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How Is GNOME Office Coming? 214

Clyde has written a nice article over at LinuxOrbit about the state of the GNOME office suite. With all the hubbub surrounding the recent freeing of Sun's StarOffice, this is gonna get more interesting. I'll tell ya the one thing that I miss in AbiWord is anti-aliased text. Staring at that horridly pixelated text is hard on the eyes. Between the Gimp, Gnucash, Eazel, Evolution, AbiWord, Gnucash and the like (no, I'm not forgetting KDE, I just haven't used it recently), the application support under Linux is rapidly making it feasible for a desktop user, but we're just not there yet. And it's the little things that get ya.
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How is GNOME Office Coming?

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  • I realize the importance to the community of being able to import/export from/to MSOffice file formats but on a personal level, I haven't used or seen them for years. Does anyone have any idea of the ability or either KOffice or GNOME Office to deal with file formats from Applixware?

    As an Applixware user for the past 3-4 years, and a happy one at that, I'd not look forward to exporting serveral years worth of files from .as and .aw to .xls and .doc just to be able to import them into the KOffice or GNOME Office formats. Whew! Sounds like work!

    Anyone have any knowledge of this?


  • Aftereffects and Premiere have a much better chance of happening, IMHO, mainly because of the technical difficulties you point out for the other suites. I agree that the Gimp is not all that, and certainly not nearly so easy to use as Photoshop from what I understand. Your idea of controlling fonts inside the app sounds like the best way to go. Adobe certainly has the coding manpower to do that. They have worked to conquer OS deficiencies before; for instance: they use their own paging system in PS.

  • These kind of questions amuse me. A lot.

    Very simply, you need a word processor for two reasons (aside from the obvious one of reading word processed files :):

    1. To write documentation (any coder worth his/her salt should know how to write at least moderately good docs to any program he/she writes).

    2. To read documentation and notes that others in a team have written.

    Rami James
    Guy in a Box.
  • I just wanted to go on record as saying that TeX does in fact rule and emacs is all you need. Actually, any text editor will do; I started out in joe.

    You complain about how complicated TeX is, but I don't think you really know what you are talking about. In fact, if all you want to do is type a letter or paper, just type the text in your favorite editor. Leave an empty line between each paragraph. Then, at the end type "\tex". Then, save your file as foo.tex and run "pdftex foo.tex". Now you have foo.pdf, which looks beautiful (as all TeX does).

    For more complicated things, LaTeX isn't difficult to learn. Need a footnote? Try \footnote. Need something italics? Try \emph. Need an ordered list? Try \begin{enumerate}. Need a title page? Try \maketitlepage. I think you get the idea.

    And if you're typing ANY equations or math, you absolutely must you TeX. Any other tool is a joke compared to TeX's ability to crank out formulas. Once you learn how it works (5 minutes, tops, for the math part), it is much faster and easier then Word or any graphical device (short of some kind of hand-writing recognition) could ever be.

    I think that sometimes people are just afraid to learn something new or can't see what they can do. For an idea, head on over to http://html2latex.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]. I wrote a little program (shamless plug; also in the sig!) that will convert HTML to LaTeX. So, if you know how something works in HTML, and want to see it in LaTeX, I figure this is a pretty good way.

  • Mandrake 7.1 (at least) has an utility called DrakFont that copies the fonts from your (eventual) Windows partition and installs them to be used in Linux. I have personally used Times New Roman for some purposes (it's much prettier than most of the default Linux fonts).

    However, I think that there should be better fixed-width fonts (like Windows' fixedsys) to be used with Gnu Emacs on lousy monitors.

  • Hmm.. at least Microsoft is considering saving documents in XML. I don't see LaTeX doing that yet. For that matter I can probably count on one hand the number of products which store non-text information who are even in the process of converting storage formats to XML. So who has their thumbs up their asses?
  • I don't want to sound mean, but if you want toolbars in your apps, that's your problem. The fact that this wasn't done so far shows, imho, that most current users don't care much for that. Perhaps most of them are quite happy with TeX or plain text.

    Now to dreamweaver: I don't find a lack of such program to be a handicap at all. When I was doing full-time web design on windows, I still used vim. The problem with GUI html editors is that you can't automate them like you can a good text editor. With vim you get immensely useful things like abbreviations, copy/pasting multiple times, so on. If I need to create 10 links, I create one, copy it, do 10p (paste 10 times) and change the URLs. I realize that for many people it's a matter of taste to prefer GUI tools, but again, lack of such programs shows that it's not a big deal for most. But if you really want it, start coding.

  • Why not have an html page called 'sorting order' and linked to every page in your project that needs this info?
  • Blaming the mouse is easy, but ultimately wrong. The mouse is a natural result of the need to interface with objects on a 2D screen. Before you can get rid of the mouse you need to get rid of the screen, and this will not likely happen any time soon.

    The shift in thinking I am talking about has little to do with input/output devices and more to do with the underlying design concept of an idea-based system. Right now everything is built around the notion of fixed documents, which as I stated before are simply proxies for the more basic unit of an idea. What I would love to see is an interface system designed not around documents but around hyperlinks.

    Now initially it might work like so: I go to a meeting with a client who suggests a new feature for my product. When I get back to my desk I go and create a new "idea" object. My IdeaOS allows me to keep many such objects around, and at any time I can make one of them the "Active Idea." This might appear as an icon on my desktop.

    When you create an idea you can give it all sorts of characteristics. These might be unique things like "Color = Purple" or links such as "Color = Idea #7's Color." Entire idea objects might be simple characteristics of other idea objects.

    With an idea object you might have associated "output methods," which could include text, pictures, or other things. Depending on the nature of these things they might be automatically generated and updated, or they may not. But the point, in the short term, is that you at least see the web which ties the whole mess together. Even though you may not be able to say, "if we change the color of the panel our profits will go down," at least the marketing department will know that they need to re-shoot all the pictures for the ad campaign.

    From a management perspective this is an ideal way of structuring things. At any point in time the CEO can look at the six (or N) high-level ideas, and perhaps change one slightly. This change will percolate down the chain of ideas, either altering automatically or at least informing everything down the line of the changes that need to be made. Likewise if a person wants to change an idea somewhere down the line, he or she can see the effects this will have on ideas above and lateral to them.

    Blah blah. You get the idea...


  • Well I have a little suggestion to make, which is that letting your government rot in hell is not the best way to go about improving it. As with software, so with government: its better when its Open. But it takes effort and action, not dismissal and empty phrases.
  • It would be nice to see one joint effort to produce a decent productivity suite for Linux. I hope that StarOffice can be used as the base, and features which aren't currently in the product can be taken from products which aren't as mature. I use GnuCash to see how it stacks up against Quicken (which I use also). It has almost all the features I require, but it is so dependent on GNOME.

    And Quicken is so dependent on Windows.

  • ooh, pray tell us where to download the latest ISOs for M$ Office for Linux?
  • Do you honestly think you're going to get anywhere by porting half of this already crappy software to Motif?

    These apps are woefully inadequate compared to what is available on NT and the Mac - the last thing I would recommend people do is waste their time porting to useless toolkits.

    As it stands, your argument of "choice uber alles" is ridiculous anyway - linux makes you use X, so why not cram something else down your throat?

  • I learned to use lyx pretty quickly. I know no Latex and it's pretty easy to use once you get used to it. My girlfriend who knows nothing about computers learned to use it in a day and says she's not going back to anyother word processor.
  • wrong kind of freedom.
  • Old-Time Linux users, whats that, people who have been using Linux for what, 5, or maybe tops 7 years? Common on now, this isn't like they are 60 year old men grumbling about the decline of the punch card. Get real.
  • Microsoft is the master of Embrace, extend and extinguish. You KNOW they'll find some way to make their XML impossible to read/format, at the same time claiming that they're making a great innovation and also claiming to embrace open standards.
  • I haven't used a wrod processor in 3 years, PICO and VI can handle anybody's text needs.
  • What stops them taking Linux/Staroffice - to date - has mostly been the relative difficulty of installing & supporting Linux, in comparison with Windows.

