IBM has announced a long-term commitment to the OpenDocument Format (ODF) by unveiling a roadmap for the expansion of the free Lotus Symphony office application suite to MacIntosh, Ubuntu Linux, OpenOffice 3.0 and Microsoft Office customers.
In his keynote speech at the OpenOffice.org (OO) Conference, Michael Karasick, Director of IBM Lotus China Development Labs, outlined the evolution of Symphony, which first appeared as a public beta on September 2007.
The newest version is now available in beta for the first time for the Apple MacIntosh operating system (Mac OS X), and Symphony for Canonical's Ubuntu 8.0.4 Linux is also available.
Symphony has already been downloaded more than three million times worldwide in 28 languages.
Karasick also pointed forward to the Symphony roadmap for 2009, when future generations of Symphony will be developed entirely on the ODF 1.2 and OpenOffice 3.0 software code base, bringing it in line with the newest OO technology. This advance will also enable seamless interoperability with Microsoft Office 2007 file formats and support Visual Basic macros next year.
IBM plans to deliver more than 60 new features to Symphony in 2009, building it into a versatile tool for work while pledging to keep it free on the Web for all. By synchronizing Symphony's user interface with the underlying OpenOffice 3.0 code base, IBM expects the upcoming wave of planned contributions to make a significant impact to the OpenOffice developer community and its users throughout 2009 and beyond.
Mac OS X support is among the top requests made by the members of the Symphony community. The IBM Symphony development team worked to ensure that Symphony not only works on Mac OS X but is tuned to take advantage of the Aqua GUI theme, with the originality and simplicity Mac customers have enjoyed. Initially available in English, Symphony for Mac OS X will get global language support as it progresses out of beta to general availability.
Another top request, support for Symphony on Ubuntu 8.0.4 Linux, has quickly moved to general availability. Symphony 1.1 provides a debian package optimized for Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron). Ubuntu is a community developed operating system for laptops, desktops and servers noted for its ease of use, array of application support and focus on being ready-to-use.
IBM Lotus Symphony is based on OpenOffice code, with IBM enhancements that allow new capabilities through Eclipse plug-ins and incorporate some of the OpenOffice 3.0 code. Plug-ins extend the power of the individual to accomplish more varied tasks with Symphony than they could otherwise accomplish with alternatives like Microsoft Office.
The underlying use of Eclipse through Lotus Expeditor allows developers to use open tools to customize the Symphony user interface so individuals can change their view of, and access to, desktop utilities such as file menus and toolbars for greater personal efficiency. Symphony 1.2 also contains data pilot tables, also known as pivot tables, which lets people quickly and easily sort large spreadsheets in more meaningful ways, making the spreadsheet data far more applicable and accessible to business activities.