OpenOffice.org Conference 2007: some thoughts

The OpenOffice.org Conference 2007 was held in Barcelona, from the 19th to the 21th of September. People from all the world, employees and volunteers, attended the conference to learn about OpenOffice.org future.

I returned myself a couple of days ago, and I wish to share here some thoughts about the final round table, actually one of the most important sessions.

Round table participants were:

  • Louis Suarez-Potts, OpenOffice.org Community manager, who recently joined Sun Microsystems;
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  • Zaheda Bhorat, managing Open Source Programs at Google (formerly working at Sun),
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  • John McCreesh volunteer and OOo marketing Project leader;
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  • a representative of IBM (sorry, I don’t remember the name);
    .
  • Michael Bemmer, StarOffice manager at Sun Microsystems;
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  • Simon Phipps – Chief Open Source Officer at Sun Microsystems;
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  • Michael Meeks from Novell;
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  • Cai Yung Hu from RedFlag.

While I was expecting to hear some news about the future of the project, the panel was basically a self celebrating presentation focused on download results and on the new project entries, namely IBM and RedFlag RedFlag.
Now, unless we redefine a community just as a technological club open to firms, I wouldn’t call this group a community. After IBM and RedFlag joined the project, it is getting more and more difficult to call OOo an Open Source project managed by the community. it is becoming an Open Source project managed by big companies, “build contributed in collaboration with the community“.

Barcelona guested also the Drupal Conference over those days, and it is worth to mention. Drupal is a CMS (Content Management System) released with GPL license and managed by a community. More than 400 people attended this conference, they paid 50 Euro, they mainly represented themselves or small firms and there were more than 40 sponsors.

On the other hand, about 300 people attended the OOoConf without paying any fee, and only few people came from small firms or just for personal interest. Many were from Sun and Novell and sponsors were less than 15.

Drupal and OOo are not comparable in term of code and users. There are different orders of magnitude between them. Nevertheless Drupal has more participation than OOo. Frankly I’d expect much more community participation from the biggest Open Source project in the world. Inside OOo I would like to view more hybridization among stake holders and the community . This would allow a better participation of single volunteers and small firms that are at the moment quite scarse. Louis said the next 12 months will be the most important of the entire project history. I definitively agree. And I hope they will be spent to make it really open because without a community the future is at risk.

What is your opinion?

Technorati Tags: OpenOffice, Open Source Community, LouisSuarezPotts, RedFlag, IBM, SimonPhipps, Novell, Sun

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