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Measuring the True Success of OpenOffice.org
By special contributor Rahul on 2008-10-11 01:39:03
Michael Meeks who leads the OpenOffice.org development team within Novell has taken a detailed look at contributions associated by metrics to OpenOffice.org and makes the case that Sun's tight control over the codebase and the lack of enough volunteer contributors leaves the development slowly stagnating over a period of time. Michael Meeks has recently started strongly advocating the position that Sun needs to setup a more independent OpenOffice.org foundation or otherwise allow more relaxed policies for commit access and be less rigid about assignment of copyright to itself for the development community of Openoffice.org to thrive beyond Sun developers.

He writes:

Crude as they are - the statistics show a picture of slow disengagement by Sun, combined with a spectacular lack of growth in the developer community. In a healthy project we would expect to see a large number of volunteer developers involved, in addition - we would expect to see a large number of peer companies contributing to the common code pool; we do not see this in OpenOffice.org. Indeed, quite the opposite we appear to have the lowest number of active developers on OO.o since records began: 24, this contrasts negatively with Linux's recent low of 160+. Even spun in the most positive way, OO.o is at best stagnating from a development perspective.

A half-hearted open-source strategy (or execution) that is not truly 'Open' runs a real risk of capturing the perceived business negatives of Free software: that people can copy your product for free, without capturing many of the advantages: that people help you develop it, and in doing so build a fantastic support and services market you can dominate. It's certainly possible to cruise along talking about all the marketing advantages of end-user communities, but in the end-game, without a focus on developers, and making OO.o truly fair and fun to contribute to - any amount of spin will not end up selling a dying horse.

OpenOffice.org occupies a prominent position in the Linux Desktop and among Windows users as well looking for a free alternative to Microsoft Office. It is important that it continues to progress further to remain competitive.

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