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Odendahl Sept-Solutions: Open Opportunities Print E-mail
Written by SymbianOne   
Sunday, 19 November 2006
The increasing interest in OpenOffice is an opportunity which Maximilian Odendahl, founder of Odendahl SEPT-Solution could not resist. Mobile Office for S60 is the first smartphone viewer solution for OpenDocuments. Richard Bloor spoke to Maximilian to find out more.

Odendahl SEPT-Solutions started out as a hobby for founder Maximilian Odendahl when he bought his first Symbian OS smartphone, a Nokia 7650. In 2003 Maximilian moved from hobby developer to commercial developer. The company now has three full time employees and a number of associated contractors.

Richard: What was your original motivation for developing Symbian OS software?

Maximilian: When I got my Nokia 7650 I was fascinated by the possibility of adding additional applications. So I started to look for features that seemed to be missing. This led me to a search application, as many people in the community said that this functionality was missing.

Richard: Was it community interest that guided to you developing Mobile Office?

Maximilian: Not really. Community interest was the motivation behind Mobile Task, our latest application. The community was crying out for a sleep function users could use to control the radio and other phone features. So, with Mobile Task, users can now set their phone close the radio in 30 minutes, for example.

Richard: So how did you identify the demand for a mobile OpenDocuments application?

Maximilian: I believe that OpenOffice is going to spread widely. SUN and IBM are pushing it. I see it being adopted by many businesses and in the government sector, where they are switching from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice because of licensing costs. So it just seemed like a good idea to create OpenDocument support for Symbian OS and it appears to have been a good decision. I've had feedback from as far away as Australia, where one company has asked about a corporate license, as have several others. So there seems to be a demand for OpenDocument support on Symbian OS.

Richard: As OpenOffice is an open source application, was this an advantage?

Maximilian: Not from a code point of view, as we could not use the open source code in any way. However, the fact that the OpenDocument specification is freely and fully available was a great benefit.

We did look at whether it was feasible to use any of the open source code; I still have it here on my laptop. However a mobile device is very different from a PC, I'm sure that if we had used the original code we would have not achieved the performance we have, Mobile Office is pretty fast. So it is written from scratch in native Symbian C++.

Richard: Are you Symbian Signing Mobile Office?

Maximilian: No, the application is currently self signed. However, we plan to develop a recognizer, so users can open a document directly from email or the browser. As this will be a plug-in it will need to be signed, so we will be doing that.

Richard: Why did you choose S60 as your first implementation platform for Mobile Office?

Maximilian: Simply because we know S60 better than UIQ. So all our applications start on S60 and we port them to Series 80 and UIQ later.

Richard: For Mobile Office were there any great advantages to using S60 3rd Edition?

Maximilian: The main reason for choosing 3rd Edition was the new features in the rich text controllers, although beyond that I don't see many advantages to us in 3rd Edition.

I can see benefits for consumer in the devices S60 3rd Edition is powering, more form factors and better screens for example. As a developer the benefits are not as clear. It is better documented, which is good. It does have nice new functions, but equally it seems to have lost some. An obvious example, for someone developing a document application, is printing; it's now a private function on 3rd Edition, but we can use it on 2nd Edition. So it's a case of some things are better but some things are worse. Viewing documents is all about text control, and this area has improved, so we decided to start with 3rd Edition. However, the code is not really that different, so we will have a 2nd Edition version ready quickly.

Richard: Presumably you won't simply stop at an OpenOffice document viewer?

Maximilian: No, OpenOffice will become a lot more widely adopted and we believe there will be a demand for OpenDocument editing for Symbian OS devices. I've already had many emails requesting editing. These features are on our road map, but for the moment we want to make sure viewing is done properly. We already support richer formatting in our viewer than comparable application that support Microsoft Office applications on Symbian OS.

Richard: Do you think that Mobile Office could become you most important application?

Maximilian: Yes, we definitely see it becoming our core product, particularly once editing and other functionality has been added. However, we still expect to create utilities like Mobile Search, Mobile Task and Mobile NewsGrabber. I am sure the community will identified new utilities and we will certainly try to keep the community happy.


For more information on Odendahl SEPT-Solutions see www.sept-solutions.com.

 


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