OpenOffice Moves to OS X

A version of the free productivity suite that will work natively on the OS X operating system may finally be ready in September 2008.

That's when version 3.0 of OpenOffice is expected to ship, according to a presentation to be given Wednesday by Eric Bachard, one of the lead developers of the Mac "Aqua" port of OpenOffice. He'll speak at the open-source software's annual developer conference in Barcelona.

"Aqua" is the name of the graphical user interface in Mac OS X. has long had a Mac version of OpenOffice, but that requires that users first install a Unix windowing software called X11 first. Most users consider that a kludgy, unaesthetic solution. discontinued its Aqua port in 2003, but restarted the project in February. And in May,'s chief supporter, Sun Microsystems Inc., assigned two employee programmers to help.

Still, the Aqua project only has 10 to 20 people working on it at any given time, according to Bachard's presentation. None appear to be employees of Apple Inc.

The most-up-to-date alpha version of the "Aqua" port can be downloaded from

lt works on either Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5, running on either Intel or PowerPC-based Mac hardware.

That version still lacks key features such as the ability to drag-and-drop items, and compatibility with Mac OS X's spellchecker, address book, and search function, Spotlight. It is also not built using OS X's most up-to-date "Cocoa" application programming interface, though the team is working on it, according to Bachard.

In an e-mail, Bachard said he "expects to provide a build including everything ASAP."

Besides the Aqua port, version 3.0 of OpenOffice is expected to include a filter to import files saved in Microsoft Office 2007's Open XML document format, a report designer, and more language versions.

This story, "OpenOffice Moves to OS X" was originally published by Computerworld.

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