Community Member Monday: Isabelle Dutailly

Today we’re talking to Isabelle Dutailly, who’s creating and updating templates for LibreOffice…

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I live in Paris, France, not that it really matters, and I am a writer. My favourite tool to write with is absolutely LibreOffice Writer. I also used to training adults on office software. So I think I can say why Writer is the best word processing software I know.

And I am a knitter which led me to make some tools for knitters with Calc. That was surprisingly easy, knowing my absolute lack of abilities in maths. These tools are online and free to download. I designed and made this little guy:

Isabelle Dutailly's knitted avatar

My computer runs Linux (Mageia) and only with free software, not because they are free of charge (and considering how much money and time I put on them, they certainly are not 😊) but because they give me freedom. I did things with LibreOffice that I never did with a proprietary office suite.

For example, in 2017, because I needed (and still need) to organize the colours I use, I looked at the code (which was not difficult but I am not a developer, just a writer) and I wrote a tutorial for me and for my website. What was rewarding was to learn that the extension PaletteMaker, which I use and recommend, was made using this tutorial. I will never even think about doing the same using proprietary software. The empowerment free software gives us is huge.

What else? I write tutorials on LibreOffice on my website and I also write some articles on LibreOffice (and other subjects) on the French website

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

I often hear that LibreOffice lacks templates or that they are ugly. Which is not necessarily false. Also some templates are pretty old and do not give justice to the qualities and features of the software.

Not having good templates is bad for LibreOffice. It gives the office suite a bad image: “It’s ugly, you can’t do this or that etc.”. This is detrimental to a tool as powerful and well-designed as LibreOffice. I do think that one of the best ways to communicate on LibreOffice (or any other free software) consists in talking on their qualities and features. One good way, beside making tutorials, is having templates that use and show these features.

So I make templates. The last I did were some fun things like invitation for parties and so on: somebody asked me if there were nice templates for a birthday party. I saw this was something that the Extensions repository really lacked. Well, I did some.

Invitation template for LibreOffice.

And sometimes I answer on the French mailing-list for users of LibreOffice.

Why did you choose to join the project, and how was the experience?

LibreOffice is a very good application. It has wonderful features that are not promoted enough. And yes, as I said, LibreOffice gives the opportunity to learn more and more things, which I find awesome. Even when it may have some annoying bugs sometimes (the risk of choosing the very latest release of LibreOffice Community).

Anything else you plan to do in the future? What does LibreOffice really need?

In the past, I was a bit active on the wiki. I may work on it again.

LibreOffice probably needs to be better promoted, not only as a free office suite but on its features and per se, without any comparison with any other same kind of software. The choice and the customization of the interface for example. It is unique and far from being just a gadget. Having a tool exactly made for one’s needs is more than great. It is like having made-to-measure clothes or shoes instead of ready-to-wear. And there are many other features than can be better promoted I think.

Also I think that the websites of The Document Foundation should be available in more languages. For example the blog. They do not need to be identical; that is the case for the blog of my Linux distribution Mageia for example. The announcements of releases are translated into various languages. But some posts might only be in one language. Also the Extensions repository should be readable in various languages. Not all end-users are familiar with English.

And, maybe, LibreOffice could have a page “Contribute and Promote” like the vector graphics editor Inkscape has.

Many thanks to Isabelle for all her contributions! Everyone is welcome to discover what they can do for LibreOffice – and learn new things along the way 😊