OpenOffice.org is an office suite offering various integrated applications, such as a word processor and a spreadsheet. Originally developed by StarDivision, StarOffice was acquired by Sun who released it as free software as OpenOffice.org in July 2000. While Sun still maintains fairly tight control over the development of OpenOffice.org, many other vendors, in particular Novell, are important contributors to the project. The project had a fairly long release cycle of about 18 months to accommodate StarOffice, the commercial product from Sun. There were many delays, making it hard for vendors to decide which version to include. OpenOffice.org moved to a three month release cycle after their long-delayed 2.0 release, published 26 months after 1.1. The new release cycle is viewed as a positive development by contributors who get their features and fixes out to users faster. Nevertheless, at the end of 2006 a discussion took place in which a six month interval was suggested. Apparently users didn't want new features every three months and the short interval between releases put a lot of pressure on the QA team.
- The long release cycle of 18 months, bound to the commercial StarOffice product, meant that little testing occurred for a long time because developers believed the release was far away.
- Many changes accumulated during the long development phase, making testing towards the end very difficult, and leading to a `big bang' release.
- Features were put in very late, even during the beta cycle, because of the perceived 18 month delay to the next release.
- There was very little code review. The QA team only tested the program.
- Vendors shipped unreleased versions because the significant delays during the 2.0 cycle made planning impossible.
- After the 2.0 release, the project moved to a 3 month release interval. This model promises a tight feedback loop with users.
- Because planning is now possible, collaboration between vendors on the same code base is far easier.
- The faster release cycle and more collaboration among vendors has promoted code review.
- Motivation in the project has increased because people see their contributions getting out to users within a reasonable time.
- The release process has become more transparent, allowing voluntary contributors to take a more active part in release preparations.
- There are discussions about changing the release interval to six months. There is some evidence that some users do not want new features every three months and that the aggressive release cycle of three months puts a lot of pressure on the QA team.