IBM Unveils Mac Support, Roadmap For Lotus Symphony

The 2009 version calls for 60 new features that included developing the software entirely on version 1.2 of the OpenDocument format and OpenOffice 3.0 code base.
IBM on Wednesday outlined the roadmap for its free office productivity suite, saying that future versions would be developed on the OpenOffice 3.0 open source code base, would run on Apple's Mac OS X and would support Microsoft Office 2007 file formats.

During his keynote at the Conference in Beijing, Michael Karasick, director of IBM Lotus China Development Labs, said demand for Lotus Symphony, first introduced in September 2007, has been increasing globally with more than 3 million downloads so far in 28 languages. To boost adoption further, IBM planned to expand the software's OS support, as well as its incorporation of the latest open-source technology.

The 2009 roadmap for Symphony called for 60 new features that included developing the software entirely on version 1.2 of the OpenDocument format and OpenOffice 3.0 code base. The development strategy would enable "seamless interoperability" with Office 2007 file formats and bring support for Visual Basic macros.

"As we rebase Symphony on OpenOffice 3.0, we are very excited about providing next- generation document creation and collaboration capabilities for the millions of potential users out there," Karasick said, according to IBM. IBM also sees the potential for the global developer community to use Symphony extensibility in concert with that of ODF 1.2, so that documents can be more deeply integrated into business applications and processes."

In addition, Karasick said the latest version of Symphony is now available in beta for Mac OS X, the first time the suite has supported the OS. IBM also released a beta version for Canonical's Ubuntu 8.0.4 Linux.

Mac OS X was among the top requests made by Symphony supporters, IBM said. While the Mac version would initially be available in English, other languages would be supported as the software progresses out of beta to general availability.

Lotus Symphony is available at no charge by IBM, which also uses the software as part of the company's Open Collaboration Client Solution, which also includes the Lotus Notes e-mail client and the Lotus Sametime instant messaging client. The OCCS suite ships on Linux as an alternative desktop to Microsoft Windows.

Meanwhile, IBM and Sun Microsystems launched at the conference the OpenDocument Format Toolkit Union, an open-source software community project building tools to incorporate ODF in document software used in content management, business workflows and Web applications. Sun contributed to the ODF Toolkit an application programming interface for reading, writing and manipulating ODF documents. The software code includes an ODF Validator, a tool that validates OpenDocument files and checks certain conformance criteria.

ODF is a file format for electronic office documents such as spreadsheets, charts, presentations and word-processing documents. The specification was originally developed by Sun, but is now under the control of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, an international standards body.