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In a nice culmination of a month packed with family festivities and a gorgeous community event (our 2014 LibreOffice conference), today is the day that the LibreOffice project turns 4 years!

LibreOffice turns 2^2 years

LibreOffice anniversary

The project certainly has come of age since that special moment on September 28th, 2010, when after weeks of preparation (and an insane succession of all-nighters), LibreOffice entered the world. Run on a shoestring, off of a box thankfully sponsored by one of our initial supporters (but surviving slashdot), as of today the project has matured into an international community of thousands of contributors, hundreds of developers and a (small) number of employed staffers.

Highlighting just two of the rather (from a 2010 perspective) incredible achievements of the project – that the LibreOffice development team managed to clean up the inherited code base to a point that we’re leading the pack from a defect density point of view – and that as a first, substantial donated funds will be used to further a LibreOffice port into the mobile space.

I’m insanely proud of being part of this, and would like to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you who helped making the LibreOffice project such a fun ride & success – you know who you are!

Here’s to LibreOffice, here’s to our wonderful community. Happy Birthday! \o/

Graphic based on an original svg from Chris Noack


I had mentioned plans for it earlier, and in fact already pondered the idea on and off while being at the old house: Do I really need a car? And as a corollary: Do I need my own car?

The answer started to be a resounding No at least for the second question, after we moved to Hamburg. Which ever way I was looking at it:

  • Convenience – someone needs to drive the thing, I can’t hack or read email while doing so. I therefore prefer trains. Also, it needs the occasional service, wheels swapping, washing etc, so it adds to your chores
  • Economically – a car that just sits there still has a chunk of fixed cost per annum associated. Also, it is a comparatively expensive asset, that given the value, depreciates quickly
  • Ecology – owning an item or not certainly has an impact on one’s ecological footprint; trusting the University of California’s math, a car’s production entails the emission of roughly 7 tons of carbon dioxide (using it is even worse, but that would not be a fair comparison).

So with our usage pattern, and the above rationale, clearly we’d be well-served with one of the many budding car sharing offers that are available these days in Europe’s metropoles. If you pick a supplier that is either big enough, or managed to sign joint-ventures with sharers in other cities, you even have the added benefit of taking high-speed inter-city connects (train or plane), and getting into a car for local transport at your destination (for much less than the usual car rental will cost you).

But I admit that owning your car has some amount of emotions associated (damn you, marketeers!), so I’m happy to report this had been catered for: the appartement house we’re now living in not only has two shared cars exclusively available for the tenants, but they’re in addition pure electric vehicles!

The cars available are a Smart ED and a Renault Zoe, both in the 2013er version. Coming from a BMW, I can’t but mention that especially the Smart ED is pure fun to drive. While nominally, 55 kW power / 130 newton metres torque and a curb weight of a bit less than 1 metric ton does not sound exactly like a sports car, this thing kicks pure butt at every traffic light in the city. The engine characteristic is entirely different from a combustion engine – no gear box, no clutch, no automatic transmission, no revving up the engine before it generates enough power – just pin down the accelerator, and you instantaneously have full torque on your rear wheels. Still makes me smile. Therefore emotionally, I was sold as well (and so was my beloved BMW E39 touring, October last year already).

Life has again been busy around here, so this post will be a bit longer. Event-wise, this year so far was packed with good stuff for me, let me therefore pick a few cornerstones:

After the habitual FOSDEM and CeBIT, there was a new event, the Dresden Impress sprint. Thanks to the generous sponsoring from the Dresden Technical University Institute for Applied Photophysics around Prof. Karl Leo!

Following that I went to LinuxTag in Berlin for a workshop and a meeting around LibreOffice certification, and was honoured to listen in to Jimmy Schulze’s updates on getting German parliament stand up against software patentability:

Jimmy Schulz at LinuxTag

Jimmy Schulz at LinuxTag

(he and his fellow party member Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger being named by others already as the only LibDems to be dearly missed in German Bundestag, after the defeat of their FDP at the recent general election)

Then came the annual LibreOffice Hamburg HackFest, this time generously organised (and diligently documented) by my fellow HHHackers Bjoern and Eike – while I was busy moving house and showing up basically for eating pizza. 🙂

Which was one of three turning points so far this year – after almost exactly ten years of living in small-town Buxtehude, we followed the beckoning of the big city and moved back to Hamburg (almost) downtown. The reasons for that are numerous, but two of them I’d like to point out here: childcare offers for people who want to work fulltime is still largely a mess in western Germany (Hamburg being a very notable exception) – you’ll see below why this suddenly became relevant; and secondly because the public transport system is just soooo much better, to the point that I currently ponder getting rid of my car entirely.

