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The Start X Files: Between the Sheets with HancomSheet

The Quest for an Original Idea

January 10, 2002

My first college roommate was a troll before his time. His favorite pastime, other than indulging in alcohol, was baiting me with ridiculous philosophical arguments designed to upset my little Midwestern thought processes. Of course, in those days, it did not take much to accomplish that.

One such argument he tossed out this little gem: "There are no new ideas." Believe it or not, this was the first time I'd ever heard this statement, but it would not be the last. To my credit, I did not rise to the bait for this argument, as it was getting towards the end of the semester and I had better things to do, like finding a new roommate. Still, with the exception of one other incident (in which he drove us into the side of a house one icy day and completely screwed up my knee for life), this is the one thing I can remember about him.

If you take the statement absolutely literally, then he was right. Nothing is truly original anymore. Though I strongly wonder if the David Lynch film Eraserhead might not fit the bill, since I can't imaging anyone coming up with the premise for that movie before. Nor is putting some of the members of boy-band N'Sync in the upcoming Star Wars movie an Original idea--just an extraordinarily Bad one.

This statement is even true with technology. Technology, which advances on something akin to the scientific method, more or less, builds upon the progress of other works. It is something which open source and free software developers can certainly feel a kinship.

Even knowing that there are going to be parallel ideas out there, I am still slightly delighted to find coincidences anyway. Take the rise of HancomOffice and StarOffice. Both office suites got their start as dedicated word processor programs in one platform and eventually were distributed with other applications to form a suite, while getting ported to other operating systems along the way.

Such is the tale of HancomOffice, which is a direct port of HancomOffice for Windows, a very popular Korean office suite from HancomLinux's parent company Hansoft. In December of 1999, HancomLinux was born with the purpose to distribute the Linux version of the software.

Initially, HancomOffice was ported over to Linux using the Windows emulator Wine. By version 1.5, HancomOffice was almost all migrated to native Qt libraries (except for HancomWord, the last to come across). Included in these Qt-based apps was the suite's spreadsheet application, HancomSheet 1.5.

HancomSheet has had at least one major revision cycle since it was ported to Linux, just like the other applications in HancomOffice. Unfortunately, the developers appear not to have taken as full advantage of the cycle with HancomSheet as they have with HancomWord.

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