IBM Lotus Symphony

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IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby TheGurkha » Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:16 pm

As you are probbaly aware, IBM recently released a version of OpenOffice which they are calling Lotus Symphony. Out of curiosity I downloaded and installed a copy of it on a virtual PC, and have taken a few screenshots. It looks like they are only offering Writer, Calc and Impress.

It fires up a start screen a bit like a trimmed down version of the OOo 3.0 Beta version start screen. Interestingly, when you are using Symphony you get a tabbed display with a tab for each document/sheet/presentation you have open. In the second screenshot I have a word processor document open and a spreadsheet open. From there you can hop from document to document and go back to the Home (start screen) page.
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StartScreen.jpg
Start Screen of Lotus Symphony
USerInterface.jpg
User Interface of Lotus Symphony
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby TerryE » Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:45 pm

I wonder how much of this code base is OOo and how much is their own. Hummmnn, it might be worthwhile downloading the source and having a poke around. It would be interesting to see if they have addressed some of the performance and scaling issues in Calc. The IBM guys (it's team from Beijing) were well represented at the 2007 OOoCon in Barcelona.
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby EdH » Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:13 pm

From various sources what I have garnered is that the interface code is entirely different and that it uses OOo as a backend and teh interface is therefore totally new. When I first saw those screenshots with the tabs I was ready to rubbish it as an MSO2007 clone but then I realised that what they'd done with the tabs being for different documents was just so much more useful that the quite frankly hopeless arrangement in MSO2007. I have not used either particularly extensively so would be interested to hear from someone who has used this versus MSO2007 about how the interface works.

Having said that I don't like the way that the interface does nothing even slightly analogous to the desktop environment. They could have made it fit in yet still work as it does. It's an office suite, not a taiwanese motherboard utility!
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby acknak » Mon Jun 30, 2008 3:28 am

... it might be worthwhile downloading the source and having a poke around

Are you sure you can get the source? Last I heard, Symphony is not open source: gratis, not libre, but I haven't checked into it myself.
 Edit:  
PS: Well, I checked--or at least I tried to check. Unless I missed something, which is always possible, IBM completely hides the license until you've actually installed a bunch of stuff (the Java-based installer with it's own JRE), which requires root access.

Since I prefer not to trust some binary package with root access to my system, just to find out what the license is, I'm still in the dark.

Further, the Linux download fails to self-extract. I had to fiddle around a good bit to unpack the goofy thing.

Bad form, IBM. Bad form.

By contrast, Sun provides the OOo download as a standard archive which, once unpacked, provides the license as both simple text and HTML files. No gymnastics or root access is required just to read the license. Of course, the license is easily available from the OOo web site without requiring even a download.
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby DaveD » Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:59 pm

I have been using Lotus Symphony throughout each beta release as well as the final 1.0 release. The source is definitely not available, unfortunately. Lotus Symphony is certainly not that fantastic yet, but I am curious to see what IBM can pull off for the next version.

The one thing that I really appreciate the most about Lotus Symphony is the support forum. You can ask questions, provide feedback, request features and so on and you get responses quickly from actual Lotus developers from China. If it's a bug related issue, they follow-up by e-mail back and forth to get them the necessary information and error logs to diagnose the problem. Throughout the beta stages, I saw many features get requested on the forum that actually got implemented with each beta release and the developers would go back to that original request thread and let the person know that the feature was implemented. I really respect the fact that the Lotus Symphony developers listen to their users.

That being said, Lotus Symphony still has a ways to go. It does lack many features that OOo already has. It still performs quite slow, despite the developers making dramatic performance increases during the last few beta releases and then again for the final release. The final release does crash from time to time, unfortunately, but not very often. I am mostly curious as to what IBM will do with Lotus Symphony over time because this could be the start of something truly amazing... possibly.

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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby TerryE » Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:57 pm

I've been poking around the Lotus site looking for the Licence and no such luck. IBM seems to be particularly obtuse here. I did come across a post about changes to the Beta 2 licence which explicitly removed the right to distribute the source. It does seem to be a free, but closed source derivative of OOo. As someone who is a JCA signatory and contributed fixes, I find this disturbing. Sun have now slightly modified the JCA and now call it the SCA. Whilst I was happy to grant Sun joint rights essentially to enable to use any contributions in the commercial StarOffice variant, what we seem to have here is that Sun are assigning rights to IBM which are far from GPL or common FLOSS licence variants.

The idea of our Open Source contributions becoming someone else's Closed Source solution is definitely not what I had in mind.