    Except that Windows is actually in several ways Harder to install than Linux. With Windows things often have to be installed in exactly the right order also if you want several identical workstations you need hacks like disk imaging. The only reason people think Windows is easy to install is that its possible (through Microsoft's dodgy dealing) to buy machines with it already on. N.B. The first thing likely to happen to preloaded Windows machines in many corporate environments is that the OEM setup gets overwritten buy a "corporate setup", thus the OEM install was a waste of time anyway.
    As for support, doing things requires someone who knows what they are doing to be sat at the machine. This is an OS who's error messages consist of a list of the contents of CPU registers. Not user friendly at all.
    The moment you look any deeper than the GUI Windows appears a lot "geekier" than any unix like system. Even something like the sendmail config file allows comments and dosn't expect numbers in hex.
  • That'd be a moral equivalent of an assembly language I believe :)
  • They simply don't understand that mainstream desktop users have a serious font fetich, and that setting them up must be automatic. Further, importing a user's favorite fonts, particularly TT fonts from a Windows installation has to be either 100% automatic or nothing more complicated than clicking an option on a dialog. I've used every major and most of the minor distros, and none of them come even close to handling TT fonts this well.

    Assuming we are talking about a corporate setup then there is a very elegant solution. That of the font server. Maybe this is another example of the people involved trying to chase Windows rather than improving something unix already did more simply than Windows.
  • Regardless of how trivial it is after install time, these things need to be done at install time. Any desktop is going to be measured against windows and the Mac, which will both have usable truetype fonts and word processing at install time. When you install more software that uses fonts, it installs more fonts in a central location and is able to find all the fonts you have.

    Except that the default place for Windows to store it's fonts isn't very "central" (except in the case of a stand alone machine.)
  • I don't understand how the Apple market (which can't possibly be more than 8-10% of the PC market can get Adobe products (and they get them FIRST!) and linux/unix can't even get releases that are one lousy version behind.

    Recently I read that SoftImage (the whole shebang, not just the renderer) is being ported to Linux. Now, what about textures for those models?

    Don't tell me that the GIMP is ready for that! I know that I have bben using PhotoShop since I was a wee lad, and I know what I like. I am telling you that the GIMP is not ready for that kind of prime time. The UI is too clunky and unintuitive.
    (No flames please, this is my opinion and I'll stand by it. I've used both the GIMP and PS extensively, and I just cannot become as comfortable in the GIMP as I am in PS.)

    Dammit, ADOBE, why are you not listening to us fans!

    Rami James
    Frustrated Pixel Pusher.
  • "X is a network transparent bitmap protocol blah blah blah" ... i.e. it has nothing to do with fonts. Until it does and until sysadmins can drag and drop fonts into /usr/lib/X/fonts/ somewhere and have them instantly appear in all X apps (or users do the same thing in $HOME/lib/fonts linux font support will seriously suck compared to other OSes. Oh yeah with enough wizardry and by stopping/restarting X itself xfs and the application (you might as well since if you do this wrong you might get all your apps to use the fonts

    Well there are two obvious ways of doing this. How do you set Windows up so you can add a font to every workstation with out needing to reboot them or wear out your shoes going round to each one?

    The situation now is that every single serious X application implements its OWN font server - StarOffice has the WORST and most complex font installation support imaginable. It's *hilarious* to suggest that normal non-X savvy users could possible install a font and get document to print using that font under StarOffice.

    This is probably mostly a problem of application developers following the Windows model of big monolithic apps (Indeed Star Office is frequently criticised for this.)
    Anyway should end users be expected to perform the task if installing fonts which is more properly that of the sysadmin.
    Windows definitly blurrs the distinction such that people actually see unix stopping end users from carrying out system administration tasks as a problem.
  • What about Docbook with MathML? I don't really know a whole lot about them, but wouldn't those be "a modern replacement for *TeX"? From a cursory glance MathML appears a bit harder to use than LaTeX's equation-writing, but I've never really used MathML.
  • It won't *ever* be possible to have fonts "instantly appear to legacy X apps with out restarting the applications but it might be possible to have xfs "poll" it's font directory regularly or to write applications in a way that treats fonts differently.

    Unless these "legacy X apps" are available as source code...
  • You don't need (and I don't want) a word processor for either of those reasons. I use a text editor (any text editor) and TeX and I can tell you I get better results than anyone with a wordprocessor.

    If everyone in the team uses the same programs (kind of a basic idea, I think) then everyone can read the docs.

    The only reason I need a word processor is to read MS Word docs produced by people who would be happy with the output from a crayon if it had the word "Microsoft" on the side. I've actually seen business letters sent out in Comic Sans!


  • by Bongo ( 13261 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @04:58AM (#912447)

    I keep seeing people do odd things with their 'office suite' programs.*
    I wonder whether there are more business centered ways of doing this stuff.

    Take wordprocessing. WP springs from the need to type letters accurately.**
    But letters also

    • get dictated
    • they get revised
    • they get sent to other companies
    • they get filed
    • they contain data, say quotes or something, that may depend on other data
    • and perhaps the letter itself becomes an important document for future referral

    But despite all this context and workflow, the wordprocessor only direcly enables word entry and typographical formatting. Now add to this workflow the needs of B2B interaction, and you suddenly see that a company has a heck of a lot of data tied up inside a multitude of proprietary Word files.

    I think feature bloat is a symptom of the painful fact that most software doesn't do what is necessary for business. Consider a small business. Consider the data they use. Forget the office formats used to store the data. Is there really any need for 200MB software packages to manage this small data?

    Come on guys, you're information experts. What is the key information that a business runs on? How does this information flow around, in and out of an organisation? What are the tools to manipulate the flow, and what are the structures best suited for arranging this data?

    Will the business desktop simply become a departmental transaction processing server...??

    *Like keep their list of address mailing labels in a spreadsheet, or keep lists of amendments to cad drawings in a separate wp document.
    ** I don't know it's real history. Perhaps someone can fill us in?

  • Installing fonts on Red Hat 6.1 is ALMOST simple. I put a bunch of TrueType fonts in a directory near the rest of the fonts, executed 2 simple commands, restarted the xfs font server, and there they were (well, I did have to do it as "root" but that's expected). Of course it did take me months to track down the instructions, and to weed out what I needed from 47 variations for 47 different distros ... However, I'm not sure if this helped Star Office, which I seldom use. My main purpose was to improve text additions to graphics in The Gimp.
  • C++ is an entirely different language than C, though there are C++ interpreters written in C.

    I am under the impression that C++ was actually written on top of C originaly. In fact, I'm pretty sure of it. It all seems so long ago now...


  • What's wrong with HTML docs? Everybody knows HTML (at least a little), and everybody can view HTML. Plus it's pretty easy to automatically generate shell pages from code. HTML will be around far longer than any version of Word's .doc format.
  • The fact that they have different formats is more proof of clashing bravado.

    From whose side? Just from GNOME's? Just because they are bad by definition?

    The two projects, especially Helix

    I see one here. Who's the second?

    I'd like to see Gnome (the project I have more hope for) truly innovate.

    Like what? Design new UI paradigm? Sorry, puny volonteer project is not where you expect it from. Neither KDE nor GNOME won't bring you truly innovative UI. There wasn't innovation in this field for decades, and GNOME or KDE folks aren't the Batman either. They just build working thing, not save the world. Maybe Xerox PARC labs will do :)
  • I don't think TeX is quite that bad! I mean is {\it this is in italics} really that hard?

    LaTeX is junk, though.


  • DocBook SGML (or the XML version) is what you need. It was specifically designed to document code, and you can use it to generate either very nice looking print (ps or pdf), or HTML.

    Not to mention the fact that Emacs/PSGML mode eats it for breakfast.

    HTML is not such a bad option either if you don't need printed documents. Microsoft will undoubtedly do their darnedest to extend HTML severely, but there is no reason to take advantage of those extensions for simple documentation. After all, with documentation you probably aren't too worried about page layout. You simply need links, headers, bold and italics, and perhaps some basic tables and figures. Most of the documentation I write would probably look acceptable in lynx (you would need an image viewer for the pictures).

  • Sadly, I echo the original poster's viewpoint - they may have digitized an entire encyclopedia into the Brain of the Paperclip, such as it is, but it sure is tough to get anything out of the little critter. And that's all that matters in the end, isn't it?

    I always find the arguments between the LATex folks and the regular word processor people interesting. I'm sort of in between - I write everything in xemacs, put it in HTML, put it into a web page, and - if I have to - print it out.

