Linked by Adam S on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 19:59 UTC
Features, Office Last week, IBM unveiled the first version of their OpenOffice.org offshoot, Lotus Symphony. Symphony is aimed at professional users in a corporate environment, but brings to OpenOffice.org many UI enhancements in an attractive, single tabbed interface. Symphony 1.0 runs on Windows and Linux; while the site used to suggest a Mac version was forthcoming, there is currently no reference to a Mac native version of Symphony. The Lotus Symphony website has been updated to reflect the recent release, however, downloads are very slow at the moment "due to high demand."
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Symphoney
by fretinator on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 20:26 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

Improved string-handling, performance improvements, c# translation, many extra bells and whistles. Overall, a well-orchestrated release.

Sorry!

Reply Score: 2

niemau
Member since:
2007-06-28

considering the fact that a significant portion of the codebase is fairly ancient OpenOffice, i am dubious of the quality of this suite. (and considering the download server is crawling, who knows when i'll find out) in particular, i'm concerned with non-ODF file format usage. so far, my boss has been unwilling to let me switch my users over to OpenOffice because of *bad* bullet support when converting MS Office documents. problems abound with his precious powerpoint presentations, especially.

anyway, i guess i'm crossing my fingers on this. i'm dying to get my office off of MS Office.

Reply Score: 2

ride01 Member since:
2005-09-23

my boss has been unwilling to let me switch my users over to OpenOffice because of *bad* bullet support when converting MS Office documents. problems abound with his precious powerpoint presentations
...
i'm dying to get my office off of MS Office.


Why?

Shouldn't you be helping your office run as smoothly as possible, instead of pushing your personal political agenda?

Reply Score: 11

zizban Member since:
2005-07-06

Maybe it isn't politics; maybe it's cost. MS Office aint cheap, nor easy to support.

Reply Score: 6

rajj Member since:
2005-07-06

Everyone thinks that all opinions are about pushing a political agenda --except their own.

Reply Score: 9

niemau Member since:
2007-06-28

Why?

Shouldn't you be helping your office run as smoothly as possible, instead of pushing your personal political agenda?


what in comment said anything about personal politics? this is a thread about alternative office suites, in case you hadn't noticed.

and, since you questioned my intentions, it's frustrating to support many different versions of MS Office that don't completely play nice with each other. it absolutely sucks to have to explain to my boss why our consultants' copies of Office can't read the files he creates on his brand-new laptop. explaining file formats over and over is a waste of my time, quite frankly. and, it'll be very pricey to get everybody on the same version.

i think those reasons alone completely justify what i said. nothing political. don't get me wrong, i've got plenty of personal opinions regarding microsoft's product lineup. but that has nothing to do with what happens in my office. and, ultimately, if i can get all of my users on a single version of a single platform for little or no capital, that's a plus. especially if the conversion doesn't break compatibility with legacy file formats.

i feel so abused. le sigh.

Reply Score: 10

Stappjarv Member since:
2006-01-26

So have you tried passing around Writer-documents between Linux and windows? OO2.2 and OO2.4? It's not a smooth ride. Blank pages appear from nowhere, equations and illustrations move around.

As a little plus, Open Office also lacks support for the Star Office-formats that I used some eight or ten years ago. Word at least still is able to read Office 97-files.

PDF is still the only way to pass around formatted documents, and pure text remains the only completely smooth way to exchange data when on different platforms and/or program versions.

Reply Score: 1

unoengborg Member since:
2005-07-06

So have you tried passing around Writer-documents between Linux and windows? OO2.2 and OO2.4? It's not a smooth ride.


That may be so, but it is less costly to upgrade everybody to the same version than it is to upgrade everybody to the same version of MS-Office. Besides, OOo is very good at saving to PDF.

Reply Score: 5

msundman Member since:
2005-07-06

OOo is very good at saving to PDF.


No, it's not. OOo is awful at saving to PDF. The PDF export is picky about fonts and it doesn't support EPS (which is the only vector format that OOo supports even partly without making a mess of it all).

Reply Score: 2

MaxKlokan Member since:
2007-12-04

... and pure text remains the only completely smooth way to exchange data when on different platforms and/or program versions.


Apart from that pesky newline conversion problem :-)

Reply Score: 3

chemical_scum Member since:
2005-11-02

So have you tried passing around Writer-documents between Linux and windows? OO2.2 and OO2.4? It's not a smooth ride. Blank pages appear from nowhere, equations and illustrations move around.

