Along with an email client and a web browser, an office suite is a core essential application that almost every computer user requires. Although there is a dominant commercial product in this category, its price, along with its closed-source nature, makes it an unsatisfactory option for many. Apache OpenOffice®, for over two decades, has helped fill this gap. Our goal is to develop, publish, and support OpenOffice free for anyone to use, and since it is open source, free for anyone to build upon.
Overcoming the “Digital Divide”
More than 70% of the world population are poor or have a low income. For many, software is a luxury good. End-user facing open-source software, like Apache OpenOffice, bring high-quality software to those who would otherwise have no other options.
Support for Linguistic and Cultural Diversity
There are over 6,000 languages in the world, but unless the language is associated with a G20 economic superpower, commercial vendors tend to ignore it. The OpenOffice community has a long-standing tradition of supporting numerous languages, including ones used by smaller populations, minority languages and endangered languages. By supporting these languages that would not otherwise be supported, we help reduce “digital exclusion” and promote development, local education and administration. It is difficult to keep the translation up-to-date for all languages, but with enough volunteers, we can reach this goal.
Persons with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments, commonly rely on “assistive technology” to interact with computers. Such technologies work well only when applications are designed and coded to work well with them. Additionally, users who create documents must do their part to ensure that the documents they create work well with assistive technology, for example through the use of image captions, consistent list levels, etc. The OpenOffice project aims to provide accessibility support, both in the core product and including broader ecosystem support via extensions, for working with Braille printers, exporting to DAISY talking books, etc.
Open standards are those standards which are created in an open, transparent process, where the specifications can be freely accessed and implemented without royalties. Most core web standards are open standards. The default document format in OpenOffice, the OpenDocument Format (ODF), is also an open standard. Widespread use of open standards promotes interoperability and choice in the market. But this does not come without effort on our part. We are committed to a faithful implementation of open standards and to test and improve interoperability with them.
We believe a consistent user experience is more important than a constantly changing user interface. Likewise, we respect that our users want to spend their time with software being productive, not re-learning how to perform the same functions. We strive to avoid changing the user interface unless it's necessary and improves the user experience.
Community-led development “The Apache Way”
The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) provides a foundation for open, collaborative software development projects by supplying hardware, communication, and business infrastructure. Each project is independent in the development of their software within the ASF guidelines and is governed by a Project Management Committee (PMC) that is composed of committers to the project.
Our project is driven by a community of volunteers dedicated to maintaining, improving and supporting Apache OpenOffice and the infrastructure that supports it. We are not guided by commercial interests, but by “The Apache Way” of community and software development. Our permissive Open-Source license is people and business friendly and is another part of our continued success.
Our Mission is Software for the Public Good
We are dedicated to offer Apache OpenOffice and the tenets listed above for the millions of users that depend on our software every day.
Continuing the Legacy
In June 2011 Oracle Corporation contributed the source code and trademarks for “OpenOffice.org” to The Apache Software Foundation. IBM Corporation followed that by contributing the source code from their “Symphony” product as well. The result of this and much hard work since is “Apache OpenOffice”.