12 April 2006

The Power of the Community, The Speed of OSS Release Cycles!

Hallelujah! After a little bit of recent suggestive poking and carefully phrased motivation, the most annoying bug in OpenOffice.org has been fixed! That right, the screw up with hiding (suppressing) blank paragraphs, issue 56195, has finally been solved by the rather wonderful yet mysterious OS (I don't know his/her real name). This bug has been dragging on since October 2005 and believe me it was a hard one to track down. As with the most complex of bugs there is usually a simple cause and I'm delighted to say that when workspace os80 gets integrated into the main code (due towards the end of April) we can test the fix and then upgrade away to the final 2.0.3 release at the end of May. I can now stop my quest to bypass this bug by writing an entire new mail merge routine in OOBasic! Do you think proprietary software would have a minor bug fix like this to market within seven months? Updated: Another email has just landed in my Inbox saying that OS has also fixed issue 52629, the printer properties box does not come up when printing a form letter (a mail merge)! What a guy/girl (that's not slander, I'm just not sure what sex OS is)! Maybe today's the day for fixing all the issues reported by phillg - if I knew it would have been alphabetical I would have got Andy to report them!


  1. Is the "the most annoying bug in OpenOffice.org" the same one you later describe as "minor bug" later on? I suppose this apparent contradiction would make sense if OpenOffice.org were virtually bug free, but lets face it, it is far from it! You couldn't even bring up the printer properties box???

    To be honest, with proprietary software, i.e. something you are actively paying for, I would such a bugs to 1) not generally exist in the first place and 2) be resolved in well under seven months in the event they slip through the QA cycles.


  2. What a shocking view point from Wiley ;-) It's good to hear your views again though...

    Allow me to explain my seemingly contradictory comments. This bug has been the "most annoying" bug from my point of view as I've tried to create an automatic way to work around it with no avail. There is an easy work around and that is to do the data to fields part manually (although in large prints that's just impractical). Fixing the bug was actually quite minor, it didn't need a large re-write or much new code, it just needed a duplicate update command removed. Of course from the release managers' view point the bug was nowhere near a show stopper so it was relatively minor. (As far as the print properties box goes, that was intentionally removed. A lot of pestering and persuasion got it brought back!)

    The problem with proprietary software though is the updates, especially for minor bugs, are not done in a short release cycle, rather a much longer big update (yearly?). The current cycle for projects such as OOo and Firefox is now 3 months for minor point upgrades for bug fixes and minor new features. There are many annoying bugs is MS Office and IE that have taken ages to be fixed or have simply never been fixed (e.g. transparent PNG images in IE). Don't forget if I had your level of skills I could have fixed the bug shortly after I discovered it.