First Impressions of the LibreOffice Conference 2017

October 12, 2017

Kategorie: blog
Kopano at LibOCon

As Gijs Hillenius mentioned in his article last week, Rome has begun to increase its use of free and open source software in an effort to reduce vendor lock-in. One of the steps the city is taking is installing LibreOffice on all of its 14,000 PCs.

With this transition in full swing, it‘s not a big surprise that LibreOffice chose this beautiful city as the location for its annual Conference. I am attending the LibreOffice Conference this week and would like to share my first insights with you in this blog.

First impressions

Arriving in a city like Rome with such a rich history is a great experience in itself. The walk through the city, enjoying the atmosphere of the city gave me a spring in my step. So when I arrived at the congress location at the impressive Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo, I got the feeling things couldn’t get better. But they did.

After a warm welcome by city councillor Flavia Marzano it was time to dive into the LibreOffice community with, could it be any different, an open session. During this session the Board of Directors and Member Committee got on stage to answer questions from the audience (although I did get the impression that most people saved their questions for a more informal setting).

Different approaches to Open Document Formats

The afternoon was dedicated to Open Document Formats (ODFs). What was interesting to see is that two European governments pursued different approaches to open formats. Whereas the UK government – represented at LibOCon by Terence Eden of the UK Cabinet Office – allows all document formats, as long as they are also available in ODF, the Dutch government, according to Marc van de Graaf from the Ministry of General Affairs  has chosen to only allow uploads of open formats to their websites.

The value of open standards was immediately shown during the demonstration given by Aarti Nankani from Microsoft who had to show her PowerPoint presentation on Ubuntu with Impress which turned out to work fine!

Community Spirit

I was lucky enough to meet with quite a few members of the LibreOffice Community. What struck me was the diversity of the group and the passion with which they all spoke about the work they‘re doing for LibreOffice. One of the people I talked to was Franklin Weng, a localization specialist from Taiwan who made a great deal of effort in localizing LibreOffice software into the Taiwanese language. It is people like him that make me think about ways I myself can contribute to this vibrant community. Last but not least there was Michael Meeks of Collabora who impressed me with the amount of work his team put into the development of LibreOffice Online.

So far, it’s only good experiences. My compliments to the organizers without whom this event wouldn’t have been possible. And of course a big thanks to the city of Rome who made this stunning venue available. I’m looking forward to the rest of the conference (after which I will of course update this post).