    But I know that's not for everyone, since the learning curve is almost vertical for stuff like that. You pretty much need to be an old computer hand to appreciate the advantages. I can edit text with a speed that awes everyone who sees me, simply because I took the time to learn emacs. I encourage anyone who's up to a technical challenge that improves their abilities enormously in the long run to follow me on that path; but I realize it's simply not something mainstream people care to do.

    So we need word processors, and sure as shooting we need something other than those god-awful fonts.

    I can't help but wonder if many Linux fans won't cross over to the Macintosh side when MacOS X comes out. I mean, here we have a platform that has the guts of Unix that we love, combined with the brilliance of a designer interface created with panache anyone in open source will have a tough time with.

    Yes, I know MacOS X isn't open source, but the underpinnings are, and all the applications mainstream people love are there. I think it's worth a look, simply because it could solve a lot of problems.

    I plan to buy a dual-processor Mac as soon as I'm reasonably assured MacOS X is out and functioning well.


  • I see all these people bitching about "horribly pixelated fonts" and how anti-aliasing is going to solve all the problems in the world.

    Ok, I'll bite. Abiword and all other linux software looks just fine to me. Perhaps I've somehow managed to fall asleep at the keyboard and accidentally managed to add anti-aliased font support to X by rolling my forhead on the keys. Come to think of it, I did have a big headache a few weeks ago...

    So, you "horribly pixelated font" people, show me these horribly pixelated fonts. Seriously, I've never seen them. I want to see some screen shots. Please follow up to this message with a link to some screenshots of this horrible non-anti-aliased blight on human eyesight.

    I somehow expect what's actually going is that:
    1. People installed Redhat, which out of the box is set to scale bitmap fonts if requested, and thus looks ugly as hell and has nothing at all to do with anti-aliasing whatsoever. (And in fact can be fixed with a 10 second session with XF86Config)
    2. People are complaining because the font glyphs aren't the prettiest with small fonts, which again has nothing at all to do with antialiasing (which only generally applies to larger fonts) and actually has to do with hinting in the rasterizer and in general with the artistic ability of the people who drew the fonts.
    3. People are complaining because they're using a display the size of a blimp at a resolution meant for a postage stamp, and need anti-aliasing to see anything without pain. This is a valid concern, especially for laptops, but I suspect the screenshots will look fine on most peoples' displays.
    4. People are just bellyaching because they heard someone else bitching for the above mentioned reasons, and want to join their voice to the whining crowd.

    I can say this because I'm quite familiar with the way most displays look under anti-aliased fonts, and the way they look can best be described as "almost the same." Thus, I somehow don't think that such a minor effect would generate this amount of bellyaching, except through a combination of the above, especially the last one.

    So please, put up some screen shots of these horribly pixelated fonts you're seeing, and let us determine for ourselves why they're so bad looking.

    Thank you.

  • Go to www.microsoft.com/truetype and find your way to the truetype fonts download area.

    "TrueType core fonts for the Web FAQ

    Q What can I do with these fonts?

    A For all the rules that govern the use of these fonts please read the end user license agreement.

    Anyone can download and install these fonts for their own use. Designers can specify the fonts within their Web pages. Our guide to specifying fonts in Web pages explains how to do this. You can distribute the files from your Web site as long as you complete our Web font registration form. You can only redistribute the fonts in their original form (.exe or .sit.hqx) and with their original file name. You must not supply the font outlines in any form that adds value to commercial products, such as CD-ROM or disk based multimedia programs, application software or utilities. See Microsoft's permissions site for more details."

    They are available for anyone to download and use, but if you redistribute them you can't repackage them or change the name.

    "Microsoft develops some fonts in-house and licenses others from independent font vendors. If you are looking to license a particular font, you should contact the vendor, not Microsoft, regarding licensing issues."

    _You_ can "install" the fonts, the distributions just can't bundle them with thier X11 packages.
  • Yeah, I totally agree. The KOffice suite is supposed to be totally emeddable (a la OLE), so you can put a Spreadsheet inside your text document, etc. To me, KOffice looks far superior to Gnome Office, at least in this respect.

  • My last bit of a rant here has to do with HTML editors. Why don't we have any decent ones for Linux yet. No, EMACS ain't what I'm talking about either. Most notably over on NT in my mind is Dreamweaver, which aside from being an outstanding GUI for HTML it's also one hell of a site manager. As someone who not only codes the back end of web sites, but also has to do layout and design not having a tool like Dreamweaver around is a serious handicap.

    Agreed. 100%. I would love to have DreamWeaver for Linux. Love it to death. It doesn't fux with my code, it understands and can clean up Word (gak!) HTML, it doesn't touch PHP, does all the layers and best of all, it spits out clean HTML. How do we get Macromedia to release this beauty under Linux? I haven't tried it under WINE yet, perhaps I'll give it a shot this afternoon.

    There are only a handful of apps I use under Win95/98/NT:

    • ICQ: kicq (even though I love afterstep and gnome) is still the smallest and best little ICQ client for Linux. Too bad it hasn't been updated in so long.
    • IE: Netscape/Mozilla/Opera... yuck. I used to use NS until I got sick of it crashing on Javascript all the time and just plain old not being nice to me. (one POP account but unlimited IMAP? Put your political agenda aside, NS!) NS doesn't render bad HTML nicely, handles only a fraction of a subset of CSS, I just grew sick of trying to work around it because I didn't like IE's integration.
    • CodeWright: Beautiful code editor. I normally hate IDEs but CW is actually really really nice. I haven't used it long enough to really get into it but I'd like to see this on Linux as well.
    • VNC: already got it for Linux.
    • SecureCRT: Got native SSH.
    • Acrobat Reader: Got it. Not as nice for X but good enough for me.
    • OrCAD: Oregano is very nice but not even close to being finished for schematic entry. (an aside: I love gnome's overall layout, it's very clean and easy on the eyes compared to KDE/Win32) I've tried Eagle for capture and layout and while functional it's clunky compared to Oregano. OrCAD SDT/386 was the best OrCAD version out. The Win32 version blows due to total lack of keyboard shortcuts.
    • Paint Shop Pro: Got GIMP. Love it. Hell got it for Win32 too. :-)
    • MPLAB and/or Rice17: These are IDEs for the ICEs for Microchip's PIC family of processors. Advanced Transdata won't give me specs on their protocol but it would be easy enough to reverse engineer. Same with MPLAB ICE2000. They both work over the parallel port.
    • Office. KOffice, StarOffice, Abiword... until they get it at least as good as Microsoft's office they haven't got a prayer. It's been so long since I've used WordPerfect I'll have to give it a shot under Linux. WP5.1 used to be a godsend.

    MPLAB/Rice17 are probably the reason I don't give up Win32 totally. I can work around the rest, but my work depends on being able to use the ICE software.

    I agree with you totally on the anti-aliased fonts: Something must be done. If it breaks X compatibility, it's gotta happen. I think it could probably be done without breaking X though. Perhaps an alternate font server which, if given 1-bit fonts, fakes an anti-alias, but if presented with truetype-style fonts performes proper antialiasing. Maybe even with subpixel antialising for my laptop. :-)

    Is there a wharf app which gives me 9 places where KDE/Gnome "systray" icons get captured? I can't stand the bar along the bottom but a single 64x64 square with 9 possible systray icons (KICQ, etc.) can go would be the cat's meow. I've searched at different times but haven't found anything useful. Tons of launchers but nothing which can replace a systray. WindowMaker has panel/KDM simulation so the apps think they have a systray, I just need to find/make an app that uses it for a wharf icon. :-) Too bad I can't code apps to save my skin. Embedded, sure, but apps? ugh.

    Oh yeah, and something needs to be done or a howto written about Motif-style file selection boxes. If I use NS or Moz and want to save a file, I have to remember the filename because if I change directories, it forgets the filename. How stupid is that? And the fact that I can't highlight something (select), move to where I want to replace text (by highlighting the text to remove) and the pasting... is there a way around this without having to select what I want gone, erasing it, then slecting what I want, going to where I want it and pasting?

    X is wonderful because it's network transparent and when tunnelled through SSH, secure and pretty snappy. But as you'd mentioned there are a few shortcomings (which are really simplistic compared to some of the things people want) which make it totally unusable.

