OpenOffice: Retirement Talk is Underway Online
When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems back in 2010, many questions swirled about what might happen to the many prominent open source projects that Sun had stewarded. Among those, the fate of the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications hung in the balance. Then, in 2011, Oracle announced that it was going to move OpenOffice.org to a community-based project, and, as Susan notes here, LibreOffice has since left OpenOffice in the dust, taking on more and more functionality.
Now, one of the leaders of the OpenOffice project from Apache has an email thread online discussing the logistics of retiring the code saying, "retirement is a serious possibility."
As Susan reported:
"The code would be archived and remain available, but no further code changes would be made. Most infrastructure would shut down and volunteers let go as positions disappeared. The article cites the 160 million downloads, but I think those numbers were in dispute by some. It also states OpenOffice developers are generally not in favor of the shutdown. No final decision has been made as of yet."
Dennis Hamilton's posted email thread notes the following:
"I have regularly observed that the Apache OpenOffice project has limited capacity for sustaining the project in an energetic manner. It is also my considered opinion that there is no ready supply of developers who have the capacity, capability, and will to supplement the roughly half-dozen volunteers holding the project together. It doesn't matter what the reasons for that might be."
"There are those who fear that discussing retirement can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. My concern is that the project could end with a bang or a whimper. My interest is in seeing any retirement happen gracefully. That means we need to consider it as a contingency. For contingency plans, no time is a good time, but earlier is always better than later."
In case it isn't clear, the situation looks dire for OpenOffice. Meanwhile, The Document Foundation recently announced the releases of LibreOffice 5.2 and 5.1.5. LibreOffice 5.2, and LibreOffice is gaining much traction with new levels of compatibility with mainstream office applications. We will follow up on the OpenOffice debate shortly.