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From rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu
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From: robert havoc pennington <rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu>
Sender: rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu
To: gnome-list@gnome.org
Subject: StarOffice as idea source
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Hi,

I just downloaded StarOffice 4.0 (about a 7 hour process on my 14.4). It's
a reasonable application, for novice users it might be the best thing
going on Linux now, though it has many problems.

It implements its own environment, complete with window manager, file
manager, and applications.  Functionally, this is pretty much what Gnome
should be, IMO. We might think of StarOffice as a competing environment. 

Which means we should steal their ideas shamelessly, and avoid their
mistakes.:) The first obvious improvement Gnome will have is that
StarOffice is one big executable, including all the apps, file manager,
and window manager. Which is slow and removes the benefits of protected
memory. Clearly we don't want to copy the bloat aspect - with CORBA and
the power of free software we should be able to get integration without
having to replace all existing facilities.

If you want a demo of my simplified file system suggestion, they've
already done it. Here's how it works:

They have an Office40/explorer directory; in the file manager this shows
up as the root directory. Beneath it are .url files, which are text files
much like .desktop files (uncannily similar, actually). There is also a
funny binary file which links out to the real filesystem.

So the visible hierarchy is:
/Explorer
 /Address Book
 /Gallery
 /Samples
 /Recycle Bin
 /Work Folder
 /Bookmarks
 /Workplace 
   /etc
   /usr
   ...  [entire real filesystem]

The implementation is:

$ls -R ~/.Office40/explorer 
Trash          adressen.sdb   gallery.sga    workplace.sdx
Work folder    bookmarks      samples.url

/home/hp/.Office40/explorer/Trash:

/home/hp/.Office40/explorer/Work folder:

/home/hp/.Office40/explorer/bookmarks:
internet      soffice.url   stardivi.url  support.url

/home/hp/.Office40/explorer/bookmarks/internet:
acronyms.url  howtodo.url   smiley.url
cliparts.url  htmlmanl.url  textures.url


I think we want to avoid their rather unsubtle ripping off of Windows -
"Explorer", "Recycle Bin" :)

Anyway, add this to the list of platforms to scrounge for ideas on. 

Havoc Pennington
http://pobox.com/~hp

From pseelig@goofy.zdv.Uni-Mainz.de
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From: Paul Seelig <pseelig@goofy.zdv.Uni-Mainz.de>
Newsgroups: local.gnome
Subject: Re: StarOffice as idea source
Date: 27 Apr 1998 02:10:49 +0200
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rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu (robert havoc pennington) writes:

> It implements its own environment, complete with window manager, file
> manager, and applications.  Functionally, this is pretty much what Gnome
> should be, IMO. We might think of StarOffice as a competing environment. 
> 
I'm sorry to say that, but i consider StarOffice a complete failure.
It only emulates it's own working environment as defined by Win95
instead of integrating itself into and taking advantage of the great
Linux and X features like e.g. the virtual desktop.  It's not enough
providing a cost free application if it simply introduces itself as an
alien element. Just try cut'n'paste between xclipboard and any
StarOffice application...  It only integrates it's own components and
that's what it's all about.  I'd rather happily invest some money into
a well integrated and good working ApplixWare than downloading and
using a cost free StarOffice with all it's performance shortcomings if
i really needed anything else besides (X)Emacs and LaTeX.  This is
really not what Gnome should be going for please.

                                Thank you, P. *8^)
-- 
   --------- Paul Seelig <pseelig@goofy.zdv.uni-mainz.de> -----------
   African Music Archive - Institute for Ethnology and Africa Studies
   Johannes Gutenberg-University   -  Forum 6  -  55099 Mainz/Germany
   --------------- http://www.uni-mainz.de/~pseelig -----------------

From rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu
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Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 21:18:27 -0500 (CDT)
From: robert havoc pennington <rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu>
Sender: rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu
To: Paul Seelig <pseelig@goofy.zdv.Uni-Mainz.de>
cc: gnome-list@gnome.org
Subject: Re: StarOffice as idea source
In-Reply-To: <87lnssf7jq.fsf@dialin79.zdv.uni-mainz.de>
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On 27 Apr 1998, Paul Seelig wrote:
>
> I'm sorry to say that, but i consider StarOffice a complete failure.
>

Yes, it's bloated and alien. That's because it's cross-platform, among
other things. It mostly looks like Windows on all platforms.

I don't mean that Gnome should copy everything. I mean that StarOffice is
the *functional* equivalent of Gnome; Gnome should allow the same tasks
that StarOffice does, with equal ease. I mention StarOffice over other
office suites first because it's free to download, so anyone can try it
and get ideas; second because they've replaced the entire native platform,
so StarOffice is more of a complete environment than other office suites.