  • I've been using TeX and LaTeX for over a decade now, and I've never found a word processor (WYSWYG or otherwise) that can even come close to it for quality of output. TeX documents are beautiful, and that's all there is to it.

    Maybe if Microsoft would stop screwing around with Clippy and started working toward that level of output quality, I'd have less gripes about their software.

  • Recently I saw an interview with Jeff Hawkins (Founder of Palm [palm.com]) on Charlie Rose [pbs.org]. It was a great interview and one part which stuck in my mind was where Hawkins explained why he thought the palm handhelds succeeded where other similar devices had failed:

    They realized that they were not competing with the computer but with PAPER!

    The document analogy may take quite a while to replace. It has, after all, been with us since the time of clay tablets...


  • Point taken, but this subthread got soooooo offtopic I propose putting it to rest.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 23, 2000 @04:07AM (#912462)
    Unfortunately, though gnumeric looks pretty good, it cannot handle large files well. I recently tried to do a simple import of a comma delimited file and it took over 40 minutes just to import the data. Excel pulled it in quickly (~1 minute). I am really pushing for at least a few Linux desktops in my company, but unless I can provide a good word processor, spread sheet, and email client, I won't make much headway. This is one area where the code from StarOffice may help.
  • I'm not so sure about that. I usually type all my papers in LaTeX, and my girlfrined uses Word. But every time she sees one of my papers, she says something to the effect of, "That's so pretty! I wish my papers looked like that! What font are you using?". And my econometrics teacher once looked at my paper and said, "Is this TeX?! Yuck!". Some people have bad experiences in grad school, I guess.
  • I haven't used Star Office since Sun took it over. But at the time, the font situation was pretty bad. The native Linux fonts look terrible under Star Office. The procedure for installing True Type fonts isn't trivial. And once it's done, some characters still didn't come out right on-screen, (sorry, but I don't remember which ones).

    This is really a criticism of Linux distributions, not Star. (I was using RedHat 5.2 at the time). Decent looking fonts, (and the necessary servers), should be included with the distribution, at least as an install-time option. By the way, this also allows for a much better selection of fonts for Netscape. (Has RH 6.2 or other installation done this?)

  • HTML is too open, the Microsoft camp would never support vanilla html documents. The obfuscation of HTML into MS-HTML is already occuring, and soon, it will be as fucked up as the proprietary .doc format, both of which you can only read with a proprietary MS program
    . Thanks Bill.
  • Unix was designed for programmers, scientists, and engineers. It works for them rather well. It was not designed for PHBs and their secretaries.

    So, the question. Is adapting Unix for this last category of people is the right thing to do?

    Well, maybe because what engineers do is produce documentation?

    Where the Hell do you think that all of those standards published by outfits like IEEE, JEDEC, EIA, EIAJ, ISO, and other alphabet outfits come from? The stork? Or do you think that the PHBs do all of that stuff and then leave the implemetation details up to grunts like me?

    Are you under the charming impression that teams of tens of engineers work out projects like 5 million gate ICs based on whiteboard sketches? Office automation is one of the indispensible tools of engineering, and it's getting harder and harder to get by with the Solaris box at work and the Linux network at home without adding a W2K notebook or some other Redmondian puspocket. At which point the IT crowd and PHBs suggest that we don't need the workstation any more since we can use an X terminal package to connect to The Server from the LoseDoze box.

    Damn straight we need office tools, and yesterday wouldn't be too soon.
  • "Cannot load Corel Office or StarOffice files". When we're a "open source community", shouldn't we atleast help eachother by understanding the file formats instead of going the M$ way with properitary formats?. Anyhow, GNOME Office. Wouldn't this be the same if Microsoft delievered MS Office with every Windows copy sold?. Food for thought
  • This one I haven't tried, thought I was aware of it's existance. There were a couple of things that turned me off to TopPage. Not the least of these is IBM. I have a LOT of respect for the bulk of the stuff that IBM does and all. It's just that when it comes to PC software it's kinda like having a seriously shaggy dog in your house. Oh sure, he seems friendly enough, until you find his hair has gotten into everything.

    I really do need to try this out though. I sure don't feel comfortable talking ill about an app I haven't even tried out. Still, just the marketing spin I find a little spooky here...

    It allows you to create dazzling Web pages without any HTML knowledge or programming skills.
    You can get everything you need to design, personalize and share your site in an easy-to-use all-in-one package.

    Okay, everyone who is having FrontPage flashbacks please raise your hand!

    Now to get really nit picky... my favorite tag in the whole wide world from a TopPage generated web page on IBM's site.

    <META name="GENERATOR" content="IBM NetObjects TopPage V4.0.3 for Windows">

    One of the things that keeps me loyal to Dreamweaver is that Macromedia doesn't try and be a one stop shop for all possible web development needs. It's number one selling point is in the fact that it doesn't muck up the HTML at the code level, enabling you to use other apps. No mention of code treatment can be found on IBM's site.

    It may sound silly to worry about how the HTML code gets formatted so long as the page looks pretty in the browser. Of course if the GUI layout work is only just the starting point in developing a dynamic site, the code formatting becomes critical. From what I saw of the HTML code on that site, I don't think this is what I'm looking for.

    I do intend to give this a fair try though. I'm just going in a LOT less hopeful than when I downloaded Quanta.
  • by Gyan ( 6853 )

    I think initially it was first released on Mac,
    then with increasing popularity, maybe PC took
    first priority
  • from the when-was-the-last-time-I-needed-a-word-processor? dept.

    Unix was designed for programmers, scientists, and engineers. It works for them rather well. It was not designed for PHBs and their secretaries.

    So, the question. Is adapting Unix for this last category of people is the right thing to do?

  • I don't need a WP to comment my code, or to put working docs in HTML on the internal Web. End-user docs are different matter, but those are handled by technical writers, not programmers.

  • There two questions to ask. One is, do we need a word-processor? Speaking for myself, I do.

    But leaving this question out, the other question is the one coming from the almost-religious debate: Is Linux an operating system written by us, the computer "elite", for us, and should stay that way, or should we promote Linux for the desktop, for everybody to use.

    I can understand the first approach, but I don't quite like it. You see Linux as a "status symbol", something that distinguish between you and the common people. It gives you power - the power of knowladge: "You don't know how to use linux, but I do!", and to keep yourself in power you woldn't like Linux to become easy enough for that stupid PHB to use.
    This kind of approach where one elite is trying to keep others away from the source of power is known in sociology as the "conflict theory" and you can see its doing everywhere.

    The thing is there other people that see a different future for Linux. The power that Microsoft have over the software market is frightening and dangerous, and any commercial company that may take its place with a monopolized closed-source code would be equally dangerous. Linux is best positioned to be the answer. A free, uncontrolled operation system, that would help fighting monopoly if we promote it for general use by the public (and yes, even by your PHB or his secretary).

    The question is, do you want to allow microsoft to keep controlling the software world just because of your elitist "for us only" world view?

  • Actually, it's a good question.

    Unix was designed for programmers, scientists and engineers back when PHBs and secretaries didn't use computers. So should non-scientists remain in the grip of Bill, or should they have alternatives? That's really the question.

    Unix ain't great for everybody. I've long complained that the design of the shells, not to mention a lot of other details, imply a "boy's club" mentality, wherein shared secrets (non-obvious commands, for instance) are the requisites of membership. The Linux programmers are, of course, upper-level members of the society. Geek pride and all that. So I don't think that Unix in anything resembling its raw form is what the Rest Of Us need.

    But give Apple credit (and btw I'm not a Mac fan) where due: In MacOS X, they're merging a Unix kernel with a Mac API and GUI and it looks like they'll pull it off. The robustness of the Unix kernel keeps it running, the Unix API helps programmers add capabilities, and the Mac layers make it palatable to mere muggles.

    I think KDE and to a lesser extent GNOME are doing something similar, but they're far from ready for prime time. Frankly the font rendering on KDE sucks (well, it's based on antiquated X11 technology, after all). Until such core display issues are fixed, Linux will simply be too ugly for widespread use.

    Give Bill credit where due: Win98 does a fantastic job of displaying text. The open source community needs to learn from them.

