RE: Welcome to the list!
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 20:47:13 -0400 (EDT)

This letter is going to be just a generalized 'brainstorm' on ideas I have had
concerning the abi* project(s). This seemed appropriate in response to the
"Welcome" message.

First off, let me congratulate the folks at ABISource on the fine work they've
done to date. Furthermore, let me congratulate you further on the novel
approach which they are taking. I suspect that they are absolutely right: in
the current market, an office suite which is limited to any one platform
(including Windows) is ultimately doomed. I mean, even MSOffice has a sort of
token support for MacOS. The realization that this is a necessary part of
getting a true opensource desktop suite going was nothing short of brilliant. I
hope you guys get rich from it.

I do however, see a few potential issues lying in wait for us.

First, and possibly the most contentious, is this: which, if any, desktop
environments are we going to provide support for? The only thing which I fear
is the decision to support no desktop environment. This locks you out of
providing a whole range of services -- and especially out of getting the same
kind of ubiquity that Microsoft enjoys on the Windows platform. The logic goes
something like this: why do people keep sending us MS Word formatted mail
messages? Because you can open them in IE 4 totally transparently! OK, there
IS more that this, but we need this same kind of tight integration with our
'native' environments (all pretenses aside, this software is going to be
primarily Linux to start I suspect) just as much as we need it within Windows

Which brings us to the topic of Object Environments. Bluntly, in order to
provide the kind of services described above, we are going to have to have some
kind of object model available -- both for exporting our interfaces and
importing objects from other programs. I suspect some kind of 'Object Broker'
abstraction layer is going to be needed to allow us to run both CORBA and DCOM.
Has anyone given this any thought? It will be a neat trick if we can make it
happen -- but I think it will be an essential one. Windows users are not going
to switch to CORBA overnight -- whether they should or not. Furthermore, this
could provide a nice abstraction allowing support for both BABOON and whatever
KDE is doing as an equivalent to OLE/ActiveX.

I have already sent my comments on scripting language...

Finally, let me give a few comments on what I would like to see the product of
this project be:
* Fast (I remember running an early version of StarOffice and it took
five minutes to start up and was sluggish when it did -- I gave up on
* Reliable.
* Plug-in capable. (How bout plugins for file formats and such? A
great way to avoid code bloat if we do it right.)
* Cleanly cross-platform. May I suggest _AGAINST_ using the FE's etc.
from Netscape, unless they are cleaned up substantialy? Frankly,
from what I hear, they are a mess of platform specific code;
using navigator on both Windows and UNIX, it's clear that they aren't
even closely parrallel.
* Tightly integrated between the various apps.

Okay, I've ranted enough now. Flame away.


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