Community Member Monday: Rafael Lima

Today we’re talking to Rafael Lima, who helps the LibreOffice project by updating its documentation…

To start with, tell us a bit about yourself!

I am a university professor in Brazil, and I teach and research optimization applied to management sciences. In my work I often need to write papers and prepare spreadsheets to analyze data, and for that I’ve been using LibreOffice for over a year now. I have been working with supply chain optimization problems such as vehicle routing, network design and facility location.

I have always been an enthusiast of Open Source, since my undergraduate days in 2001. At the time I started using Linux and most of my current research work is done using FOSS tools. The dynamics of how open source software is developed is a topic that has always caught my attention.

Outside of work, I like to spend my free time practicing sports (mostly playing tennis) and whenever I have the opportunity I like to travel to new places. And obviously, like many tech enthusiasts, I like gaming too!

What are you working on in the documentation project right now?

The Documentation Team is currently working on the guides for the LibreOffice 7 series, and I am helping update and review some chapters in these guides. I have recently updated the Getting Started Guide chapters on Math and Macros.

Besides that, I have recently started writing a Macro tutorial focused on LibreOffice Calc, to help Calc users to get started with Basic programming and develop their own macros and functions. I hope to cover many aspects of Basic programming in Calc, ranging from reading and writing data from cells, formatting, dialog creation and writing extensions. If all goes well, I hope to finish the tutorial by February and release it to the community. If anyone wants to follow the development of the tutorial, it is available on my GitHub page.

How did you get started in the LibreOffice community? What was the experience like?

I started contributing to the Documentation Team after I read a blog post by TDF saying that they were looking for volunteers to help update the guides for LibreOffice 7. Then I joined the mailing list and I was welcomed and instructed by Olivier Hallot on the workflow of the Documentation Team.

After going over the Wiki and the Contributor’s Guide, I started updating the Math Guide. It was a very nice experience, because all questions I had were promptly answered by other members of the team and I was able to learn quickly how work gets done.

After finishing the Math guide I kept on contributing with other guides, mainly the Getting Started Guide and the Writer’s Guide.

Anything you’d recommend to newcomers in the docs project?

My work in the Documentation Team was my first real experience with an open source project, and it was a great opportunity to learn how open source really works. It’s amazing to see how the LibreOffice community is capable of delivering high-quality applications and documentation.

As a newcomer I was afraid I was not going to be able to tackle the complexities of such a huge project as LibreOffice. However, being a large project means that LibreOffice has a large community to support new contributors.

From a more practical standpoint, my recommendation for newcomers is to start by reading the Contributor’s Guide, and then choose one of the LibreOffice applications to which you would like to contribute. Also, join the mailing list, introduce yourself and more experienced members will be glad to explain how contributions can be made.

Many thanks to Rafael for all his contributions! And for everyone reading this who wants to build up skills for a potential career in technical writing, join our community, gain experience, and meet new people!

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