What came next was a short trip to the Masters of Rock festival in Vizovice – despite more than 1000 km away and us camping out there, festivals are really a recreational thing for me. Let’s see if we manage to go in the upcoming years. Some impressions:

Sadly, for the currently-ongoing LibreOffice conference 2013 in Milano, I could only attend a mere day. Apologies to all whom I missed to say hello to, chatted with only briefly, or did not bid goodbye properly – the timing this year (see below) had me straddling between two things very close to my heart. Still, it was wonderful to be there and meet you guys – clearly also helped by great food and drinks. 😉

Dining in Milano

Dining in Milano

And definitely, from past (double-) experience, the most live-changing event in 2013 clearly was this little guy here – can’t say how happy I am to have you now, Alan Benjamin!



Oh, and – the focus of my dayjob has shifted away from LibreOffice, over to datacenter topics like virtualization and cluster filesystems. But don’t you worry, I’ll stick to this project that I helped building – now in a purely volunteer capacity, like so many other contributors that still make a hell of a difference, in this wonderful community! 🙂

Still life

Mugs, Thinkpad W530, Emacs, Arabica

Already a while ago, but still worth sharing the pictures – FOSDEM 2013, another awesome conference, is over. LibreOffice was again there with a booth and a dev room, and some 17+ people from the project attending, manning the booth and holding talks.

booth picture

FOSDEM LibreOffice booth in K Building

Lots of thanks to the many helping hands, and hat tips to Eike, Cor and Rob for trucking all the stuff around. My dev room talk is available here.

A mere two weeks ago, TDF and the LibreOffice project also attended CeBIT, the world’s largest and most international computer expo. Hosted at the Univention booth, and professionally represented over the week by Thomas and Jacqueline, numerous questions were answered, explanations given, and many new and old relationships cultivated.

Further more, Florian, representing LibreOffice, also received the Linux New Media award for the best Open Source Presentation software. In more than just this aspect, the continued TDF and LibreOffice presence at CeBIT keeps paying off.

Kudos to David and his wonderful wife for hosting me and Florian for the night.

LibreOffice and The Document Foundation continue to grow, with a succession of events especially in Europe that left me lagging substantially in reporting back here.

LibreOffice conference 2012

In no particular order, three weeks ago, the 2nd LibreOffice conference concluded in Berlin. It took place at the conference center of the German ministry of Economics and Technology, clearly one of the best locations I’ve ever been for such an event.

Below you see the reinforced organizer team’s swag production line on Tuesday morning, in a hurry to equip the late-arriving green LibreOffice conference backpacks with giftware. In the end, we were lucky and all was ready & done for the registration at Wednesday morning.

swag production

Tuesday swag production

Tuesday afternoon then had a number of meetings, including TDF board and ESC. Below you see Italo with Olivier and Leif in the background, getting ready for the annual in-person board meeting.


Italo at the board meeting

For me, the conference was stressful and terrific at the same time – and we were more than grateful that it went so smoothly and successful in the end. A million hat tips to our organizing team, lead by Jacqueline, and to the two federal ministries for co-hosting. Most rewarding again for me, was meeting all the wonderful people from the community in person. Below you can see those of the roughly 180 that were still present on Friday evening.

group pic

Group picture

As we speak, the organizer and video teams are still busy populating the LibOCon 2012 reviews page with the slides and video footage; once that’s concluded there’ll be a separate announcement.

openSUSE conference 2012


SUSE hackers at work

Team diner

Team diner in Prague

After that, the SUSE crowd migrated a few hundred kilometers to the south, into the beautiful city of Prague (one would think, into warmer climate – but nope, while I was out in tshirt in Berlin, Prague had us stay inside hacking, with single-digit temperatures and drizzling rain). There, we attended both the openSUSE and the SUSE labs conference, and had some more focused team allhands sessions.

Great to see the many excellent SUSE hackers again, and to spend facetime especially with the LibreOffice team.

LibreOffice QA weekend

qa weekend

QA weekend


Pizza for QA volunteers

And even earlier, already end of September, the German-speaking community had their annual QA weekend meeting, at the lovely Linux Hotel in Essen, Germany. Was very happy to meet our QA volunteers in person there, sometimes for the first time, as with Florian Reisinger, who very energetically led through most of the QA topics. I can’t enough stress the importance of talking to people face2face every once in a while, we sorted out a number of issues there, that I believe would have festered much longer otherwise. With the ongoing fund raising for 2013, TDF will continue to organize those and similar events, and predominantly help with travel sponsoring for community members.

