OpenOffice.org accepted into Apache Incubator
OpenOffice.org has been accepted as an Apache Incubator project and will now begin its development as a "podling" – the Apache name for projects in the incubator. An open public vote on the Apache Incubator list saw a solid majority of both binding and non-binding votes for accepting the project.
Among the more notable votes for acceptance was Simon Phipps, who has been critical of Oracle's donation of OpenOffice.org to the foundation because he felt that it was divisive and ignored the LibreOffice community and The Document Foundation. Phipps, former Sun open source chief and current board member of the Open Source Initiative, explained that it was the prospect of the OpenOffice.org project being refactored into a reference implementation of office suite components – including ODF (Open Document Format) importers and exporters – that influenced his vote.
A reference implementation could be used by other projects, beyond OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice, and help establish the ODF document formats more widely in both open source and proprietary software. "If a re-usable reference implementation of ODF editors for each ODF sub-format can be created from the code Oracle is relicensing and maintained at Apache, it could be immeasurably positive for everyone" wrote Phipps in his blog. Phipps also hopes that the project will not compete with LibreOffice "using the OpenOffice.org name".
IBM's Rob Weir, who has vigorously argued for the proposal with free software advocates, welcomed the yes vote. He notes in a blog posting that 87 developers and 8 Apache mentors have already signed up for the project and suggests that it is not a competition for a limited number of developers, calling it "the fallacy of scarcity". Weir says that the ODF standard (which OpenOffice.org implements) "can and should be the basis for interoperability among competing application suites".
The concept of Apache OpenOffice as a reference implementation for other office software seems to be common ground between the critics and advocates. The debate over how Apache OpenOffice will develop, and what the project's goals will be, now moves into the newly formed "podling". By design, the Apache process requires "podlings" to create and document the aims, governance and processes needed, alongside the redevelopment of the newly donated code, in order to move forward as a potential Apache top-level project.