As a little plus, Open Office also lacks support for the Star Office-formats that I used some eight or ten years ago. Word at least still is able to read Office 97-files.


You are wrong about the Star Office format support. I just searched my hard drive and found a 2001 writer document saved as a .sdw. It opened perfectly in OOo 2.4. IBM has dropped the support for the old StarOffice formats in Symphony but OOo keeps supporting them right back to StarOffice 1.0 formats.

With regard to the transfer of writer documents between Linux and Windows (and vice versa). Are you using the MS core fonts in the documents created using Linux (do you have them installed)? If you don't then you will have font conversion problems that could effect formating.

Reply Score: 2

Stappjarv Member since:
2006-01-26

Well I'll be (...) !

A year ago or so, I was enormously annoyed when I was looking through some old school stuff, and couldn't access the star office-documents

And now they open without a hitch. Was the star office-support gone from 2.2 in ubuntu, perhaps?

I did not have the core fonts installed up until now, hopefully that will make things better at home. The problems when moving between 2.2 and 2.4 at the different (windows) labs at university must be due to something else though.


Thanks for your good reply!

Reply Score: 1

chemical_scum Member since:
2005-11-02

Well I'll be (...) !

A year ago or so, I was enormously annoyed when I was looking through some old school stuff, and couldn't access the star office-documents

And now they open without a hitch. Was the star office-support gone from 2.2 in ubuntu, perhaps?


I think you are on to something I opened my .sdw file on Windows at work. When I got home and tried to open it with OOo 2.4 on Ubuntu Hardy the option had gone.

However using the OOo 3.0Beta that I had loaded on the same system (from a deb downloaded from the OOo website) it loaded an old .sdw file fine. It looks for some reason that the Ubuntu version of OOo does not support the old StarOffice formats while OOo stil does.

Reply Score: 2

sb56637 Member since:
2006-05-11

"...it's frustrating to support many different versions of MS Office that don't completely play nice with each other. it absolutely sucks to have to explain to my boss why our consultants' copies of Office can't read the files he creates on his brand-new laptop. explaining file formats over and over is a waste of my time, quite frankly. and, it'll be very pricey to get everybody on the same version."

Yes, you're right. I was just about to start complaining about OOo / Symphony's poor MS Office import performance. But MS Office's compatibility within different versions of its own software leaves a lot to be desired, and creates a lot of frustration among uninformed users.

Edited 2008-06-03 12:45 UTC

Reply Score: 3

snowflake Member since:
2005-07-20

I must be doing something wrong, but in 11 years I've never had any incompatibility issues with Office.

Reply Score: 1

DoctorPepper Member since:
2005-07-12

I feel your pain in this, as I have experienced it before. One thing going for working in a large corporation: PC banding. IE: we all run the same operating system, the same office suite, the same email client and web browser.

Some of the other "associates" are getting new laptops. I've only had mine for a year, so unless it breaks, I'm stuck with it for a while longer. Anyway, these new laptops (Dell, can't remember the model) all come with Vista pre-installed, but since our corporation has an XP site license, they get re-imaged with XP and which ever MS Office suite we're currently using.

Everybody in the entire corporation uses the same software, including consultants. I have to say, it makes life a lot easier for everyone.

Reply Score: 2

bannor99 Member since:
2005-09-15

Maybe his agenda is more suited to his office's than Microsoft?

Reply Score: 2

What is IBM contributing back?
by testerus on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 20:49 UTC
testerus
Member since:
2005-07-06

What exactly does IBM contribute to OO.o?
http://www.openoffice.org/press/ibm_press_release.html
How much code do they share?

Reply Score: 1

Looks of Lotus Symphony
by WereCatf on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 21:16 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

What little you can see from those screenshots there atleast it looks ten times better than OO.o ;) I'll have to try it out myself whenever I get my download finished. But well, with a polished user-interface it is often easier to make people switch so perhaps they will do better than OO.o has in that regard? Time shall tell ;)

Reply Score: 3

can I get a go ???
by raver31 on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 22:03 UTC
raver31
Member since:
2005-07-06

I tried to download it, but got this instead;

IBM Lotus Symphony 1

This product is subject to strict US export control laws. Prior to providing access, we must validate whether you are eligible to receive it under an available US export authorization.
Your request is being reviewed.
Upon completion of this review, you will be contacted if we are able to give access. We apologize for any inconvenience.

message code: 53e

Reply Score: 4

RE: can I get a go ???
by chemical_scum on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 04:23 UTC in reply to "can I get a go ???"
chemical_scum Member since:
2005-11-02

I had no problem downloading it in Canada. OK I already have an IBM account. But I see no reason why they are blocking NI-UK.

