vrijdag 16 december 2011

'LibreOffice 3.5 faster on Windows than Excel'

LibreOffice 3.5 will beat Excel in speed on certain tasks.
The upcoming first beta of the free office suite will perform better than Excel as the result of community work, thus showing the real advantage of open source software.
At December 28 and 29 there will be a big international bug-hunting session with the beta release of 3.5.0.
LibreOffice 3.5.0 beta1 will be on the servers in the next days.

Where previously Calc, the spreadsheet component of LibreOffice, was not rewarded for high performance, the new version will bring some good news. This has been made possible by the true open source character of the project, where various developers, volunteers and full time, cooperated to improve the speed when opening documents with a large amount of named ranges, sheets and formulas.
This can be read from a blog from Kohei Yoshida, one of Calcs leading developers and a major LibreOffice contributor right from the beginning of the project. Various speed tests were posted there, and one shows that Calc performs twice as fast with that task then Excel does.
Developer Kohei however stresses that this win on Excel is of course only in one use case and that there are many areas where LibreOffice needs to improve: "But we are working aggressively on improving the internal structures, that will hopefully bring much better performance in the future versions. So I'm very confident for our future prospect in the performance area."

The major part of the work on this improvement has been done by Laurent Godard and Markus Mohrhard. The initial goal of course was to improve the quality and efficiency of LibreOffice. And that shows: the upcoming 3.5 release of LibreOffice is roughly a factor ten faster with this work than the previous versions. Markus Mohrhard: "This a first step for specific cases and the Calc team is working so that future version will show growing drastic efficiency on loading – the more volunteers come, the sooner it will occur. But the plans are set."
Laurent Godard adds: "Maybe the most important part of our work is, that it shows the advantage of real open source: if the software does not fit your needs you can put some time into it to make it work for you."

The LibreOffice community is working hard for the release of version 3.5, February next year. As one of the steps in this process, an international bug-hunting session is being organised on December 28 and 29. Don't miss that :-)

maandag 21 november 2011

Is hacking 'difficult' and testing 'normal' ?

Last Saturday we had already our 4th LibreOffice hackEvent in Netherland/Flanders.
Again we were able to do a nice variety of work: documentation, build environments, study functions in code, translation work ..
Honestly, often not that complicated at all. Nevertheless, the term 'hacking' might sound scaring for the average reader, though many and real easy hacks can be found at LibreOffice.

In any case, while talking, we decided that the next event will be dedicated to the testing of the new LibreOffice 3.5.0, that will be released in February.
So the next time no hacking and just normal testing. Well, 'normal'... to do some good testing you really have to be awake!
So also because of the nice coffee ;-) thanks to the people that were so kind to invite us to their place for this event, MadLab at Eindhoven.

zondag 13 november 2011

The Office-Hacking-Plugfest-Presentation week

Looking forward to the next week with great pleasure :-)

First - apart from regular work - further furnishing the new Nou&Off office.

Then I look forward to the 4th Dutch LibreOffice Hackers event, of which the preparations of course already have started.
Don't miss this opportunity to work and exchange with other hackers

Before that, an event of at least the same importance wild be held: the ODF-plugfest, Gouda, November 17 and 18. I'm asked to represent TDF and LibreOffice with both info on technical issues and the general progress of the project. Will be a great pleasure to join there!

Just as a good final action for the past week, I just posted the presentation on easy hacking LibreOffice that I gave at T-Dose, the Saturday before.

vrijdag 4 november 2011

LibreOffice at T-Dose

The LibreOffice project will be well presented at T-Dose: Technical Dutch Open Source Event, Eindhoven, this weekend.
There will be four members that make a contribution as speaker on various subjects, and a simple booth with stickers and people to meet.
Since it's mostly Dutch, read my Dutch blog for more ;-)

dinsdag 25 oktober 2011

Notes and presentations about the LibreOffice Conference

Some readers asked me about the further information that I promised about the recent LibreOffice conference :-)
Eh sorry! Have been bit busy with presentation on LibreOffice for the OpenSourceLab, new article for Linux Magazine, finding new office for the company (succeeded :-) ) and also a large project to get me some food in the kitchen.

OK so already a fairly large number of the presentations given, is available on the LibreOffice wiki!
Among those, also my presentation about improving the QA Release cycle – with special focus on the coming LibreOffice 3.5.0. Interesting numbers about bugs and fixing of those in the developer versions (master). And good ideas, learned during the presentation and discussion, about working smarter. I'll come back on this later!

