A month of LibreOffice

Well it’s been an exciting month, and there’s more to come. Not only this blog has known a record high peaks of audience, but I really wanted to show what we are up to these days. Several things are happening and I wish, now that I and my fellow non-Oracle members have resigned from the Community Council of OpenOffice.org, to stop the antics around that question. The fact of the matter is, we have left the OpenOffice.org project, others are leaving as well, and I don’t foresee a lot of people staying after the 3.3 release, which will be the last OpenOffice.org released with the full help of the community. On the other hand, Oracle will not be working with us, and is not interested to do so in their own words. Enough said.

The Document Foundation and LibreOffice are quite a daunting task to achieve; in fact, it’s not just the continuation of the largest code base of Free and Open Source software, which is already something major in itself, it’s the live development of software that’s truly innovative, truly appealing, and exceeding what the users were used to expect before. I have read on GigaOM that LibreOffice was, like OpenOffice.org, a technology of the past, a paradigm of the eighties or the nineties waiting to die. I would not disagree with the notion that our paradigm is old: that’s what Microsoft is realizing, and why it’s freaking out by creating phony videos on YouTube that only helps to highlight the lock-in people experience with Microsoft formats. Yet, LibreOffice is here to stay; as a project, and as a software. After our two betas we are expecting a code freeze by tomorrow or so, and we already have included lots of patches and fixes that will make LibreOffice already different from what you would have expected: a themed OpenOffice.org . More changes will be visible soon.

On the community point of view, it’s important to note that despite being only one month old we gained over 60 developers, around 40 of them being localizers, the other twenty submitting actual code patches. I understand the developers are having fun, that they’re fixing a lot of broken things, and if you have downloaded our latest beta the first thing you will realize aside our splashscreen is how blazingly fast LibreOffice starts, both on cold boot and on subsequent starts. We will have to see how this trend in attracting more developers evolves over time. Also on the community point of view we have started to discuss several fundamental questions such as the definition of contributors, our position on copyright assignment while rolling out tools, mailing lists and committing ourselves to transparency: now you don’t just have the minutes of our Steering Committee’s meetings, you can join in public sessions, ask questions on the phone and have the actual recording of the session on line.

But there’s a lot more that needs to be taken care of: our bylaws, the governance of our project and of course the foundation itself.
I strongly believe that in the end, it’s how we will shape the very fabric of our community -which today mostly amounts to the OpenOffice.org project volunteers- that will allow us to progress and innovate together. After a month, I am cautiously optimistic, but it seems we’re on the right track to do something extraordinary. Thank you everyone, looking forward to a great Document Foundation!

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