Archive for February, 2008

Document Collaboration – Magic Quadrant

February 25th, 2008 by Jason

In comment 18 to comment of the day “Google Docs is Chock Full of Fail” by Karim on Read/Write web, Bernard Lunn says:

if you drew a magic quadrant with “control over presentation/formatting” on one axis and “rapid online collaboration” on the other, neither MS Office or GOOG Apps would be in the magic quadrant

That’s precisely the quadrant we’re aiming for with plutext. We still have a way to go :)

Anonymous comment 4 to Scoble’s contribution to the debate also articulates our reason for being:

I’ve found Google Docs is great for collaborative editing. Once everyone’s done editing then it’s up to someone to take the Google Docs version and properly format the doc using a desktop word processor.

Based on this observation, Google needs to completely clone a desktop word processor or focus on perfecting collaboration

Click to try docx4all

February 21st, 2008 by Jason

We’ve now got a proof of concept of docx4all, our cross-platform WYSIWYG docx editor, ready for you to try. Here is the launch page to run it from your browser.  Give it a try in Linux, XP, Vista, or (if you are game) OSX.

This proof of concept includes:

  • file: new | open | save
  • text formatting (font, size, bold, italics, underline)
  • paragraph formatting (alignment)
  • cut/copy/paste
  • styles
  • printing

There is still a lot to do, but with the introduction this week of support for styles, we’ve got a basic feature set which you can use to do actual work (not that we’d recommend that just yet) – assuming you can live without tables (for the moment at least).

It is set up to run offline – it should offer to create a shortcut or a menu item so you can run it again later.

Let us know what you think of it, here or in the forums. Cheers.

VMware appliance lands

February 21st, 2008 by Jason

Well, the VMware appliance is mentioned in my last post is now available.

Its a great way for prospective developers to examine docx4all, and also an easy way for people to work on Alfresco.

The appliance is built around Ubuntu’s JeOS (‘Just enough Operating System’), and Eclipse, which also means a desktop (for which we chose Xfce).

A stack of pre-built open source software delivered as an appliance which runs in a free container (eg VMware Server or Player) on your operating system of choice reduces to pretty much zero the cost for new developers to get started.

Its a pity we can’t deliver a similar appliance for developers wanting to work on our Word 2007 add-in – developers need Visual Studio, VSTO and Word 2007;  it would be great if Microsoft gave their blessing to a freely downloadable virtual appliance which contained these things (perhaps they could ensure that the only way you could launch Word was by running your application from Visual Studio).

That’s why I didn’t mention plutext-server in the second paragraph (even though you can install it into Alfresco with a single command).  Currently, you really need the Word 2007 add-in to work with plutext-server.  The barriers to entry for plutext client developers are one of the reasons we’re working to make docx4all a fully functioning plutext-client.  Stay tuned!  In the meantime, we’ll provide an easy installer for the Word 2007 add-in, so at least you can try the system end-to-end – provided you’ve got Word 2007.

Plutext-server is now packaged as an Alfresco AMP module

February 10th, 2008 by Jason

With the Alfresco show-stoppers now behind us, we’ve packaged plutext-server as an Alfresco Module Package (AMP). The idea is that in due course, it will be easy to deploy plutext-server into an existing Alfresco implementation. See Integrating plutext-server into Alfresco for details.  Given that we’re going down the Alfresco road, we now also have a project on the Alfresco forge.  Mostly, that will direct existing Alfresco users here.

At the moment, it is still too hard to try out plutext:

  • You have to build your own plutext-server, because there is no web-based user self registration for our test server.  This will change in the next fortnight.
  • Building your own plutext-server isn’t too hard if you are a Java developer, but we’ll make that easier as well.  We’re building a VMware appliance which you’ll be able to download, which contains a preconfigured development environment.  Unless you are really keen, you may as well wait for that.
  • Currently, you have to build a Word 2007 add-in to interact with the plutext server.  Soon this will be a downloadable executable.

So that’s the agenda for the next couple of weeks.  Cheers!