The Document Foundation Planet

 

November 20, 2014

Michael Meeks

2014-11-20: Thursday

  • Into Cambridge, meeting with Lauren, Laura & Rob. Quarterly mgmt meetings, snatched lunch, board meeting; poked about in the server room; caught up with Daniel and discussed OpenGL funkiness.
  • Train home, stories, dinner, unscrewed various bits, heated the car bumper with a hair dryer (with the air inlet covered to reduce airflow & increase temperature) to make the plastic malleable; pushed out the worst of the dents, glued up the reflectors: much better. Bed.

November 20, 2014 09:00 PM

User Prompt

Results of survey about Libreoffice Calc’s toolbar configuration

Our goal is to unclutter the toolbars from functions that are rarely used and to add those that are more frequently used. In order to verify improvements that we were making to Libreoffice Calc’s we asked users about their needs and preferences toolbars. Here are the results.

Results

Current usage

The first two questions were about formatting: ‘How often do you format text in Libreoffice Calc?’ related to font and text properties, and ‘How often do you format cells in Libreoffice Calc?’ concerned border and background properties. Participants could answer between 1 as ‘never’ and 6 for ‘always’ in six steps.

Figure 1: Current usage of functions.

Figure 1: Current usage of functions.

There is no clear result in terms of functions that are always used by every user. But most formatting features seem to be used regularly, with the exception of border color which is less frequently changed.

Since we want to promote the usage of styles in Calc, we then asked ‘Do you apply Styles for formatting in Calc?’.

Table 1: Do you apply Styles for formatting in Calc?

Answer
Responses [n]
Yes
46
No
42
I don't know about this feature
30

About 40% use styles to format sheets or cells in Calc, but 25% do not even know about this feature, which illustrates the need for its improvement and promotion.

Removal of toolbar buttons

Thereafter we asked ‘Do you agree with hiding the following buttons from the toolbar?’ with the option to reply from 1 as ‘No, don’t hide’ to 6 as ‘Yes, hide it’ in six steps.

Figure 2: Removal of functions from toolbar (axis mirrored).

The results make clear that formatting is an important function to users even in Calc, as most participants want to keep those buttons on the toolbar. In addition to formatting, users want the easy access to add charts from the toolbar. We get agreement to remove Open gallery, Insert hyperlink, Open data sources, Show navigator, and Spell checking from the toolbar, but not to a definite extent.

Addition of toolbar buttons

Finally the participants could tell us which function should get added to the toolbar with the question, ‘Which features would you like to add to the toolbar for quick access?’. The reply was possible via multiple choice answers.

Figure 3: Functions to add to the toolbar.

Figure 3: Functions to add to the toolbar (max=119)

Cell management options for the addition and removal of rows and columns is the feature of most interest to slightly above 50% of all participants, followed by formatting stuff. The least important feature is Create pivot table with 21% and Enable auto filter with 34% interest.

If you want to rerun the analysis, here are the raw data and R scripts: RawData-R_Toolbar-Calc.zip

Recommendation

With the last question ‘Do you have any further recommendation how to improve Libreoffice Calc’s toolbar?’ we offered the participants to enter free text for all wishes (Xmas is coming). This option was used by about a quarter of survey participants.

Several people want improvements to styles:

“Styles should be set upfront to promote their use.”

“Skip everything that deals with manual editing of text and replace these functions with (applying) styles …. A useful set of default styles, targeted at spreadsheets rather than generic usage would be a GREAT (if not to say obligatory) start.It would help a lot for the use of styles to see a preview in the list…”

“I think that, overall, styles in LibreOffice are a great feature. However, its behavior is cryptic for more casual users.”

Several others want more features packed into the toolbars:

“Most toolbar buttons should be “split buttons” to add more functionality per button…”

“Add “Auto-sum/average/max/min/count”; Add “Freeze window”; Add “Hide/Show column/row”; …”

“Maybe add a conditional formatting dropdown button”

“Add define print area, add print area, remove print area …”

Some are afraid of too many changes:

“Please, if you have to change, change slowly. one function at a time each major release…”

And we got a lot of useful ideas too:

“…putting document-scope actions into the main toolbar (like export, save, print, layout), and try to move context-related actions somehow closer to where the action is done (like highlight, cell color, data format).”

“Formula toolbar at the bottom. Responsive design to the toolbars.”

Discussion

The result illustrates our dilemma: users generally do not want to relinquish any functions, but want more functions added. But in respect to the first question about the actual usage, we believe that focusing on formatting makes the most sense. So we plan to:

  • Provide a preview of the selected style in sidebar
  • Create more (sane) styles for Calc
  • Fit as many frequently used functions into the toolbar as possible using split buttons
  • Remove the following buttons: Open gallery, Open data sources, Show navigator (again, it affects the default setting only; you can still configure the toolbar for your personal needs)

You may have noticed that we didn’t ask about standard functions like Save, Print, Copy/Paste etc. in this survey. Those generic functions should be implemented consistently over all applications. So we adopt the insights from Standard toolbar in Libreoffice as well in Calc.

As always, feel free to comment the hell out of this blog post.

Survey was also held on the Libreoffice Chinese website http://blog.libreofficechina.org/?p=25 and 11 users took it so far. Here are the results (raw data only) from this test.

by Heiko Tietze at November 20, 2014 01:18 PM

Charles Schulz

Standards and Weapons

I have been writing a lot about the benefits of standards -especially open standards- for economic growth and citizens’ empowerement. Today however, I would like to explore, or at least highlight  a more obscure side of standards.

Standards can be used as weapons; by weapons I mean tools of influence, economic and technological domination from one country, one company over others. Standards are not just developed by means of sitting around a table with other parties and deciding how it will be developed. Sometimes, a party will push forward the base of a standard, and by sharing this base, will ultimately influence the whole industry or ecosystem through the outcome of standardization: the existence of the standard and its adoption. Other times, the very fact that a standard is being developed and pushed on the market is a threat to existing other standards. In a way, this is what could have happened with ODF, only in this case the Microsoft Office binary file formats were never standards in the first place. But then the very fact that OOXML was ever submitted to the ISO created the second standard that partly broke the momentum of ODF adoption.

 Other examples can be seen in other industries as well. Is there anything that can be done? Well, for one thing, it is important to realize that standards can become a rather dynamic affair. A standard with an expected power struggle, that is a standard that is already a bone of contention between two companies or two countries can be turned around into a struggle of different nature between different opponents.

Another important consideration is that a standard should always be contemplated not just in terms of what problem it claims to be solving but through a variety of parameters. Chiefly among them, the identity of its authors, the intellectual property rights and regime applicable to its specification, the state of the standard implementations and the players providing them, the existing standards in the same field, etc.

My humble experience in the field of digital standards makes me think that no standard is ever innocent, not in itself but by the intent of its authors or implementors. Even a nice and deeply useful standard such as ODF is a big stone thrown in the backyard of Microsoft. At this point you may be wondering if this post is essentially a change in position from what I’ve written here thoughout all these years (after all, this blog is called “Moved by Freedom, Powered by Standards”). It actually isn’t in any way. Standards are tools; they are opportunities for collaboration, economic and technical improvement. But they are limited in regulating the good or bad will of their stakeholders, and truth be told, I don’t think any process or tools could ever do that ex ante. The development rules, the IPR, the transparency of the process can be very effective in regulating the defects as well as whatever issues specific to standard itself may appear. They can even help fostering an effective ecosystem around the standard. But once you step up to a more strategic level, you need to go beyond the standards’ internal and external qualities (the specification itself, its IPR, its development process, etc.) . You need to understand who is doing what in the industry, who are the contenders and established players, the technological and legal disruptions, and even the political intent driving to the adoption of a standard or discouraging it. You need to understand why there’s even a standard in the first place.

With what has been previously called “true open standards”, things tend to improve insofar as their true openness guarantee the absence of vendor lock-in. Yet true open standards are assessed dynamically, never on the basis of predefined rules. As an example, one may demand that the IPR mode of a standard be only Royalty-Free. If there are two Royalty-Free competing standards, both satisfy this requirement, yet perhaps one of these two is ultimately controlled by a vendor, while the other one has a genuine inclusive development process. The history of ODF and OOXML is an interesting case in regard of using pre-defined criteria that may lead to a partial assessment of a standard.

All in all, standards are tools, and tools can often be used as weapons. It is never about the tool itself, but about the hand guiding it. Anybody can use a hammer, even me and my two left hands. But you can choose to hammer nails to suspend picture frames on a wall, or you can choose to use the hammer to throw it in the face of someone. The hammer is not responsible of your choice, for you only have had an intent guiding the hammer. Standards are no different; they can be both tools of liberation and economic welfare, or they can be used as competition crushers and weapons of economical warfare. In any case, judge by the hand first and the tool second.

by Charles at November 20, 2014 11:30 AM

November 19, 2014

Michael Meeks

2014-11-19: Wednesday

  • Into Cambridge taking a machine to return to the server room. Quarterly Productivity Mgmt meetings, frantically prepared slides, crunched numbers etc. Meetings much of the day with a partner meeting in the middle.