    BTW I'd be very open to a non-Unix non-Bill OS too. As Miguel pointed out in his recent essay, Unix sucks. It was a great experiment but we're stuck with some obsolete ideas. I wish somebody would really rethink things and build an OS that takes advantage of what we've learned since Ritchie et al started their important work 30+ years ago.
  • Every document I've seen printed using TeX uses the same rather odd looking default font. Once you know that, you can recognize documents created using TeX - for good or ill - in seconds.

    I've never seen that font outside of the TeX world.


  • But an application can anti-alias the fonts in it's own display... Look at the gimp.

    A good, fast, dynamic anti-aliasing canvas library that existing apps could easily link against is a possible solution.

    "Free your mind and your ass will follow"

  • People have already pointed you to lyx/klyx.

    You can annotate latex documents. Just put a comment in the source code, using % .
    That works for me when I'm writing a paper with others. I just insert something like

    % JOE: Fill in the above numbers once you rerun the simulation.

    It's easily identifiable, can be searched for, and directed to who I want. What more could you want?

    Some people I know also use footnotes for this purpose.
  • Seems like the other thing you could also do here is write a small download application to pull this in at the time of install if so requested. Like it says, your free to download and install it. There aren't any restrictions to automating this process.

    Of course this would have to be a two step process. Step 1 querying a site that a Linux friendly webmaster controls that contains the location of the fonts. Step 2 would be the downloading and installing. If you don't kick step 1 in there, all MS would have to do is change the directory they sit in. If the location is centralized, one update will update all.

    Another option may be to get in contact with BitStream, as I believe they are the actual developers of the TT fonts for Windows. If they still own Arial and all them other ones it may play out nicely for them to pass them along to the open source world. Gobs of free advertising for their newer fancier fonts for unloading some of their older ones. Also, they've got server software to push as well, which might also make them friendlier to a Linux kind of approach.

    Whatever happens, it sure would be nice to be able to read what I was writing in any of them Linux word processors. Ack!
  • Send Adobe a letter. Not an email, a written letter on actual paper. Mention that you have been a paying customer since 199x since Photoshop version x.x. Tell them that you want a Linux version of Photoshop. And tell everyone you know who is doing graphics and uses Linux to do the same if they support this idea.

    That's the only way you can convince them.


  • The step up from PHB to power user isn't that big, as I think I've pointed out.

    So, you believe a PHB can become a PHPU (Pointed-Hair Power User)?

  • by philj ( 13777 )
    As soon as Microsoft [microsoft.com] get their thumbs out of their arses and start saving word/excel/etc documents in XML [xml.org], with open schemas that everybody has access to, the world will be a better place.

    Maybe that's what their .NET strategy will do? [microsoft.com]

    You never know - They may make it nice and easy for the open source community to at last easily provide MS-compatible apps.
  • If I understand you correctly you need to expose the same bits of information in a number of different ways. Is it possible that XML might be able to solve these problems? You just write your information once and use differents XSL style sheets to expose the data in different ways (I know it's never that simple but..). If your data changes then any changes will automatically be reflected in your documents by re-generating them with XSL. That kind of changes the problem from being "how do I manage this information" to "what is an easy, flexible and quick way of writing XSL". I know XML is still a bit too close to the bleeding edge for commercial development, but I believe it holds a lot of promise.
  • by raph ( 3148 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @07:44AM (#912521) Homepage
    Well, speaking just for the antialiased font problem, I think Linux is going to see some really good news over the next few months. I've been hacking on high performance aa font rendering using Freetype2, and I've got some working code in the Nautilus CVS, as part of librsvg. All of the font integration code is going to get released as LGPL (librsvg is GPL) and I hope and expect lots of other projects to pick up on it.

    Not only that, but the XFree86 render project has all of a sudden picked up some momentum. I have confidence that the designs floating by on that mailing list will lead to nice, clean hardware accelerated aa text soon. While we're at it, we'll fix the XLFD mess and problems like client and server fonts not always matching.

    This is a hell of an exciting time for advanced 2D graphics under Linux. Gambai!
  • ...right click your image, then click the dotted line at the top of the main menu. This gives you a somewhat traditional (if rotated) menu bar.
    ( \
    X Adopt a bird today!
  • by Metrol ( 147060 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @05:33AM (#912530) Homepage
    Oh boy, I can feel the flames licking at this post. Even still, there's a couple of things I've got to say here.

    First off, I've tried several times to use both AbiWord and StarOffice to write a simple document. I never could get past a single paragraph. The fonts are just so horribly unreadable as to make using the end product painful. I know it's neither one of those app's fault. Something simply has to be done about how X deal with fonts before Linux is viable for the desktop.

    Oh, and I do enjoy reading the "All I want is a text editor", "EMACS is all you ever need", and "TeX rules". I'll give those folks this much credit, the fonts are at least readable there. When it comes right down to it, I fully darn well expect to have tool bars, formatting functions, and all the wiz bangs without having to read some 300 page O'Reily* book. Ack!

    (* no offence meant to O'Reily. I've got me a library of them books here)

    Moving along here, I've been wondering a little something about the graphical environment in Linux ever since I first got to playing with it. Why are all the icons and window borders so big? Granted, this isn't really a usability thing, but it sure makes those apps look and feel kinda hokey. A good example of this is Gnumeric. Here we've got this pretty darn nice little spreadsheet program that looks like it was put together with children's blocks. Mind you, I only mean to point out Gnumeric as an example. Almost every app running on Gnome, and to a lesser extent KDE, seem to make horrible use of the screen space. It just has a feel of being very blocky. Folks I've shown my Linux setup to have made similar comments as well.

    My last bit of a rant here has to do with HTML editors. Why don't we have any decent ones for Linux yet. No, EMACS ain't what I'm talking about either. Most notably over on NT in my mind is Dreamweaver, which aside from being an outstanding GUI for HTML it's also one hell of a site manager. As someone who not only codes the back end of web sites, but also has to do layout and design not having a tool like Dreamweaver around is a serious handicap.

    I also have yet to run across anything that approaches the functionality of HomeSite for getting in at the text level. Again, just being a cool text editor doesn't even begin to replace all the stuff that HomeSite has built into it geared specifically for web technologies. Heck, nothing I've seen on Linux even comes close to HS's PHP hi-liting which in and of itself isn't perfect.

    I could probably get by for a long while with a less than stellar office suite. What I can't live without is a less than stellar HTML editing suite. There appear to be some interesting prospects on the horizon in development. Maybe some day someone will get enough of this right to actually get me to go closer to full time to Linux. I am watching for it!
  • I don't understand how the Apple market (which can't possibly be more than 8-10% of the PC market can get Adobe products (and they get them FIRST!) and linux/unix can't even get releases that are one lousy version behind.

    Minor correction here. Apple doesn't get the Adobe products first, Windows does. It wasn't all that long ago I was reading a Mac trade mag complaining about how long it took Adobe to get the Mac version of Acrobat up to speed with the Windows version.

    From what I understand of it, most of the Adobe product line is developed on Windows, then ported on over to Mac after the fact. Probably two issues at work here. Windows has one heck of a lot more market share, and the development apps are better.

    As for your feeling about GIMP and PS, I can fully appreciate exactly how you feel. After working with PS for a time, it just sortta fits like a glove when ya start it up. GIMP is good stuff, and getting amazingly better all the time, but it just ain't a replacement.
  • by sansbury ( 97480 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @06:05AM (#912535)
    You have just sung the song of every disenchanted interface designer out there.

    This is not a problem of kernels, or CPU cycles, or the lack of effective 3D displays. It is really so much more basic, and yet, more challenging.

    Even though I have not used a typewriter in a year, and the filing cabinet in my office lays there unused, those two objects are the basis of my computer's design.

    We may talk about the paperless office oday, but it is meaningless. We are still document-driven rather than knowledge-driven.

    Businesses are fighting this, but it is an expensive war. My company uses a system called Onyx for Customer Relations Management. It is a very complicated and clunky client/server system that cost over $500,000 to acquire, and probably that much again per year to train people and keep it running. Look at ERP systems like SAP or BAAN, these are equally moribund, and yet companies still throw billions at them annually, because they are still the best (only?) option.

    People do not think in documents, they think in ideas, but you cannot capture the pulses of neurons and transmit them directly. A document is merely a way to capture this stuff so that it can be stored, retrieved, and transmitted to others.

