The Document Foundation Blog

2011/07/26

A glimpse at our developer community

Filed under: Community — Florian Effenberger @ 06:50

Since the start of The Document Foundation, we’ve been aiming for a healthy and vivid ecosystem, for involving many corporate contributors, as well as for strenghtening the volunteer developers. Looking at the current numbers, it becomes obvious that the developer community is indeed well balanced between company-sponsored contributors and independent community volunteers:

Employers with the most developers (total 300)

  • (Unknown): 205 (68.3%)
  • Oracle: 54 (18.0%)
  • SUSE: 20 (6.7%)
  • Known contributors: 9 (3.0%)
  • Canonical: 4 (1.3%)
  • Redhat: 2 (0.7%)
  • SIL: 2 (0.7%)
  • CodeThink: 1 (0.3%)
  • Bobiciel: 1 (0.3%)
  • Lanedo: 1 (0.3%)
  • Tata Consultancy Services: 1 (0.3%)
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

2011/07/24

More than 24 hours to go…

Filed under: Conference, Meetings — Florian Effenberger @ 21:00

…since we have just extended the deadline for sending in papers for the LibreOffice Conference. You can now send in your proposals until August 8th!

2011/07/22

Less than 24 hours to go…

Filed under: Conference, Meetings — Florian Effenberger @ 08:37

…until the Call for Papers deadline of the LibreOffice Conference closes. If you have something interesting to tell about LibreOffice, if you hack on the code, if you are involved in the community, or if you have something exciting to share – let us know!

2011/07/21

Developer Interview: Tor Lillqvist

Filed under: Community — The Document Foundation @ 18:28

Programming is about people: so please ! tell us a bit about yourself:

Tor Lillqvist enjoying a beer

I am Tor Lillqvist. On LibreOffice IRC I am known as tml_ . I live in Helsinki, Finland, with my wife and our 10-year daughter. My son has already grown up and moved out. Some of my passions are trains (modern and recent electric and diesel technology, I am not that much into steam nostalgia), reading good books, listening to challenging and/or good music, the visual arts, architecture, and travels.

Most recently I have read “The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore” by Benjamin Hale, “Hitch-22″ by Christopher Hitchens and “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell. Among art museums that have impressed me are the Guggenheim Bilbao and ICA Boston. I love the music of for instance David Sylvian, Nico, Steve Reich, Sigur Rós, Erik Satie, rechenzentrum, Emilie Simon, Carnatic and Gamelan music.

What was your very first program ?

Some silly assignment at University, presumably. I had not used computers before University. Or actually, I did have a programmable TI calculator and did some programming on that in my teens.

What do you do when you’re not hacking on LibreOffice ?

Read, sleep, eat, etc.

When do you usually spend time on the project ?

What I do as my work, mostly normal working hours. Hacking for fun during evenings and weekends when I have the inspiration and nothing more important to do.

Which is your preferred text editor? And why?

XEmacs, because it is so intuitive. (That is a joke. No software is intuitive.) I have used various versions of Emacs for 30 years and don’t see any reason to change.

Did you work on Free Software projects before LibreOffice ?

Yes, and Open Source in general, before that term was invented even. I always seemed to work on “non-mainstream” platforms, like HP-UX when “everybody” else doing what became known as Open Source was using BSD or SunOS. As an example of early and obscure Open Source hacking I did I can mention porting TeX and Metafont to the HP1000 A-Series (a 16 bit minicomputer running an obscure not-at-all-Unixish OS,  ).

More recently, since the late 1990s until last year or so, I ported GTK+ to Windows, initially to get GIMP, and then took part in maintaining the port. At one point, in 2005, I even was paid to work on related stuff, in the effort to make Evolution run on Windows. Alas, in recent years I had less and less inspiration to hack on the GTK+ stack on Windows, and finally then this year I admitted/announced publicly that I was not really doing it any more. I hate saying this, but I guess I have kinda lost faith in quality cross-platform GUI toolkits. At least volunteer-maintained ones.