November 19, 2014 09:00 PM

November 18, 2014

Michael Meeks

2014-11-18: Tuesday

  • Chewed away at master, GL rendering, texture and context lifecycle, chased misc. rendering problems. Mail catchup. Worked late.

November 18, 2014 09:00 PM

November 17, 2014

Michael Meeks

2014-11-17: Monday

  • Whiled away the very late night / early morning prototyping some Alpha recovery approach to try to drag legacy gtk2 theming into something we can use for GL rendering without loosing more hair; render the captive widget to first a white background, then a black one - and do some math to extract the alpha & original pixels; what could go wrong.
  • Slept an hour on the coach, arrived home eventually at 8am, got a few hours of shut-eye, team meeting(s), paperwork. Dinner with the babes, read various stories.
  • Back to the hacking; discovered that calling wglMakeCurrent on an already active GL Context is unfeasibly slow - whereas checking via wglGetCurrentContext first to avoid re-setting it gave a two to three orders of magnitude performance improvement: hmm.

November 17, 2014 09:00 PM

Michaël Lefèvre

Back from Toulouse

Past weekend, I’ve attented LibreOffice Hackfest Toulouse.

As Kohei wrote some days ago about Seattle’s one, I didn’t know really what to expect.

This hackfest took place inside a bigger event : Capitole du libre. It’s a community oriented event that you can compare in some way to fosdem. There were many booth from independents projects (Mozilla, OpenStreetMap, Kde, Haiku, OpenSuse, …) and lot’s of presentations covering freedom and free software during Saturday. On Sunday most of the rooms host training and visitors can get advices. Another hackfest (akademy-fr around kde) was held during the weekend, but I didn’t visit them.

We were mostly 5 developers attending the hackfest, and while not coding we enjoyed talking with visitors on accessibility (mostly blind people), documentation, open bugs. Some of them where teachers facing political decisions : in France, during secondary schools depending where you’re living, kids could have netbook, casual laptop (with Ubuntu or Windows) or tablet (Android or iOS). And of course this could change : politicians like announcement, especially before being elected. So teachers simply have to adapt their tooling over time. Michael took the opportunity to propose CloudOn solution for iPad. Most of the visitors where supportive of document ownership, and just try to cope with the administrative situation.

On a coding side, Bjoern fought again bookmarks, Markus and Michael improved OpenGL rendering, Arnaud while not running in the stairway, reserving lunch, looking for keys, sweets or whatever, improved Basic code. On my side, I’ve was easyhacking the code.

Thanks for every one for sharing cpu cycles through icecream, your valuable advises and more specificly Arnaud for organizing the event, and thanking all of us for coming ;)


by lefevre00 at November 17, 2014 05:37 PM

Naruhiko Ogasawara

Kanto LibreOffice Hackfest & Tokyo-area Debian meeting

This is an later report also, sorry.

The Debian community in Japan is very active.  Debian JP (Japanese) is a Japanese organization to promote Debian in Japan, since 1998 (!).  There are several Debian developers / maintainers,  and they have monthly study parties in Tokyo-area, and Kansai-area.

We, the LibreOffice Tokyo community is much younger than Debian's one (just two years old), but we also have monthly Meetup.


Anyway, as the Debian global project does, Debian JP wants to collaborate on upstream projects like LibreOffice, so we held joint Meetup in 25th October (Thanks Hideki Yamane to offer to do together, and Takahide Nojima to arrange the Meetup), in SQUARE-ENIX's beautiful seminar room.  This is 119th (!) meeting of Tokyo Debian, and our third LibreOffice Hackfest.

Group photo by Hideki.  Thanks!

Hideki already wrote a nice article to report the good Meetup, so I add a little.

Understanding LibreOffice packaging in Debian is so nice for me as an Ubuntu user.  We learned Debian package of LibreOffice has many patches, and had discussed to apply these patches to upstream.

As our Hackfest, I tried my first Easy Hack, since the HackNight of the last LibreOffice conference, Bern (wow, 2 months needed).  I couldn't commit a patch at that time, but after a few days later, I finally sent a patch and accepted.  It was my first commit to LibreOffice.  Yeah!

Others tried to fix a libvisio bug, to translate UI in Pootle, to create a document how to report a problem for Japanese casual users, ...  Pretty nice Hackfest we did :)

by Naruhiko Ogasawara (noreply@blogger.com) at November 17, 2014 02:39 PM

Preparing next LibreOffice Hackfest, as an offline Bug-hunting session

Short notice :)

We, the Tokyo LibreOffice community now preparing to have the LibreOffice Hackfest on this Saturday (22th, November).   That day is within the LibreOffice Bug Hunting Session, the global event aimed to do as much testing on the 4.4.0 as possible, so our main target is bug-hunting.

Of course we can collaborate IRC channel #libreoffice-qa globally, but chatting in English is a little tough work for some of the Japanese people (includes me :), that's why I want to have an offline bug-hunting, to provide opportunity for discussion in our mother tongue, Japanese.

HackFest in Tokyo is one of Japanese offline bug-hunting events, other people in LibreOffice Japanese Team prepare

I (freenode nick: naruoga) will be online in #libreoffice-qa channel from 1am to 11am UTC on 22th, November.  Because of the time difference, it's not a core mentoring slot, but I hope we'll see you LibreOffice QA people.

by Naruhiko Ogasawara (noreply@blogger.com) at November 17, 2014 12:52 PM

November 16, 2014

Michael Meeks

2014-11-16: Sunday

  • Off to the venue, more meetings, hacking on misc OpenGL-ness with Markus; plugged away at various irritating bugs, helped to explain the recent exciting revival in the LibreOffice UX team - worth giving it another try. Out for a swift beer, and on to the airport with Markus. Flights, missed bus; waited at Heathrow until 5am for a coach.

November 16, 2014 09:00 PM

November 14, 2014

User Prompt

About the performance of the Sifr icon set

Since the release of Libreoffice 4.2, the new flat and monochrome icon theme Sifr was introduced, which has received a lot of positive feedback from the community for its modern design. So in order to test the icon set’s perfection, we have run an icon test similar to two previous tests done in 2013 with Tango and Oxygen. Here are the results from the test.

Method

The icon test on our User Weave test platform aims to analyze icons using quantitative data instead of subjective preferences. All icons are presented in random order, with every term tested one at a time. The participant’s task is to find the appropriate icon to the presented term as quickly as possible. Learn more about this method in Extracting the DNA of icons.

Libreoffice with Sifr icons.

Figure 1: Libreoffice with Sifr icons.

The current test consisted of 24 icons from LibreOffice’s standard toolbar.

We used the tooltip labels to describe the function. The text was localized in English (n=240 participants), German (n=72), French (n=38), Polish (n=11), Italian (n=8), and Hebrew (no one chose this language).

Results

Icon test

Figure 2 shows the calculated quality indicator for the Sifr icons (red) versus the (reanalyzed) sets with Tango and Oxygen icons (gray and black). The lower the indicator the less mistaken the icon was and the quicker it was chosen

20141114_Sifr-Index

Figure 2: Calculated quality indicator.

Typically, some icons are mutually mixed-up. The next image shows the percentage of those false associations. On the horizontal x-axis, the presented term is shown with the chosen image on the vertical y-axis. Gray shades are logarithmic scale.

20141114_Sifr-Mixups

Figure 3: Mix-ups: x-axis shows the term, y-axis the percentage of false assigned images. Gray shades are log scaled.

If you want to rerun our analysis we provide all raw data and R scripts for the analysis of the icon test (run evaluate.r): Sifr_Icontest.tar.gz

Descriptives

After the icon test we asked the participants a few demographic questions.

After the icon selection test was completed, we asked the participants a few demographic questions.

Since the test is about icons, it might be interesting to know which icon set users select deliberately: “What icon set do you use in Libreoffice?” The answers comprised of the distributed sets for all operating systems as well as the option to answer with “The predefined default icon set”. The following table combines these result with the question “How old are you?” in six categories. The last row and column contain the total percentage for age or icon set.

Table 1: Use of icon sets by age.

Icon set
<20
20-
30
30-
40
40-
50
50-
60
>60
Total [%]
Crystal0.000.660.990.330.660.002.65
Galaxy0.000.992.650.661.320.666.29
Hicontrast0.000.000.000.000.000.330.33
Human0.330.660.990.000.330.002.32
Oxygen0.990.992.981.660.660.337.62
Predefined0.6613.2516.897.624.972.3245.70
Sifr1.327.627.623.640.330.0020.53
Tango0.004.643.312.650.990.6612.25
Total [%]3.3129.1435.7616.569.274.30n=302

We then asked “Which is your primary operating system?”. Again, the table combines this data with the chosen icon set.