There are things worth copying in it. It's a technical monstrosity, and
like most proprietary software not written by the OS vendor suffers from
lack of integration with the environment and minimal code reuse, in this
case exacerbated by the cross-platform business. Nonetheless, it's the
best thing going for novice users now. If I was going to ask my mom to use
Linux, I'd install StarOffice.

*Functionally*, it's very much what Gnome should be going for, IMO. We
want to do that, only better. It's a big task, though.

We get the "better" for free, because the open-source nature of Gnome
means any reusable code can be moved to gnome-libs, and the distribution
model of Linux means everything will be beautifully integrated by Red Hat
and Debian. So don't worry about alien bloatware. What does need worrying
about is usability and non-hacker appeal.

Havoc Pennington
http://pobox.com/~hp

From jfp@squinky.org
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From: Justin <jfp@squinky.org>
Reply-To: justin@ndst.com
To: gnome-list@gnome.org
Subject: Re: StarOffice as idea source
Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 19:49:15 -0700
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On Sun, 26 Apr 1998, robert havoc pennington wrote:

>We get the "better" for free, because the open-source nature of Gnome
>means any reusable code can be moved to gnome-libs, and the distribution
>model of Linux means everything will be beautifully integrated by Red Hat
>and Debian. So don't worry about alien bloatware. What does need worrying
>about is usability and non-hacker appeal.
>
	Yeah.. I think that  when designing applications we should be
aware of what a vetrinarian, hairdresser, real-estate broker or some non
Information technology worker (the other 90% of computer users) would want out
of a computing environment instead of what a kernel hacker would want.  Kernel
hackers are going to want XEmacs and Latex and non-IT end users are probably
going to want something more like StarOffice.


--
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
 Justin Sher         |  "No appeal to any historical or empirical    
 Programmer/Analyst  |   consideration can discover any fault in the
 NDST Communications |   proposition that men aim purposefully at  
 justin@ndst.com     |	 certain chosen ends." -L. Von Mises	

From dunham@cps.msu.edu
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Subject: Re: StarOffice as idea source
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From: Steve Dunham <dunham@cps.msu.edu>
Date: 27 Apr 1998 11:47:51 -0400
In-Reply-To: Justin's message of "Sun, 26 Apr 1998 19:49:15 -0700"
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Justin <jfp@squinky.org> writes:

> On Sun, 26 Apr 1998, robert havoc pennington wrote:

> >We get the "better" for free, because the open-source nature of Gnome
> >means any reusable code can be moved to gnome-libs, and the distribution
> >model of Linux means everything will be beautifully integrated by Red Hat
> >and Debian. So don't worry about alien bloatware. What does need worrying
> >about is usability and non-hacker appeal.

> 	Yeah.. I think that when designing applications we should be
> aware of what a vetrinarian, hairdresser, real-estate broker or some
> non Information technology worker (the other 90% of computer users)
> would want out of a computing environment instead of what a kernel
> hacker would want.  Kernel hackers are going to want XEmacs and
> Latex and non-IT end users are probably going to want something more
> like StarOffice.

IMHO, we should keep the unix model of small programs that do one
thing well and that's it.  For a WYSIWYG WP, wordpad would be a better
model than StarOffice (or MS-Word).  It should be small, fast and not
overloaded with features.

StarOffice is large and often too complex for the casual user. (It's
complex enough that I became annoyed and turned to Latex for making
slides.)


Steve
dunham@cps.msu.edu

From rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu
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Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 13:18:49 -0500 (CDT)
From: robert havoc pennington <rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu>
Sender: rhpennin@midway.uchicago.edu
To: Steve Dunham <dunham@cps.msu.edu>
cc: gnome-list@gnome.org
Subject: Re: StarOffice as idea source
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On 27 Apr 1998, Steve Dunham wrote:
> 
> IMHO, we should keep the unix model of small programs that do one
> thing well and that's it.  For a WYSIWYG WP, wordpad would be a better
> model than StarOffice (or MS-Word).  It should be small, fast and not
> overloaded with features.
>

Agreed - but we can match StarOffice functionality and integration with a
collection of small programs and libraries. StarOffice is still a
functionally comparable interface. Whether the executables are separate is
an implementation detail.
 
> StarOffice is large and often too complex for the casual user. (It's
> complex enough that I became annoyed and turned to Latex for making
> slides.)
> 

Large and complex are separate issues. Large is an implementation detail.
Complex is a UI issue. I think the best solution to complex is hidden
functionality; "advanced" and "simple" modes, where "simple" has fewer
options. 

I agree with you that StarOffice has a steep learning curve due to
complexity. This is something Gnome can be better at.

Havoc Pennington
http://pobox.com/~hp

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