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On 11/9/13 12:25 PM, Paul wrote:
Interesting article, and indeed it is true that the file format is the
most important aspect of the office suite debate, but I think you are a
little naive in your assumption that LO should stop doing any other
type of marketing.

From a programmer's perspective, I think you are right. It's a lot less work. But, from the "average" users perspective, they don't care. As long as they can exchange their files with everyone they need/want to share with, with no glitches or problems, it makes no difference to them. Those file formats could have been created by Klingons, for all they care.

And I am mimicking your third point in your next paragraph.   :-)

OH!!! You used "thirdly" twice. <grin> I've done similar so many times...

Firstly, the question of a truly open and compatible format *is* used
when discussing the problems with MSO. Secondly, we are so few, that to
stop accepting MSO formats would doom us, not convince the vastly
larger uneducated crowd that they need to switch.

Educating people is a true sore point with me, anymore. I'm tired of answering basic questions about the computer before trying to explain a feature in Program A. And I don't see anyone addressing this issue. No one has good manuals anymore, and online help is truly a poor answer to a book. Consider, if the user doesn't know the computer basics, how is the going to know how to access any computer's help system?

There are the occasional programs that do offer good manuals. One that I'm now using, it's a writing program, comes with a 530 page manual. About the only option for most software is to buy a book at the store, and the books always seem to be missing something.

I've taken a couple of courses for programs, not because I wanted to learn how to use them (that I already knew), but I wanted to know the class content. Disappointed, every time. They didn't teach you what you could do with the program, they taught you how to use a couple of features. The last one was a local library course on MS Publisher 2007. Did they tell the attendees what the purpose of any DTP program is? Not a peep. Did they tell them how a DTP program can be used? Multi-page newsletters, small books, owner's manuals, etc. Not a peep. They told everyone how to use a built-in template to make flyers. You can do that in any contemporary word processor. Nothing was said about what sets a DTP apart from a word processor.

But I'm sure some people went out and bought MS Publisher.  <sad smile>

I've downloaded a couple of the LO manuals, and personally found them wanting. The formatting is paper wasteful if you print them out, and very little info. And always "out of date", they don't apply to the currently promoted release. What do I mean by that? You go to the opening web page,, and LO is promoting Version 4. Click download, and as of right now, you end up downloading 4.1.3. But, you go for documentation, and it's for 4.0. Say what?!?!? <----- Slight irritation here.

And is 4.1.3 stable enough to attract, and keep, new users? I don't know, but I'd bet most of the features I've found broken over the last couple of years are still broken. :-( And if you go back through this mailing list, you see a lot of recommendations that if the user wants the most stable version, download 3.x.x.

Thirdly, most people
don't really care, because it doesn't affect them. All that affects
them is that they can communicate with others that equally don't care,
and so the entrenched establishment is perpetuated. Unless the dominant
system is changed out from under them, or the dominant system stops
working for them, they won't care. Our job is to slowly erode the
dominant system until there no longer is a dominant system. Having the
dominant system become as flaky as .docx is only helps us by making the
problems actually affect the majority of users, making them care about
choices, and making them more likely to make a conscious decision to
choose the best alternative.

Eroding the dominant system is the *only* way to change the status quo. The question is, how do you accomplish that?

First, you have to decide what your target audience is. Businesses, individuals, or both? The answer to that will depend on how you want to promote the product. Businesses will care about interoperability, and the ease of converting or accessing files created with their current software. LO isn't there yet, IMO. If it was, there would be no questions/issues in that regard. I received a letter of reference from a friend to include with a job application, written in Word for Mac, and the screen display was horrid, to say the least. WYSIWYG it was not. If you're trying to convince someone to switch, you can't have this. The hoped for convert isn't going to be happy when they see their document from Program A all screwed up on the monitor.

As you said, for individuals, as long as what they have works for them, they aren't going to care. I tried for years to get my inlaws to go with LO when Office/Word 2003 would not work for their situation, but they bought Office 2010. Primarily so they knew "fer shure and fer certain" (quote from Quigley Down Under) there would be no issue with MSO files. I couldn't guarantee that. That compatibility was needed due to where my sister works.