Table 2: Use of icon sets by operating systems.

Icon set
Linux (GTK+)
Linux (Qt)
Linux (other)
Mac OS
Win
Total [%]
Crystal0.000.660.000.001.992.65
Galaxy0.990.990.330.003.976.29
Hicontrast0.000.000.000.000.330.33
Human1.660.000.660.000.002.32
Oxygen0.335.300.660.001.327.62
Predefined10.266.293.642.9822.8546.36
Sifr6.294.301.662.655.9621.19
Tango5.960.660.990.663.9712.25
Total [%]25.5018.217.956.2941.06n=302

And finally we wanted to know “How often do you use the following LibreOffice Application?”.

Table 3: Average usage of applications from 1=never to 5=daily.

Writer
Calc
Impress
Draw
Base
Math
4.003.402.311.971.351.53

Unfortunately it is not possible to link any of the demographic results to the data from the icon test.

If you want to rerun our analysis we provide all raw data and R scripts for descriptives  (run descriptives.r): Sifr_Descriptives.tar.gz

Discussion

Sifr is a popular icon set. It is chosen deliberately by about 20% of the participants, not only by younger users and not only by Linux or MacOS users. And it performs pretty well. The results are similar to Oxygen and Tango which are known to be great icon sets. We treat this as another confirmation for out method.

On the other hand, this particular selection of icons from the Libreoffice standard toolbar shows some issues. There is a significant mix-up between the functions for spell checking, and Copy/Paste are confused more often than in the other icon sets. This is a common problem of monochrome designed icons that lack on the color dimension. Rather related to Libreoffice the functions Gallery, Navigator, Data Sources, and Page Preview are barely understood.

We documented the issues last year:

With the conclusion and recommendations:

Next steps

The Libreoffice design team is working hard on toolbars to improve the UX for the upcoming release 4.4. The toolbar is decluttered in that less frequently used functions are removed and more relevant ones have been added. Tooltips are being standardized and updated. About Sifr, we have decided to make it the default for Mac OS in the upcoming release.

by Heiko Tietze at November 14, 2014 06:48 PM

Jacobo Aragunde Pérez

LibreOffice workshop at A Coruña University

Last week I went back to the University of A Coruña, this time to stand at the opposite side of the classroom and conduct a workshop about LibreOffice.

I was invited by Juan José Sánchez Penas as part of the subject System Information Design (Deseño de Sistemas de Información) which belongs to the Master in Computer Science Engineering (Mestrado de Enxeñería Informática). The goal was introducing students to a real world project and see how the techniques they learn are applied in practice.

The table of contents:

  1. An introduction to LibreOffice project: its long history since the 80s, current status and the awesome community that powers it.
  2. A high-level overview of the project architecture to present its main design philosophy.
  3. Accessibility in LibreOffice: how it is designed and current status. You will probably find this chapter familiar.
  4. Quality assurance techniques and tools: what the community does to assure the quality of our releases.

Find below the slides I prepared for the workshop, with versions both in Galician and English. Files are hybrid PDFs to make them easy to modify and reuse; feel free to do it under the terms of the CC-BY-SA license.

by Jacobo Aragunde Pérez at November 14, 2014 12:37 PM

Official TDF Blog

The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.4

Berlin, November 14, 2014 – The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.4, the fourth minor release of LibreOffice 4.3 “fresh” family, which is a stable release of the more advanced version of the software, and is targeted to users focusing on features. LibreOffice 4.3.4 contains over 60 bug fixes.

People interested in technical details can find change logs for LibreOffice 4.3.4 here: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.3.4/RC1  (fixed in RC1).

Download LibreOffice

LibreOffice 4.3.4 “Fresh” is immediately available for download from the following link: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/.

LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation at http://donate.libreoffice.org.

by italovignoli at November 14, 2014 10:02 AM

November 13, 2014

User Prompt

How designers think about ‘Save as…’

The metaphor of a floppy for Save is one of the most controversially discussed and challenged icons. There are haters who argue that many younger people never have seen a floppy (except at the Save icons). And there are lovers who favour the clear and unique depiction of the floppy.

The German newspaper ‘Stuttgarter Zeitung’ and the ‘Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation’ ran a competition to design a new icon for ‘Save as…': http://speichern-unter.net/ (German only webpage). The task was simple: Design an icon for Save-As. Thousands of suggestions have been submitted, most likely overwhelming to the organizers as well.

Approaching the ideas

Looking at the bunch of ideas we got thought that a categorization makes sense. We grouped icons by the metaphor that the designer might had in mind (examples are chosen randomly from the sample).

Arrows

Arrow Icons

  • Arrows and check-marks
    Designers seem to love arrows. Many icons consist of a downward pointing arrow or convey mainly on arrow like symbols. The idea behind is that Save is an action

    Checkmarks

    Icons with checkmarks

    where users put something into a container (this container varies largely). Similar to the arrows, a check mark is very common. The designers might have a finalization or affirmation in mind, saying something like ‘Action conducted successfully’.

Storage

Storage metaphor

  • Storage
    The next big category is the medium. Several submitted proposals still trust in the floppy, more or less symbolic. Other ideas want to associate Save with an USB stick, chips (mostly as known from SD cards), hard discs, compact discs, and clouds (we tried to sort this list by the number of items in the category).

Text

Icons using text

  • Text
    Other metaphors trust in text. Locks, keys, and safes are used quite often to indicate the safety aspect of the Save action (whereas a safe might have literal reasons). The letter S was suggested very often, disregarding that the label in languages other than English (Save as) or German (Speichern unter) does not start with S, for instance French (Enregistrer sous). Funny in this respect is the idea with a squirrel whose tall is inverted S shaped (there are at least three participants with this idea!).

Memory

Utilizing memory

  • Memory
    Surprisingly often a brain was suggested as metaphor. The idea is obviously to memorize stuff. And consequently elephants must not be missed due to their proverbial long term memory. Those icons reveal the problem with size and level of detail: the submitted images had to have a size of 275 px, but toolbar icons usually have only 22 by 22 px. And a brain that is resized to 22 pixels does not differ from a cloud, for example.

Abstract

Symbolic approaches

  • Symbols
    Last but not least we have a large number of icons that are designed symbolic or are mainly abstract. If an established metaphor should really get replaced it might be a good idea to introduce an abstract symbol. By doing so you trust in learnability – and in the fast technical development: All concrete icons may be outdated tomorrow.

Official Evaluation

Evaluating all the ideas cannot be done in a definite or complete manner. Due to the huge amount of submissions it is just a subjective impression, probably ignoring some great ideas. The organizers ran the evaluation in two steps: first the users were asked to vote. That was done by presenting some randomized icons with the option to up-vote as many icons as desired but each only once. However, publicity over social media was explicitly approved. (This might have significantly biased the result.)

Unfortunately the icons were presented in 275 x 275 pixels using an endless list (by scrolling down the content is being refreshed). As a thumb of rule from our icon tests we recommend to have at least 100 values for a valid result. This was not possible for this large data base.

In the second step the 20 most favoured icons have been evaluated by experts (10 from the amateurs and 10 done by professionals). And the winner presented today on world Usability Day is…  Check it on the page http://speichern-unter.net/ (or at table 1 below).

Objective Analysis

Our evaluation of icons is different as we measure quantitative data: error rate and response time. Since we do not have errors in this test, our result is just a table with the number of associations and the average response time. To compare the newly introduced icons with the well established floppy we added the respective symbol from the Oxygen icon set which is known to perform very well. Here are the results:

Table 1: Results from the icon test with different Save-As icons.

Icon
Chosen [n]
Response time [s]
Official rank
20917.66-
5619.481
315.31
1927.391
1518.34
1518.87
1417.44
1124.19
517.27
526.99
2
413.11
27.17
02
0
03
0
0
0
0
0
03

Conclusion

The organizers write on their page: “The competition does not claim to set future standard for design. The major focus is on fun in creative dealing with the rapid changes in data storage and the usability of IT product.” From this point of view the competition was a full success.

Lesson two learned is that good design requires professional designers. There are so many aspects to consider beyond the metaphor. Technical skills are obviously required but one has to consider a common design language, a branding, color, accessibility and so on as well. It’s great to get supported with ideas and to receive input, but the final work should be done by experts.

