wrote."

      BBC iPlayer has a 1992 documentary about the short history of atomic power stations. A similar quote is given to explain what went wrong with the promises and expectations.

  30. Dave 15

    Please

    More secure? On a server you don't control that the NSA already accesses?

  31. Noel Grandin

    No __we__ are not (LO dev here).

    In as much as a bunch of bloody-minded individuals and a couple of consulting companies can be a considered a "team"

    One of the consulting companies is pursuing a speculative project.

    That is all, regular broadcast may now continue.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Thanks for this reassuring statement!

  32. Just an old bloke

    I really cannot see the point of porting Libre Office to a browser, increased security risk, more memory required and the necessity of being online to use it all make it a bit of a waste of time. And MS and Google have this stuff well covered already. They'd be better off using the reaources for rewriting the especially crappy bloated bits. No thanks, I still have a copy of Office 97.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "No thanks, I still have a copy of Office 97."

      I still have BBEdit and TextEdit plus a couple more that I use most of the time. MS Word has more options, but it's so cumbersome to use that a simple text editor is fine. I also have an old version of Ragtime, a business document application. Pricey, but it's a great text, spreadsheet, image, graph document builder that's simple but goes deep if you need to. I use it to make forms for my business.

  33. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Stealthy Special Forces for Really Strange Sources ... on AIManeuvers with DeepMinded Games Play

    The beauty which can be also the curse of WebAssembly in the browser is that its applications use in other proprietary and relatively closed Operating Systems are both a voluntary and premeditated exercise initiated at both the discretion and personal behest of the programmer/WebAssembly coder/authorising user ...... or abuser as the case can so easily be if one doesn't have a great deal of common good sense or a penchant for the dark side, floating and flirting with a live evil.

    Take care in that space place. There be monsters there that be more than just daemons.

  34. Stuart Halliday

    If they think more people will run LO because it's in a web browser, then think again.

    Most users have no idea what a web browser is or what it does.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      > Most users have no idea what a web browser is or what it does.

      "You mean "Google"?... I know that, it's the thing I use for anything Internet-related: I click here, and Google appears, and I type in the thing I want..."

  35. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Borked right before the big meeting

    Anything that has a dependency on something else you can't control can be broken in seconds. Are they going to make sure their software works on all browsers or only a select few? What happens when a an update on a browser borks functionality? The browser publisher isn't going to be too bothered if your product isn't working. Especially if they have their own or have a "partner agreement" with your competition.

    A few people need a backend for collaborating on docs simultaneously. Most people don't. Those that do also are going to be big organizations that fixate on security as well so aren't as happy about hosting anything in the cloud other than vetted marketing materials. I worked in aerospace in the US and that's governed by ITAR (International Trade in Arms Restrictions). We were required by law to maintain data security. Google Docs wasn't a legal option although it took a big scare for the CEO to understand that (after I left). The company had to undergo an audit when they bid on a government contract and it came up as an issue, to put it mildly. Cloud hosted files are leaked daily and sometimes it isn't caught for months. So far, none of my filing cabinets have lost any materials.

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