    I work as a product manager, and do everything from talk with clients and users to writing specs and drawing mockups for our developers. Most of what I do revolves around collections of ideas of how a feature should work- "The sort button should be on the right side, and all items should sort in ascneding order..." I spend probably 1/3 of my time just maintaining concurrency between specs for development, marketing docs, training manuals, and management summaries.

    Let's say I decide the sort button should be on the left instead- that could mean that dozens of documents need to be altered, even though only one concept has changed. Now think- what if I could simply create a "Sort Order" object, and instantiate it in multiple places: word documents, development specs, and page mockups. If I change it, I change it in just one place, and it either updates automatically or at least tells me what needs to be updated by hand. This would not only save me time, it would prevent bugs and many misunderstandings.

    I swear I am learning to code now just so that I can take a stab at this problem. I support Linux because it provides a sized canvas on which many ideas can be painted. Gnome is doing a lot of yeoman work, and I am sure it will be useful, but I would love to see more truly speculative design being done. This is where Linux (or some other free OS) could really revolutionize things, because you do not necessarily have to consider the short-term business imperatives that MS and Apple do. Even if either one of them could deliver a system like the one I have described, I believe it would be a failure, because people are not generally ready for such a thing. A small subset would be, and they will adopt it, and in a short time businesses will realize how much more productive those people can be.


  • If you want to know that you are writing standards-compliant html and you want to know exactly how it is supposed to look, then Amaya is a pretty good choice.

    Unfortunately it stresses compliance over everything else. (Heck, by definition how it looks actually *IS* the standard...)

  • You're running Nautilus? Is there a place to download that, in binary form? The website only mentions CVS which is rediculous - cause then I have to download and compile a hundred million libraries (gnome, gnome-libs, gtk...).
    Joseph Elwell.
  • Seems to me that in a lot of ways, Microsoft just out paced the rest of the Office field. I recall how Quattro Pro introduced the world to multiple sheets within a single file, and seperating them with tabs at the bottom. The very next version of Excel had that, a ton of other goodies, and ever increasing integration with it's good buddy Word. I seem to recall a similar fate falling on AmiPro as well.

    Looking back on it now I remember the day the war of the Office suites was over. It was Word 6.0 and Excel 5.0, just a little while prior to Windows 95 coming out. For the first time these two apps shared more than data, they now looked very similar to each other. Similar tool bars, menus that were obviously put in sync to eachother. Prior to that point the Office market was very much up for grabs, but afterwards nobody was even talking about any of the other players. MS hit those two outta the park.

    As to the rest of your post, it seems that KDE is focusing on the kinds of issues that you're talking about when it comes to interoperability. Just 6 weeks away (as sela has already posted) from seeing how they got their implementation to all play out.

    Personally, I think this Gnome office suite is going to go another production cycle before we start seeing any real integration there. At this point it seems we've got seperate applications being bundled together and referred to as a suite. Not a bad thing by any means, but not anything that's going to keep the folks in Redmond up late at night for the moment.
  • Unix was designed for programmers, scientists, and engineers. It works for them rather well. It was not designed for PHBs and their secretaries.

    So, the question. Is adapting Unix for this last category of people is the right thing to do?

    Unix was designed to effectively manage the resources of a computer. It was designed to get work done. It was also designed to be flexible, so that each user could have an environment which was well-adapted for his needs, without disturbing his neighbors.

    Heck yeah, it's the right thing to do. Adapting Unix for schoolteachers is the right thing to do. Adapting Unix for artists is the right thing to do. Adapting Unix for parrots is the right thing to do.

    Adapting PBHs and their secretaries for Unix is the wrong thing to do, and telling them to go away is the wrong thing to do. Relax. Nobody's going to steal your command line.

  • It might help a little to lower the learning curve of TeX/LaTeX. Imagine a friendly environment that let's you create TeX/LaTeX documents. It has templates / wizards, toolbars, buttons, and the preview is just one mouse click away. You can even decide to hide the TeX commands.

    I think a lot of people would write better documents with greater ease than they could do with M$ Word.

  • I tried Bluefish out. Even have it still installed on my system. That refresh to get hi-liting was a huge show stopper right there. There's still a LOT more to HomeSite than just the handling of the syntax.

    - Integration with IE as an internal browser. Support in place for Mozilla when it's ready as well.
    - The ability to map local drive paths to domain paths. This is a great time saver for working on dynamic sites.
    - Bookmarking lines of code for quick key jumping about.
    - 36 levels of clipboard for copying and pasting.
    - User definable code snippets.
    - HTML Entities reference chart.
    - Page weight calculations.
    - Ability to save in a Windows or Unix format.
    - Built in syntax hi-liting for PHP, ASP, Cold Fusion, JSP, HTML, JavaScript, and some other stuff I never play with.
    - Site wide search and replace features.

    I could go on for a while here. In fact, I have written up an essay in depth on this subject matter so near and dear to my heart. I intend to stick it somewhere on my web site whenever I get around to fixing it up again. It's just WAY too long a rant for a /. post.
  • Quanta is definitely aiming at the look of Homesite. It's probably the best of the bunch that I've seen out there. I downloaded a copy a while back, and even sent there folks some feedback. There's a lot of potential in what those folks are doing, but it's still a long way off from being a serious competitor/replacement for HS.
  • LyX [lyx.org] is coming pretty close to this. I use it for all nearly all my LaTeX documents. You still need some base LaTeX to get the most out of it.
  • by renai42 ( 105349 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @06:30AM (#912563) Homepage

    There's a very interesting read about the possible division of StarOffice's word processing module, StarOffice Writer, up here [linuxtoday.com.au] at linuxtoday.com.au. It poses an opinion about the possible future of StarOffice now that Sun has GPL'ed the StarOffice source code.

    People interested in GNOME Office might also find this interesting.

  • We're well aware of this problem and are considering solutions. Recent development has focused on stability for the core functionality. I believe that Gnumeric is now far enough along that it use usable on a day to day basis for basic sheets. Current work is now aimed at completing the layer of features (eg graphs, autoformating). Once these changes go in we can start to address some of the performance issues.
    Come hell or high water the massive slow down loading sheets with lots of styles will be fixed. It is actually quite an interesting problem. Please contact me if you are interested in working on an algorithm for this.
  • I think initially it was first released on Mac, then with increasing popularity, maybe PC took first priority

    If you're talking about Photoshop here, you are absolutely correct. It started out life on the Mac by a couple of fellas, one of which had a dad who was a professional photographer. They originally tried bringing this Photoshop thing to Apple to see if they'd be interested in buying it. They were more interested in some other tid bit of an image editor, so they turned it down. Some time later Adobe decided to take a stab at running with this little imaging app. At the time Adobe was mostly known for their fonts, and more specificly their ability to get fonts to render correctly on laser printers. They saw this Photoshop thing as a way of expanding that laser printer business. Absolutely no clue that what they were buying into would later become their flagship product.
  • by sela ( 32566 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @04:28AM (#912574) Homepage
    Why don't we see a article on how KOffice is coming? hrmm??

    KDE 2.0 is already in feature freeze, and in 6 weeks they plan the official release of 2.0, including Koffice.

    Some time ago I downloaded the 1.91 release, and was quite impressed.
    On the negative side it still had several annoying bugs (which are quite expected at this phaze of the development), is not as feature reach as Star Office, and what hurts the most is the lack of filters.
    On the positive side, it has most features users would probably need, is nicely integrated (I was quite impressed with the KOshell), and has original design that does not try to be MS-office clone.


  • by MostlyHarmless ( 75501 ) <`artdent' `at' `freeshell.org'> on Sunday July 23, 2000 @04:29AM (#912580)
    The author seemed to be lauding the features, such as scheduling, of Outlook + Exchange. Sure, those features are nice, but they reduce choice. To synchronize many people across a project using MS Lookout, it is necessary to be running Exchange server with it. Similarly, all users must be using Outlook as their mail client to schedule projects together. So what happens to those people that wish to use a different e-mail client? They get left out of the loop. And what happens to those offices that wish not to use Exchange, either due to its broken imap implementations, to its inability to function with non-outlook clients, or to its reliance on NT servers? These businesses cannot use Outlook's scheduling features. This is yet another example of how bundling unlike components (mail, schedule) together inherently leads to lack of choice.

  • I haven't tried it under WINE yet, perhaps I'll give it a shot this afternoon.