What Operating System do you use mainly ?

Windows Server 2008 R2 (server version of Windows 7) on my main desktop, and then Mac OS X, iOS and openSUSE.

What do you think was your most important contribution to LibreOffice so far ?

I can’t point to anything particular. Perhaps, from a future point of view, my spare time hacking on cross-compilation to iOS and Android.

How will that improve things for users ?

By hopefully making possible apps on those platforms that use LibreOffice code to for instance support rare old document formats not supported in other apps. (To end-users the freedom aspect of such an application presumably being FLOSS is of zero importance. Sorry.)

What is your vision for the future and/or what would you most like to see improved ?

I would love to see the codebase cleaned up even more. I would like us to have the courage to jettison from the main codebase unloved functionality that nobody seems to step up to maintain. (I am looking at you, Base.)

Anything else interesting you get up to when not hacking ?

I enjoying doing photography. But I don’t really do as much photography as I would like. I would love to have the inspiration and time to attempt making music (mainly odd beeps and noises, no doubt).

 Can you tell us a bit about your cross-compiling work, and why it is important ?

I don’t know if it is important. It is fun, that is why I do it.

I am working on making it possible to cross-compile LibreOffice (to various degrees) for iOS (from (Intel) MacOSX), Android (from Linux or MacOSX), Windows (from any Unix with a suitable cross-compiler tool-chain) and PowerPC MacOSX (from Intel MacOSX).

The basic cross-compilation changes in the LibreOffice configure and build machinery should be more or less done now. Very little actual new code (as needed to at least some degree for iOS and Android) has been written. No planning has been done regarding what this work really tries to achieve for the new platforms, etc…

For the new, mobile, touch-based platforms, iOS and Android, it might make most sense to use non-GUI LibreOffice code as a library, and write applications in a totally native way from scratch that then use the LibreOffice libraries.

But maybe just to get the interest up it would make sense to also have some early toy application on either platform that would use some amount of LibreOffice GUI code, thus needing a port of the GUI toolkit in LibreOffice.

For Windows, LibreOffice obviously already has code for full functionality on Windows. The task is just to make it build using a cross-compiling MinGW tool-chain instead of Microsoft’s tool-chain. That is not trivial.

The Intel to PowerPC MacOSX case should be the easiest.

Finally: Yes, I am aware of the potential license incompatibilty between the LGPL and DRM-enforcing distribution mechanisms like the iTunes App Store (and maybe the Android Market). But I find such discussion boring. And perhaps the Apache thing will affect this somehow. Anyway, I am doing this for the hacking pleasure.

What is your estimate of the proportion of bugs that are specific to Windows ?

Maybe ten percent?

What other question would you like to answer (with answer) ?

“Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

No.

Thanks a lot for your answers, and contribution !

2011/07/13

What does it mean to be in the Board of Directors?

Filed under: Foundation — Florian Effenberger @ 17:08

With the upcoming elections at the doorstep, many people ask themselves what it means to be in the Board of Directors, and whether they should run for a seat or not. Based on my experience with being in the board of the German association Freies Office Deutschland e.V., I would like to share some thoughts with you. The most important is that all future board members cooperate openly, transparently and effectively together, and that they have a common understanding of their duties, so they can drive the foundation and its projects into a bright future. While I do not have a hands-on experience in a “Stiftung” (foundation), I assume that many of the principles in associations are similar to those of a foundation.

First of all, being in the Board of Directors is not just a title you get awarded because your contributions have been extraordinary. Of course, people active and gaining merit are likely to be voted in the future board, but this honour also comes with a lot of new work. Being in the board does not mean that you can just continue your contributions, but you rather will get additional administrative work, that is not related to your current tasks at all. The Board of Directors is the body responsible for legally representing the foundation, so duties like tax declarations, correspondence with the governments, overseeing trademark, copyright, competition and cartel law and many other tasks are the daily business of board members. While many of those duties can be shared with external professionals, given the foundation is wealthy enough, it is still the board’s duty to oversee and coordinate them, which is a fair amount of work by itself.