Reply Score: 2

No mac version
by milles21 on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 22:13 UTC
milles21
Member since:
2006-11-08

It really sucks that they are taking this approach, mac users were ignored throughout the entire beta process so it really looks like they are just recycling code with a interface and are not adding any real code value.

I guess people seem to forget that a lot of school districts still run mac and that we have IBM products such as Domino Servers, Some districts ever have novell yet there is not a netware client free produced by Novell or currently no native AFP in OES linux. Both Novell and IBM seem to ignore education and macs.

Both touting Open Enterprise yet neither have real equal platform solutions for mac, Open must mean Linux and Windows. maybe they should say Open LIN-WIN Enterprise.

Reply Score: 1

RE: No mac version
by Vide on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 22:22 UTC in reply to "No mac version"
Vide Member since:
2006-02-17

Mac users can use the iWork suite, or the Microsoft Office suite, or OpenOffice. I don't see a problem here.

Reply Score: 0

RE[2]: No mac version
by milles21 on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 22:29 UTC in reply to "RE: No mac version"
milles21 Member since:
2006-11-08

I am really focusing on the initiative being marketed as open platform in your comparison one could say the same of all users

Windows users can use Microsoft office or openoffice
Linux users can use openoffice, or koffice


It is not problem it is just annoying, being that the initial promotion was about equal features across all platforms.

Edited 2008-06-02 22:29 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: No mac version
by zizban on Mon 2nd Jun 2008 22:35 UTC in reply to "RE: No mac version"
zizban Member since:
2005-07-06

OpenOffice for the Mac has three flavors: Pick your poison: the X11 version which looks terrible, NeoOffice which is slow and resource consuming or the unstable beta version of Aqua OO.o.

In other words, a nice and stable native version would have been nice.

Reply Score: 4

RE: No mac version
by dlundh on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 11:03 UTC in reply to "No mac version"
dlundh Member since:
2007-03-29

The Mac code base is behind the others but rumor has it that it is still coming.

Reply Score: 1

bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

I remember someone in my office going on and on around 1984 about how he had to have Lotus Symphony because it not only had a spreadsheet, but it also did word processing and database functions. It was the equivalent of a $20 package for $499, I believe.

Now, fast forward to 2008. We have a name that people hopefully have forgotten with an interesting remix of OpenOffice. I have a feeling the poor Lotus Development people will want to forget this one, as well.

Is there something really wrong with OpenOffice that we need a version with embellishments that don't add a lot of value?

Edited 2008-06-03 00:26 UTC

Reply Score: 3

lopisaur Member since:
2006-02-27

Actually Lotus Symphony was quite succesful in some areas back in the 80s; especially in some schools and administrations, since it was cheaper than getting the ubiquitous 1-2-3/WordPerfect/dBase combo and could usually run on DOS machines with only 640k and no extended/expanded memory.

Reply Score: 3

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

...and could usually run on DOS machines with only 640k and no extended/expanded memory.

Oh my gods! Timewarp!

Reply Score: 1

Installation
by WereCatf on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 00:43 UTC
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

I got it downloaded but it's not working on my machine running Mandriva Linux 2008.1 Spring..The splash screen comes up, it says it's initializing installation, and then I get a blank grey window. Anyone else have better luck?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Installation
by oma2la on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 01:07 UTC in reply to "Installation"
oma2la Member since:
2005-07-05

Do you have compiz enabled? Try disabling it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Installation
by chemical_scum on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 04:46 UTC in reply to "Installation"
chemical_scum Member since:
2005-11-02

I got it downloaded but it's not working on my machine running Mandriva Linux 2008.1 Spring..The splash screen comes up, it says it's initializing installation, and then I get a blank grey window. Anyone else have better luck?

Yeah the same happened to me on Ubuntu Hardy, then I Googled and found out you need to switch back from Compiz to a non-compositing window manager. Worked fine after I switched back to Metacity in normal mode.

Doesn't look quite as pretty on Linux as on Windows. The scroll bars and other widgets use the old original default GTK2 theme not your GTK theme or the new Clearlooks default. The help is better it picked up my Human theme without a problem. The help is quite good, it helped me sort out my spellchecker problem (my system locale is en-Canada and it only has en-US and en-UK dictionaries and it told me exactly how to reset the the program default).

