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Hi Alex,

thank you for "ruffling some feathers", this is exactly what we need!

If the community stays silent then to some it may seem that everything is OK, we need the whole community to be more vocal and to tell us what they think should be improved.

Your email raises 3 main concerns:

*1) Support offering from commercial entities*
There isn't much we can do in this area as each company chooses its own business model.

Offering a SLA to fix a bug could mean spending a day in fixing and testing the patch as it may mean weeks of development and testing so it isn't that easy to price it for SMEs.

Maybe one day, when they'll have enough subscribers to their services, they will be to offer different SLA to SMEs but that's entirely up to them.

*2) Market differentiation Community/Commercial offering*
In your last email you seem to say that you spotted difference in features between the version you used.

Apart from the Java bundling issue (thanks for pointing to a potential solution and to Andras for the explanation) is there anything else that you think we should look at?

In terms of brands I agree that it may be confusing.

Anyone could compile LibreOffice and stick it on an app store and there are products out there that we can see they are built from LibreOffice. It's FLOSS so as long as they don't claim it's an official LibreOffice package and don't use our brands then anyone can do it.

In that situation the resulting product with its own brand could have more or less features but that's going to be the packager choice.

To create more clarity I think we should to start building on the internal skills we already have to ensure we can deliver LibreOffice "by TDF" to our community in the app stores regardless of the choices commercial entities may want to make.

Talks have been in progress for a while so if you'd like to influence the process please let us know what you think.

Another thought is related to the eventual cost of the app on the app stores.

TDF already fulfils its duty by making LibreOffice available for free from our web site.

The app store is a very convenient way for users to install LibreOffice but the whole process adds extra costs and issues as rules and procedures can change often.

Would it be OK for the community to exchange convenience for a TBD monetary contribution, made from the app store and going directly to TDF, which would be equivalent to a donation?

*3) TDF direct involvement in development*
What you said in regards to development which may or may not follow some of the preferences that corporate contributors may have is indeed a potential issue.

There are many contributions coming from volunteers that follow their own interests, issues they want to fix or even languages that most haven't thought about adding yet, Klingon being one of a few (majQa'!).

While there are new features and fixes coming up all the time from all types of contributors most of what TDF can do at present to address issues that are not taken in consideration by others is to create tenders.

While tenders are a good tool to get specific and generally complex things done, often out of reach in terms of complexity for a single contributor, it is a slow process to get the tenders written, evaluated, voted on and then get the results delivered.

While we need to go through that process for some new development, I believe we should also start employing a team of internal developers that can take care of many bugs and features that have a level of complexity that is in between what single contributors/small teams can provide us with and what a tender to a larger team can deliver.

That would also allow us to build the internal skills and capacity we may need in case a large contributor decides to focus on other things and probably to respond more quickly to bugs and to requests like yours.

I hope I've provided good answers to your questions so let me know if my opinion, and what I would like to promote within the board, matches your expectations or something more/different needs to be done.



On 12/01/2022 10:08, Alexander Thurgood wrote:
Hi *,

Sophie suggested that I might want to raise what I perceive as an issue here on this list, that is connected, but not identical, to the issue relating to the Attic question, and the questions around the sidelining of features/functionality in commercially developed and distributed versions of LibreOffice / X entity branded products (X being the commercial entity).

As it is not directly related to the Attic question, I have started a new topic.

I am a business user of the LibreOffice software product, and for those who know me, or of me, I have been a long time community volunteer active in QA, and previously to that in the documentation projects. My focus within these projects has pretty much always been related to Base, and in line with my business activity, pretty much related to using LibreOffice on macOS.

My business is a small one, 4 to 5 machines, and is based essentially on various macOS machines (a combination of Mac minis and Macbook Pro devices).

I try, to the extent possible, to use LibreOffice versions made available through the AppStore.

On the one hand, it is suggested, on the LibreOffice download web page, to support the business solution providers if we use LibreOffice in a professional or commercial capacity. I believe that my business does this by using the versions provided via the AppStore.

Nonetheless, as a paying business of these versions, I am left in a quandary.

My business relies on daily use of database interactions, including the use of queries, forms, and to a lesser extent, reports. The business implements a number of different database solutions, ranging from mysql/mariadb/postgres server backends and/or embedded hsqldb (and hopefully when the functionality is finally of an equivalent scope, embedded Firebird).

It seems increasingly obvious that the provider of these commercial versions is not interested in maintaining database functionality and the supporting Java functionality that accompanies the Base module. The reasons for this may be perfectly valid commercially-focussed decisions, and not just linked to the specifics of the AppStore rules.

Be that as it may, the only way for my business activity to access the full range of database options is to use the TDF LibreOffice version, and even that is beginning to fail in a number of areas.

My take from all of this is that I foresee the macOS LibreOffice product becoming solely distributed by one entity in the long term, due to inaction, or passiveness from the Board to allow things to continue as they are. The current commercial entity, due to the business decisions it makes with regard to its own internal code development/maintenance strategy, then gets to choose which functions are maintained and which are deprecated.

I have been told variously and rather glibly in the past that an SLA would solve the problem - the fact is that the costs and provision of such a SLA from a vendor are neither transparent upfront, nor realistic for a small business with 5 seats. I also rather doubt that it would be satisfactory for the commercial entity as well.

From a business perspective, I may as well just switch to using Office365 or GoogleWorkplace at ca. 50EUR/month for the same 5 seats, and accept the limitations, and/or paying optional extra features that might be necessary to have an equivalent setup.

The question I have then for the Board is this :

- what is the Board going to do to address the issue of abandonment of features in commercially provided/branded versions of LibreOffice ?

If the attic solution is adopted for such abandoned features, does this mean that the TDF LO version for macOS would one day be put into that attic ? My current concern is that it might, or, as appears to be the case, it will be built off the commercial entity's build environment (this ties back to the questions around the LOOL project) and released with that reduced feature set.

Clearly, one can't force any commercial entity to do anything with regard to source code that is initially under an open source licence That is, after all, the whole point of open source code. However, the future of the project will be put in jeopardy if the commercial developments take over as the main release channel for any given arch/OS.

That is the concern I would like to see addressed.

Thank you for listening to me, and apologies in advance if I may have ruffled a few feathers.

Alex Thurgood

Paolo Vecchi - Deputy Member of the Board of Directors
The Document Foundation, Kurfürstendamm 188, 10707 Berlin, DE
Gemeinnützige rechtsfähige Stiftung des bürgerlichen Rechts
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