Two interesting things have happened in the last month, one – Jive purchased OffiSync which socializes Microsoft Office and two – Oracle announces OpenOffice.org will be submitted to the Apache foundation.
Is this an opportunity for IBM? Should IBM drop Symphony, invest in OpenOffice and make the same socialization into products like Connections that OffiSync does?
It definitely makes me wonder if installed Symphony should continue. I don’t thing this affects the online version of Symphony (Concord) but some of the back-end could potentially just use the free open source version of OpenOffice. Shifting to standardize on OpenOffice could benefit IBM from a resource perspective, relying on the community and IBM to keep it going. It will also insure the office suite is always up to date with the latest – as Symphony lags about 6-12 months behind Open Office in some features. I also think some of the cool things Symphony does can now be put into OpenOffice. It could be a win-win.
I need some help testing this out. After playing around a little bit with C# and the MS Office integration API’s I was able to compile an executable that calls out to MS Office to show Documents, Presentations, and Spreadsheets. The architecture is pretty straightforward, the attachment viewer calls out to an executable to have the file converted to HTML and then the document is shown in an iframe in the viewer. I have seen some minor issues and thankfully no crashes.
This version is also Dojo enabled and currently needs to have internet access in order for it to work since I pull Dojo 1.5 from the Google CDN. You will notice the Dojo toolbar and the different view modes – Film Strip, Slide Show, Thumbnails:
Had to pass this on because its just to great not to. Of course it has been out since June but I did not know it until I saw Dave Hay’s post on PlanetLotus -> see here. Once again another kudos to the Eclipse
I have gotten tons of feedback on this site, in email, and from colleagues for how to support Office (both ODF and MS Office) attachment viewing with the OpenNTF Attachment Viewer project. I put together a small demo of an interesting technique for supporting different kinds of viewers. The idea is to make it preference based or hopefully, in the end, through some kind of automated way in code. The first stab is of course a preference. Check out the preference screen:
Suggested preference screen
I currently have two converters, with one more possibly on the way (Symphony or OpenOffice using UNO API’s). The two current ones are very different indeed. For the first one, I am using some code borrowed from the Quickr team that converts basically anything to HTML. It uses the KeyView technology that has been in the Notes client for a long time. The second viewer, (the Microsoft Converter), is one that I coded while playing around with C# and the MS Office Interop API’s. The biggest difference, outside of the output, is the one written in C# relies on Microsoft Office to be installed and that the Interop API’s also be installed – which I believe are by default, still have to verify that. So if you have M$ Licenses then the C# converter might be for you. If not, the KeyView one does in fact ship with Notes – ie. FREE!
In the video you can see I just put the output HTML from the local server into an iFrame to keep the full fidelity of the converters output. I am actually still working through a few selection issues but for the most part it works pretty well. The KeyView converter does not convert the files as nicely as the other viewer but it does a good enough job for preview.
I think this is a great play for Microsoft because Facebook is so damn popular right now; they are going to hit a ton of young and old users right out of the gate. A key line from the ZDNet article is this:
“Those documents will always have the polish and finish of Office as they move easily from the cloud to the desktop to a mobile device and back. No one else provides this type of seamless experience across the PC, mobile phone and browser.”
The challenge I think is, are people really going to use this on Facebook? I do not know many people who are using Facebook for actual business data. I can see this as a play for Microsoft’s future – ie. get our kids hooked on MS Office so they are trained for it when they hit the business world. And when they hit the business world they will just expect a “seamless experience across the PC, mobile phone and browser”.