Its chart support in loading .xls files is weak, with trendlines being lost, compared to both OOo 2.4 and 3.0Beta which show them OK. However the text formatting seemed somewhat better (I haven't checked out the bullet problems). I have been playing around with it on Windows at work during the past week on the Beta4. I was thinking about trying to persuade our new IT PHB to install the free IBM Productivity Editors/Lotus Symphony that is included with the new Notes clients when we upgrade to Notes 8.5 and to drop support for MS Office except for the minority of users that really need it, i.e. those with existing documents containing complex VBA macros etc.

No wasting company money on Office 2008 ;)

Edited 2008-06-03 05:04 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Installation
by chemical_scum on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 04:54 UTC in reply to "RE: Installation"
chemical_scum Member since:
2005-11-02

And another thing for a Linux installation (Ubuntu anyway). You will need to chmod the .lotus directory it creates in your home directory from root back to your username to get it to work properly.

BTW it works fine with Compiz activated after you finish the install. Nice drop shadows on the pull down menus.

Edited 2008-06-03 04:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Optimized???
by bolomkxxviii on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 01:24 UTC
bolomkxxviii
Member since:
2006-05-19

Do an A-B comparison with OO.
One word: SLOW

Reply Score: 2

Distro repos?
by parentaladvisory on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 04:43 UTC
parentaladvisory
Member since:
2006-12-18

Anyone knows when this is going to hit the various distros package-repos? For my sake thats debians ;) Lenny ofc..

Or is it "just" download-from-site only a la windows apps?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Distro repos?
by chemical_scum on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 05:16 UTC in reply to "Distro repos?"
chemical_scum Member since:
2005-11-02

Anyone knows when this is going to hit the various distros package-repos? For my sake thats debians ;) Lenny ofc..

Or is it "just" download-from-site only a la windows apps?


It is a just download-from-site only like a windows app. You have to register with IBM to download it. IBM bought a license from Sun for OOo 1.x that enables them to keep it closed source. You could of course package it the way Ubuntu packages Flashplayer or Acrobat Reader if IBM agreed.

IBM says the Linux download is for SLED 10 and RHEL 5, however it should work on any system that can run Eclipse and if you have Eclipse already on your system you should have all dependencies satisfied.

What IBM did was bind OOo 1.2 to the Eclipse Rich Client Platform API and build an improved user interface together with adding some program tweaks and enhancements.

Edited 2008-06-03 05:23 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Try again
by joshv on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 05:09 UTC
joshv
Member since:
2006-03-18

Downloaded this on two computers and attempted to launch the install from the download manager - result? I got an error message and had to manually locate the install file and execute it.

I attempted to open an older open office format file and managed to hang symphony so hard that only a logout/logon cycle could kill it. My first attempt to create a new document resulted in the GUI hanging for about 30 seconds before I was presented with a new document. Though subsequent attempts were much snappier - come on IBM, first impressions are everything.

Perhaps 1.1 will be better.

Reply Score: 1

John.Gustafsson
Member since:
2005-08-08

I am going to want to stay away from it. Even if I am not an Open Office fan I still think it would be much more worth while to pool the efforts to create one suite, instead of segmenting it further. I have yet to find even one good office suite out there, so there got to be more that can be done.

Reply Score: 3

stabbyjones Member since:
2008-04-15

after using lotus notes for 9 months i have no intention of going anywhere near this.

OO is slow enough without getting a lotus branding.

Reply Score: 1

bannor99 Member since:
2005-09-15

OOo's speed is much improved but stay away from this Lotus Symphony garbage. I used to work for IBM and I can tell you that they really decided to suck on the Java-everywhere crack pipe.

Their apps do some interesting things but the performance hit with their implementations is horrendoous.
If you need to run more than one of their apps in a production environment, I suggest that you don't go cheap on your desktops and laptops.
You should also consider QOS if you run their messaging tool, SameTime

Reply Score: 2

Tried it
by Glynser on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 11:33 UTC
Glynser
Member since:
2007-11-29

I just tried it, the GUI is very flickery. And if I draw a shape and set the border to "0,00 cm" it is still visible. I haven't found a way to completely disable the borders (except picking "white" color (or the same as the shape) or setting transparency to 100%).

The flickery GUI could be somehow ignored (though it's annoying), but the second thing makes it look like a very unfinsihed product.

