Sun to Help Bring OpenOffice to Mac

OpenOffice has seen much success on Windows following the release of version 2.0, but its Macintosh brethren has remained stuck in the past without a native port. Engineers at Sun are hoping to change that, lending their support to building an Aqua version of the free Microsoft Office alternative.

While an X11 version of OpenOffice has been available for Mac users, that release required first launching the X Window system - something few consumers even had installed. The OpenOffice development team put the full Aqua port on hold in 2003 with a goal to have it ready during 2006.

At the time, the delay was attributed to API changes happening in the core OpenOffice code base prior to the release of version 2.0. But a major effort to startup the port once again has failed to materialize since.

"Aside from our compilation efforts, the majority of our work can't be completed until these APIs are in place or at least designed to a point where we can begin figuring out how to marry them to Mac OS X. There is no active coding at this time," said developers.

With the aid of Sun, however, the native Mac OS X version of OpenOffice could get back on track. Sun plays a major role in the development of OpenOffice on Windows, which has its roots in Sun's StarOffice suite.

"You can imagine my excitement when I first heard about renewed efforts to make an Aqua port reality. And now finally I can spend my paid time to add to this great effort. At first Herbert Dürr and I will contribute to the Mac port, however there certainly will be other Sun developers involved in their areas of expertise when the need arises," said Sun engineer Philipp Lohmann in a blog post.

Lohmann explained that Sun's decision to join the porting project comes due to the increased usage of Apple computers. "If you look around at conferences and airport lounges, you will notice that more and more people are using Apple notebooks these days," he said. "We are supporting this port because of the interest and activity of the community wanting this port. The new invigorated effort in Mac/Aqua-porting (basically since CWS aquavcl01) is an obvious indicator."

For now, the plan is to develop OpenOffice on Mac using the Carbon framework rather than Cocoa.

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