Tim Bray visits OpenOffice

OpenOffice is what I use on the desktop. Tim Bray just joined Sun, and one whose blog I find fascinating reading. So, when there is a post about the combo, I have to read and blog it!

Whats In the Package: A word processor, a slide show maker, a spreadsheet, a vector-graphics package, a database client; more or less what the competition has, minus a standalone database, plus better graphics.

XML! The way that these guys store the data is massively, fiendishly, outrageously clever. They have their own XML tag set, which includes (in one namespace) all the basic word-processing, spreadsheet, and slide-show machinery. Then, for graphics they use SVG, for styles they use XSL-FO, for links they use XLink… you get the picture, theyve invented the absolute minimum possible.

As if this wasnt clever enough, they wrap up documents in a zipfile with a manifest and a MIME type and separate chunks of XML for the data and metadata and styles and and manifest and so on. So the size is moderate, it loads fast, and its all in a single handy blob.

An idea from Tim: “It turns out that OpenOffice already comes with a doohickey that will produce an XHTML approximation of most documents (Lauren tells me its shaky on tables); plus its got a nice HTTP library and APIs out the wazoo. Can you see what Im thinking? Theres no reason this sucker shouldnt have a ‘Blog this’ button that XHTML-i-fies whatever youre typing, lets you preview, and then lets you ship it out via one of the existing blogging APIs or the Atom API.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.