Before me, I've some notes I made during the conference. Just some things I found positive, interesting..
* We talked about leadership in the project, and to help people finding their way, so that they can start with simple tasks, to get involved and which leads to positive results and feelings!
* And then there is need for a smart strategy, to help users to become (small) contributors to their favorite office-suite. So first some work to do for the people that already are active in the community!
* We also talked about certification: the program that will give companies the opportunity (staring in 2012) to both support LibreOffice and at the same time make themselves visible in a distinct manner, based on experience and competences.
* My note from a presentation on usability: how much can we leave out from the icons on tool bars, that are not touched for performing easy task? Much cleaner and the advanced users will find their tools in the menus anyway.
* Then there was the very clear presentation on the successful migration to LibreOffice of the second large city of Hungary, Miskolc.
And much more, that I did not mention or hear. See the wiki and the gathered blogs of TDF!

Hmm, now I see in my notes that there are some bugs, found in the developer build during the conference, and that wait for further checking and entering in BugZilla.
Well, it all asks quite some attention. But if I look at all that the developers, from all over the world and from all parts of society, contribute for improvements and new stuff to the LIbreOffice code base.. well, then it is worth for sure! So please don't be afraid to let yourself be inspired :-)

zaterdag 15 oktober 2011

Report from LibreOffice conference

Already the start of last day of the wonderful first ever LibreOffice conference.
Before preparing the final bits for my presentation on QA (improving the Development / QA cycle - so that means a talk about understanding the interesting and complicated interaction between development and QA-community, and hopefully some smart contributions from the public to get seemingly random improvements) let me post some notices on the event.

First there is a great number of presentations and discussions. We started with an impressing overview, by Italo, Michael and Florian, of the first years' achievements of TDF. Impressive numbers, some polished to an very shiny state. But hey, marketing is marketing after all, and also without the footnotes that would make some of them look more realistic: we may be very proud with the people that are involved and all product improvements and the tooling and community that are set up!

Nice words about those were spoken by Simon, at the evening organised by the Region Paris. Also on that evening, Charles and the Region introduced us to some importatn new steps: a LibreOffice Online, and ports to Android and iOS. You must have seen others referring to this great news.
So then the presentations. Sadly again I failed in triple-cloning myself, so could only attend part. But there were great ones about the structural improvements (footprint, speed, ..) of Calc, QA tooling, better interacting with users and usability improvements, web and ODF-services, improvements in Impress (.pptx import), the great contributions from students sponsored by this years Google Summer of Code.

Another topic that is unavoidable, is the split off in Apache OpenOffice. At the conference we've met people from IBM, working with Apache OpenOffice, among them friends from the old OpenOffice.org project, that now work there. Much has been said and written already on this a bit sad situation, also recent.
After talking and thinking about it again, for me there are two points. One crucial thing is, that in my opinion it would have been better if IBM would have objected when Oracle wanted to donate OpenOffice.org to Apache. The second: it is not reasonable to expect that we try to solve IBM's problem by breaking down our LibreOffice community - even more because of the high uncertainty of the outcome.
Just for the IBM people involved I hope they find the people and inspiration to do the right things.

So back to our conference. I've been to quite some OpenOffice.org conferences in the past. Always great to talk and meet with so many people. Additionally this year I have an extra feeling of sparkling energy, that I could trace down simply to a higher and wider spread community and developer activity: more than in the past it is about people from all regions building connections and hacking their pet pieces of code for making the best free office productivity suite in the world even better.
Thanks to all (the volunteers organising the conference, the people from the locations hosting it, the sponsors helping covering the costs, and the participants) to make this event to what it is!
(link to presentations will follow)

zaterdag 10 september 2011

Not that much hacking - still a successful Eindhoven event

So, this was a busy and inspiring day.
About hacking, sadly that happened only a little.
Someone had his laptop stolen this morning, others were getting the build environment in shape again after different use, experimental OS-installations, another still hacking the Windows build system..
In effect there was only *one* building system: mine ;-) Which Rob gratefully used to work on the Scanner window.
So Joost, who delivered a patch earlier (renaming sheets in Calc while copying) and I looked the code, hunting for ideas / hacks at various places in the code. You know, the things that you hope/expect to be not tooooo complicated. Yes, those ;-)
Was good and I learned some useful things. Sad still, that little work in the code was done this day.

Nevertheless, all 7 that attended were pretty happy with the gathering. There was a lot to talk about things that happened since last year. What is so obvious for the people that are active in the international project week after week, can be completely news to the ones that occasionally read a blog or a national user list.. This meeting brought people closer together, and we agreed to meet more and regular in the future.
Now I only hope that the others will have their own working laptops with them next time ;-)

A big thanks to MadLab for hosting us - we'll meet again! - and don't forget their Hacking the City Event, October 22-30

maandag 5 september 2011

Mini HackFest Eindhoven

Last weekend there was a tremendous event for LibreOffice hackers in Münich. [1]. More than 30 people joining for some days and working on features, bugs, UX (and pasta ..)
It's obvious that there is a great base of LibreOffice users and devs in Germany (and Italy ;-) )
What about The Netherlands and Flanders? We had some small events already last year. With between 5 to 10 people joining and learning about, cooperating on localisation, development, features..