    If you get it to play, be sure to post the results on Wine's site. Last I saw, nobody has been able to get it to work. Due to the file management that Dreamweaver gets into, I doubt that it'll ever Wine it's way across to Linux.

    How do we get Macromedia to release this beauty under Linux?

    I asked one of their folks when I saw them at the last Internet World. The conversation kinda went like this...

    "So, when you coming out with a Linux version?"
    -blank stare-
    "Ya know... Linux? It's, like, an operating system and stuff."
    -definite blinking in the works-
    "There's a ton of web development being done for Linux, and a lot of web savvy folks that could use Dreamweaver on it."
    -awkward silence-
    "Ya know, I think I need to go talk to that booth bunny over there. Thanks for answering my questions."

    The only thing I can figure at this point is that they need to be convinced of two things.

    1) Is the market big enough for them to invest precious developer resources.
    2) Will that market be willing to spend the bucks.

    I know I've sent my share of E-Mails there way.
  • by Metrol ( 147060 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @05:46AM (#912585) Homepage
    We need a set of standard protocols that anyone can write a server or a client for/with.

    There's actually two major RFC's out there with just this kinda stuff in mind. A good long while back I recall reading about them as I was looking into all of what was going into Mozilla. At one point Mozilla had active development going on for a calendaring app that would talk to both of these standard calandaring servers.

    Of course they had a few problems with this. The most obvious being that they already had too many cool toys planned to go into Mozilla. The other nasty here is that (to the best of my knowledge) nobody has written a server daemon that actually does the stuff these RFC's were talking about.

    There's some good stuff on the drawing boards. Unfortunately that's as far as it's ever gotten.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I agree completely. In fact, I contend that font handling is one of those blind spots the Linux camp has regarding the desktop. They simply don't understand that mainstream desktop users have a serious font fetich, and that setting them up must be automatic. Further, importing a user's favorite fonts, particularly TT fonts from a Windows installation has to be either 100% automatic or nothing more complicated than clicking an option on a dialog. I've used every major and most of the minor distros, and none of them come even close to handling TT fonts this well.

    I know it sounds like a really small thing, but it's one of those showstoppers for the desktop crowd.

  • Achtung is vaporware at this point. Linux is making very few inroads on the laptop. The most robust slide presentation software is MagicPoint [mew.org]. Another relatively stable piece of slide presentation software is Kpresenter [kde.org]. Staroffice is the only version to allow Powerpoint imports.

    Of course, you could do all the slidemaking in postscript [ucsf.edu] and use just about anything to present it.
  • by ffatTony ( 63354 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @05:54AM (#912591)

    Does Gnome Office just sound like a collection of unrelated gtk/gnome software they're trying to group together to compete with kde's koffice?

    It just seems to me that koffice is attempting to be a consistent group of interacting programs; Similiar look, feel, interaction, etc and the gnome people are playing the catch up game all over again. I just hope this isn't the 1.0 fiasco all over again.

  • Calendaring functions was not what IMAP was about, nor should it ever be about. IMAP was a means to allow you to maintain your E-Mail up on a server so you could access it from multiple clients.

    In all fairness to MS, their reasoning for a proprietary calendaring server was the same reason why both Netscape and Lotus did very similar things with their groupware servers. All these folks were out there making servers and clients for calendaring functions before anyone else got around to standardizing the concept. None of the 3 were really interested in standardizing this because all of them wanted you to be locked in by their respective client.

    The really sad part is, we may never see a standardized protocol put in place for calendaring. Since this is more of an Intranet thing that's defined by MIS departments, they don't really care. Folks who don't know what calendaring services do (the vast majority) don't much care. Certainly the folks making the proprietary solutions would much rather tie you into a client-server solution where their stuff is on both sides.
  • I don't want to sound mean, but if you want toolbars in your apps, that's your problem.

    Not mean, just very self centered. You are living under the assumption that because you don't much care for the UI features that is driving 99% of the OS market right now that it's not relevant.

    The fact that this wasn't done so far shows, imho, that most current users don't care much for that.

    Does the fact that a decent competitor for Office software then also indicate that there's not much care for that either? By your logic anything that hasn't already been done is by default not cared about.

    Perhaps most of them are quite happy with TeX or plain text

    Most of whom? A couple of the folks posting here on Slashdot? You mean to tell me that you could even locate somebody who knew what TeX was outside a few Unix users who got introduced to it in college?

    Now to dreamweaver: I don't find a lack of such program to be a handicap at all. When I was doing full-time web design on windows, I still used vim.

    Have you ever seen Dreamweaver? This ain't Front Page we're talking about here. Sorry, but the fact you spent some significant time learning a text editor for a PDP-11 dumb terminal doesn't impress me all that much.

    The problem with GUI html editors is that you can't automate them like you can a good text editor. With vim you get immensely useful things like abbreviations, copy/pasting multiple times, so on. If I need to create 10 links, I create one, copy it, do 10p (paste 10 times) and change the URLs.

    Abbreviations and copying and pasting are your ideas of an advanced editor? Typing speeds being equal, I could create 10 pages to each one that you could work out in any text editor with DW. That, and your completely missing the beauty of what makes DW stand out as a great editor. You can leave it and go to a text editor, then come back. Repeat the process all you like, DW doesn't muck up the code!

    How about a more reasonable test. Let's take 10 web pages heavily interlinked, and all sitting in the same directory. Make, let's say, 5 sub-directories. Now I'm gonna move 5 of them pages into their respective sub-directories. How long is it going to take you to insure all the links still work with VIM? With DW, it's already done!

    I realize that for many people it's a matter of taste to prefer GUI tools, but again, lack of such programs shows that it's not a big deal for most.

    Most of who? Last I checked, the VAST majority of web developers far and away prefer either Windows or Mac, regardless of which platform it's actually served off of.

    But if you really want it, start coding.

    Oh now this is frameable. Is this like the default response to anything lacking on Linux? I promise you this, Bill Gates LOVES that attitude.
  • Personally, I'm wondering what some talented soul might be able to do with Konqueror in the way of HTML editing under KDE. Seems like all the components are there to make a first class HTML editor.

    Quanta does appear to be heading in the right direction. I'm guessing we'll have a pretty good idea how well it plays out in another 6 months or so.
  • Everyone's allowed one "me too" post in their lifetime, so here's mine...

    Agreed. Agreed. Agreed!

    I am a WordPerfect hater from way back. But the one thing that made me think WordPerfect had some redeaming value was Word.

    The day that sodding paperclip popped onto my screen (after being dismissed by me at the beginning of the session) to say, "It looks like you're writing a letter! Would you like help writing a letter?" was the day I swore allegiance to anything that wasn't Microsoft.

    Word groupies thumb their noses at things like Reveal Codes. Apparently it never occurs to them to simply not use it if that's what they want. But for me, at least I have the option when I want to know why the text is formatting screwy.

    Almost every one I know who does technical writing and layout prefers WordPerfect to Word. Try making a booklet. (Booklet: Pages are printed side-by-side on a landscape-oriented page so that all you do after printing is fold the papers in half and staple them in the center.) For all its feature bloat, Word won't do this.

    And I don't even like WordPerfect.


  • I've tried Amaya under Linux. It is what it is. A concept work that will probably never see enough polish to go main stream. This isn't a bad thing, or meant to be a knock against it. It's just what it is.

    Unfortunately it stresses compliance over everything else. (Heck, by definition how it looks actually *IS* the standard...)

    If Mozilla doesn't get out soon, IE is by definition going to be the standard. Ack.
  • Everyone in my department uses LaTeX. If you have lots of equations, it's really a great thing. And besides, many of the journals accept electronic submissions in LaTeX, but nothing else. Once you get used to it, it's no big deal. Kind of like ls, rm, cd, mkdir, etc..

  • "To synchronize many people across a project using MS Lookout, it is necessary to be running Exchange server with it. Similarly, all users must be using Outlook as their mail client to schedule projects together."

    Well, the solution to this predicament is very obvious, and only somewhat more difficult than simple.

    We need a set of standard protocols that anyone can write a server or a client for/with.

    That way, I can use any email/scheduler that I like, and they will work with whatever server my sysadmin decides to use.

    The nice thing about this is that I can have just an email client or just a scheduler if I write them or if someone else writes them for me.

