I have been actively pursuing the use of OpenOffice.org (OOo) as an alternative to MS Office on both Linux and Microsoft platforms with reasonable success; from initially working with StarOffice 5.2 which worked well with UniVerse ODBC, through the beta versions of OOo where the developers actively responded to my requests by sending patches for the OOo ODBC interface (would that other company do that for you without a business case) , making changes to their implementation of tablename aliasing (because UniVerse does'nt support aliasing a tablename to itself),

The current status is that the dba group of OOo at my request have downloaded UniVerse PE to test why the JDBC does not appear to work consistently from OOo version 1.0.3 to 1.1. They have run into a few issues getting "into" UniVerse to run but are willing to persist as long as they have some support.

The fact is that if more of the U2 community were to report problems, request support for UniVerse/UniData ODBC/JDBC etc the OOo team would realise that there is a large community that they would be catering to. Also, it would ensure that the U2 community have an alternative, cost effective solutions to offer.

Although I have requested IBM to look at some of the issues associated with OOo and U2 it would appear that the 'not invented here' syndrome prevents them from doing anything constructive; this is not a criticism, just an observation. I am surprised though that with IBM really pushing the Linux strategy that OOo is not seen as an alternative to MS Office for Linux on the desktop. (I heard a rumour, apparently confirmed in the press, and perhaps the IBMers on this list could comment, that by end 2005 IBM will be Linux wall-to-wall internally on the desktop - some of us just want to get there sooner)

There are areas of the product though that do not work well with UniVerse, and, depending on who you talk to, it would appear that UniVerse ODBC for example, is not keeping up with developments as it implements ODBC 2.0 and OOo provides for ODBC 3. It has to date not been possible to get information from IBM whether theU2 ODBC driver will be enhanced, whereas OOo have made attempts to support ODBC 2.0 via patches. Unfortunately in recent releases of OOo(1.1.0) and StarOffice 7 ODBC and JDBC fails when accessing metadata. The good news is that OOo are actively looking at this problem for a single U2 user - me. That is impressive.

My plea (oh, what a little pleader) is for all/many/some in the U2 community and especially those on this list to participate in the OOo development by logging issues related to database access; the OOo team have shown that they are willing to address issues but the larger the interest from outside the greater the focus will be on providing a solution. You don't have to do anything other than register with OOo and report where OOo does'nt work with U2. To make it easy I'll give you the list of things I've found.

Some have referred to OOo on this list - if you are using OOo and have UniVerse/UniData please contact me.

For those that don't know OOo yet there are some really powerful features we can utilise from within UniVerse eg XML "designed" forms (invoices, purchase orders) automated conversion of documents to pdf format, automated emailing etc.

For the java people - OpenOffice can provide powerful services to your applications and is worth looking at.

There is a largish site in Cape Town that has migrated most of the users to Linux thin-client and OOo and the users don't miss that other suite at all.

Here's to hoping that this gets your support :).
Ian Stuart

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