Sun releases OpenOffice to developers

Sun Microsystems today released a developer version of OpenOffice for Mac OS X at Apple Computer's Worldwide Developers Conference. OpenOffice provides users with a near-identical software package to Microsoft's Office suite, featuring word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs.

OpenOffice.org has made the developer release available to get more specialized Mac developers involved in the project. According to Sun, this is the first milestone build that developers can get hands on experience and offer the project some assistance.

"I think there's synergy between the Mac community and the OpenOffice community in terms of the passion that surrounds what they are doing," Zaheda Bhorat, Community Manager for OpenOffice at Sun told MacCentral. "One of the most popular questions is, 'when will a Mac port be available.'" The current build of OpenOffice runs on X11, a Graphical User Interface layer used on Linux and Unix systems. According to Sun, this is more of a Darwin port than a Mac OS X version -- but that can change with support from the Macintosh developer community.

"We need Unix and Mac OS X specialists. A lot of the parts of OpenOffice that are already ported are very cross-platform," Ed Peterlin, one of the lead developers of the OpenOffice project, told MacCentral. "We need people to help us make the graphics work under Quartz and Aqua; we need to get printing to work; we need sound working; help with installation procedures; documentation; and more."

Work on OpenOffice for OS X begun in April 2001, but Sun wouldn't say when they expected the native version to be ready. "I think OpenOffice has great functionality and it meets my needs. That is a great thing to have available to you as a user," said Peterlin.

"The Open source resurgence through the Mac community has really been fostered by the release of Mac OS X," said Peterlin. "With its great support for Java and Unix, with the full BSD layer, Apple has made possible moving all of the open source momentum from other platforms and extend it directly into Mac OS X."

OpenOffice 1.0 -- released for Windows, Linux, Solaris and various flavors of Unix last week -- features support for XML (Extensible Markup Language), which will allow users to save files to PDAs (personal digital assistants) and other mobile devices when plug-ins for that type of file transfer are completed.

Sun has a booth at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, taking place this week in San Jose, California.

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