Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A lot has happened since my last blogpost in June 2009.

Its 2011 and I have been working for more than a year on a new project called “Native OfficeOpenXML” (NOOXML). The story is quite simple: I was very disappointed with the quality of the support of the “docx” format in OpenOffice.org. Even more --- I'm very disappointed with the code quality and the design! of the OpenOffice.org Writer core and layout. There are people who believe this can be solved by “code refactoring” fixing “low-hanging-fruits”, “quick wins” and other magic silver-bullet-phrases. But one thing was for certain: There is no way to (re-)implement a core and a layout engine. Can't be done. Impossible. No way.

OpenOffice.org took the refactoring route. I took the rewrite route.

After one year here is where we are.

What has happened:
I started designing and implementing the NOOXML-core in Jan 2010. The magic is the datastructure which allows a compact representation of the documents and fast implementation of insert/deletion operations etc. I also wanted to be able to do real- time-collaboration, which influenced the design of the core a lot. In March 2010 I was able to load the ECMA Spec Part I (very big document) into the core. Not only on a desktop machine, but also on my “iPod” (not “iPad”!!).
Once I had the basic core design and implementation done I started working on the layout engine. The primary goal was to build a fast and reliable layout engine. In my implementation I focused on OfficeOpenXML fidelity. In August I had the basic layout features like text, headers, footers, tables, footnotes etc. done. I was able to render the ECMA Spec Part I (again: very big document; >5000 pages) to PDF. I then added section and multiple column support.
Yesterday I was able to render the ECMA Spec Part I document on the iPod (real device) AND in the Android emulator (since I don't have an Android device) and without a user interface:

(I know: I took a really long time. But there is sooooo much room for improvements. And hey: OOo can't even load it on a desktop-machine.)

And here is the UI-less port for Android 2.3:

Happy new year!

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