And eventually we come to the resume, again, that a floppy is still a good symbol for Save or Save-As. It might be outdated as a physical object but has become iconic on itself. One the other hand, we appreciate the reflection on finding new symbols, but rather for other terms. And as usability experts we should point out that good icons don’t work on their own. The symbols have usually surrounding objects, so position and grouping is relevant, the access is supported by a tooltip which should be clear, and as third aspect the function itself needs to be known by the user. Learn more about this trilogy in ‘Semiotik in Usability. Guidelines for the Development of Icon Metaphors‘.

by Heiko Tietze at November 13, 2014 03:54 PM

Eike Rathke

xkcd 1446 - Landing

Earthlings yesterday followed the Philea landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after 10 years of space travel. Impressive. See what really happened in the xkcd Landing documentary. Start at slide #0 and space-time travel with the right cursor key. Don't get confused by the first empty slides, it's on purpose, space is huge.

by erAck at November 13, 2014 12:54 PM

November 12, 2014

User Prompt

Once again: Survey on Libreoffice Calc’s toolbar

After server crash yesterday evening all should be running now. So again: Please participate in our survey:

http://user-weave.com/survey/83cf7d9c7556481f847b807b9d9a4d83?12 (study closed on 17-Nov-2014)

(Learn more about the background in yesterday’s blog post. And please comment there, if you want.)

by Heiko Tietze at November 12, 2014 09:05 AM

November 11, 2014

User Prompt

How do you want Libreoffice Calc’s toolbar configured?

As discussed in the recent postings about Writer, Libreoffice’s default toolbars haven’t been changed in 9 years, since OpenOffice 2.0. Our goal is to update Libreoffice’s default toolbars by removing seldom used icons in order to give room for more useful functions. Here is how we think it should develop:

Figure 1: Toolbars in Libreoffice Calc.

Figure 1: Current status of future toolbars in Libreoffice Calc.

And as the last time we want to make sure that changes are done according users’ needs. Here you come into play. As an indication for the development, we want to know if you agree with these changes.

Please go to our test platform User-Weave.com and answer a few question about your workflow and opinion. It takes only 2 minutes and helps us to steer the development.

http://user-weave.com/survey/83cf7d9c7556481f847b807b9d9a4d83?12 (study closed on 17-Nov-2014)

As always we appreciate all comments. Please share your opinion!

by Heiko Tietze at November 11, 2014 08:18 PM

November 10, 2014

Official TDF Blog

CIB Software joins The Document Foundation Advisory Board

Berlin, November 10, 2014 – The Document Foundation (TDF) announces that CIB Software is now a member of its Advisory Board. CIB Software, based in Munich, Germany, is a leading developer of standardized document lifecycle management applications with more than 25 years of experience. In addition, the company has been a reliable partner in IT consulting from planning through to maintenance.

“Documents and their processes are at the heart of CIB’s business. CIB has for nearly a quarter of a century provided enterprise solutions for many of Germany’s leading financial institutions. It was only natural to add our backing to LibreOffice as the leading free / open source office suite using the ISO ODF standard,” says Ulrich Brandner, CIB Software’s CEO.

“We are happy to see another company capable of adding value to LibreOffice joining our Advisory Board,” says Thorsten Behrens, Chairman of The Document Foundation. “The vision of a growing ecosystem around LibreOffice is becoming a healthy reality.”

TDF Advisory Board has 16 members: AMD, CIB Software, CloudOn, Collabora, FrODeV (Freies Office Deutschland), FSF (Free Software Foundation), Google, Intel, ITOMIG, KACST (King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology of Saudi Arabia), Lanedo, MIMO (Consortium of French Ministries), RedHat, SPI (Software in the Public Interest), Studio Storti and SUSE.

About CIB

The CIB group specializes in document lifecycle management applications. Renowned financial institutions and insurance companies, public administrations as well as international industrial companies are using CIB software to manage their correspondence on a daily basis. Over 300 million documents are produced per year using CIB technology. The company has 150 employees at its offices in Munich, Karlsruhe, Münster, Hamburg and Minsk (Belarus).

Media Contacts: https://www.cib.de/presse.

About The Document Foundation

The Document Foundation is an independent, self-governing and meritocratic organization, based on Free Software ethos and incorporated in Germany as a not for profit entity. TDF is focused on the development of LibreOffice – the best free office suite ever – chosen by the global community as the legitimate heir of OOo, and as such adopted by a growing number of public administrations, enterprises and SMBs for desktop productivity.

TDF is accessible to individuals and organizations who agree with its core values and contribute to its activities. At the end of June 2014, the foundation has over 200 members and over 3,000 volunteer contributors worldwide.

Media Contacts: https://www.documentfoundation.org/contact/.

by italovignoli at November 10, 2014 03:43 PM

Collabora Community

Why LibreOffice Certification matters

The new certification programme, announced on Wednesday by the Document Foundation (TDF), for professionals who train and migrate to LibreOffice as a service, is a watermark for the growth and development of businesses in the Open Source productivity ecosystem. Thirteen newly qualified individuals form the basis of the programme, representing six different companies and six independents.

Italo Vignoli

Italo Vignoli – Certification Committee Chairman

The need for new types of certification reflects the growth and maturation of businesses supporting LibreOffice, as well as the leadership of the Document Foundation and its readiness to meet that need. Over the last two years The Document Foundation have granted certification to 45 software development engineers. Graduates include employees of leading Open Source multi-nationals Red Hat, SUSE, and Ericsson.

As a non-profit organisation with charitable status, The Foundation provides a degree independence and authority which corporate bodies can never achieve. With its three-tier management structure, TDF is well suited to non-partisan setting of standards and assessment of certificate applicants. Yet because many leading LibreOffice service providers are also board members, the foundation is uniquely positioned to assay best practice and learning resources, and foster cooperation between companies which may otherwise be marketplace competitors.

“In fact, LibreOffice Certification is the first of this kind to be managed by a community based Free Software project, as all other certifications in the open source environment are managed by a company” — Italo Vignoli, Certification Committee Chairman

The peer-to-peer certification process covers a broad range of themes from “certification theory” to “growth potential”. Some subjects are special to the application’s Open Source roots, including “basic knowledge and understanding of Free Software communities”, and “Free Software licenses”. Certification both incentivises professional learning, and provides a public directory of qualified experts for those seeking services related to LibreOffice.

Four of the six companies with newly qualified staff are Collabora partners, and 13 of 45 engineers already certified are members of our team. With more certified staff than any other company, we’re delighted to be part of the training and development of LibreOffice experts, and look forward to promoting certification to our international network of educators and integrators.

by Sam Tuke at November 10, 2014 10:55 AM

November 07, 2014

Caolán McNamara

LibreOffice Coverity Defect Density 0.02

Coverity Defect Density: LibreOffice vs Average

We run LibreOffice through Coverity approximately once a week. According to Coverity's overview dashboard our current status is:

LibreOffice: 7,271,857 line of code and 0.02 defect density

Open Source Defect Density By Project Size

Line of Code (LOC) Defect Density
Less than 100,0000.35
100,000 to 499,9990.5
500,000 to 1 million0.7
More than 1 million0.65
Note: Defect density is measured by the number of defects per 1,000 lines of code, identified by the Coverity platform. The numbers shown above are from our 2013 Coverity Scan Report, which analyzed 250 million lines of open source code.
The "lines of code" here is 7,271,857 vs 9,500,825 in older reports because I'm now building against system-libraries instead of building those in-tree in order to speed up the process. Those "external" libraries have always been marked as "ignore in analysis" in coverity so that change has no effect on the defect density of our own code.

If anyone knows how we could rework our code or otherwise automatically silence https://communities.coverity.com/thread/2993 that would be great. This false positive keeps cropping up in uses of uno::Sequence so they keep popping up.

We're now at that happy place where we are getting a very small and manageable number of actually new warnings in "really" modified code each run rather than getting the same old one again and again as general refactoring perturbs the code enough that they get newly detected.

by Caolán McNamara (noreply@blogger.com) at November 07, 2014 09:08 PM

Charles Schulz

The Document Foundation sets precedents & paves new opportunities for Free Software

These past weeks have marked a significant twist in the way the Document Foundation is supporting the LibreOffice project and in general, the Free and Open Source Software world. Three distinct pieces of news should indeed be put together in order to shed light on the way the Document Foundation is changing the way Free Software projects can work in order to grow and gain traction. In chronological order, here are the three announcements you should pay attention to:
– The Document Foundation opens a tender to develop a full viewer (and limited editor) for Android
CloudOn, a member of the Advisory Board of the Document Foundation and a very active contributor of code, releases its new, full touch-based document viewer and editor for the iPad, entirely based on LibreOffice.
– The Document Foundation extends its certification programme to migration and training professionals.

Put together, a new story is emerging. Part of it was expected since the beginning of the LibreOffice project, while other parts came up unexpectedly, yet welcome. Let me explain. The other day I was writing about the roles of Free and Open Source Foundations. The funny thing about that is that while some foundations have roles that are easy to understand, several others operate in ways that may not make immediate sense to all. It seems that the Document Foundation falls in this latter category.

The Document Foundation role is to support and grow the LibreOffice & Document Liberation project and promote Free Software and Open Standards. You will notice in this statement two key points; first, it is not directly the role of the Document Foundation to develop the LibreOffice code: the community of volunteers is in charge of that and second, the actual role of the foundation is actually to protect and cater to the community’s needs and logistics.

