The idea of an application that supports third-party extensions and add-ons users can download and install in one click may be more applicable to Web browsers than office suites, but the developers at the open source KOffice project have developed such an architecture where all components are modular. TechWorld interviews the marketing coordinator for KOffice, Inge Wallin, to find out where this lesser-known of the open source office suites is headed now version 2.0.0 has arrived and what excites its developers. Building an easy, intuitive, cross-platform, and extensible platform like Firefox is high on the agenda.
Do you have any quick stats on the 2.0.0 release, like the time since the 2.x branch started development (there is 22 months [in SVN] is that correct?), the number of contributors, lines of code, commits, etc?
The start date of the porting effort to Qt4 was April 14, 2006 [so] 22 months is too little. That makes it a little over three years ago.
I did a quick and non-scientific sum of the number of lines and got the result to be a little near 975,000 lines of code. That does not include build files like cmake files and other scripts, and also does not include documentation, icons and other data.
An equally unscientific survey of the commits (people) give a figure slightly over 100, but I think that during this time, there has been approximately 60 real contributors.
What are the key feature enhancements in the 2.0.0 release? What are the developers really excited about that makes KOffice unique?
I would pick out two:
The use of the OpenDocument Format as the native file format. This makes KOffice immediately compatible with a lot of other office software, most notably OpenOffice.org. True, there still exists a few incompatibilities, but most of those can be attributed to bugs that we will fix as soon as we become aware of them.
The enormous modularity which makes it extremely easy both to add new features for us and for third-party developers to add customisations.
This is very much like the Firefox extensions system. Almost every feature in KOffice 2.0 is created as a plug-in, which makes it easy to test and easy to isolate. Yet, our well-designed architecture makes it well integrated.
Does KOffice run on Linux, Windows, Mac OS X “quickly and easily” for the average user, without any big dependencies? The success of Firefox was due to being a “quick and easy” install on all three platforms.
It runs on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X because our platform – Qt 4 and kdelibs 4 – supports these architectures. The packaging of the software is not done by the KOffice team.
Linux is taken care of by the distributions (Red Hat, SUSE, Ubuntu, Mandriva, etc).
The KDE Windows team has created an easy installer which automatically takes care of all dependencies and downloads the necessary components. KOffice is part of this installer, but there are still some things that need to be fixed before the Windows installation can be called "quick and easy". We are confident that this will happen soon.
On Macintosh, there is currently nobody working on the packaging, and we are interested in getting some help with that. Some of our developers use Mac OS X as their development platform, and they have KOffice running quite well. To call it a "quick and easy" install, however, would be an exaggeration.