Reply Score: 1

Good - But
by iwod on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 14:59 UTC
iwod
Member since:
2006-05-02

I like the new IBM Interface - but that is it.
Compare to the latest OO2.4 or 3.0 Beta

It is Dog Slow, very sluggish.

They need to sync to OO 3.0 Code Base and improve their interface speed by around 1 - 3x.

OO is already slow compare to other Office Suit out there. IBM made it slower......

If they get it done right i see it as a VERY competitive challenger to MS Office

Reply Score: 1

RE: Good - But
by elsewhere on Wed 4th Jun 2008 05:46 UTC in reply to "Good - But"
elsewhere Member since:
2005-07-13

They need to sync to OO 3.0 Code Base and improve their interface speed by around 1 - 3x.

OO is already slow compare to other Office Suit out there. IBM made it slower......


They could use a TARDIS to travel forward in time and capture code snippets from OO 12.0 to integrate, if they wanted, but from a performance point of view, it wouldn't change the fact they've built it in Java.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by xushi
by xushi on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 16:07 UTC
xushi
Member since:
2005-08-29

From the links provided in this article, as well as the article itself, I still can't figure out what's the difference between Lotus S. and OOo.org. Is it just a few extra UI enhancements etc? If so, I wonder why make a fork or yet another suite instead of just stick them in OOo.org to make it better.

One more thing. I see a lot of complaints regarding downloading the suite. I guess they should have considered using p2p. It would have benefited them.

Other than that, looking forward to seeing it on OSX soon.. Just a stable ODF compatible alternative to MS Office.

Reply Score: 2

madcrow
Member since:
2006-03-13

...when they've got their own MUCH nicer set of proprietary old Office apps sitting around getting dusty. Seriously, Rather than monkeying around with OO like this, I much rather would have seen a freeware suite based on IBM's old Lotus SmartSuite. WordPro was a VERY powerful WP (almost a sort of Mini Framemaker) and Lotus 1-2-3 is just about the nicest spreadsheet around. Freelance Graphics and Approach (the SmartSuite presentation and database packages, respectively) were also very nice bits of software. Why, then, is IBM ignoring it's own assets and instead forking an outdated Sun codebase?

Reply Score: 3

bousozoku Member since:
2006-01-23

...when they've got their own MUCH nicer set of proprietary old Office apps sitting around getting dusty. Seriously, Rather than monkeying around with OO like this, I much rather would have seen a freeware suite based on IBM's old Lotus SmartSuite. WordPro was a VERY powerful WP (almost a sort of Mini Framemaker) and Lotus 1-2-3 is just about the nicest spreadsheet around. Freelance Graphics and Approach (the SmartSuite presentation and database packages, respectively) were also very nice bits of software. Why, then, is IBM ignoring it's own assets and instead forking an outdated Sun codebase?


I've asked that question a few times from the announcement onward. I really liked Samna's Ami Pro, but the more Lotus Development messed with it, the worse it became. I'm sure it had something to do with trying to compete with WordPerfect and MS Word but it seemed so far ahead to start. They'd been smart to leave it alone.

Reply Score: 2

What differentiates this?
by JeffS on Tue 3rd Jun 2008 19:01 UTC
JeffS
Member since:
2005-07-12

It looks like regular ol' OpenOffice with an Eclipse/SWT interface.

And the different apps (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation) are just different tabs within the same Eclipse workbench.

I've tried one of the beta's to see how the Eclipse/SWT interface looked and performed (no better than the regular interface to OO.o, no worse).

But, is there anything else to distinguish Symphony from OpenOffice, beyond the curiosity of a Java/Eclipse/SWT interface?

Reply Score: 2

Argh!!
by Glynser on Wed 4th Jun 2008 08:05 UTC
Glynser
Member since:
2007-11-29

Just tried the Presentation application. If I click into that frame to "enter a title", I get extreme-flicker-mayhem!! My eyes!!

Reply Score: 1

What's in it for IBM?
by PlatformAgnostic on Wed 4th Jun 2008 18:04 UTC
PlatformAgnostic
Member since:
2006-01-02

I'm really curious about why IBM would spend so much effort and money on creating an office suite on an old codebase and then give it away for free. They can make consulting bucks giving away OOo or selling MS Office or even their older stuff with less expense to themselves. It seems that the Lotus software group is not inspired by love for their customers as much as hatred of Microsoft.

Reply Score: 2