At this point, it should be clear that at least in the case of the Document Foundation, we don’t hire developers to work on LibreOffice. But we feel there’s a difference between being a non profit entity distributing t-shirts and an entity actually supporting and growing the project. As such, we have overcome the lack of skills and time to develop an Android client by dedicating resources to this development, enabling talented developers to work on this project during a fixed period of time and funded by the foundation. Clearly, if such a development had been so easy we would already have an Android version.

The second case is a bit different, but highlights that the licensing choices of the LibreOffice project do not make it some sort of project for hobbyists. Here, we have a dynamic startup investing in the codebase and in the project in order to bet its own business on LibreOffice. The result is a visually stunning, touch based document viewer and editor for the iPad; it is also the only client able to read and edit documents in OOXML, ODF and several other formats on this device. Is it proprietary? I’m afraid it is. But the important lesson here is on two levels: in order to create such a product, CloudOn had to invest heavily in the development of LibreOffice (i.e, make actual, sizable contributions to the LibreOffice codebase) and, despite everything we have heard in the past, our licensing scheme is flexible enough to accomodate many different kind of scenarios without ripping off the actual project from its resources and code.

Last but not least, the certification for migration and training professionals is an important announcement: by assessing a reasonable level of competence and knowledge on LibreOffice, the certification aims at turning the market into a readable and transparent set of service offerings the customers can choose from while benefiting from a real stamp of minimum quality to be expected.

The conclusion at this stage I take from these three announcements is that the Document Foundation moves into new territories that will ultimately help LibreOffice and the FOSS world in general. By setting these precedents, the Document Foundation finds ways to strengthen the business ecosystem and invest resources into much needed strategic initiatives. This is what an independent foundation can do for the community it stems from and it is a powerful, yet at times intriguing model that prompts a new thinking on Free and Open Source Software projects.

by Charles at November 07, 2014 04:39 PM

November 06, 2014

Caolán McNamara

Select and toggle off master elements directly via delete

Toggle off master elements directly via delete

To remove footer, header, date/time and sheetnumber master elements in LibreOffice the user has to toggle them off via view->master->master elements. Actually selecting the corresponding placeholder preview of the element in master view and pressing delete doesn't do anything.

In LibreOffice 4.4 this infuriating behavior is changed and LibreOffice will do the right thing and toggle off any selected master elements when you press delete

by Caolán McNamara (noreply@blogger.com) at November 06, 2014 04:27 PM

November 05, 2014

Official TDF Blog

The Document Foundation (TDF) announces Certification for LibreOffice Migration and LibreOffice Training Professionals

Berlin, November 5, 2014 – The Document Foundation announces Certification for LibreOffice Migrations and LibreOffice Training Professionals, open to TDF Members until April 2015 and then to all free software advocates. Details are available at http://www.documentfoundation.org/certification.

“LibreOffice Certification is an absolute first for a community based project, and has been developed adapting existing best practices to the different reality of the TDF ecosystem,” says Italo Vignoli, Chairman of TDF Certification Committee. “We want to recognize the skills of free software advocates who are able to provide value added services to large organizations deploying LibreOffice. Once certified, they will be recognized as LibreOffice experts and ambassadors.”
The Certification Committee has also appointed several Certified Professionals for Migrations and Trainings, who will help the Board of Directors in peer reviewing other TDF Members who will apply for certification in either discipline.

Certified Professionals for Migrations and Trainings are: Lothar Becker (.riess), Eliane Domingos de Sousa (EDX Informatica), Sophie Gautier (independent), Olivier Hallot (EDX Informatica), Thomas Krumbein (independent), Leif Lodahl (Magenta), Marina Latini (Studio Storti), Cor Nouws (Nou&Off), Gustavo Buzzatti Pacheco (independent), Stefano Paggetti (Regione Umbria), Jacqueline Rahemipour (independent), Charles H. Schulz (independent), and Italo Vignoli (independent). These 13 certified professionals join the 42 developers certified since October 2010.

Certified Professionals are able to assist enterprise deployments of LibreOffice by providing the following services:

  • migration consultancy: migration feasibility assessment, project management, migration strategy, communications, and other migration related services;
  • training: creation and delivery of training courses for trainers and end users, and evaluation of training effectiveness;
  • professional Level 3 support: feature development and bug fixing to solve application and interoperability problems.

The lists of Certified Professionals can be accessed from the certification website: http://www.documentfoundation.org/certification.

About The Document Foundation (TDF)

The Document Foundation is an independent, self-governing and meritocratic organization, based on Free Software ethos and incorporated in Germany as a not for profit entity. TDF is focused on the development of LibreOffice – the best free office suite ever – chosen by the global community as the legitimate heir of OOo, and as such adopted by a growing number of public administrations, enterprises and SMBs for desktop productivity.

TDF is accessible to individuals and organizations who agree with its core values and participate in its activities. At the end of October 2014, the foundation has over 200 members and over 3,000 volunteer contributors worldwide.

by italovignoli at November 05, 2014 01:00 PM

November 03, 2014

Kohei Yoshida

Seattle LibreFest

Today I’d like to talk about the LibreOffice Hackfest (LibreFest) that we did in Seattle on October 26th. This hackfest happens to be the very first hackfest event that I have participated outside of those held at the annual LibreOffice conferences, and the first one ever in the United States. Quite frankly, I didn’t really know what to expect going into this event. But despite that, I’m pleased to say that the event went quite well, with 32 participants joining the event in total, which was much more than what we had anticipated.

Hackfest took place inside the Communications Building at University of Washington, located in downtown Seattle. We borrowed a small-size class room to host the event, and later brought in extra chairs to accommodate everyone.

hackfest-1

Four of us were there from the LibreOffice project – Robinson Tryon, Norbert Thiebaud, Bjoern Michaelsen and myself, though Bjoern had to leave early to catch his flight. Some of us came to the venue around 9 AM to set things up, and people started showing up around 9:30. Once the event officially started at 10 AM, we split into 2 tracks: the hackfest track where people work on building LibreOffice from the git repository & making changes, and the QA track where people test LibreOffice to report bugs. Robinson assisted those in the QA track, and the rest of us helped those in the hackfest track.

We spent much of the morning setting people up and getting their builds going, which was quite a challenge in and of itself. We eventually got everyone building one way or another, and the availability of a virtual machine environment was quite helpful for some of the participants. Others opted to use their own machines to build it on.

hackfest-2

Some participants came late and joined in the afternoon session, while others only joined the morning session and had to leave in the afternoon. About half of us stayed there until late evening. Overall, it was great to see so much interest in our project, and pleased to see that many decided to stay until late to get things done.

hackfest-3

Overall, we had a very successful hackfest event. I would like to thank Robinson for working hard to organize this hackfest, and Lee Fisher who was very helpful in organizing the event especially in handling matters on the Seattle side.

Two things I’ve learned from this event are: 1) access to a very fast virtual build environment can be quite helpful, and 2) Slackware is still very much alive! With regard to the first one, I feel that we should put more emphasis on having the participants use virtual machines to build LibreOffice for future hackfest events, and have mentors adequately trained to set it up for them. With regard to the popularity of Slackware, well, we need to encourage more participation from Slackware users and encourage them to share tips on building LibreOffice on Slackware in our wiki.

I hope those who came to the event learned something worthwhile (I certainly did), and I hope to see them again in the LibreOffice project!

by Kohei Yoshida at November 03, 2014 07:14 PM

November 02, 2014

Andreas Mantke

Own Instance of OwnCloud

I asked my hosting provider for an update of the environment of my webspace because I’m going to host my online calendar on my own. The provider did the upgrade very fast and the applications on my webspace (website and blog) made it to the new server without any issue. Great!

This weekend I found some free cycle to install and configure a own instance of OwnCloud in my webspace. The provider provides the OwnCloud software packages in his administration interface. Thus the installation was very easy and fast. I had only to create a new user account and could go from there then.

First I did a synchroisation with my Thunderbird Lightning calendar. I had only to add a new calendar and fill in the calendar URL and the login data. There is a button in OwnCloud (calendar view) where you get that URL.

Next I worked on the connection of my OwnCloud calender with my mobile phone. I used ‘CalDAV Sync Free Beta’ from the Android Market Place for that. Once installed I added an account inside the configuration menu of my phone. I had to add the login data and the URL and could add a name for this CalDAV account. I had to choose the automatic synchronisation and the appointments etc. from my OwnCloud calendar went into the calendar that I used on my mobile phone: aCalendar, also from the Market Place.

I could also synchronize my contact data from OwnCloud. Therefor I used ‘CardDAV Sync Free Beta’ from the Market Place. The default configuration syncs only data from the OwnCloud instance to the phone but you could choose the permission to sync from phone to OwnCloud too. I tried this and it works also like a charme.

