LibreOffice on Android – one less barrier to public sector Open Standards

Today’s launch of the first LibreOffice application for Android pushes our community into exciting new waters. As we speak, new infrastructure is being prepared by Document Foundation Staff for documentation, translation, and bug reporting of the new app, laying the foundations for a busy future. This is just the beginning.

Rather than awaiting perfection, this Beta release strives to follow Eric S. Raymond’s revered principle of “release early, release often”. The app supports only newer versions of Android, and simple documents. More sophisticated features like embedded media and change tracking are also not available. The pace of development however has been rapid, and in the last week alone several major features including the built-in file browser have been added. Semi-weekly releases are planned to advance performance and stability at a steady pace.

The app comes at a sensitive time for Open Standards in the public sector. Many Governments are currently moving to require open formats, such as Open Document Format, internally. So far this month, France, Spain, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany and Finland have all announced commitments to making greater use of Open Source productivity tools. Open Forum Europe’s “Fix My Documents” campaign has meanwhile assessed the many file-types published EU institutions, revealing minimal adherence to current Open Standards policies and adding pressure for adoption of Open Document Format.

Bringing a new Open Source viewer of Open Document Format files to mobile devices can only help to remove barriers to public sector adoption of Open Standards and level the playing field for proprietary formats such as Microsoft Office, which already have mobile applications available. In theory 6,806 devices are compatible with LibreOffice for Android – a staggering amount belying the incredible reach that this operating system now brings to the LibreOffice brand.

Having led development of the initial launch application, we’re looking forward to swelling the ranks of LibreOffice for Android with volunteers of all descriptions. Please join us and the wider LibreOffice community in making Open Source productivity the best that it can be. Find out how to contribute at the Document Foundation website.