[steering-discuss] Re: OpenOffice and the ASF
I hope you don't mind if I jump in to the discussion. The views shared
here are not any official TDF statement, but rather solely my own ones,
acting as a volunteer who has been contributing to the OpenOffice.org
project, and now the LibreOffice project, since 2004, investing lots of
my private time and heart into the community.
I don't want to repeat what has been said -- e.g. in our blog at
http://blog.documentfoundation.org -- about the history of the
LibreOffice project, about why it was shaped, about how much it has
grown over the past months, as I think you very well know them, but
moreover want to reply to some of the questions and topics mentioned on
this list already.
Being one of the people involved in creating The Document Foundation, it
comes to no surprise that I think that having the OpenOffice.org project
as incubator within Apache would further the division of the community.
However, contrary to what I have read in some places, the reason behind
this is not that I would like to be in the driver's seat and having a
say, so let me elaborate a bit on a few aspects that I think are
important to get outlined:
First, I truly appreciate the open discussion going on here, as well as
the notification Jim sent us. I do very much respect the Apache
Foundation for what it has done, for what it is doing, and also
personally, I join the feelings the TDF issued in their recent statement
saying that getting OpenOffice.org to the Apache Foundation as an
independent entity is an important step.
Second, I do not object at all on cooperating with organizations and
corporations. In fact, and that's also what TDF has been saying from the
first day on, a vivid and healthy ecosystem is important to further the
growth. I am not as naive that I would believe that corporate involvment
is bad, because individual volunteers can contribute hand in hand with
corporations. That is what TDF has been proclaiming ever since: We are
of course working with corporations, but we are not depending on any
The community has gone through hard times. Oracle buying Sun,
uncertainities, issues and troubles, in the end leading to a majority --
and given the activity on the public OpenOffice.org mailing lists I
indeed do say that we are talking about a majority over at TDF --
setting up TDF. From day one we all knew it would not be an easy path,
but demands a lot of time, work and dedication to make happen what we
have been dreaming of for so long. I'm still thrilled by what we have
achieved so far, and every day, the project proves once again how
capable and grown up it already is.
I do not question the intentions of the Apache Foundation, neither do I
doubt that it would be a good home for the proposed open source project.
However: With The Document Foundation, we already have created
processes, have an up and running infrastructure, have given ourselves
bylaws, have a release cycle, stable versions, groups dedicating their
mind and creativity to development, QA, user experience, localisation,
marketing, website, user support or design. We have been working hard
since last September to make all of that happen. I do not say that
everything is perfect, but expecting that from anyone, even a
well-established Foundation, would be irrational. The task we have taken
is huge, so nothing can be 100% perfect for anyone in such a short
period of time.
Some opinions state that Apache would be a safe home, as it has a track
history of successful projects, is well established and has running
processes. I have read about doubts that our infrastructure would be
enough, I have read issues about stability and safety within TDF, and I
have heard assumptions of us being not a good bet. I think the events of
the last months prove the opposite. Not only did we manage to get up to
93.000 EUR in donations already -- 50.000 EUR of them in just eight days
--, which proves that there is a large public interest in what we do,
but we managed to set up processes, infrastructure and a vivid, strong
project in just a short glimpse of time.
Yes, The Document Foundation does not exist yet as a legal entity, and a
few people have pointed out to that. This does not mean, however, we
have no strong legal backing. We are an associate project of SPI, and we
are legally backed by the German association "Freies Office Deutschland
e.V.", formerly known as "OpenOffice.org Deutschland e.V.", which has
been in existance since 2004, organizing major parts of the German
community work, sponsoring international conferences, being in permanent
contact with major business and governmental stakeholders, and regularly
organizing a "Business and Administration Congress". We (I am a member
of the Board of Directors there) are not just a small, unknown
association, but we are a strong player and long supporter.
In addition, the setting up of the legal entity is just at the
doorsteps. After identifying the ideal federal states within Germany, we
not only have the Community Bylaws, worked on in open collaboration with
the project, but also have nearly finalized the legal statutes required
for setting up the Foundation. Yes, this process took a long time, maybe
too long, but given that we needed to incorporate our membership idea
legally, that time has been very wisely spent. Of course, large
corporations with a large legal department might have done that in a
much shorter period of time; but then, I am missing offers for help from
that sphere. Given we did all on our own, I think the results so far are
astonishing. And after all, everyone started small -- this is no shame,
but the opposite: Starting small and growing big is something we can be
very proud of.
People may question the location of the foundation inside Germany, but
we have had an open discussion for several months, where everyone could
participate. In addition, our donors proved us right, by donation the
needed capital stock in just a bit more than a week. Of course, there
are reasons for and against Germany, but I doubt there is an ideal
solution -- and the wide support not only of the community, but of all
the donors worldwide prove that we have taken the right decision.
To bring this to an end:
I seriously doubt that having a separate project, even as incubator,
within the Apache Foundation, would bring benefit for anyone. The
Document Foundation has been working for months not only on shaping a
project, but also on shaping solid grounds to work on, providing the
legal framework, and our open, meritocratic and transparent approach
ensures that anyone -- individuals, organizations and businesses -- can
contribute to the future.
I see no justified reasons of having the same efforts in parallel.
This would not only be about reinventing the wheel, but also about
splitting the community, leading to disadvantages for end-users,
contributors, and enterprises.
As said, and I like to state this personally here, too: We have been and
are always open for feedback, criticism, discussions, and people joining
us. I do not say that everything is 100% perfect as it is today, but I
can only repeat the invitation to join us.
While I am sure that we could have good relationships with the Apache
Foundation and cooperate, I have the fear that everything I personally
worked on, shaped, helped to grow, would be due to split into two
projects. In the end, this would not help anyone, but rather lead to
friction loss, reinventing the wheel and irritating the market at large.
So, my honest and open question is indeed: Why would the Apache
Foundation be a much better home than The Document Foundation is? What,
besides already being legally established, is it that Apache has, what
The Document Foundation does not provide? What would prevent large
organizations of working with us?
To the representatives of IBM and Oracle, what is it that hinders you
from working with TDF? Why do you think a project at the Apache
Foundation fits so much better? Why do you think that setting things up
again nearly from zero are so much better than investing to what has
been shaped by the larger community for the last months?
This is not at all a rhetorical question. I am indeed keen on hearing
replies, and be assured I give my best to reply openly to them.
Any constructive feedback on this is highly appreciated, and as much as
I invite anyone to join us in our efforts, I invite anyone to join this
discussion. I am available on the TDF mailing lists, but also
personally, for any discussion.
Florian Effenberger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Steering Committee and Founding Member of The Document Foundation
Tel: +49 8341 99660880 | Mobile: +49 151 14424108
Skype: floeff | Twitter/Identi.ca: @floeff
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- [steering-discuss] Re: OpenOffice and the ASF · Florian Effenberger
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