I got also the contact data exported from Thunderbird and imported to the OwnCloud instance. Once I found the button to choose and upload the contact data file, that I exported from Thunderbird, it was a very easy task.

by andreasma at November 02, 2014 05:23 PM

November 01, 2014

Naruhiko Ogasawara

Behind the Great Firewall

It's a little late and very short report.

I've joined openSUSE Asia Summit in Oct, 18th(Sat) and 19th(Sun) in Beihang University, Beijing.  It is the first Asian openSUSE summit.

Entrance of BUAA

Generally speaking, beginning something new is most difficult, and the core team (includes me, it's my honor) worked so hard and, and did it very well!

Organizers, by xxairwolf from Flickr



Because I had trouble with my business, I've arrived 2pm. on Saturday, and left 1pm. on Sunday.  Sorry to join very short time, but I have enjoyed the summit, it's nice talks, good exhibits, lovely fellows, awesome party, and lunch, Yoshinoya!
Yoshinoya is a Japanese fast food chain, but it seems Chinese style :)

Fortunately, I had a opportunity to have a short talk about LibreOffice.  In the talk, I explained LibreOffice as a product and as a community, and asked what we, eastern Asian LibreOffice users / communities, work together.  Here is my slide.
<iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="355" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/40993686" style="border-width: 1px; border: 1px solid #CCC; margin-bottom: 5px; max-width: 100%;" width="425"> </iframe>

Since my practice was not enough, I have spent a time to talk and had no time to discussion.  However, after the talk, I chatted with some of the attendees about collaboration in the eastern Asia.  To summerize the chat, "We are close geographically, but we aren't close linguistically."
Yes, it's true.  We don't have "Asian" common language, and we have to use English, same as global.  And many people in Japan, China, or some Asian people can't use English well (yes I also).
It's a difficult problem, but I still believe I have something to work together and I'll be looking for what is a first point.


And last comment from me; if you'll attend a conference in China, don't forget to bring your important travel information locally (e.g. your hotel reservation info), not to leave in Google (I mean, Gmail or Google Calendar), and bookmark a search engine other than Google, because we have Great Firewall.  I totally forgot to do this, so I had lots of troubles (of course it's my fault).  But, thanks to my great fellows, everything was solved smoothly.

Thanks everyone, see you next openSUSE Asia Summit!
Group photo, by Bin Li from flickr

PS. You can find lots of nice photos in flickr's openSUSE Asia Summit 2014 group.  Check it out!

by Naruhiko Ogasawara (noreply@blogger.com) at November 01, 2014 02:36 PM

October 30, 2014

Official TDF Blog

The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.3 and LibreOffice 4.2.7

Berlin, October 30, 2014 – The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice 4.3.3, the third minor release of LibreOffice 4.3 “fresh” family, and LibreOffice 4.2.7, the last minor release of LibreOffice 4.2 “still” family. Together, there are over 200 fixes for bugs and regressions.

LibreOffice 4.3.3 “Fresh” is a stable release of the more advanced version of the software, and is targeted to users focusing on features. LibreOffice 4.2.7 “Still” is a stable release of the more tested version of the software, and is targeted to users focusing on continuity. Both versions can be deployed in enterprise environments, according to corporate policies, when backed by professional support.

“This is the first time we are releasing the fresh and still versions on the same day, and this represents a good opportunity to explain that we maintain two concurrent versions of the software to provide the best option to both power and conservative users, because they focus on different characteristics of the application”, explains Italo Vignoli, a spokesperson for The Document Foundation. “In both cases, though, we strongly suggest to back enterprise deployments with professional support, to get the best out of LibreOffice”.

People interested in technical details can find change logs for LibreOffice 4.3.3 here: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.3.3/RC1 (fixed in RC1). Change logs for LibreOffice 4.2.7 are also available on the wiki here: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Releases/4.2.7/RC1 (fixed in RC1).

Download LibreOffice

LibreOffice 4.3.3 “Fresh” and LibreOffice 4.2.7 “Still” are immediately available for download from the following link: http://www.libreoffice.org/download.
LibreOffice users, free software advocates and community members can support The Document Foundation with a donation at http://donate.libreoffice.org.

by italovignoli at October 30, 2014 09:01 AM

October 29, 2014

Official TDF Blog

LibreOffice 4.4 bug hunting session coming soon

The Document Foundation (TDF) announces the first LibreOffice 4.4 bug hunting session, which will happen immediately after the availability of the first beta of the new major release on November 21/23, 2014.

Details of LibreOffice 4.4 bug hunting session are available on TDF wiki at https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/BugHunting_Session_4.4.0.0. The list of LibreOffice 4.4 new features that have to be checked for bugs and regressions is also available on the wiki: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/4.4.

To participate, it will be necessary to download LibreOffice 4.4 Beta 1 for Windows, MacOS or Linux from http://www.libreoffice.org/pre-releases. Filing bugs will be extremely easy, thanks to the help of experienced volunteers who will be around on the QA mailing list (libreoffice-qa@lists.freedesktop.org) and IRC channel (irc://irc.freenode.net/#libreoffice-qa).

A second LibreOffice 4.4 bug hunting session will be organized – with the same pattern – immediately after the release of LibreOffice 4.4 Release Candidate 1, in mid December.

by italovignoli at October 29, 2014 03:30 PM

October 25, 2014

Miklos Vajna

The yellow border around the pig

It turns out LibreOffice’s RTF and DOCX import filter ignored borders around Writer pictures. Given that this worked in the RTF case in the past, it’s a bit amusing that now the very same commit implements a new feature for the DOCX case and at the same time fixes a regression in the RTF filter. Code sharing FTW! :-)

October 25, 2014 01:10 PM

Charles Schulz

Pondering FOSS foundations

Calque1This year the OpenWorld Forum in Paris will take place the 30th and the 31st of October. I will be one of the speakers of Community Track, and I’ll be discussing the Document Foundation’s example. My co-panelists include representatives of the Eclipse Foundation, the OW2 Consortium, Red Hat and others. The main point of this panel will be to focus on the benefits and drawbacks of setting up a technical and legal infrastructure for FOSS projects. It is one of the very few panel discussions that will cover this interesting yet a bit obscure topic, and I would like to share some of my own thoughts on the matter.

A Free Software development project needs developers, a licence, and tools to be developed. This requires an original author, or a team of authors, the choice of a license (it does not need to be complicated), a decision on who owns or does not own the copyright on the code, and a set of tools that will enable the development of the software alongside communication tools, such as one or more mailing list, perhaps an IRC channel and a web page – even a website for the ambitious ones. Documentation is also handy, alongside some basic instructions on how to get the software in its binary and source code form.

Having an entity running the whole project from the beginning seems both ludicrous and of the highest importance. What comes first is what I’ve just outlined: license, copyright, development and communication tools. All this can be handled by a supporting entity; but all this could as well be managed by one or more third party: GitHub is one obvious example; but more complex cases can also be thought of: The OW2 Consortium, the Apache Software Foundation, Eclipse, and of course the Document Foundation. There are other similar entities in the Free and Open Source Software world. Why should developers care then? Isn’t GitHub the easiest choice? Why would I want to open a project hosted by a third party entity? Here’s the short answer: It depends of your project and there is no silver bullet. I will pick the four entities mentioned above, and I’ll higlight some of their specificities. It will give an idea of the different approach given by each of them:

  • OW2 Consortium: European and Chinese consortium on Enterprise Software (middleware and cloud mostly), lots of Java, different licenses. The Consortium started in France with major software development and telecom sponsors involved. The consortium’s coherence does not just lie there, but rather in its strong roots as the “forge for the European industrial players”.
  • ASF: They don’t need to be presented, but their specificity is the license, and everything around the Apache web server. Over the course of the years, this coherence was only upheld in its licensing scheme. The ASF basically accepts projects from corporate donors who donate code and money.
  • Eclipse: The Eclipse Foundation started very much as an IBM only story, but things have changed dramatically. The Eclipse Foundation essentially hosts the Eclipse IDE, its plugins and pretty much everything built on top of or using the Eclipse Framework. There is also the Eclipse license, but I believe multiple licensing schemes are now possible.
  • The Document Foundation: The continuation of the OpenOffice.org project by its community after the Oracle takeover of Sun Microsystems. The Document Foundation is centered around LibreOffice but recently opened another project, the Document Liberation. As its name suggests, the Document Foundation is interested about anything document-centric. The licenses used are a combination of GPL v3, LGPLv2, and MPL.

In the case of the Document Foundation, the LibreOffice project needed an independent, solid and meritocratic entity dedicated to support it. In other terms, the OpenOffice.org community wanted to be its own boss and stop relying on corporate – or even third party – good will. If you attend the Community Track on the 31st you will be able to learn more about the Document Foundation and the other entities, but my message here is that while there is no silver bullet in these matters, forcing a community be hosted or to bend to a software vendor never works. It bends if it wants to; it goes whereever it wishes to go. In the case of the Document Foundation, independence and community rule prevailed over convenience; today the results do not need to be proven anymore. But it does not mean we hold the truth more than anybody else: we just ensured the community was in charge.

