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Hi Marco,

You called me on the topic thrice (as proposer, in the current Board and most probably in the next) so I think your email requires my answer now.

Il 20/12/21 20:34, Marco Marinello ha scritto:
first of all, I'd like to state for those that are not into the current status quo that this proposal will mainly affect the "Online" project at TDF's infra.

Not only. I can also name the Android "LibreOffice Viewer", for example.

While I will keep replying to your kind inquiry to some extent, please understand that the proposal in no way aims to solve the issues you touched in the rest of your email, that are only tangent to the main goal of the proposal, which is:

"clearly explain that some code, hosted at TDF and which was worked on by the whole community, is indeed FLOSS code but it is not anymore worked on and can be unreliable for production, unless serious development/support work is put in it."

I have to say, as a contributor of LibreOffice Online and a member of TDF, this proposal makes me completely unhappy

Well thanks for stating it out, but I have to say unfortunately we cannot always have what we want.

In the LOOL specific case, it is pretty obvious that TDF itself, or its wonderful volunteers, cannot provide the same level of support that other ecosystem companies provided before the move, to a point where it is impossible to state that that code was suitable for production anymore.

To better explain my statement, let me uncover the fact that, some months after the move (and IIRC before the official freeze), Collabora has kindly offered to backport (for free) some security fixes from Collabora Online to the TDF-maintained internal LOOL instance, which weren't reported nor fixed by others in TDF venues. Stated that, it should be self-evident that, as of now, the community at large cannot support the Online code available at TDF. And we cannot, in full honesty, set expectations of a stable project anymore.

1 - The code has always been open-sourced, so if anyone/any company had some interest in the project might have forked it and made it workable again (which didn't happen until now, to my knowledge); 2 - The attic proposal (with its de-atticization procedure) provide clear rules for resuming a project that was halted, something that the freeze didn't provide for, and sets some clear indication (albeit yet to approve/confirm and probably unsatisfactory to some) on how to consider if eventual development is deemed sufficient or not for its resume.

It's not the best approach/implementation, most probably, but it is a start. I hope everyone can find the time to propose modifications and/or underline their own issues with the proposal.

I have already said this many times but I want to repeat it: it has to be clear (and hopefully stated by legal contracts) to the companies working in the LibreOffice ecosystem that they cannot wake up one day and bring their development outside the LibreOffice project. They cannot stay with one foot inside the ecosystem, contributing to it, and with the other one bringing their development effort outside.

This is a pretty raw summary, but it is an oversimplification, to my perspective, and as any oversimplification, it does harm to one side or the other, or both. It also infers that the rules of the game were clear from the beginning, which I don't think holds true in this specific case, for a number of reasons; at least expectations has been falsely set (I assume in goodwill) on and from "both sides" and were never corrected during the years of development of the Online project.

A lot of hard to estimate, hard to balance, actions and decisions has happened during the time, and some actions/decisions that should have happened didn't really happen. I'm not pointing any fingers or guilt anyone in specific for what happened or not happened.

Lack of publicity of some discussions/decisions might have obfuscate the matter, leaving it as a dark, opaque discussion out of the reach and oversight of the community, to the point that even members cannot tell the full picture, yet as of now.

I'm positive that there is fair and logic reasoning supporting both "sides of the argument" (because, remember, we are all part of the same community and should have the same goals), but the net result was a lose-lose situation for everyone (users, community members, TDF itself, ecosystem companies, developers, etc.), to me. Also, in hindsight it is always simple to point out errors, while that's not that simple to avoid them happening in the first place.

We cannot avoid ecosystem companies to put substantial efforts (money, tens or sometimes even hundreds of k€) on LO code (and in fact this is normally a blessing for the project itself; to be more fair, ecosystem companies are used to push changes directly into LO master/main branch while developing changes in the first place). Whether these efforts are shared with the community or not, however, it is a decision that pertains only to said companies' managements, based on their business model (e.g. leveraging added value to attract customers that, in the end, can enrich the whole project and assure its sustainability), and provided that LO license permits them to decide.

The reality, here, is that the Online project was mostly an effort from one company (not completely, but mostly), and that is clearly shown by the fact that the project is surviving outside of TDF venues under the cares of said company. Whether this project was marketed as a community effort but most of the efforts then arguably came only from one company and costs of its development were not shared with TDF, well, that's some of the missed decisions and false expectations I was referring to before.

I wasn't involved in the discussion from the inception of the Online project, so my understanding of what happened back then is somehow intrinsically biased and mostly the result of a collection of others' opinions; but I have to admit my overall summary of the situation has changed since I became a Director (not drastically, but has changed anyways).

That said, we (unfortunately) cannot fix what already happened. What we can do is learn from past mistakes and assure that what was done wrong with the Online project will not happen again in the future.

Some Board Directors (also, potentially re-elected) have already proposed some actions to fix (or better, put in place) rules of engagement for community projects; this need to fix rules of engagement is not even consensual in the actual Board of Directors, and some of the (equally, potentially re-elected) Directors refuse the need, altogether with the proposed fixes, pointing out other factors as the root cause of the actual situation.

Fixing eventual rules of engagement can just be one aspect of the issue, however, and we have to implement different approaches to nurture ecosystem-provided efforts to strengthen the set of features for LibreOffice by participating to these efforts as TDF and as community, as such making sure that the added value provided by these efforts will become an indissoluble part of the project.

How to do that, well, that's a pretty daunting, hard task to do, additionally with a pretty holistic approach; while the Board has the responsibility to implement actions to foster that, the whole community is called to care about it. I'd like to hear feedback from members to pointers, ideas, actions to better focus on our common shared goal, while reducing to the bare minimum the frictions between different parts of our diverse community.

This is something the next board should focus on.

Well, I'd be pleased and at the same time scared to death if this would be the only hot topic the next Board has to deal with ;)

Getting to this specific situation

Please excuse me if I will not go into details, for two main reasons:
* I don't think this is particularly helpful to further the discussion, and instead it potentially can affect negatively one side or the other. Let's just assume we *all together* did some *faux pas* and look out for the future; * I don't have the knowledge, the skills and the time to go over these details, check their genesis, the possible deciding facts, and give my own informed thoughts about all of them. For what purpose, then? Would it change something in the actual situation?

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise the fact that I’m completely unhappy with the “attic” proposal as a solution for the Online situation

Again, it was not a proposal for the Online situation only; and while I have to admit that my position changed a lot about what follows, with a lot of unhappiness and unrest in my heart I also must say that for me there is no Online discussion at TDF anymore, since the move from Collabora.

and hope we can all work together to allow TDF to still consider Online a part of the LibreOffice suite.

I still consider a cloud/mobile solution to be key for the future of the project, but I'm not considering anymore the Online solution as incarnated by LOOL as part of that future. I see a different approach to the technological issue that I would like to see loved and cared for from the community and the Board of Directors; as part of my renewed commitment to TDF, I would try to push that effort in the priorities of TDF.

Emiliano Vavassori

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