openDesk – Collabora Online brings Digital Freedom to European Government

As a leading open-source software company, we are thrilled to be part of a groundbreaking initiative that promises to revolutionize digital sovereignty in public administration. The openDesk project1, led by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) in collaboration with a large team of open-source experts from Collabora, Dataport, Univention, OpenXchange, Nextcloud, XWiki, OpenProject, and others, promises to redefine the way governments interact with technology.

What is openDesk?

More than just a project, openDesk is a vision of digital freedom and self-determination for governments and organizations across Europe2. At its core, openDesk is a digital workplace designed to offer a holistic, open, and sustainable alternative to proprietary software. It’s about reducing dependencies on global tech giants and taking control of critical data.

As such, we are excited to play a crucial role in this ambitious endeavor. We are contributing our expertise to the openDesk project, as the leading provider of open-source office productivity software. Essential tools such as Collabora Online will empower public administration to work efficiently and securely while maintaining full control over their data.

An overview of all planned components for the basic release at the end of 20233

Why does openDesk matter?

We love a number of the principles behind the openDesk which align well with our mission, including but not limited to:

  • Digital Sovereignty: We want to put users such as governments in control of their technology infrastructure.
  • Open Source: The project relies on open-source software, emphasizing transparency and flexibility, and collaborating around the code in public, which is core to our business.
  • Collaboration: With multiple partners involved, openDesk showcases the power of collaboration in tackling large migration projects.
  • Serving Users: Building the openDesk reference implementation with the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community will enable us to bring Open Source to a large number of Government seats across Europe.

Our Involvement

Collabora Online is a vital part of the project because of our history deeply rooted within the open-source community. For years, we have been at the forefront of enabling organizations to break free from proprietary software and embrace open-source solutions, fostering digital sovereignty and independence. Additionally, Collabora Online’s foundation in LibreOffice, a renowned and extensively tested open-source office suite, brings an added layer of reliability and trust to the project.

Since government documents have typically been created using Microsoft Office, Collabora Online is an excellent choice for the new web office component of the openDesk platform due to our excellent interoperability with other document editors.

Documents migrated into openDesk should maintain a nearly identical look and equivalent functionality, and workflows to create and review documents must be similar enough to be comfortable and easily discoverable. Not content to sit back and relax however, we continue to work on this area with every iteration of Collabora Online.

What we’ve worked on

We are implementing a number of changes and updates to Collabora Online to further improve our integrations with other service providers, and better fit the specific requirements of the German government. Examples of these changes include new integrations with modules such as the Zotero citation and reference management tool, improved accessibility (for example our new dark mode or screen reader functionality), multi-page floating tables, compact pivot tables, multi-stop gradients, document navigation, and much more!

It is an exciting project to be part of, and we are thankful to the German government for their investment and partnership.

Looking Ahead

As openDesk progresses, it will offer European governments a true open-source alternative reference implementation, built with modularity, interchangeability, and interoperability in mind. While the initial release is planned for the end of 2023, this project is set to have a lasting impact on how governments approach digital technology.

We applaud the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community’s dynamic leadership in making this project a reality, along with Dataport’s support. Together with the other contributors to the project, Collabora is excited to be part of this journey towards digital sovereignty. Together we are working towards a more open, secure, and sustainable digital future for all.

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting project!


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“OpenDesk – Collabora Online brings Digital Freedom to European Government 


1Previously known as the Sovereign Workplace project, not to be confused with the open-source furniture manufacturer of the same name

2openDesk is an open-source development project for public administration that was initiated by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (BMI). The product creates a powerful open-source alternative to proprietary solutions in the digital workplace, tailored to the needs of public administration. The focus is on digital sovereignty, user friendliness and future viability. The openDesk workplace is browser-based and contains the necessary basic functions to support everyday digital business and work processes as well as virtual collaboration. Translated from original German –