The OpenDocument web site is not longer accepting new posts. Information on this page is preserved for legacy purposes only. For current information on ODF, please see the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee.

Oracle Office, MySQL, and other dreams

Paul Murphy writes: Most people don’t know this, but at one time Oracle Corporation ran an extensive internal beta adding a pretty good word processor and spreadsheet to the Oracle Office communications product most recently renamed Oracle Beehive and now positioned against both Exchange and Domino.

At the time I didn’t see the combination as competitive with Applixware or even Q-Office, but recommended it for sale because it did one thing better than any competitive product I knew of: it stored everything as rows in the standard database.

Sun does not own and Oracle, accordingly, isn’t buying it - but because Sun does own the StarOffice product and is the primary contributor to, Oracle is buying both influence with, and responsibility to, that community.

If Sun and Oracle now recreate the full Oracle Office by combining Beehive with StarOffice, ensuring standardized database storage for all data, and open sourcing some of Oracle’s forms based development tools into the bargain, almost everyone stands to gain.

The obvious effect, of course, is to give OpenOffice a tremendous technical advantage over Microsoft Office while, at the same time, adding communications technologies and a real Access competitor.

I think, however, that two rather more subtle effects would dominate the future impact such a product would have.

First there’s the impact on the whole ODF scene. Right now, and for the past ten years, I’d argue that the eminently logical separation of storage from format is what’s enabled Microsoft to stall on ODF by keeping the brightly colored ball bouncing in the public eye while quietly and effectively selling internal integration as the justification for knee capping ODF at every opportunity.

Force content and format information to be stored in a single, consistent, way however and Microsoft’s wiggle room get reduced while accurate format conversions become easier - meaning that a new Oracle Office would ultimately have an enormous impact directly in terms of getting truly open document format standards widely accepted and used - and indirectly in terms of empowering the Linux desktop.

Second, for this to really work in light of Sun’s existing licensing commitments, Oracle would have to open source the database and communications components for Oracle Office. Since MySQL is well suited to the job and already open source, my guess is that the pros and cons of using it would then tilt in favor - meaning that my hypothetical Oracle Office would boost the MySQL community first by creating long term support commitments and secondly by putting it at the core of a lot of Exchange replacements.

Read the complete blog from Paul Murphy (a pseudonym) in ZDnet. Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
OASIS sites: OASIS | Cover Pages | | AMQP | CGM Open | eGov | Emergency | IDtrust | LegalXML | Open CSA | OSLC | WS-I