Feeds

High-class, low-bloat office suite goes open source

Cruft-free zone

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

"They just don't like to do the boring stuff for the stupid people!" said Bruce Sterling recently, satirising the reluctance of open source hackers to add the nice usability finishings non-hackers expect.

"That's just not in the job description! It's not even a job."
Well, here's some good news - we think. The powers behind the Gobe Productive office suite, which was much loved by old BeOS users, will open source the software under the GPL.

That's the plan anyway, we learn from OS News which got the scoop. FreeRadicalSoftware, a new company comprising some former Gobe employees, including Bruce Hammond, expect to acquire the code base, and release it under a dual license, one of which will be the GNU's GPL. It doesn't sound like a done deal yet, according to comments by Hammond and Gobe's Tom Hoke, but the plan is to allow a reconstituted Gobe to market Windows binaries, while FRS keeps the source.

But this is very good news, because Gobe Productive is a lean, nimble, and highly functional package that already has enough good taste built-in to survive even the most ideologically insane faction fighting. It's everything that OpenOffice isn't - and has matured without adding cruft. A while ago, it served as my main office suite for a time when Be was my primary platform. The only thing Be couldn't then do that I needed was read PowerPoint presentations - and it was with no small pleasure that I could tell PRs that I had to refuse them on "technical grounds". And the only thing I missed in Gobe was funky macros - which again, other parts of the OS compensated for. On the other hand, I had a unique UI in which the document remained central, while the 'parts' swapped in and out where appropriate, some unique features like multiple select and a nice redo/undo widget, and a blinding set of image filters.

Productive's weakness - although not one enough to cause much UnProductivity - was Word support. It was OK, but as an open source project, it should only improve.

Or should it? We wait with some trepidation for the first Gobe Productive schism round about 2004. There'll be a serious code fork over the issue of whether fold-down menus should unfurl to the left or the right. Tempers will rage, there'll be a long and acrimonious Slashdot discussion, and a fringe third force of hooligans will set about rewriting the whole thing in XUL.

We jest. Back here we called Gobe's software a "dark horse" in the Linux office sweeps, and it surely is poised for a very bright future. ®

Related Story

A Silicon Valley Funeral for Be

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.