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
And I am mimicking your third point in your next paragraph. :-)
OH!!! You used "thirdly" twice. <grin> I've done similar so many
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, http://www.libreoffice.org/, 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
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
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
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
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" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Twelve (TWELVE!!!) years ago I asked OpenOffice users “Are you
advocating OO correctly"..
Continues on my blog:
Feedback very welcome, of course!
Mac OS X 10.8.5
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