GUADEC Results

Executive Summary:  

GUADEC was fun.  GNOME Office is now real.  It would be nice to
release a whole suite for GNOME 2.0.  This will be lots of work.  So
start.  :-)

Much longer version:

GUADEC 2, masterfully orcestrated by our Scandanvian compatriots, was
a huge success for GNOME overall, and for GNOME Office in particular.
First, lots of people were able to meet face to face for the first
time, and lots of GNOME office developers were able to attend,
including developers from AbiWord, Gnumeric, Guppi and Dia.  

Two talks were given on GNOME Office by Jody Goldberg of Gnumeric and
Dom Lachowicz of AbiWord.  The first was a BOF[1] where lots of good
discussion happened between all the different GNOME office developers,
and others in the community.  We developed a very long list of things
that we need to work on, some of which I will mention later.  The
second was a user-level presentation demonstrating some of the cool
features of GNOME Office.  Guppi's ability to spin pie charts in real
time was spontatneously applauded.  Much gratitude is due Dom and Jody
for the excellent presentations.  

From these dicussions, we came up with a large number of points that
need both discussion and work.  Here are some of them.

- Politics

  Sadly, politics has been a problem for GNOME Office almost since the
  beginning.  However, since the only people at GUADEC interested in
  GNOME Office development were the folks working on the previously
  mentioned apps, we decided to damn the torpedoes and work with the
  excellent apps we have, and make them even better and more

- Composition

  What is in GNOME Office?

  The following applications are clearly within the domain of an
  office suite as the market is currently defined (by Microsoft and
  its customers) and have expressed the desire to be part of GNOME

  - Gnumeric [ spreadsheet ]
  - AbiWord  [ word processor ]
  - Guppi    [ charting and graphing ]
  - Dia      [ diagramming ] 

  GnuCash, I am told, has expressed the active desire _not_ to be
  considered part of GNOME Office.  

  Other potential candidates for inclusion are [2] :

  - Sodipodi  [ vector drawing ]
  - Evolution [ mail client ]
  - EOG	      [ image viewing ]
  - Toutdoux  [ project management ]
  - Gimp      [ drawing ]
  - Gfax      [ faxing ]
  - GNOME-DB  [ database connectivity ]
  - Galeon    [ web browsing ]

  Of these, Gfax and Galeon equivalents are not usually included in
  other office suites.  The major component we are missing is a
  presentation program, which I will discuss later.  

  Fundamentally, the most important criteria for inclusion is if the
  developers want to be included, and to this end the developers of
  these programs should be contacted.  Hopefully, components of GNOME
  office will also work well together, and integrate both technically
  and visually.  

- Goals

  We came out of GUADEC with a number of goals, some quite vague, and
  some quite specific.  Here are a few:

  - Release GNOME Office 1.0 with GNOME 2.0.  This means by Dec 31,
  - Integrate with the other GNOME Office applications better.  This
  means using technologies like Bonobo.  
  - Share more code.
  - Have a more similar look and feel.  For example, have icons on the
  toolbars in the same order.  

  Some of these goals, such as the last, are quite easy.  Some, like
  Bonobo integration, are quite a lot of work.  But all of them will
  improve GNOME Office significantly.  

- Release Plans

  The plan to release 1.0 by the end of the year is quite ambitous,
  since we have never released a previous version.  However, it seems
  achiveable, and would greatly improve the visibility and the
  usability of GNOME Office.  

  In order to accomplish this task, we need to do a number of things:

  - Decide what we want to do
  - Set a schedule
  - Hack like crazy
  - Release

  Here's the current status of the 4 apps I mentioned at the

  - AbiWord
  AbiWord is maturing rapidly, and will soon be heading into feature
  freeze for version 1.0.  There is high probability that 1.0 will be
  released before GNOME 1.0 would be released.  However, AbiWord 1.0
  is likely not to be based on the GNOME 2 platform, neccessitating
  further work for integration before GNOME Office 1.0

  - Gnumeric

  The Gnumeric maintainer, Jody Goldberg, has committed to releasing
  verison 1.0, with Bonobo support, before the end of the year.

  - Guppi

 Guppi already supports being embedded as a Bonobo control. It is at
  version 0.35.3. Further status unknown by me.  Jon?

  - Dia

  Dia is at version 0.86.  Further status unknown.  

  For release plans, it would be nice to know in the resonanably near
  future the answer to the question "What is in GNOME Office?".
  However, this may not be possible.  

- Interoperation

  There are two major components to interoperation which will be
  dicussed here.

  - Bonobo
  Bonobo is the the component technology used by the GNOME platform.
  Currently, the only GNOME Office applications that take advantage of
  Bonobo are Guppi and Gnumeric, allowing Guppi charts and graphs to
  be embedded in Gnumeric spreadsheets.  AbiWord plans to develop
  support for both embedding Bonobo objects and being used as such an
  object in the hopefully near future.  

  - Code Sharing

  Currently, applications in GNOME Office share code in two different
  libraries.  First, the GAL library contains a number of GTK widgets
  used by many GNOME apps.  Second, libole2 is used by both Gnumeric
  and AbiWord to import MS documents.   However, this code sharing
  could be extended, both to other applications in GNOME Office, and
  to other functions.  For example, importing componound documents
  from other office suites will require common methods of handling the
  different parts of the document.  

- Collaboration

  Obviously, tasks of this magnitude will take work on everyone's
  part, and it will take everyone working together.  This mailing list
  is for precisely that.  Hopefully it can be a central communication
  method for all GNOME Office developers.  Additionally, the IRC
  channel #gnome-office has been created on 

This is certainly an exciting moment for GNOME Office.  But there's
lots of work to do, and we need to work together effectively to get it
all done.  Rememeber, hackers are lazy.  :-)

[1] Birds of a Feather session.
[2] Taken from
sam th --- sam uchicago edu ---
OpenPGP Key: CABD33FC ---

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