Looking forward seeing you next Friday in Paris!

by Charles at October 25, 2014 09:34 AM

October 24, 2014

Joel Madero

Pointing the Finger – Interoperability and Microsoft’s Share of the Blame

Had a very interesting experience today. Sent my 35 page brief over to my partner using MS Office 2011 on OSX and it was a bit screwed up (not unusable but quite a bit changed in it including font size). I decided to boot into Windows and test MS Office 2013 – guess what – was literally perfect.

The unfortunate truth is that situations like this make LibreOffice look bad despite it being completely out of our control to resolve. This was a .doc file – to say the least two .doc files should look the same in MS Office 2011 and MS Office 2013 – so why don’t they? Well, because Microsoft Office has some serious problems. But what Microsoft Office doesn’t lack is a brilliant PR department who can convince people that OTHERS are to blame for these insanities.

Truly unfortunate – so now the experience from my partner is “LibreOffice sent a document that doesn’t look right” and the finger gets pointed at us — even after I showed him the document looking perfect in MSO 2013 on Windows 7….thanks Microsoft….thanks a lot.

 

Update: Tested on Microsoft Office 2010 on Windows 7 and the results were also good. So – it is definitely OSX specific which makes our poor developers and QA people’s job 100x harder . . . what a pain


by joelmadero at October 24, 2014 04:57 AM

October 22, 2014

Tim Janik

Apache SSLCipherSuite without POODLE

In my previous post Forward Secrecy Encryption for Apache, I’ve described an Apache SSLCipherSuite setup to support forward secrecy which allowed TLS 1.0 and up, avoided SSLv2 but included SSLv3. With the new PODDLE attack (Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption), SSLv3 (and earlier versions) should generally be avoided. Which means the cipher configurations discussed [...]

by timj at October 22, 2014 02:45 PM

Forward Secrecy Encryption for Apache

The basic need to encrypt digital communication seems to be becoming common sense lately. It probably results from increased public awareness about the number of parties involved in providing the systems required (ISPs, backbone providers, carriers, sysadmins) and the number of parties these days taking an interest in digital communications and activities (advertisers, criminals, state authorities, [...]

by timj at October 22, 2014 02:44 PM

Collabora Community

Mutual business crowdfunding for LibreOffice results in new features investment

A document being signed by hand

Last Friday Wilhelm Tux, a Swiss community group, reached their €8,000 (CHF 10.000) crowdfunding target for LibreOffice. The money will be used to add support for digital signatures in PDF documents in a secure and compliant way. From announcement to completion took four days.Once implemented, LibreOffice will be able to:

  • Create PDF documents with legally accepted digital signatures
  • Conform to PDF/A signature standards
  • Use Mozilla Firefox or Thunderbird to manage certificates using a simple interface

Demand

Wilhelm Tux has established a strong network of business users of Open Source over the last 12 years, including companies founded by members of the organisation themselves. Even taking this network into consideration however, the speed with which funds were raised is impressive for a local advocacy group with little media experience.

The success of their campaign shows that Swiss businesses want LibreOffice, want digital signing, and, given the opportunity, are happy to pay for it. It also demonstrates the freedom that the LibreOffice ecosystem provides to businesses. Independently of The Document Foundation who steward and steer LibreOffice development, and independently of the many businesses who have stakes in the future of the application, organisations of any size can organise the addition of new features. When their needs are shared, they need not even bear the exclusive burden of cost.

Wilheml Tux logo

Logo of Wilhelm Tux

Mutualisation

25 Businesses and 65 individuals contributed to the campaign. These 90 interested parties will have their wish fulfilled by April 2015, when the features are due to be delivered. More importantly however, the cost of implementing these new features was shared 90 times.

Uniting disparate groups with shared interests to invest in solutions for mutual benefit is sometimes referred to by crowdfunding marketers as “co-funding” or “mutualisation”. It has particular relevance to Open Source.

The role of Wilhelm Tux in this campaign was similar to that of an Internet dating agency. They identified people with similar needs, and introduced them to each other using a framework designed to keep the participants safe. Wilhelm Tux acted as treasurer, guaranteeing and safeguarding payments, and also as supervisor – undertaking to manage completion of development and assure quality.

By contrast, undertaking to contract Microsoft, Apple, or Google to make customisations, however minor, is well beyond reach of most trade associations and community groups. Users seeking improvements to Office 365, iWork, or Google Docs have few avenues to pursue.

Work on PDF digital signatures was partially completed in 2012, but then stagnated. Instead of pressuring volunteer developers to pick up the project, or The Document Foundation (who do not undertake LibreOffice development directly), Wilhelm Tux proactively sought out an independent company to complete the work.

Delivery

The LibreOffice community conference in Bern last September provided an opportunity for Wilhelm Tux to meet with Collabora Productivity GM Michael Meeks, and scope out the task in-person with Collabra developers. As they explain on their campaign page, Wilhelm Tux chose Collabora due to our enterprise experience, staff of core LibreOffice developers, and commitment to publishing all changes upstream to the Open Source edition of LibreOffice. As their website states:

“That all customer-specific modifications are merged back into the free development branch (“main tree”) of LibreOffice was, for us, the main reason why we chose Collabora as our partner for this project, as it means that we can ensure that PDF signatures will be freely available for all users world-wide” — Wilhelm Tux website

3x Win

This business model of Open Source development therefore provides a rare case of win-win-win. The 90 business and individuals who backed PDF digital signatures get the features that they need at a fraction of the total cost of their development, from a proven company with enterprise expertise. Collabora get a new contract for work that they can deliver efficiently, and which will improve the usefulness of their product to other customers. But in addition to the textbook two-way “win”, a third win is also achieved: a win for all people who may use LibreOffice, for now, and for the future.

As these features will also make their way back into Open Source LibreOffice and products based upon it, ultimately the widest possible audience will enjoy the benefit — without any detriment to the project’s 90 investors, or to the development team who will deliver it.

Although contracts such as this make up a small proportion of Collabora’s work on LibreOffice, being able to fulfil the productivity needs of the highly diverse range of people using LibreOffice adds strength and flexibility to our business and position in the Open Source ecosystem.

by Sam Tuke at October 22, 2014 01:56 PM

October 21, 2014

Chris Sherlock

How to build only vcl modules from scratch in LibreOffice

After reviewing the component diagram on the LibreOffice wiki, the following will make the VCL module in LibreOffice:

make sal salhelper store cppuhelper cppu xmlreader registry unoidl dtrans \
binaryurp dtrans animations jvmfwk jvmaccess javaunohelper stoc i18nlangtag \
ucbhelper comphelper basegfx tools unotools i18nutil i18npool sot svl vcl

Update: this doesn't always work. Turns out that there is some sort of circular dependency between i18npool and another module, which make sorts out itself. 

I'm now trying:

make CppunitTest_i18npool_test_breakiterator ucb configmgr vcl

by Ta bu shi da yu (noreply@blogger.com) at October 21, 2014 10:35 AM

October 19, 2014

Charles Schulz

Free Software is Europe’s second chance

I have watched with some interest the latest consultation organized by the European Commission about funding priorities for research, software and cloud initiatives. The Digital Agenda for Europe has been a hot topic for a just a few years now and such a set of policies will create some real opportunities in Europe. Of course, the devil lies in the details, but it dawned on me that in all the years I worked on digital policies at the European level,  I had never really expressed why I think that Free Software is a strategic opportunity for Europe.

Contrary to a popular belief, international trade is actually quite regulated, not just among countries but among continents and economic regions as well. On a regular basis, these regulations (trade agreements, treaties) are discussed again among governments, revised, restricted or expanded. Such has been the case between the U.S. and the European Union since the sixties. Without embarking into a lengthy depiction of these bilateral trade negotiations, let’s cut to the case and state that while Europeans pevailed in some areas (food safety standards, environment etc.) the U.S. both managed to impose standards and their influence in the field of computers and microprocessors (among other things). Independantly of these trade agreements, Silicon Valley emerged thanks to a combination of high performing and flexible universities, available capital and direct or indirect government funding. These factors enabled entrepreneurs and adventurers of all kinds to experiment, fail and sometimes succeed in amazing ways.

This left Europe as an area which had (and has) lots of talent, but where the I.T. sector was anything but  priviledged. As this industry, like several others, works very much on the law of emerging returns of networks, entrepreneurs of Europe, engineers and scientists became attracted to Silicon Valley, moved there and joined the system that has been working so well for decades now. Europe did not take notice. It was only well into the first decade of the twenty-first century that the thinking in Brussels shifted from a relatively passive attitude to a more proactive stance, creating funding opportunities for the software industry and research.

Unfortunately for Europe, I and many others have felt the lingering influence of U.S. based software vendors in the decision making process of the European Institutions. In a sense it helped educating a few decision makers on the reality and the state of the art of the I.T. industry. But it also helped entrenching the already strong positions of some of these vendors.

