Apache Software Foundation Lays Out its Plan for OpenOffice

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 20, 2011

All the way back in June, we covered Oracle's announcement that it would move OpenOffice.org to a community-based project overseen by the Apache Software Foundation. Oracle, of course, inherited OpenOffice as part of its acquisition of Sun Microsystems, in addition to many other open source projects that Oracle suddenly controlled. At the time of Oracle's announcement, The Document Foundation said that there would be no merger of the LibreOffice suite with OpenOffice, but that it would gladly accept any developers wishing to leave OpenOffice.org. Now, in an open letter, the Apache Software Foundation has made its plans for OpenOffice clear, including an Apache-branded OpenOffice suite targeted at developers coming next year.

According to the open letter from Apache:

"This open letter seeks to articulate our vision for the future of Apache OpenOffice within the wider Open Document Format ecosystem....The Apache OpenOffice (Incubating) project has tentatively identified the first quarter of 2012 for a Version 3.4 release....We invite and encourage everyone engaged with the Open Document Format standards to explore opportunities for collaboration with the Apache OpenOffice (Incubating) project. For further information see http://incubator.apache.org/openofficeorg/get-involved.html

Notably, much of the open letter is designed to make clear that the Apache Software Foundation will defend its trademarks:

"Each participant in an Apache project is free to set their own boundaries of collaboration. However, they are not free to use our trademarks in confusing ways. This includes OpenOffice.org and all related marks. To ensure that the use of Apache marks will not lead to confusion about our projects, we must control their use in association with software and related services provided by others. Our trademark policy is clearly laid out at http://www.apache.org/foundation/marks/ Only the Apache Software Foundation can make releases of software that bear our trademarks."

The open letter also makes clear that OpenOffice falls under the Apache License 2.0, characterized by the foundation as "permissive." Thus, collaborators can tinker with the OpenOffice code, but must respect Apache's trademarks.

All in all, the Apache Software Foundation is the right steward for OpenOffice going forward. The open letter makes clear that the foundation sees OpenOffice as more "than 'just' an end-user Microsoft Office replacement."

All the way back in 2009, we wondered what might come of OpenOffice in the wake of Oracle's proposed (at the time) acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Very few organizations have the track record of following open principles and standards that the ASF has, and the new open letter from the foundation makes clear that there is no intent to drop development of OpenOffice.