I was at the official launch of Welsh OpenOffice this morning. Nothing directly to do with me, though I currently work for the organisation that provided the spell-checker for it, which is why I was there.
Welsh OpenOffice has been around for a while, of course. Agored, though, is one of those rare examples of an open-source project not only having twin targets of development and dissemination, but also gathering governmental and public-sector support to do so.
Agored is also trying to put a tangible worth on 'free' software, on the basis that if you pay a small amount of money for something, you're more likely to appreciate it. On my desk now I have a copy of an original 400-page Welsh-language OpenOffice manual which includes the Agored CD. The text is all under the GNU Free Documentation License, as you'd expect, but the physical book can be bought for about £20, and it looks good. I hope it sells well.
Anyway, the press release below meant that OpenOffice gathered about two minutes' attention on the main Welsh-language news bulletin tonight, and a write-up on BBC News Online (also in Welsh). I'm putting it here in case anyone needs to Google it in future.
Prifysgol Cymru Aberystwyth: University of Wales
Datganiad i'r wasg - Press release
Embargo: Not for publication before 16 November 2006
Free Office Software launched in Cardiff Bay
Agored, a new free office software suite is being launched today (16 November 2006) by Alun Pugh, Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport. The suite, a Welsh and English dual-language version of the OpenOffice suite used worldwide, has been developed over the past two years at the Mercator Centre, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Agored represents a major investment by the Welsh Assembly Government, S4C and the Welsh Language Board in the provision of a comprehensive office suite functional in both English and Welsh. Most significantly, Agored is free of charge! Whatever your purpose - domestic, educational, govermental, or commercial - you can download a complete and legal copy of Agored today from www.agored.com. Take Agored for a 'test drive': if you like it, keep the keys!
"Agored is going to be an extremely useful tool to many businesses right across Wales who operate bilingually," said Andrew Davies, Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks of the Welsh Assembly Government. Alun Pugh, the Minister for Culture, Welsh Language and Sport added: "The launch of this office software is a major advance within the IT strategy developed by the Welsh Language Board as part of the Assembly Government's strategy of the language, Iaith Pawb."
"This is the largest Welsh software project to date", says Ned Thomas, Academic Director of the Mercator Centre at UWA, "and has involved a team of five at Mercator, with further translators throughout Wales working on the project. Over half a million words of help screens and interface have been translated, and a comprehensive, original handbook has been written from scratch."
Meri Huws, Chair of the Welsh Language Board said "Agored is the latest in a series of important developments in Welsh language technology. It's surprising how much is already available in Welsh in this field. This is a most welcome additional contribution."
Agored is a complete office suite, with a word-processing program (Writer), a spreadsheet program (Calc), a slideshow program (Impress), a drawing and design program (Draw), and a database program (Base). It will happily use all your existing office files in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint format. It has been specially designed with the bilingual office in mind: you can swap from English to Welsh and back again very simply without having to restart your computer or re-install different versions of the software. All the commands and help messages are available in both languages, and the Welsh-language content of the program is authoritative and standard. You can also use Welsh and English spell-check options within the same document, should you wish to do so.
Agored costs nothing to use for as long as you like, wherever you like. It is everything you need in an office software suite. So what are you waiting for? Download your copy from www.agored.com.