[ptsefton.com] | [CV & Bio]

Sun Microsystems, meet ICE


Yesterday Cameron Loudon and I met with a couple of Sun people at their Brisbane office; Stuart Sim and David Bunker. At a previous meeting I demoed ICE to David, and we saw some opportunities for potential collaboration. David was kind enough to organize yesterday's meeting when Stuart was in town.

(Stuart is Chief Architect, Business Solutions, Global Education & Research and David is Business Development Manager, Education & Research for Sun in Australia)

ICEis open source software, released under the GPL. ICE leverages the power of OpenOffice.org and therefore StarOffice, both of which are controlled by Sun. It is our understanding that Sun are trying to promote the use of StarOffice in universities, in order to capture the hearts, minds and keyboard fingers of a new generation of office software users, leading them away from Microsoft's domination of desktop computing.

The presentation is embedded in the document below, and you can view it as a Slideous slide presentation as well.

Some key points from our discussion:

Background on ICE

What is ICE?

  • ICE is a free (GPL licensed) content management system.

  • Initial development has been to support USQ's courseware publishing.

ICE is ...

  • Cross platform

  • A web application that works offline

  • Word processor driven

    OpenOffice.org Word / MS Word

  • Does print, web, CD and other delivery

ICE makes...

  • HTML and PDF from word processing documents.

  • Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org

  • Books, CD-ROMS

  • IMS packages for use in Learning Management Systems

  • Presentations using Slideous

Screenshot: ICE course output


ICE runs in lots of places

Runs as a web server on the desktop on:

  • Windows

  • Mac OS X

  • Linux

  • And potentially other Unix variants (Solaris anyone?)

(A future version will run as on online service. )

ICE does distributed content management

  • Works off-line

  • Keeps version-controlled backups

  • Allows collaboration

(Using the Subversion version control system beloved of programmers with a simple web GUI)

Advantages of using OpenOffice.org

  • WYSIWYG – users working in Word have a few more 'gotchas' as Writer is used to render to PDF.

  • Master documents work.

  • Bibliography tool works well (actually it doesn't).

    Sun people: this is the single biggest thing that will hold back adoption of OpenOffice. It does not have usable bibliography software.


What could Sun do?

  • Fix the bugs in OpenOffice.org Word support.

  • Help the OpenOffice.org bibliography team to make Writer a compelling choice for academia.

  • Improve the default template that ships with Writer so that it uses an ICE-like template.

    (It's currently awful)

What's in it for Sun?

  • Drive adoption of StarOffice and/or OpenOffice.org to reduce the need for Windows.

  • Reach students on their first day at university via ICE in 'foundation computing' courses.

  • Sell grid-computing conversion services to back up ICE as an online service?

    (ICE uses OpenOffice.org for PDF rendering, which could be expensive, computationally speaking)