As we are approaching the 4th anniversary of the LibreOffice project in just a few days, an old theme has been reappearing on the Internet: Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice should reunite. I would like to share my perceptions on this topic although I think it is not a really important one, at least as long as the LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice do not officially call for such a reunion. Before I start, let me remind everyone that what follows is my own opinion and neither the one of the Document Foundation, nor the one of the Democratic Party, the one of my Government, nor, at last, the one of Bob’s Shipping and Handling Company.
The LibreOffice team has analyzed more than 9 million lines of code to find and fix 10,000-plus defects of all types, including some with the potential to impact security and many that affected stability and memory use. The team working through the Coverity results is led by Caolán McNamara of Red Hat and includes Stephan Bergmann, Noel Grandin, Norbert Thiebaud, Julien Nabet, and others.
LibreOffice 4.3.2 hits the marketplace just before the fourth anniversary of the project on Sunday, September 28, 2014. The community has been growing for the past 48 months, attracting at least three new developers per month plus a larger number of volunteers active in localization, QA and other areas such as marketing and development of local communities.
European Commissioner and Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes supports the FixMyDocuments campaign that is urging Europe's public administrations to make better use of open document formats. The campaigners aim to get public administrations to publish their documents in open formats that can be read and manipulated by anyone, without imposing the use of software from any particular vendor. The campaigners are pushing the authorities to use the Open Document Format (ODF).
OpenForum Europe, an advocacy group focusing on IT openness in government, issued a press release earlier today announcing its launch of a new public Internet portal. At that site, anyone can report a government page that offers a document intended for collaborative use for downloading if that document is not available in an OpenDocument Format (ODF) compliant version. The portal is called FixMyDocuments.eu, and you can show your support for the initiative (as I have) by adding your name here (the first supporter listed is the EU's indominatable digital champion, Neelie Kroes).
The announcement coincides with the beginning of another initiative, Global Legislative Openness Week, which will involve global activities annd "events hosted by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and members of the parliamentary openness community." A full calendar of events is here.
The software developers working on Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice - two closely related suites of open source office productivity tools - should overcome their schism and unite to compete with the ubiquitous proprietary alternative, urges Daniel Brunner, head of the IT department of Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court. Merging the two projects will convince more public administrations to use the open source office suite, he believes.
The Document Foundation's tender for the development of an Android implementation of LibreOffice begs serious questions, namely: Can an influx of cash into open source code creation succeed, and how do pay-for-code plays from nonprofit foundations affect the ethics and work ethic of today's open source community?
For those who haven't heard, the German nonprofit behind the successful open source LibreOffice productivity suite issued a tender document last week at the LibreOffice Conference seeking a bid for the one-off task of extending the LibreOffice document viewer prototype into a basic document editor on Android. It covers all the core program modules: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, and Math.
Many individuals have been using ODF for years, but the open format is also being adopted by organisations, including companies and governments.
We often wish to share electronic documents with friends, colleagues, business or government, and the software application we use to prepare these documents will save them in a particular format.
Any application that later loads the document will also need to be able to understand this format. If an organisation can control the format, and convince people to use it, then they can use this as a very powerful tool to create a monopoly in the market.