In addition, for wilful intent or gross negligence, the Board of Directors can be held personally liable in civil and criminal law. We will have insurances in place that limits most of the risks effectively. However, inactivity or just lazyness may already be seen as gross negligence, and then the insurance will not kick in. By the way, this liability is no different to any other association, corporation or charity, so it is in no way special to German law.

One of my main concerns is the participation rate in discussions and phone conferences. Right now, with the steering committee not legally representing the legal entity, it might just be an annoyance. When later on, the Board of Directors has many administrative tasks and legal liabilities, it is absolutely crucial that all members regularly join the phone conferences and e-mail discussions. Of course, people are on vacation, get ill or are otherwise busy, but if we have ten future board members, I would feel uncomfortable if the average participation rate was below nine out of ten (for comparison, right now the average participation rate is only about five out of nine steering commitee members). Arrangements on when and how often conferences take place can be done, but the rationale behind this is that being in the board involves continuous, active participation. The same is true for reading e-mails: At least once every workday, board members should have a look into their mailbox to get aware of important notices, and a reaction time to important mails of no longer than one work day is highly advised. There are already court decisions where a slower reaction has been seen as gross negligence, with all attached liability risks.

Many people also asked whether a good knowledge of German is required to run for an official role. Although the legal correspondence with the authorities will be in German, this is not the major task of the Board of Directors, so not everyone in the board needs to speak German. The experience from the past months has shown that using English as language of correspondence works out very well, so the only thing I consider crucial is that all future board members are very fluent in written and spoken English. Like we do now, e-mails will be exchanged in English, and phone conferences will take place in English as well. As legal topics and administrative tasks will be part of these calls, a good understanding of English is indeed crucial, as misunderstandings can cause troubles.

For the probably most interesting question – how much time is required for fulfilling these duties – I really have no good answer, as it is hard to foresee. My gut feeling tells me that seat holders should be able to spend a few hours per week for their duties, next to the time they spend for their community engagement. The exact time will heavily depend on how the foundation develops, how many external professionals are involved, and how effectively the board will work together. Below a few hours per week, however, I doubt that this role can be fulfilled.

So, in a nutshell: Being in the Board of Directors means additional work, lots of administrative and legal tasks, and an active commitment to fulfill these, besides all other duties you have in the project. If all ten members of the future board have a common understanding of that, and are willing to dedicate their time and passion for the foundation – then they are the right ones to lead the foundation into the future.

After all, being in the Board of Directors is a very honourable and truly exciting duty, when you are prepared and willing to commit.

2011/07/12

Status of Establishing the Foundation

Filed under: Foundation — Florian Effenberger @ 09:03

With this blog post, we’d like to share the status on our efforts to establish The Document Foundation as legal entity inside Germany.

Thanks to the invaluable work of our lawyer, we now finally have a close-to-final draft of the legally binding statutes. The creation of these took a lot of time, because many of the ideas and processes we have outlined in our Community Bylaws are innovative, and implementing them in a legal framework is indeed a challenge. However, all of these ideas are important and show the values and roots of our community, so taking time for legally establishing them is very well spent.

While working on the statutes, we needed to adapt some changes compared to our Community Bylaws, either out of practical or out of legal reasons. The following are the major differences, compared to the Community Bylaws, and they will be in the foundation’s statutes, as decided in the public Steering Committee phone conference:

