A Few Notes from LibreOffice Conference 2013

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

Oct 01, 2013 GMT
Dmitri Popov

If you follow me on Google+, you probably already know that I had a chance to attend the LibreOffice conference held in Milan, Italy. I missed the previous couple of conferences, so it was nice to catch up with old friends and get updated on the current status of the project and its future. This year's conference followed the established tradition of splitting all talks in three tracks: developer, community, and ODF. As the name implies, talks in the latter tracks weren't limited to LibreOffice and covered the OpenDocument format (which is a cornerstone of the open source productivity suite). The developer-related talks offered seasoned developers and newcomers alike a chance to get down to the nitty-gritty of hacking LibreOffice and working on its codebase. The developers also had a chance to participate in two hackathons (one loosely related to all things mobile, while the other was all about the desktop). I had a chance to talk with a few developers about the current status of different LibreOffice applications. I was particularly interested in the Base database module, so I had a nice talk with the current Base maintainer Lionel Mamane. He has done a great job of fixing the most annoying bugs, stabilizing the application, and adding a few minor features and improvements. While there are no significant new features planned for Base at the moment, Lionel doesn't rule out the possibility of implementing a feature or two if he deems them useful enough. Of course, if other developers are willing to work on Base, they are welcome to join the effort.

There has been a lot of talk about bringing LibreOffice to mobile platforms, so I was interested in learning about the progress made in recent times and plans for the future. As I see it, there are good news and bad news on the mobile front. The bad news is that despite the prototypes shown at last year's FOSDEM, a usable version of LibreOffice for Android still hasn't materialized. The good news is that the idea of running LibreOffice on mobile devices is not dead. Developers from CloudOn (one of the sponsors of the conference) demonstrated a prototype of LibreOffice running on iOS. This demo featured a rather slick mobile-friendly interface and some impressive functionality. Alas, it's still a prototype, and there is no real roadmap. So we might wait a little bit longer till we see LibreOffice running on smartphones and tablets.

Probably one of the most interesting and promising software shown on the LibreOffice conference was the WebODF project. It's a JavaScript library that allows users to view and (collaboratively) edit ODF documents. Jos van der Oever, one of the WebODF developers, was kind enough to give me a demo of the current implementation and upcoming features. This is, indeed, a very interesting project, and I plan to do a more detailed write-up on it -- so stay tuned.

Full disclosure: The Document Foundation invited me to the LibreOffice conference and kindly offered to pay my travel expenses (plane tickets and hotel).

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