Hi All,

Here is a report of what happened with the OpenOffice.org miniconf. Thanks to the efforts of Jim Watson, a great day was organised and we had a registered attendance of 90 people. Some of the talks attracted more people that others, but overall was a great day with some interesting feedback given as to how people are accepting OpenOffice.org more.

The OpenOffice.org miniconf is run in conjunction with the main Linux conference LCA2007 which was from 15-19th January 2007. The miniconf was a great success based not only on the number of speakers, but also the number of people attending. For one whole day, people of like minds gathered to discuss what OpenOffice.org is capable of doing, and what they would like to see happen in the future for the project.

I opened up the miniconference being the new Australian Marcon, which Jim Watson had organised. The first speaker was Michael Cardon from the Australian National Archives talking about the Xena project which does document conversions for long term standard format conversion. Michael was even able to demonstrate some of the clever features such as working out document formats even when trying to trick it.

The next session was a Q&A session with some demonstrations of OpenOffice.org. Unlike in the past where many of the questions were related to "howto" style questions, they were much more project related and how things would evolve in the future. Some of the demonstrations were excellent with Bill Robertson from De Bortoli Wine's demonstrated the new ODF viewer running on his Symbian mobile phone. This showed that OpenOffice.org is reaching much further than just the user desktop at work. Stuart Guthrie from Polonius then demonstrated his project that integrates JavaReports into OpenOffice.org to generate templated reporting.

In the afternoon, Michael Still and Stewart Smith gave there experiences in trying to write a book using OpenOffice.org. Some of the usual hurdles people have were not considered as they were done with layout at the editors, but other problems could have easily been solved by using the master document feature of OpenOffice.org. Michael came back later in the afternoon demonstrations to have a look at master documents and how they worked in summary. This talk was finished off by a summary talk from Leslie Hawthorn from Google Summer of Code project giving details of what that was and how it would help with the OpenOffice.org project.

Jim Watson got a good gathering of people interested in how the SDK worked and some of the details of what UNO was and how it can be used to program OpenOffice.org. The afternoon was finished off with me giving a talk on Base and how it works involving a live demonstration. This was well received with a followup session immediately after with some live workings with forms, xforms and some simple macro programming ideas.

As a side mention, the open day at LCA involved a desk with demonstration of the OpenOffice.org software which was kindly run by Graham Lauder and Jim Watson. It was good to see people coming up and trying out features. Thanks guys!

Over the coming year, organisers are discussing possible changes in how the miniconferences are done at LCA. This means possible changes such as over multiple days instead of one day or other changes. It may even mean the option of having a separate fee for those who want to come only to the miniconference. So these options will be futher investigated over the next year. All up quite a good miniconference and hopefully we will see much more like it in the coming years.


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