Profoss OpenOffice.org event essay

Profoss last week organised an event on OpenOffice.org deployments in professional environments.

SeagullsRunning with the seagulls, by * Toshio *

The event was opened by Roberto Galoppini, who talked about the approach and methodology available for a successful OpenOffice.org migration. After an introduction to the OpenOffice.org community and the way OpenOffice.org has been promoted in Italy, with significant results (doubling of download year over year), Roberto went ahead with advices on OpenOffice.org migrations, based on his own experience. I won’t make a recap of this talk here, but as often, the most obvious points are those that are worth repeating: involve your users, evaluate the situation before migrating, etc. Worth noting is that integration of OpenOffice.org with other enterprise systems might cause troubles at some point. Maybe a repository of approved or certified OpenOffice.org extensions might be helping here, but Roberto doesn’t see a global initiative happening soon, or unrelated to commercial interests of a company.

Next was Eric Descamps, project manager at the Belgian Post for the pilot on OpenOffice.org. After evaluation of the business case of an OOo deployment at the Belgian Post, it was discovered that the returns were more or less the same if the deployment started in a window between now and in 2 years. As a result, the project is now frozen, but can be restarted anytime. I guess this is a good argument when negociating with Microsoft. Let’s hope it won’t be limited at that though. Because the pilot at the Post brought interesting information. As an example, most problems encountered by users where due to format conversions. And this is in agreement with Roberto, who advised to switch to ODF altogether when switching to OOo.

During the break, Bruno Lowagie, from iText fame, gave a demo combining iText and OOo for the generation of PDF documents: the template bring edited in OOo, and the final document generated by iText.

After the break, it was Machtelt Garrels‘ turn to talk. Machtelt is the co-founder of the Belgian chapter of the OpenDoc Society, and gave a passioned talk about avoiding the common pitfalls during a migration. As mentioned above, it’s funny to see the most obvious things be worth repeating. One such thing is that management has to give the example. How can an employee be motivated by a change to OOo if his own managers don’t take the step themselves?

Her talk was followed by a panel discussion where all speakers participated.

This panel discussion closed the third Profoss event, which was again highly rated by all participants.

Profoss was started one year ago to provide quality information about the use of free and open source software in professional environments. Open source technologies are still too often dismissed as unreliable, unsupported geek toys. This is a judgment generally based on unverified allegations or due to ignorance of the open source world. Profoss wants professionals to take their decision to use or reject open source technologies on hard facts.

To reach that goal, Profoss’ first initiative was to organise events bringing non-commercial, informative content.
This was followed by other initiatives like a news website, directories of software and professionals specialised in open source and a planet aggregating feeds from blogs talking about professional open source at planet.profoss.eu.

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Technorati Tags: OpenOffice.org, openoffice, Profoss, RobertoGaloppini, EricDescamps, BrunoLowagie, MachteltGarrels

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