Austria's Ministry of Justice praises the wide range of application uses of Apache OpenOffice, a free and open source suite of office productivity tools. The solution can be adapted to the data centre's needs, integrated in its specialist applications and also allows document to be created and submitted automatically and semi-automatically. OpenOffice is the standard office suite at the Ministry of Justice since 2008, installed on 12000 PCs across the organisation.
"The Ministry is using it widely, since it is very flexible and adaptable", says Wolfgang Schlapschy, a project leader at the Bundesrechenzentrum - the computing centre for the ministry. Schlapschy presented on the Ministry's use of OpenOffice at the LibreOffice conference, which took place in the Swiss city of Bern.
The data centre delivers several custom services based on OpenOffice. One example is Judok, a document creation web service. By using OpenOffice, the data centre's IT specialists can ensure security of document macro's, and customise the office solution for the Justice ministry's users, including templates and automatically inserting blocks of text.
Similar to Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court, the Bundesrechenzentrum has developed a work flow to automatically removes identifying particulars from legal documents, allowing these to be made public at http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/ RIS, Austria's Legal Information System (Rechtsinformationssystem).
Stretch or split
The data centre's developers are sharing their own Java extensions for OpenOffice, (JExO). The open source tool makes it easier to interact with OpenOffice, without diving deep into the office suite's programming internals.
To integrate OpenOffice in specialist applications, the developers follow two paths. One, they integrate the office suite with Java-Rich-Client-Applications by using NOA (Nice Office Access) framework, also available as open source. And, second, they create extensions that allow the integration of OpenOffice with applications running in a web-browser.
The deep integration of OpenOffice in the Ministry's applications, make updates complex, Schlapschy and his colleague Benjamin Sponring admitted in Bern. Yet this is not only because of the Java-dependencies, they said. They're studying how their applications can be combined with LibreOffice, a closely related suite of open source office productivity tools. "We have to ask if there is really necessary for both projects to continue independently", Schlapschy said. "It makes users unsure, and perhaps diminishes their options."
"We would like to see cloud-versions of the free and open source office suites, allowing users to work from wherever they happen to be."
Presentation by Benjamin Sponring and Wolfgang Schlapschy (video, in German)
Presentation by Benjamin Sponring and Wolfgang Schlapschy (PDF, in German)
2010 news item on document creation web service Judok
OSOR news item