With LibreOffice again being part of this year’s Google Summer of Code, I was very lucky to have Marco returning to his nice svg export improvements from last time. Three weeks into the project, progress is lovely – here are two demo presentations, showing

(Page up/down navigates between slides, i shows slide index etc.)

Marco has been exemplary in minuting his progress, you can find his daily logs here, for

If you want to play with this, go grab the code, checkout the feature/svg-export branch, build according to the build guide, and check the Tools->Options->General “Enable experimental features” box. Enjoy!

After catching up a bit with the sleep deficit from the past three days, let me share a few impressions from the spring 2012 Hamburg HackFest. An amazing number of 30+ people gathered over the weekend at the Hamburg Attraktor, socializing, chatting, and working on all kinds of stuff, like

iOS UNO bridges, Calc unit tests, CSV import, Writer border enhancements, gbuild system, pdf export watermarking, UI paper cut fixing, keyboard shortcuts, startup performance, icon themes, UI mockups, adding comments for l10n strings, rtf filter fixes, svg import, gtk3 backend, drawing layer, help content, Unhosted connector, QA processes, bibisect, gerrit, Impress wide screen support, Impress toolpanel configuration, win32 cross-compiling, and chart bugfixing.

Let me also take the opportunity to thank our sponsors and supporters, without whom this event would not have been possible. In no particular order, Attraktor e.V. for hosting us, The Document Foundation donors for providing the funds for travel bursaries, Lanedo and nerdshirt for drinks and tshirts, Italo and Christina for cooking wonderful pasta, my co-organizers Eike and Björn for doing lots of legwork & organization, including provisions for couch surfing – and of course all attendants for sharing their weekend and merry mood with us!

full room at attraktor

Saturday morning, LibreOffice hackers at work

pair programming

Saturday night pair-programming

In total, we got more than 80 commits originating from Hackfest coding to date, I’ll update this post when more pending stuff arrives. Other posts about the hackfest here (updated):

Since The Document Foundation got formally established as a German charitable foundation earlier this year, we were pondering a number of activities to sponsor, that would be in line with our statutory and regulatory obligations. As our statutes advise TDF to further the use of Free Software, among other things, by introducing children and adolescents to FLOSS and LibreOffice in particular, one rather obvious problem with that is a certain language barrier (there’s considerable use of slang in youth culture, alongside a lack of older vocabulary sometimes used in UI), plus an issue with comprehending longer, more complex sentences (which pop up in e.g. tooltip help, or LibreOffice documentation texts).

The corpus of available research around these issues is still rather incomplete (the field is new, and somewhat controversial), but we see a very practical need here. That’s why I plan, possibly already with LibreOffice 3.6, to support a fourth German sub-locale (besides German, German/Swiss, German/Austria) – German/Kiez. That would include initial UI translation, dictionary, and help. A hopefully illustrating example, on why this is useful (my German-speaking audience will notice how different from standard German this dialect is) here:

I will seek to get EU funding for that, if at all possible, especially since via that project, TDF can hopefully also contribute to this new field of linguistic research – e.g. by supporting case studies on how more easily pupils take up UI that’s presented in “their” language, compared to standardized German. Which, in closing, really is one of the many strong selling points for FLOSS – the Freedom to tweak, and translate, to your local user’s needs, whatever you think they are.

We will work on this, and many other things by the way, at the upcoming Hamburg Hackfest on April 14th/15th.

Announced since a week, and incorporated with the stamp of the Friday before, TDF now has finally gotten the legal entity we wished, and worked for so long. It took us about a year from having a plan, to pouring that concept into legalese and a setup that fits the mould of a German Foundation (“Stiftung”) – a process that seems unduly long from the outset, but I can tell you we didn’t sit there twiddling thumbs.

Because what we achieved is unique in Germany, and even beyond, being the first Free Software project managing to obtain the status of those almost-eternal, state-supervised, truly stable trusts that German Foundations are. Normally employed by this solitary millionaire, wanting to put his wealth to charitable purposes after his demise, in setting up a trust with a charitable mission, we found this to be the perfect vault for all the value our community built from, and around, what Oracle left lingering of the project.

But with everything new, people, and especially authorities, need some time to warm up to. TDF was no exception, and our statutes, as well as our patience, was put to repeated, thorough tests. With the result that our statutes got all the loopholes removed, an equivalent of 10 meter fingernails got bitten, and in the end we had our desired entity approved. Including the enduring membership rights we wanted, in the city of our choice – with Berlin being such a wonderful icon of reunion and post-war solidarity.

With the rest of the TDF board, we’re now working on setting up operations in Berlin and transferring assets.

sparkling wine

Thanks so much for your support!

Happy Birthday TDF – and kudos to all who helped making this a reality!