[lug] StarOffice

metcalf at attglobal.net metcalf at attglobal.net
Mon Jun 26 07:43:19 MDT 2000

Thanks for a programmer's perspective.  I don't program and only have
conceptual knowledge of programming gleaned from talking with programmers
and what I've picked up from print sources.  I'm thankful that StarOffice is
achieving comparable levels of functionality to MS Office but with a much
smaller footprint.  And unlike MS Office I've never had StarOffice crash on
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Deck" <deckm at cleansoft.com>
To: <lug at lug.boulder.co.us>
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2000 7:32 AM
Subject: Re: [lug] StarOffice

At 07:18 AM 6/26/00 -0600, metcalf at attglobal.net wrote:
>I never used it at that early stage so the Age Of Bloat for WP occurred
>shortly after 1985.  I do have a copy of HomeWord II from Sierra, a nice
>word-processing program which fits on a 720 floppy.  I could copy it to a
>2.88 floppy and have plenty of room for files.  Bloatism seems
>absent from Linux when compared to Microsoft.  I'm fairly certain that some
>good programmers could both reduce the footprint of Microsoft products and
>increase their functionality but that doesn't seem to be on Gates' agenda.
>Of course, this simply gives another advantage to Linux.

Hmm, well as a relative Linux newbie but long-time programmer, I am inclined
to disagree somewhat. Although it's true that Unix concepts have encouraged
programmers to create small linkable components, if you want to do something
significant you still have to have a lot of software installed on your
machine. Look at the dependency chain for some RPM's some time. If you are
delivering to a programmer community, you can get away with assuming they'll
RTFM and keep trying to install all those dependencies until it all works
right. If you are delivering competitive shrink-wrap, you pretty much have
to build everything statically into the package because you can't make the
same assumptions about user capabilities and perseverance.

Also, a lot of bloat happens because shrink-wrap needs to account for the
greater variety of machines and users, too. How many different drivers did
we need to package with our products in 1985?  In 1985 you could identify a
few prospective user-groups and tailor your product and its installation to
them. Some products were for secretaries, some for programmers. You could
dictate (pretty much) what they had to have on the machine because there
weren't that many choices. Now (and this is IMHO in no small part due to
M$oft -- give credit where it is due) you've got everyone from professional
programmers to your great-granny banging out emails and faxes direct from
extremely capable and reasonably reliable word processors. The variety in
machines and users is immense, and results in a lot of bloat to keep the
product backward-compatible to all kinds of machines as well as
easily-installable on all other kinds. Star Office is trying to compete in a
different market now, and I'm not at all surprised it is bloating.


Michael Deck
Cleanroom Software Engineering, Inc.

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