To get anyone to switch programs, the user *has* to see a perceived value in the new product that exceeds what they have now. You see this issue right now, with the numbers of Windows users still using XP. As I noted in another post somewhere, price is not as big a player as it used to be. MS has lowered prices. I would rather pay for something that causes me no problems, than fight with features that don't work correctly or at all in a free product. Essentially, you are wasting my time.

Someone replied to me in a thread somewhere, asking if I knew MS was attributing lower earnings because of penetration by Open Office. But, the poster didn't say why. Was it fewer sales? Was it lowering of the price? Was it something else? I don't know, but those are questions that need some type of answer before you can say "we are successfully doing XXXXXXXXXX".

Thirdly, while it is true that many people use word processors
incorrectly, due to not being educated about their use, this is not
relevant to the discussion of marketing LO. It is just a fact of life.
Many people need word processors, but not nearly as many have the time
to learn them properly, or even to understand computers properly.

It's too bad no one seems to include a "Quick Start" manual with their product any longer, covering the basic features and how to properly use them, stressing the time saving aspect of those features in today's busy world.

people do view computers as more complex typewriters. To fix this would
require insisting that all those people stop doing these jobs for
themselves and instead hire professionals. In many ways bringing
computers to the masses was both Microsoft's greatest good and its
greatest evil, although if MS hadn't done it, I'm sure it would have
happened anyway. And the ability for people to do things for themselves
that computers have facilitated is a benefit for society as a whole,
one that projects like LO support. Instead of only being able to do
what some company (like Microsoft) thinks you should be able to do, and
only if you pay them very well, open source software believes that
everybody should be able to do whatever they want. That's the very
nature of Open Source: you have the source, change it if you need to.
The fact that most people can't is irrelevant; it is the ability to do
so that the open source movement believes *must* exist, so that
collaboration and innovation can happen when enough like-minded and
able people get together.

I disagree with your premise of the user that does not know how to modify the code is irrelevant. I would argue just the opposite.

Those users who don't know how to change the code are people that LO needs to include. You will only go so far pursuing the business segment. They have too much of a monetary, training, and time investment in their current system. Not to mention the tax deduction they would lose by switching to LO. This is a huge hurdle to overcome, you have to be able to convince those users the "perceived value" of LO surpasses their existing software, and change is beneficial to them. I would submit the open file format, by itself, simply won't cut it.

Those users, like my inlaws, you DO need. They'll be the ones who do a work project at home using LO, for example, and if they have no problems, they will go to the work place and tell their coworkers they got the job done and didn't have to buy the commercial product. Sooner or later, some of their coworkers will do the same.

But, I can't tell them they'll have no problems. I'm not talking the inevitable changes in any file format, I'm talking about features that don't work correctly. It's that "perceived value" that LO is better than staying with whatever product they are currently using.

Take my inlaws -- please. (OK, that's a play on Henny Youngman's comedy routines of yesteryear.) They bought MS Office. Result? MS kept 2 users, LO lost 2 users. Now, start thinking of the number of potential users LO could lose because features don't work right, and the user does not have, nor wish to have, the skills and time it would take to fix the problem.

The potential for self-betterment is what
open source is all about. The fact that the potential for good use
means that there is lots of use that is poorly implemented is one of
the prices that we gladly (though with plenty of grumbles) accept.
Though we (should) never stop trying to educate users.

You need to look at the user's definition "self-betterment". If you're a programmer, wanting to improve your skills, fixing problems does provide "self-betterment". But, if the user's need for "self-betterment" is becoming more efficient at work, writing code isn't going to meet that goal.

Just my point of view.


On Sat, 9 Nov 2013 18:59:12 +0100
"M. Fioretti" <> wrote:

Twelve (TWELVE!!!) years ago I asked OpenOffice users “Are you
advocating OO correctly"..

Continues on my blog:

Feedback very welcome, of course!



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