The next Saturday we have a new event planned. In the science city of Eindhoven. We also invite the old friends from OOo to share about all that's going on and cooperation. More on the wiki [2].

1] http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Hackfest2011
2] http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/NL/bijeenkomst_11-09-10

zondag 4 september 2011

Developing LibreOffice

It's been a while since I wrote here. And now some bits about LibreOffice development...
I won't start explaining much technical details here - that is beyond my competences. But recently I have been hanging around some day's on the developers IRC channel. That was for some help to get used to building LibreOffice from source because I like to work/test with new features, and to dig a bit in the code here and there.
Well building LibreOffice turns out to be really simple [1]. Not that is is necessary to do for bleeding edge testing: there are nightly builds available regularly [2].
When I say: building LibreOffice is really simple, I have to add that this is on Linux mainly. Which brings me more to the core message of this blog post.
While being on IRC and also lurking on the developer list -as usual- I became very much impressed by all the hard and tough work that the developers do. The ones doing it as full time job, but not less the ones that do it alongside other activities.
Windows for example: there is an enormous effort in improving building LibreOffice, making it faster, easier on Windows. Improvements are visible almost every day. And also issues that are specific for Windows, get a lot of attention of developers - assisted by valuable QA workers. You can see people diving deep and deep in the code, to find and remove the culprits bits that cause the users inconvenience. In these specific situations it is not because of bugs that were introduced recently, but for ones that have been lying below the surface for a long time, maybe even 15 years. And that became only visible because of recent changes. Now it is nothing special that software code has bugs, and also not special that older bugs surface with later changes. It was one of the issues in OpenOffice.org development: fixing old bugs will reveal others..
Not being stopped by that knowledge, LibreOffice developers take a strong bite deep in the code base for improvements now and even better future LibreOffice development. I'm not only impressed, but also get more and more confident in the future of this project.

1] http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Development#Getting_your_first_build_done
2] http://dev-builds.libreoffice.org/daily/

maandag 13 juni 2011

IBM makes an attempt with OpenOffice.org at the Apache Software Foundation

For those able to read Dutch, or só much interested that they want to make the effort to learn it ;-) there is my Dutch blog post, explaining my opinion on the start of OpenOffice.org as an incubator project at the Apache Software Foundation.
Very short summary: quite some concerns, and missing the opportunity of the forces grown around LibreOffice, but not fully negative - maybe there grows something good.

vrijdag 27 mei 2011

LibreOffice HackersEvent :: May 28 :: Arnhem (NL)

Honestly a day one should not miss:
* hacking LibreOffice code together
* working with others on documentation
* looking at the new features ...

An interesting, open day for users and other active members in the OpenOffice.org/ LibreOffice community.
More details at the wiki of the Dutch language group in the TDF.

vrijdag 15 april 2011

Oracle handing OpenOffice.org over to community

Today, April 15, Oracle announced that they will follow a different route with OpenOffice.org. Oracle no longer looks at it as a commercial product, but will hand it all over to a community, a foundation or something like that. An organisation where all parties feel comfortable. This news can be read from this article, where Chief Architect Edward Screven is cited.
On The Register I read an analysis, that was advised to me by 'an anonymus source' as 'interesting'.

So where will Oracle find a place for OpenOffice.org? Since September 28 2010 there is The Document Foundation, where a large part of the former OpenOffice.org community joined to continue working on the product in a free project, in an independent organisation. Oracle did not want to join by then - therefore now The Document Foundation releases the program LibreOffice, and not OpenOffice.org...
Then today Oracles remarkable change in course. This is a big step forward in the direction that I expressed as a wish at the time that The Document Foundation started: that the two paths will merge again. And look, as per today Oracle searches a group, a community, that does want to give a home to OpenOffice.org. Me thinks that Oracle will get a warm welcome from The Document Foundation :-)

There is another positive side with this news. It will clear the route for IBM, having a contract with Sun/Oracle about OpenOffice.org and the thereon based Lotus Symphony, to give its full commitment to the future development in a free community.
Thus OpenOffice.org, ehh LibreOffice, really can get the strong support of many large companies, bundling their mutual interests, more that fighting about their differences. An excellent basis for all taking place around web-office, tablets, smart-phones and a place where (free) software-developers with all their skills and interests will feel really fine.

vrijdag 1 april 2011

Hackers-event at NoiV congress

Last weeks Thursday, March 24, five Dutch LibreOffice hackers met for a special event: we were invited at the yearly congress of the NoiV – a Dutch governmental institute for the adoption of open standards and open source. We were there to show how developing open source works. All five of us have widely varying experience and skills. Speaking for myself, I am not really the most experienced C++ developer, far from that, but still could do useful work during the event and helping understanding features etc.
Even more: our different backgrounds definitely helped us, to have a very interesting and useful day. Not only did we some good work on some interesting and useful code: we also learned a lot of each others skills, of the work itself, and as bonus were able to explain other people at the congress the suite and our work.
So first some pictures:
(see pictures one and two from Paul Ridderhof on flickr).