    Rami James
    Outlook hater but begrudging user.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Between the Gimp, Gnucash, Eazel, Evolution, AbiWord, Gnucash and the like

    Damn. I didn't know he made so much money from Slashdot!
  • IIRC, the reason why X fonts look like crap is that most servers cannot antialias the fonts, and again, IIRC, I believe they can't because of some issue with the X Protocol [x.org]..

    X with an alpha channel and antialiased fonts, with full compatibility with existing clients would be yummy...

  • Whee! Thank you! The only additional feature I'd like right off the bat would be including the VNC protocol in the regular X servers. Xvnc is simply Xfree86 with hardware drivers stripped out and a virtual framebuffer added, and the VNC protocol stuff. There's no reason it couldn't be left in the regular servers as well. This would allow access to X desktops w/o expensive and awful (and slow) software like Exceed. We actually use Xvnc rather than exceed at my place of work, because of a few reasons:
    • it performs better
    • it's free
    • it's multiplatform -- one viewer for macs, windows and unix
    • when a windows client crashes, it doesn't take the X apps with it, just the VNC viewer. Simply reboot and re-connect. When Exceed, or the PC it's running on, crashes, you're screwed. Similarly, when accessing apps over a remote (poor) connection, if the connection drops, you're screwed. With VNC, you're not.
    • Shared visuals -- when you want to show someone else how you configure a specific thing, they don't need to crowd around your monitor. Just call them on the phone, both connect with VNC, and train away from your own desks. This also helps tech support calls, and it's not flakey like PC Anywhere, and Unix oeprators can see Windows desktops.
  • But a worse world for Microsoft, no? If you had $40 billion+ dollars staked on every body using Word because of the huge number of existing word users, then I'm pretty sure you too would to everything (including proriotary file formats) to preserve your lead. (And if you don't you're pretty stupid!) Nothing works by having your competitors make it easier for you. That just leads to crappy software (the whole concept behind capitalism.) So go and write that word converter, make a superior product that thrashes Office in every way and is compatible to boot, bleed a little!
  • by Steve G Swine ( 49788 ) on Sunday July 23, 2000 @06:47AM (#912625) Journal
    From the article:
    For good or ill, Microsoft has influenced the desktop market in such a way that without an office-suite, your desktop is perceived as incomplete.
    Microsoft did that? Really?

    I thought that was done by all the companies who adopted Office over other solutions, companies desparate for thousands of interoperable work stations that Got Work Done at minimal total cost. As far as I can tell (from living through it), Microsoft just listened really well to what those companies who actually use general office applications actually wanted.

    I'd include these attributes in "what they actually wanted":
    • one release and deployment cycle for the desktop instead of one per application,
    • one training and familiarization cycle for the desktop instead of one per application,
    • one partner company for the desktop instead of one per application,
    • you get the drift.
    WordPerfect and Lotus had viable office software right up to the day Microsoft got this right - and even though Microsoft had to invest in building the Windows platform layer to get that integration, it turned out to be a worthwhile investment for them. (Heck, they even passed Windows off as an operating system, even though it manifestly was not at the time...)

    A Linux-based successor to MS Office won't have to build an integrated platform - few would argue that Windows 3.x had anything on either Gnome or KDE. And there are obvious cost advantages available to whoever can use either platform to solve the real issues of office software.

    Could someone focus on these issues of simplifying things for large organizations with a Linux-based office suite? Yep. Certainly all the wounded corporate support types out there have some ideas about what sucks about supporting Office - if someone found those things and fixed them, that would be a start.

    Would a product that did this capture the relevant mind-share? Quite possibly, though one would have to withstand the full competitive force of Microsoft. We know that Microsoft will trade off anything up to and including the laws of the United States of America to keep large organizations on their customer list - I'm sure they'd try to compete on "not sucking" if someone made them do it.

    Is anyone focusing on this yet? Not that I've heard - and I'd be surprised if any open source development project looked up from scratching its own itch enough to try to scratch the generic large organization's itch. To my mind, that's what will be absolutely required to change the office desktop world.
  • One of the shoddiest things about the whole office suite is the help system. Microsoft help is the WORST I've ever seen!
    Besides being way too shallow, it's very difficult to find all but the simplest things.

    Too shallow? Way back when Word 2.0 was shipping, MS used to send this 250 page book that went into quite some depth into using this product. That entire book has been digitized into that help system, along with tons of other stuff. You may not have figured out how to get at it, but it's anything but shallow.

    WordPerfect is very polished, has menu options in appropriate positions, and DOESN'T HAVE THAT STUPID PAPERCLIP...

    I used to hate that paperclip myself. I still don't use it all that much. What changed my mind about this was watching someone new to computers use it. That's it's real purpose in life. For getting a new user up to speed with how to get Word to do it's stuff, that annoying little bugger really works.

    All that, and I get the distinct impression I'm replying to someone who has a religious devotion to hating MS. I suppose that's fun and all, but side blinders like that prevent you from seeing some of the bigger picture here. One aspect of this is why Word beat the snot out of WordPerfect back at a time where the market was anything but decided.

    What's really cool at this moment in time is that the Linux Office solutions actually have enough momentum going to take on MS Office. Even if it takes a couple of years to do, there's an opportunity here that hasn't existed in many a year. Hunkering down into the "MS Sucks" bunker isn't going to make it happen though.
  • Man, I almost missed this post here. This has been one of those rare times it's been a pleasure to cruise a thread at 0+. A couple of replies here then I think I'll shush up for a bit.

    How people think they look using a product can drastically affect their perceived value of it--stupid maybe but true.

    Not at all stupid. Functionality is but one aspect of a GUI interface. Look and feel are extremely important. Although I have issues with some of the results, I am quite please that the Gnome and KDE folks are attempting to focus in on this.

    The same could be said for KDE of course, which combines a mechanical look with everything-is-too-largeness which makes for clunky, toylike, unprofessional looking desktops. And it's the most sterile, "professional" looking of the all (out of the box)

    Yeah, this is a point I didn't address in my original post. Glad to see you did. What is with these huge icon sizes? Do we really need a "start" menu that's got a 1 inch tall button?

    The collision of badly proportioned window chrome/decorations plus bloated widgets come together like a bad advertising/marketroid

    I don't really blame the folks making themes for these problems. I love the fact that they're trying to push the creative envelope in seeing what works and looks cool. The problem is in what the user can then do to fine tweak a theme via the GUI. Of all the things I could be doing with my time, learning LISP in order to change the color of a button just isn't high on the list.

    Although I rather prefer the look of most of the Gnome themes, KDE seems to be heading more into the right direction here. A simple GUI control that allows you to download a theme, then tweak in and out the parts you like or don't. For example, I'm a firm believer in black text on a white background for reading or writing a lot of text. The majority of themes for Gnome would require me to alter code to get this to happen for many of the objects. With KDE, I just pick a theme then tweak on aspects of it right from the control panel to make this happen. It'd be REALLY cool to have this kind of control panel functionality for those cool Gnome themes!

    Redhat simply must break down their reluctance to take these matters seriously and hire an outside desgn firm. Apple does this, why not the leading Linux distro ? And I don't mean a failed comic book illustrator, either.

    I believe the KDE folks have certain people who work exclusively on graphic design. This is certainly evidenced by the colorful and distinctive icons KDE has. What's lacking still yet is a more comprehensive look at the over all picture of how the window manager presents itself. From the screen shots of KDE 2.0 I've seen, it doesn't look like we're going to see any major changes in this regard just yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I am a PHB, I admit it. I can do the basics of UNIX, but GNOME makes my computing experience a lot easier while working in the enviroment I've chosen to use. I'm currently using FreeBSD 3.4. I made the descision to use it based on what I read on the Internet about the stability and speed of the system, as well as the philosophy behind it. I am currently running Mozilla M15, GNOME, StarOffice for Linux 5.2, Sun JDK 1.2 for Linux, and Mutt mail client. I was a user that didn't know anything about computers at all 3 months ago, I started learning on Windosw 98, but realized that it wasn't for me. Now I am coming to grips with the FreeBSD ports collection and the GNU C Compiler, as well as the /etc/rc.x startup scripts, and many other fascinating things. As a PHB, all I can say is that you shouldn't underestimate any computer user, be they PHBs, power users, or technicians. The step up from PHB to power user isn't that big, as I think I've pointed out.

VMS must die!