While Free Software was not born in Europe, the relative disadvantage of the European I.T. sector compared to the U.S. can be greatly mitigated by enabling Free and Open Source Software models across the I.T. ecosystem and the industries increasignly relying on software as one of their core components. It is important to realize that the objective of building a Europe-based I.T. industry as strong or as rich as the U.S. one is a delusion. You cannot turn back the time, and the circumstances that led to the booming of the U.S. I.T. sector cannot be replicated entirely. I am aware the European Commission was sold on the idea that somehow we could replicate America’s crazy  software patent system and that somehow this would strengthen our economy. I am curious to see where that will end, but I’m very pessimistic in that regard.

Now, I do believe that if we think in competitive terms, we are in a David vs. Goliath situation. The story of David and Goliath, however, is not one where David gets super-powers and super weapons in order to win over his opponent. It is the story of David who, facing a formidable enemy, gets a boost of self-confidence thanks to his faith in the Creator and fights using the weapons he knows best, in other terms, the weapons of the weak, despite the many suggestions to use supposedly more effective ones by his Court. This is a powerful idea: it suggests that in competition one does not have to use the same means as its competitor, but that one can use its own strong points.

Europe has no strong proprietary vendor eco-system. We should be happy if these vendors grow and strive, but ultimately we must know that Free Software projects and companies can create jobs and values if we ensure that Free Software and its values are “enabled by default” across the many industries using, distributing or consuming software. Choosing a more “traditional” path leads us to hedge bets we may not be willing to or could not afford.

What does this “default to Free Software” mean? Here are a few broad ideas:

  • Mandatory Free Software and Open Standards for public procurement of I.T. solutions and data
  • Free Software grants for developers working on critical components, such as security. After all everyone benefits from their work, including proprietary vendors, and no one feels compelled to ever give back
  • Free Software mandatory in Education
  • Funding for software research only possible for components licensed under a Free and Open Source Software licence
  • Europe-wide legal entity model for Free Software projects, enabling flexibility and simple, transparent administration
  • Dissemination and education of Free Software community practices

These broad areas are an opportunity for Europe so that we can grow the number of jobs thanks to a strong and healthy Free Software-based companies, ventures, and projects hosted and operating in Europe. I know that the European decision makers can count on the entities who help shape Free Software everyday, among them The Document Foundation, KDE, OW2, the MariaDB foundation and many, many others. We are Europeans. We are talented and proud to serve our cultures and our continent.

by Charles at October 19, 2014 01:26 PM

Chris Sherlock

Refactoring LibreOffice: VCL FontCharMap

I have been looking at the VCL in LibreOffice, which is its cross-platform widget and window library. Whilst reading the SalGraphics class (more on this in a future post) I noticed a class called ImplFontCharMap . Curious, I looked more into it. Why the "Impl"-prefix? What about FontCharMap?

As it turns out, ImplFontCharMap is a Pimpl for FontCharMap. Now normally a Pimpl has very little code and is not directly accessible by any class other than the class that uses it. A Pimpl allows for better builds in C++, and a number of other reasons. In this case ImplFontCharMap was doing a LOT.

A font character map in VCL allows a font to be mapped to Unicode codepoints. The VCL font charmap allows you to find a character in the font based on the Unicode codepoint, find the next and previous character supported by the font (these are not necessarily contiguous) and the first and last characters supported. There is also a default charmap, which maps the BMP plane, including surrogates.

ImplFontCharMap had an internal reference counting mechanism to optimise sharing of charmaps. However, this was better changed to boost's intrusive_ptr, because frankly that implementation is far more well engineered and tested, not to mention I'm not a fan of maintaining code that isn't really specifically addressing VCL needs. (incidentally, the best rundown I found of intrusive_ptr can be found at this man's blog) The commit can be found here. You can see that I've been able to immediately remove AddReference() and DeReference().

You will notice, however, that there are a few classes who rely on ImplFontCharMap (now ImplFontCharMapPtr, a typedef to an intrusive_ptr) directly. In particular, SalGraphics was relying on returning the Pimpl! Frankly, that's madness in my view. As I've said, Pimpls are really intended to be tightly coupled to a particular class and should never be used directly. The class that needs the Pimpl should be used! You can see other side effects, because the Pimpl is really duplicating code that should be in FontCharMap. This is clearly a bit if a code maintenance nightmare.

Given that a Pimpl is one of the very few concepts in C++ that relies on tightly coupling two classes, I made FontCharMap a friend class of ImplFontCharMap and moved most public functions from ImplFontCharMap to FontCharMap. I kept the destructor and the functions getDefaultCharMap() and isCharMap() but you'll notice I made them private, hence the lowercase first letter of the function names. I do NOT want VCL based code to access the Pimpl! I thought this was a necessary compromise because the logic really was more entwined with the data itself. There is a function FontCharMap::GetDefaultCharMap() although it's not normally necessary as the default charmap is shared via intrusive_ptr and the default FontCharMap constructor just returns a reference to the default charmap. I have provided it because you can get a default font charmap that excludes symbols.

I realised at this point, after a chat with Kendy on IRC, that I had dealt with managing the Pimpl for FontCharMap, but now I was returning raw FontCharMap pointers. This was defeating my refactor, so I made the typedef FontCharMapPtr, which is an intrusive_ptr to a FontCharMap instance. I then refactored the code to use this instead of the raw pointer.

The second commit that implemented this can be found here.

Finally, I have to have a big shout-out to Caolán McNamara from RedHat who found a rather embarassing bug I introduced and fixed it. The issue was that I didn't initialize the ref counter variables, except where I did where I set it to 1... which was rather silly of me, though I was reliably informed by Michael Meeks that he has done the same thing in the past.

Anyway, this is how I refactored a relatively small class. It actually took a lot of effort to do. In the end, I created a unit test to ensure that FontCharMap was still working correctly.

by Ta bu shi da yu (noreply@blogger.com) at October 19, 2014 07:16 AM

October 17, 2014

Joel Madero

Supreme Court Brief – Interop

Well interoperability is becoming more of a problem as we move forward. Not to blame LibreOffice – as has already been stated many times on the web, one of the big problems is that Microsoft themselves don’t accurately stick to their own specs which can cause problems for anyone trying to use both LibreOffice and Microsoft Office. I’m still not sure what version of Microsoft Office my partner is using – I vaguely remember seeing him on a Mac so I suspect MSO 2011 for Mac. We’ve switched to docx (I sent him doc, docx, and pdf) and he returned the docx with his edits, some things I noticed:

1. TOC is very screwed up – I think that this is due to Microsoft Office and not LibreOffice though. I think they handle lower level headers (e.g., header2, header 3, etc . . .) in a different (and lamer) way than LibreOffice so the page number doesn’t go all the way to the right which is idiotic.

2. Page breaks are gone – and with them the page styles I had on. For some reason Microsoft converted all of them to “Converted” and then some #, no clue where that came from. Perhaps the biggest issue :-/

3. Not only were the particular styles lost, things like page margins went back to default instead of what we need them at.

Good news:

1. Comments are awesome and working fine – this is tremendously important for anyone trying to commingle their works and provide feedback;

2. Font was maintained;

3. My partner seems to think all of the bad news stuff isn’t that bad ;) He’s not asking me to use MSO or any such thing, says it’s all minor that we can fix at the end.

Nothing is beyond repair with a little time.


by joelmadero at October 17, 2014 04:09 PM

October 14, 2014

Joel Madero

LibreOffice for Lawyers – Update 2

Well – first interoperability problem. I wasn’t aware that Microsoft Word doesn’t support styles…having setup about 10 styles to handle all the nuances of legal writing, after sending it to my partner and having it returned I noticed that fonts were changed (both font type and font size). A bit unfortunate but not really sure how to correct it :-/

Workaround: Copy and special pasting as unformatted into my document after he sends me his docs. This is easy enough, but still, for people needing to have consistency, I could see this being a tad bit of a problem.

Still chugging along and only minor hiccups that I’ve been able to resolve with quick workarounds.

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

EDIT: Apparently Word does support styles so now I have to do some future diagnostics to figure out what is going on. Still not sure if it’s LibreOffice problem with exporting to .doc or Microsoft Office problem with not handling styles correctly. Need to add it to the list of things to check out when I have time.


by joelmadero at October 14, 2014 09:55 PM

October 13, 2014

Leif Lodahl

Managing settings (on Windows)

I have written quite a few articles about installation and administration of LibreOffice on Windows. My latest post was an update on the installation parameters (read it here: http://lodahl.blogspot.dk/2014/09/silent-installation-on-windows-again.html ). This time I will write about a new and very convenient way of managing the user settings on each desktop computer. In earlier versions settings

by Leif Lodahl (noreply@blogger.com) at October 13, 2014 04:17 PM