Team blog: Improving table borders, gtktiledviewer and more at the Cambridge Hackfest

Miklos Vajna writes:

The first ever UK LibreOffice Hackfest took place in the city of Cambridge on May 21st to 23rd, kindly hosted by Collabora. My starter idea was to fix tdf#90315, i.e. to support both nested tables and multiple columns with the proper spacing in between them in the RTF import. Other than this, here is a list of other topics I hacked on…

Read the rest at Miklos’ blog

Collabora Productivity awarded Best UK Open Source Organisation


Collabora Productivity has been named Best Organisation at the UK Open Source Awards 2015. The award, presented By Software Freedom Conservancy Executive Director Karen Sandler on Wednesday in Edinburgh, was made for ground-breaking work on LibreOffice in 2014.

“This is a time of unprecedented change for British Open Source companies, and growth that’s long overdue” said Collabora Vice President Michael Meeks in his acceptance speech. “The productivity space in particular is due for a shake up, and Open Source will provide it”.

Collabora was chosen over three other shortlisted entrants. These included IMS MAXIMS, a comprehensive Electronic Health Record system used extensively by the NHS, and non-profit Open Source startup Matrix, a recent competitor to Google’s WebRTC. Organisers announced a record number of candidates this year, with a 40% increase on 2014.

“Recent Government policy changes are stimulating demand for Open Source services and development” said Greg Soper, Event Manager of the Open Source Awards. “Global trends towards service-based business models, combined with increasing pressure for value returns, are providing unparalleled opportunities for Britain’s Open Source businesses”.

Via its flagship product, LibreOffice-From-Collabora, the company last year extended LibreOffice support for Microsoft OOXML format, bringing crucial interoperability improvements; added support for legally valid digital signatures to PDF documents, and introduced OpenCL computation, resulting in hardware acceleration and a major performance boost on modern devices. Engineers also did extensive work on LibreOffice for Android, releasing the first in a series of products, LibreOffice Viewer for Android, early this year.

About Collabora Productivity:
Collabora Productivity delivers LibreOffice products and consulting to the enterprise. With the largest team of certified LibreOffice engineers, it is a leading contributor to the LibreOffice code base and community. LibreOffice-from-Collabora provides a business-hardened office suite with long term multi-platform support. Collabora Productivity is a division of Collabora Ltd., the global software consultancy specializing in providing the benefits of Open Source to the commercial world, specialising in mobile, automotive and consumer electronics industries, counting Samsung, Intel, and Google among its former clients.

ODF for cloud communication added to Government catalogue


Collabora is making it easier for the UK Public Sector to comply with Governmental Open Document Format (ODF) policy by offering interoperability services through the G-Cloud6 digital marketplace. Public bodies may now directly commission Open Standards-based solutions to incompatible proprietary formats, and gain expert assistance bridging barriers to legacy back office systems as they move documents to and from Cloud based services.

The Open Document Format (ODF) is a vital interchange format for moving documents between Cloud Services. Many Cloud-based office suites appear to have no native file format, as all data is stored remotely, accessed only via a web interface — the software implementation is concealed to end-users. Performing data-migration into and between Cloud services demands detailed understanding of import / export systems and format compatibility. Transfer between incompatible systems necessitates a data medium that includes all of a document’s rich content and formatting. As the most widely accepted Open Standard in the field, ODF is ideally suited to this task.

Open Standards are essential for interoperability and freedom of choice based on the merits of different software products and services. British procurement policy mandates the use of Open Standards to realise independence and cost efficiency and vendor independence.

Increasingly popular mobile and web-based apps have greatly expanded the options available public sector buyers. Compatibility remains a crucial necessity when deploying new and disparate systems. ODF offers sophisticated capabilities together with maximum industry uptake and support. A variety of products from competing vendors provide ODF implementations across all major mobile, workstation, and server platforms.

As contributors to the ODF standard and experts on its implementation, Collabora is delighted to have been accepted to the GCloud programme.

Google, Microsoft, and Collabora speak to Government hosted Plugfest


This morning British and American businesses are gathering for a strategic two day conference targeting the compatibility of documents used in Government. Under discussion is Open Document Format (ODF) — the family of Open Standard file formats used by LibreOffice by default. Although this is the 10th ODF Plugfest event organised by The OpenDoc Society, and the third to be held in the UK, this is the first time such an event has been hosted by central Government. The Government Digital Service (GDS), which is the in-house IT unit of the Cabinet Office, has provided premises, hospitality, and representatives for speaking. 50 Attendees from a range of international organisations are today hearing from leaders of the field, including:

  • Chris DiBona, Google’s Director of Open Source
  • Magnus Falk, Government Deputy Chief Technology Office
  • Graham Taylor, Chief Executive at OpenForum Europe
  • Chris Rae, Standards Professional at Microsoft
  • Michael Meeks, Vice President at Collabora Productivity
  • Dr. Steven Pemberton, National Research Institute, Netherlands
  • Boris Devouge, Senior Cloud architect at HP
  • Svante Schubert, Committee chairman at OASIS

Work on advancing the compatibility of ODF between supporting applications comes at a critical time for British technology policy. Having adopted the format as the defacto document standard for all departments, the question is now how and when public bodies will become compliant with the requirements. The move to ODF is driven by a shift towards Open Standards in the public sector, in order to realise the many benefits that they offer. Because of that, the degree to which files in ODF format work across the many applications that support them is crucially important. Improving compatibility is the purpose of Plugfest events, as Linda Humphries of the GDS writes:

“Plugfests provide both vendors and organisations implementing the standard with knowledge about ODF and the software that supports it. The aim is to help vendors to improve their products so that users have a better experience when they exchange documents… Speakers will share lessons learned. Developers also have the opportunity to engage in testing and coding to fix interoperability issues in private sessions.” — Linda Humphries, UK Government Digital Service

After a year of calls for greater flexibility and value for money from ICT services, the push for Open Standards has never been stronger. In January Chief procurement Officer Bill Crothers promised to end the “appalling” behaviour of some software suppliers to Government, proclaiming that an “oligopoly” of companies “have had it too good for too long”. Government Paymaster General Francis Maude echoed this sentiment in May, stating “Government must be militant about interoperability standards”.

ODF is a key standard for the public sector as it encompasses formats for exchanging the most commonly used documents, including reports, spreadsheets, and databases. Being vendor-neutral, free of license and patent fees, and supported by more than 20 different server, desktop, and mobile applications, it offers the freedom and independence that Whitehall now demands.

Two of today’s presentations come from Collabora staff: Product Manager Andras Timar and Vice President Michael Meeks. They’ll share interoperability experiences from working on LibreOffice-From-Collabora, the results of which are all included in stock LibreOffice releases from The Document Foundation. As the second largest contributor to LibreOffice (the world’s most popular Open Source ODF implementation), we’re one of the many ODF stakeholders participating in today’s Plugfest, working together to deliver the industry’s best — and most open — document formats.