Community Member Monday: Steve Fanning

LibreOffice has extensive documentation in many languages, thanks to the great work of our worldwide docs community. Today we’re talking to Steve Fanning, who has been working on the updated LibreOffice Calc Guide

Hi Steve! Tell us a bit about yourself…

I live near Bolton in the North West of England with my wife and, sometimes, our adult son (he has recently been working in Australia for a year). I studied applied mathematics and theoretical physics at university and subsequently enjoyed a career mostly spent implementing and designing complex real-time software systems.

Passionate about improving the documentation for the company’s systems, I moved into specialist technical writer roles during the last few years of my employment. I retired around two years ago and now enjoy indulging in my main hobbies, which are bridge, computing, reading and coarse fishing. I guess that some readers might wonder about coarse fishing – it is angling for freshwater fish for pleasure and relaxation rather than food (all fish caught are returned to the water alive).

What are you doing in the LibreOffice project?

On retirement, I wanted to maintain and develop my technical writing skills and after some research, decided to join the LibreOffice Documentation Team. I immediately dived into the deep end, updating some of the more challenging chapters of the Calc Guide in preparation for the 6.2 issue. Since then I seem to have been digging deeper into Calc, coordinating the publication of the 6.4 Calc Guide, and updating many of the chapters for the 7.0 Calc Guide. I have also enjoyed creating an area on The Document Foundation’s wiki to describe Calc’s 500+ functions in more detail.

Why did you decide to become a member of The Document Foundation, the non-profit entity behind LibreOffice?

When the opportunity arose, I was delighted to become a member of TDF. I am hoping that it will make me more aware of the strategies of the organisation and, if appropriate, provide greater opportunity to influence those strategies. And who could resist the offer of a free email address?

What else are you working on, and is there any other area that interests you?

Currently most of my LibreOffice time is taken up supporting and mentoring Ronnie Gandhi, who is a technical writer helping us under the Google Season of Docs 2020 programme. His task is to populate many of the pages within the Calc Functions wiki area and I am reviewing his work and providing comments and other feedback as appropriate. Many of these functions are quite complex and require some research before raising comments but I am finding the whole experience very educational.

As for the future, it is hard to look too far ahead as we are all enduring the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions and lockdowns. With lots of free time on my hands, I have been grateful to have interesting LibreOffice work to occupy myself and keep my brain ticking over. In the future I hope to continue to help keep our guides up to date, continue developing the Calc Functions wiki area, and would also like to get more involved in maintaining the help system.

Many thanks to Steve for all his work, and mentoring other contributors – this all helps millions of LibreOffice users around the world! Indeed, joining the documentation project is a great way to contribute back to LibreOffice, build up skills and meet new people in the community. Join in and give us a hand!

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  1. By Celia Palacios