Pieces of code we worked on and had a look at were
- toggle function for Notes in Writer (easy hack) but part of it turned out to be far less easy than expected..);
- precision of decimals on the import of a cvs file;
- color of footnote separator (explained my previous blog) Whyle working on it, we found out that the feature was committed to the master just four days earlier ;-) );
- more than the 12 default colours for diagrams (question on the LibreOffice users-list). Thanks to Rob, this will be possible from LibreOffice 3.4 onward! See the dev-list and this screen shot:

Just as the people that visited our event positive, so were we!
We decided to have another event organized somewhere the next months. And also to join T-Dose next Autumn in Eindhoven. Pls stay tuned, or read our Dutch discussion-list :-)

woensdag 23 maart 2011

Working with OpenDocument is really cool .. orange!

One of the features why LibreOffice en OpenOffice.org excel is the native use of the open, ISO-certified ODF file format.
ODF is evolved from the first complex XML fike format designed for office-documents, back in 2000 by the at that time very new OpenOffice.org project. One of the features of an xml based file is that the content can be read and edited as flat text. Not rather convenient for daily use; however very powerful for automated tasks and small extra tricks. I want to share an example of the last possibility here.
Basic is, that everything that you can set in a document for formatting, content end so forth, can be found in standardised xml documents. Therefore sometimes new features in your favourite ODF supporting suite, can only be implemented as a standard, once the ODF file format is extended for that use. A recent example: coloured tabs in Calc.
The other way round is possible too: there can be a feature supported by the file format, that you do not (yet) find in the user interface. This happened today, when a customer brought the requests for a new set of templates. Studying those, I saw a coloured separator for footnotes in Writer. Now it is possible to set a whole bunch of characteristics for the page style, including some of the separator for footnotes ... but not the color.
No time to bother: I took an optimistic dive in the file styles.xml, which is one of the components of the ODF container file. And there I found the property 'color' of the 'style:footnote-sep'. I changed the value "#000000" in "#FFA500", saved the xml file in the ODF file again, and the Writer document perfectly showed an orange separator on top of the foot-notes.
This is not something to do too often, but it is not problem of course to do this once for a template. Makes me feel satisfied and a customer happy :-)

zondag 6 februari 2011

Report from FOSDEM

While the train drives me to Arnhem, let me write a little report from FOSDEM 2011.
Short version: it was a really good weekend :-)
Bit longer: as usual the booth at this great European free and open source software event, is an extreme mixture of meeting new people, discussing the work and product, enjoying the opportunity to better learn people from the community.
You may notice that I do not mention the chance for gathering knowledge and improving technical skills, by visiting presentations and workshops. Well, that obviously was hardly relevant for me, since I was at the booth the most of the time.
Another special thing in this weekend was meeting some friends from OpenOffice.org that were at the same place ;-)

For LibreOffice we had a nice booth in the main building of the event, where we could sell shirts and hand over stickers. Both developers and people working on less technical stuff, talked all Saturday with so many people, explaining more about the history of The Document Foundation and LibreOffice, showing the ambition, listening to wishes and ideas, telling about the people joining.
So that might well have made many of them enthusiastic to come to a developers-presentation on Sunday. And at the end of that day some of them even came to the booth for their first 'easy hack' (from our famous list at the wiki).

FOSDEM is in the hart of the open source movement, and - listening to how the visitors reacted with all the understanding and support - LibreOffice is moving in that direction fast.
Of course, it's hardly possible to wave too many thanks to the staff of FOSDEM that makes this all possible, already since 2000!

dinsdag 18 januari 2011

Recent appointment - old discussion

Recently I visited a business relation, Hans de Vries from the Securityacademy, whom I helped last year with a nice basic script to correct bullets in Impress. Of course we discussed LibreOffice.
Hans is expert on security and safety for many years now. But long before he worked in the university area, and from that time he remembered discussions with enthusiastic unix and open source developers, who didn't have much appetite to join OpenOffice.org. They didn't like to share copyrights for code-contributions with Sun, as was asked.
Personally, I do not weight that issue so heavy (but frankly, I am not a developer at thàt level..), but I know it is an issue for others. Anyhow, I find it striking that it is this story that pops up, when talking about LibreOffice. Needless to say that Hans is very much interested in our project.