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Created: October 08, 2003.
News: Cover StoriesPrevious News ItemNext News Item Releases Free, Open Source, Cross Platform Office Productivity Suite.

Following several months of beta testing, has released the new version of its award-winning 1.1 office productivity suite. According to the terms of the LGPL and SISSL open source licenses, the software is "free for all to use, improve, modify, and to redistribute to anyone. has tracked "over 20 million downloads" of the software, which is becoming increasingly popular in government jurisdictions, hospitals, schools, and in developing countries where money is not predictably available for software purchase and upgrades.

The Version 1.1 suite comes complete with word-processor, spreadsheet, presentation and various other components and provides a revolutionary open, future-proof XML file format. The new release introduces many enhancements and new features including native one-click PDF (Adobe Acrobat) export, Macromedia Flash export for presentations and drawings, faster load-time, enhanced MS Office file compatibility, accessibility support, and a smoother look and feel. It supports vertical and bidirectional writing with complex text layout. It comes with a a macro recorder, software development kit, and an XML filter tool including filters for DocBook and XHTML."

Downloads are available for for Windows (98/ME/NT/2000/XP), Linux (x86 & PowerPC), and Solaris Operating System (SPARC platform edition) in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean and Japanese. Support for other languages is underway; versions for Mac OS X, FreeBSD and Solaris (x86) will be available later in 2003. Version 1.1 New Features

Some of the new features and improvements included in 1.1 are:

  • Native Export to Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format). This feature allows any document, spreadsheet or presentation to be exported directly to Adobe PDF format without the need for additional expensive software.

  • Native Export to Macromedia Flash. This feature allows presentations to be exported directly to the Macromedia Flash format, allowing for easy distribution or embedding into web pages, without the need for additional expensive software.

  • Faster Load Time. developers have streamlined the code to improve upon the time taken to initially load the suite. Also, a progress bar has been added to the splash screen.

  • Improved International Support. Support for languages such as Hindi, Arabic, Thai, Hebrew and Chinese has been enhanced with improved vertical and bi-directional writing technologies.

  • New Mobile Device Formats. Support for AportisDoc (Palm), Pocket Word and Pocket Excel has been added for easier transfer of documents to PDA's and Handheld Devices.

  • Improved Compatibility with MS Office Formats. Filters have been added to support MS Office 2003 XML Wrapped documents and improvements have been made to the filters for MS Office 95/97/2000/XP documents.

  • New Accessibility Features. New support for full keyboard navigation and control, tracking system color scheme and theme settings, accessibility in the help system and documents, Assistive Technologies via Java accessibility APIs. Version 1.1 Highlights

Key Differentiators

  • Users and systems administrators can use different operating systems in-house and still have all documents created and stored in a single future-proof XML file format where fine-granular content within documents is finely searchable and extendable to the Web.
  • An document's native XML file format allows content to be accessed, managed and extended OUTSIDE the office suite application, for example, with viewing, editing and transmitting file content with small hand-held devices and PDAs. Despite the open file format confidential documents can be password protected which includes a 128-bit encryption of the content.
  • has many language versions of the software in development, some of which are typically not supported by traditional office suites, e.g., Zulu, Sotho and Afrikaans in South Africa. As a consequence will be available to many more users around the world in their first language.

Other 1.1 Benefits

  • open, well-documented, default XML file format
  • is free and open source
  • runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, FreeBSD with other platforms in development
  • has over 60 language localization projects. Over 30 languages available in 1.0 developed, QA'd and supported by a large worldwide community
  • programming support for Java, C++, Basic, OLE and further programming languages/technologies
  • fosters the creation of new businesses and jobs (e.g., Sun Microsystems' StarOffice or Novell's Ximian Desktop), growing number of independent system integrators and consultants Software Development Kit (SDK)

The SDK is "an add-on for the office suite. It provides the necessary tools and documentation for programming the APIs and creating own extensions (UNO components) for The highlight of the SDK is the 900-page Developer's Guide. This comprehensive guide provides a detailed description of the API concepts, the UNO component model and how to use the API in the context of the different application areas. At the close of each chapter, there is at least one example that demonstrates how to use a specific API. The SDK features: 900-page Developer's Guide in HTML and PDF; XML file format specification; IDL reference with cross references to the Developer's Guide and vice versa; C/C++ and Java UNO reference documentation; development and deployment tools; code samples for Java, C++, Basic and OLE; easy-to-use build environment for the included samples." XML File Format

Advantages of the StarOffice/ open XML file format, as presented in the Newsletter Volume 1, Issue 4 (Octber 2003):

  • Open

    • 500-page specification document available online
    • no undocumented proprietary elements (no lock-in)
    • basis for OASIS Open Office XML Format standardization effort
    • leverages established standards like Dublin Core, XSL-FO, XLink, SVG and HTML
    • file format allows to add features to the productivity applications without having to break the file format compatibility

  • Universal, Multi-Purpose File Format

    • XML file format is default file format (users don't have to choose to save to XML)
    • all applications use the same XML file format (word processor, spreadsheet AND presentation)
    • files include the full document information (content, meta data, macros AND formatting information)
    • not limited for usage with specific business applications

  • Small File Size

    • ZIP compression (native support for ZIP format in tools like Perl, Ant and most operating systems, e.g., Windows XP, Linux, Solaris)
    • images included as native files instead of Base64 encoded ASCII data

  • Separation of Content/Data and Formatting Information

    • separate XML files for content, meta data, styles and macros in XML file
    • content file includes assigned style names but no style details

  • Full XML Support in All "Editions"

    • same XML file format for free office suite and commercial StarOffice product
    • platform independent XML file format (Windows, Linux, Solaris)

  • XSLT Based XML Filter Tool

    • XSLT based XML filter tool for standards based interoperability allows import and export of 3rd party file formats using XSL transformations (e.g., Office 2003 XML file formats)

  • Third Party Support

    • future versions of KOffice will use the OASIS XML file format as the default file format
    • the cross-industry OASIS technical committee members are defining the future of the OASIS XML file format (not just one single vendor)

From the Announcement

"The release of Version 1.1 of is a major achievement for the community," said Curtis Sasaki, vice president of desktop solutions at Sun Microsystems, Inc. "With the successful inaugural conference earlier in the year, the energy in the community drove many corporate and individual contributors to work together with Sun to create the most stable and powerful release of the application so far, which is the core of the new StarOffice 7 Office Suite.

"New features like the native PDF export and the support for assistive technologies will accelerate the fast growing, worldwide adoption of, StarOffice as well as more secure, alternative desktop environments. We've seen community members work for days on end to create translated versions. This kind of enthusiasm helped to make one of the leading open source projects today," adds Sasaki. is the home of the open source project and its community of developers, users and marketers responsible for the on-going development of the product. The mission of is to create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format. The office suite runs on FreeBSD, Windows (98/ME/2000/XP), Linux (x86 & PowerPC), Mac OS X and Solaris; while ports for other operating systems and hardware platforms, including IRIX, HP-UX, Tru64, Linux (Alpha), Linux (ARM), Linux (Itanium2) and others, are in various stages of development. 1.1 -- soon available across multiple platforms in over 60 native languages -- is written in C++ and has documented API's licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) and Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL) open source licenses. has tracked over 20 million downloads in the life of the project. The founder and sponsor of the project is Sun Microsystems, Inc. Sun markets an office suite based on the code called StarOffice. CollabNet ( hosts and manages the project.

Principal references:

Hosted By
OASIS - Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards

Sponsored By

IBM Corporation
ISIS Papyrus
Microsoft Corporation
Oracle Corporation


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