Dave, I did see one reference to the Lotus Licence being in the installed S/W. Could you attach a copy?
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby acknak » Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:38 pm

What I had read was that IBM started with 1.x OOo code and wrote their own UI in Java. Who knows under what terms IBM got the old code, but (IIUC & IANAL) there's nothing to stop Sun from distributing the current OOo code under any license they want, since they hold the copyright. However as you said for yourself Terry, I expect it would be the end of any contributions to OOo if Sun ever did start re-licensing current OOo under proprietary licenses.
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby TheGurkha » Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:01 pm

Since I prefer not to trust some binary package with root access to my system, just to find out what the license is, I'm still in the dark.


That's why I installed it on a virtual PC :)

Here's the licence files that I could find, for anyone who is interested. And interestingly, they seem to have included some source code, but it looks like it is for Eclipse add-ons.
Attachments
notices.rtf
(64.33 KiB) Downloaded 151 times
non_ibm_license.rtf
(28.11 KiB) Downloaded 189 times
LA_en.rtf
(51.73 KiB) Downloaded 262 times
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby DaveD » Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:22 am

From what I understand and from what I have heard, the OOo licence used in 1.1.4 allows IBM to use the code and not have to share the code changes that they have made. However, I have heard that this would not be possible for IBM to use the OOo 3.x (maybe even 2.x) code in Lotus Symphony and not share their code changes. I have heard that IBM will be sticking with the OOo 1.1.4 code base and modifying/maintaining it on their own. I have also heard that IBM made many code changes to the OOo 1.1.4 code that they have included in Lotus Symphony. So they likely will not use newer OOo code.

These are just bits and pieces that I have heard, nothing that I am 100% certain of.

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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby TerryE » Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:29 am

The International License Agreement for Non-Warranted Programs (LA-en.rtf) is the one that applies. It reads very much the same as other commercial freeware (e.g. WMware Player). It seems to be grant of the right to use without warranty. It explicitly excludes a whole bunch of FLOSS components such Apache, Eclipse, OpenOffice.org V1.1.0 which is at odds with your view that they are using 1.1.4. I am a late joiner to OOo, but weren't the ODF formats introduced with V2. Does this mean that IBM has there own private / closed set of load/save filters? Crazy.

Looks like IBM want to keep it closed.
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby DaveD » Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:02 am

Terry,

You are right, OOo came out with ODF filters in the 2.0 release. Yes, IBM did have to create their own ODF filters to add to Lotus Symphony and from what I understand, there are some conflicts between OOo and Lotus Symphony where the same ODF document might not look exactly the same between the two programs.

Unfortunately, you are also right that IBM wants to keep it closed which is a shame. What bothers me the most is that IBM has never provided any kind of development roadmap of dates and features and so on. So you don't know what to expect or when to expect it. I figure a simple roadmap is the least they could do.
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby acknak » Tue Jul 01, 2008 3:20 am

That's why I installed it on a virtual PC :)

Here's the licence files that I could find, for anyone who is interested.

Nice work! Thanks!

Hmm, are you sure we're allowed to make copies of the license? ;-)

I've got to get me one of those virtual PCs; I keep waiting to see one on sale somewhere. :o
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Re: IBM Lotus Symphony

Postby keme » Tue Jul 01, 2008 9:46 am

acknak wrote:
That's why I installed it on a virtual PC :)

Here's the licence files that I could find, for anyone who is interested.

Nice work! Thanks!

Hmm, are you sure we're allowed to make copies of the license? ;-)
Same thought was the first that struck me. . . Great minds think alike, it seems ;)
acknak wrote:I've got to get me one of those virtual PCs; I keep waiting to see one on sale somewhere. :o

Can't get them in retail anymore, sorry. Collector's items.
Actually this is only partly a joke (the part about it being "collectible"). I had a bit of a laugh some 15 years ago, when the norwegian "gadget pusher" Arngren Electronics announced their own PC brand name, "Virtual PC". It obviously based its name on the "virtual reality" wave of the time, and was meant to indicate that the "Virtual" computers were specially equipped to handle graphics and controllers for VR, although most of the models weren't. Arngren Electronics went bankrupt in 2001, but I think I still have a few of the old catalogs lying around somewhere. They really are collectible. No other mail order catalog was ever more full of unintended jokes. Can't help grinning just to think of it...
Virtual boxes are rumored to still be around, though . They seem to be quite popular, as I hear "virtual box" mumbled just about everywhere.
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