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17 May 2012, 10:22

IBM contributes Symphony to Apache OpenOffice

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Symphony logo IBM has begun the process of contributing code from Symphony, its office automation suite, to the Apache OpenOffice project, saying: "This ends the Symphony fork here with Apache OpenOffice". Earlier in the year, the company announced its intention to make the contribution, as it plans to move customers to Apache OpenOffice. Historically, Symphony has been based on a combination of Eclipse Rich Client Platform and code that was acquired when the code was under a dual-licence which allowed IBM to use the code and not release its changes.

In an email, Donald Harbinson, Program Director for Open Standards/Open Source at IBM, noted that the "successful delivery of Apache OpenOffice 3.4" had been the awaited milestone that allowed it to go ahead with contributing the Symphony source code. "This is about envisioning a future for Apache OpenOffice that builds on the best code we can offer together with the best developers who have mastered it" said Harbinson, who expects the integration of the code to be "a lot of fun and a lot of hard work".

A Contribution wiki page has been put together which lists the 30 plus features which IBM believes the Symphony code can offer to the OpenOffice code base. These include new sidebar panel management and properties panels, visually improved tabs, better structured menus, clip art and templates, enhanced bullet/numbering, graphical connectors for document and spreadsheet editing, Visual Basic APIs, performance enhancements, presentation features, DataPilot panel, and wildcard formula support. IBM's Symphony code also includes accessibility enhancements such as JAWS and NVDA support on Windows.

Details of where the Symphony code will reside and what can be done with it immediately are available on another wiki page. IBM will continue to maintain its Symphony product for its customers until Symphony's extra features are incorporated into a future Apache OpenOffice, though it appears that the exact mechanics of the integration have yet to be worked out.


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