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IBM: No plans to contribute to OpenOffice.org

IBM continues to be a major backer of the OpenDocument format but it has no plans to contribute to OpenOffice.org, an open-source project where that standard format originated, according to an IBM executive.

OpenOffice.org is open-source project founded by Sun Microsystems that creates the OpenOffice software, an open-source productivity suite desktop based on Sun's StarOffice product line.

Last year, IBM took some of the source code from the OpenOffice product to build parts of its own software, called Workplace, said Ken Bisconti, vice president of workplace, portal and collaboration products at IBM on Friday. Specifically, IBM built text editor, spreadsheet and presentation components which were derived from the OpenOffice code, he said.

Responding to an email query from CNET News.com last week, OpenOffice.org community manager Louis Suarez-Potts said that OpenOffice.org would welcome contributions from IBM, which has already done substantial development around OpenOffice.

However, IBM chose to take a very different tack with its Workplace software, compared to OpenOffice.org, Bisconti said. The OpenOffice software is a "thick client" desktop suite, comparable to Microsoft Office. IBM chose to build its Workplace rich client software to be delivered via a Web portal, he said.

"We leveraged a lot of that code but we made dramatic changes to it. We componentized it--we ripped it apart if you will," Bisconti said.

Because IBM has made such substantial changes to the OpenOffice code, it has become difficult for IBM to submit its modifications to OpenOffice, Bisconti said. "We haven't found an efficient method to contribute back," he said.

IBM is participating in OASIS, the standards body that is developing the OpenDocument format, and intends to continue supporting that format in Workplace, he added.