  • The role of the chairman (“president”) has been removed.
    This is mostly due to legal reasons. Legally, only the board of directors can represent the foundation, and it is also liable (read more on that topic in a subsequent blogpost in the next days). Having a president who shall speak on behalf of the foundation, but cannot legally represent it, while still being a possible reason for liability issues, is not a good choice, and might even be denied by the authorities. Right now, this only means that the president as lined out in the bylaws cannot exist – if desired, still someone from the board, membership committee or any other body can be given the title of president or chairman, and other roles and titles can be given out as well, just with less legal implications than currently in the bylaws. However, these roles should not be fixed in the statutes, but can rather be decided upon on the fly in policies and guidelines (“Geschäftsordnung”).
  • As a consequence, many of the chairman’s tasks will be fulfilled by the membership committee, like overseeing elections.
  • The size of the board has been changed to ten people, with the election term staying at one year. Seven of the elected candidates will be the board of directors, the other three will be the deputies.
    With this change, we ease the voting. Finding nine seat holders and nine deputies, eighteen people in total, with about 110 approved members so far, might be legally problematic. Remember that we also have to set in place several other official roles, so the ratio of “role holders” and members would be out of balance. In addition, when people step out from the board and there are no followers, the state authority will step in – something you want to avoid. By having a smaller number of seat holders, we limit this risk.
  • Some details of the Membership Committee have been changed. Board members or their deputies must not be members of the Membership Committee. Neither of those must be members of the Advisory Board. The Membership Committee appoints, reviews, and also revokes membership (the latter was previously with the board). It also takes over the roles of the president, for impeachment/solemn address. In addition, it represents the foundation in court, against the board. The seat holders of the Membership Committee are voted in by the members directly, and can be disbanded by them at any time, via simple majority.

Some further, minor changes had to be incorporated, and we will share them with the final version of the statutes soon.

So, what’s next? We still need to refine latest details on the statutes, and draft a budget as well as the set-up certificate (“Stiftungsgeschäft”). As soon as this is done, we will send in the proposal to the governments of the German federal states of Berlin, Hesse and Bavaria and wait for their feedback. How their feedback will be, and how long it will take, cannot be estimated at the moment, but we will keep you posted on all developments.

In parallel, we will run votes for the board of directors, as well as for the membership committee, in the near future.

We would have loved to make the statutes draft public already, but due to legal reasons that might affect the set-up process, we at the moment, unfortunately, cannot share these documents. As soon as we can, they will be made public, and we anticipate that no later than August 1st, which is also in line with our election process timeline.

2011/07/09

LibreOffice Conference registration is open

Filed under: Conference, Meetings — Florian Effenberger @ 20:26

The registration for the LibreOffice Conference, taking place in Paris from October 12th to 15th, is now open. Everyone interested in joining the first annual meeting of the LibreOffice community is invited to register online at

http://conference.libreoffice.org/conference-registration/

to help the organizers in planning.

The LibreOffice Conference will be the event for those interested in the development of free office productivity software, open standards, and the OpenDocument format generally, and is an exciting opportunity to meet community members, developers and hackers. It is sponsored by Cap Digital, Région Île de France, IRILL, Canonical, Google, La Mouette, Novell/SUSE, Red Hat, AF 83, Ars Aperta and Lanedo.

The Call for Papers is also open until July 22nd, and paper submissions will be reviewed by a community committee.

We look forward meeting you in the heart of France, celebrating the first year of LibreOffice, and discussing the plans for the next months.

The Steering Committee of The Document Foundation

2011/07/01

LibreOffice 3.4.1 provides stable new features for every user

Filed under: Announcements — italovignoli @ 09:51

The Internet, July 1, 2011 – The Document Foundation announces the release of LibreOffice 3.4.1, the second version of the newer 3.4 family, targeting both private individuals and enterprises. LibreOffice 3.4.1 fixes several bugs that affected the previous version, and can be safely deployed for production needs by most users.

LibreOffice 3.4.1 can be downloaded from the following page: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/.

Large enterprises deploying LibreOffice on desktop PCs, are still recommended to deploy LibreOffice 3.3.3, which has been tested over several months by thousands of people worldwide, and are encouraged to call on professional support services. LibreOffice 3.4.2, available at the end of July, will target enterprise deployments.

Recognizing that large enterprises and conservative users have special needs, The Document Foundation has decided to provide two different versions of the software, so as to garner to the needs of power users looking for the latest enhancements while still catering to the priorities of more-prudent users who prefer stability over availability of new features.

Versions announced as stable can be safely deployed in work environments, as bugs might hamper individual features but won’t have an impact on the overall quality and security of document production.

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