Following our previous interviews with Xisco Fauli and Muhammet Kara, we now speak to Laurent Balland-Poirier, who works in his spare time on Calc.
Where are you based, and do you work for a LibreOffice-related company or just code in your spare time?
I’m teaching chemical engineering at Rouen University (Normandy, France), and doing some research in industrial process safety. So I can only hack on LibreOffice code during my spare time.
How did you get involved with LibreOffice?
I started using StarOffice 5.2 in the late 1990s. My first contributions were bug reports, then I helped to improve the French documentation (the OpenOffice.org wiki with its great FAQ, and translations of official guides).
As I have some basic C++ coding skills, I was always interested in hacking on LibreOffice, but I was afraid of code complexity. So I started really simple. One of my first patches was correcting a typo in an obscure hyperbolic function in Math. Encouragements from other experienced coders make me feel proud about this little contribution, so I then continued with more audacious patches.
What areas of the code do you normally work on? Anything else you want to tackle?
As I am using LibreOffice in my daily life, I feel concerned about annoying small bugs. The patch that I’m the most proud of was fixing bug 54686: preventing entering percentage value in Calc with the French locale.
I extended my knowledge of the LibreOffice code with how numbers are displayed in Calc. The most visible contribution (for those who care with engineering calculation in Calc) was introducing engineering notation. I also made some light improvements to trend lines (regression curves) in Chart.
I would really like to able to modify text elements in Chart (axis labels or trend line equations), to have superscript/subscript, and so on.
What is your vision for the future, or what would you most like to see improved in LibreOffice?
I think it is necessary to improve how help is built, because it is quite complex for contributors to make corrections/improvements to the help text. However, I have no idea where to start 🙂
What do you do when you’re not working on LibreOffice?
When I return to real life, during holidays, I like traveling and hiking in the desert. I am fan of board games and like playing with friends: Ticket to Ride, Stone Age, Splendor…
Thanks Laurent! And to any other interested developers reading this: join our community and help to make LibreOffice even better.