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Sun opens up OpenOffice

Sun is opening up the OpenOffice project to outside contributors in new ways.

Jim Parkinson of Sun has been listening to critiques of OpenOffice's governance policies and responds with a post that suggests that Sun plans to address the problems. Specifically, Sun will be using the Sun Contributor Agreement(SCA) for code contributed to OpenOffice (which ensures that any code contributed to Sun will also be licensed under an OSI-approved license); it may change the tools used to develop OpenOffice to meet community demand; and it will be forming a new Community Advisory Group and has invited people from outside Sun to participate.

All good news, and all welcome.

But I particularly like the aims of the new Advisory Board:

The goal of the Advisory Board is to ensure we continue to move in such a direction that guarantees its long-term success and a successful future. The Board will provide strategic representation of the project's key stakeholders and community representatives. It will mediate between the desires and interests of the stakeholder companies and the community, and balance the inputs against with the strategic goal.

There are no preconceived notions on the actual structure and boundaries of the Board and suggest we cover that collectively at our first meeting. The Board will not manage the project's daily affairs, nor will it replace the's existing governing body, and the Community Council. The council will continue to do what it has done so well: resolve community issues and conflicts, set community goals, manage community funds, and most important, give a voice to the hundreds of thousands who make up the community.

Sun has not been perfect in managing this community project, but it does appear to be working on its future in an appropriate manner. The problem for Sun is that it has actually done a great job in one particular respect: making the industry care about this project. If OpenOffice were a one-company community, then no one would care about how it is managed.

But lots of people care. This indicates that Sun has done at least one thing right.

Now the question is how to facilitate that outside concern to make it an inside voice. I feel the desire is there. Let's give Sun a chance to put action behind the words.