IBM Lotus Symphony: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Released for the first time in May, 2008, Lotus Symphony is a suite of office applications developed by IBM. Similar to Microsoft Office, Lotus Symphony offers the possibility to create/share/edit texts, presentations and spreadsheets. Unlike its counterpart from Microsoft, the IBM suite gives its users the possibility to open a text/presentation/spreadsheet application from the same location. Practically one can write a document, fill in a spreadsheet and prepare a presentation in parallel, from the same location.
Lotus Symphony is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, and can be downloaded and installed free of charge. The office suite is made of three applications: IBM Lotus Symphony Documents, IBM Lotus Symphony Presentations, IBM Lotus Symphony spreadsheet.
It’s important to know that IBM Lotus Symphony owes most of its core to OpenOffice.org 3. So, there are a lot of resemblances in terms of features and capabilities between Lotus Symphony and OpenOffice.
* A major advantage of Symphony is the fact that’s free
* Users don’t need to worry about software licensing
* It’s compatible with the three main OS: Windows, Linux and Mac OS X
* It supports both OpenDocument formats and Microsoft Office
* It’s capable of exporting PDFs (Portable Document Format)
* It’s a good business resource, capable of taking care of the daily tasks in an office
* It has a friendly user interface and familiar features (formatting tools, editing tools etc.)
* Has a user-friendly Java interface for handling documents creation and manipulation
* Symphony is based on the Eclipse technology, which means that’s easy to customize for a company’s daily needs
* Is compatible with Microsoft Automatic technology: can be controlled from external programs
* Performance issues: one needs to wait a few seconds before the application opens
* Although is compatible with.doc,.docx,.xls,.pptx type of documents, the user may lose some quality on the way
* Has no email client
* Has no database
* Its basic features allows Symphony to be suitable for simple office tasks, but it’s not a good choice when it comes to more complex ones
With 12 million users (as stated by IBM in February, 2010), the IBM suite is a good tool for small companies and users that require basic features and medium performances from and open suite. The advantages of using Lotus Symphony are more numerous than the disadvantages, but even so, the latter are more important and play a major part when a company decides to choose an office suite.
However, the third version 3.0 includes various enhancements (sidebars and compatibility with Visual Basic), and chances are that the IBM suite will get better and better, targeting more powerful features and performance enhancements.