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Hi Simon,

thank you for sharing your opinions with us.

On 08/02/2022 19:44, Simon Phipps wrote:
Hi Andreas!

On Tue, Feb 8, 2022 at 5:59 PM Andreas Mantke <> wrote:

    but it wouldn't improve the situation, if - like today - the
    fisherman / fishermen take every new talented fisher immediately from
    the free software developer (volunteer) market.

    Thus there is now chance for a divers market with a lot of small and
    local businesses around the LibreOffice project. Thus the (business)
    user of LibreOffice will not get the opportunity to choose between
    different service provider.

    If this situation will not change immediately the LibreOffice
    certification program will not give a competitive edge.

I agree with Andreas that this is a great opportunity for TDF to extend its in-house skills which in turn could also provide more opportunities to enable new ecosystem contributors.

I'm sure there are many developers eager to join TDF to start working directly with the wider community with a great team that is with us not for the sake of having a job but because they passionately believe in what they are doing.

Do you believe TDF could spend donated funds on the salaries of developers who write LibreOffice, Andreas? As I recall when we were on the Board you asserted this would be an improper use of TDF's funding under its bylaws?

It depends on the rationale.

If we perform specific tasks in-house, we create knowledge and skills within TDF that can be freely shared with the wider community. That's a win-win for everyone. Accessibility is a field where we're already active which requires further in-house investments but many other areas need further research and development to allow us to share documentation and knowledge which otherwise could be not made available by third parties. There are many areas that are not economically relevant or interesting for volunteers and commercial contributors in which we must step in by investing in members of the team that will help in fulfilling our mission.

For those unaware: TDF has previously extensively considered the proposal to employ LibreOffice developers, which is, as Daniel has commented, superficially very appealing. However, wanting something is not the same as it being possible to have something!

For those unaware: some members of the current board had to fight hard since day one of their term to show others that a proposed project for a third party entity was suboptimal due to lack of proper analysis and investigation on what are the factors that could limit TDF. The good thing that came out of that proposal is that finally we went through a proper legal analysis which has shown that some limitations that held back TDF were actually not there.

The reasons we do not currently have internal developers include (among others):

  * The question of whether TDF can spend money developing software.
    It has been asserted that it cannot.

It has been asserted through overdue legal consultations that we can invest money in many more ways that has been previously thought to fulfil our mission.

We now have a mentor that will train new developers, with varying degrees of experience, in how to develop for LibreOffice which will not only help in furthering the educational and research scope of LibreOffice with code but will also grow into mentors themselves allowing TDF to deliver more on its educational purpose and furthers its civic engagement which is another charitable purpose of TDF.

Not having had dedicated in-house developers did reduce our capability to fully deliver on our objectives, which are clearly stated in our statutes, so now that we have the necessary legal clarifications we should improve this situation immediately.

  * The question of who would decide what was written, and how, and
    how developers would be properly managed.

This is an organisational issue which will follow what is written in the proposal and I'm sure our ED, mentor and the rest of the Team will do a fabulous job in integrating the new developers.

In regards to what and how they will do it see my proposal. Depending on the skills that the developers already have they may initially focus on A11y or long standing bugs but then we will encourage them to grow in different areas so they can fully express the skills they are most comfortable with and that will benefit the community even more.

  * Related to this, the moral imperative that TDF should not compete
    with its trustees.

I see a few issues with this statement:
1. How can we be in competition with trustees as they are individual members of our community who committed to help TDF and the rest of the community in many ways, not only code, to further our objectives?

2. Even if you used the word trustees by mistake while you meant commercial contributors they surely read our statutes and our objectives so they positioned themselves to serve their own commercial clients without being concerned by TDF's objectives.

3. There is not only a moral but also regulatory and statutory imperative for TDF to pursue its objectives for the good of LibreOffice and its community so trustees and commercial contributors should actually be supportive and enable TDF in moving better and faster instead of trying to stop TDF in doing what it has been created to do.

While I do not necessarily agree with the thinking behind these issues, any proposal before the Board would need a thoughtful and balanced proposal for resolving each of them.

Now you should have a clearer view regarding the rationale behind the proposal and how the objections put forward are not valid any more.

All these issues could have been solved years ago but it seems we needed a suboptimal proposal presented at FOSDEM 2020 to start a process of verification and validation of what TDF can and can't do.

TDF can and absolutely should invest in in-house developers to fulfil its objective for the benefit of the whole community while still complying with the parameters imposed by its charitable foundation status that have been purposefully chosen.

The community and our valuable members of the ecosystem have been asking us to invest more in development and now that we have finally gone through legal verifications we could start looking for new members of our team even today.

We can surely start within TDF and then evaluate over time if a fully owned and fully controlled subsidiary may allow us to deal with our growth in a more efficient way.

As it has been mentioned by a fellow director I looked at how the great people at Typo3 organised things. Typo3 is a non for profit that funds its fully owned company to deal with developers employment and commercial activities. It has been proposed to invite them to a board meeting to share their experience and we should actually do that so that we can evaluate a future option.

Perhaps one of the folk supporting the Board agenda item would like to write a paper that does that?

Putting the burden of writing papers on a member of the board is clearly not the most efficient way to deal with things and, as it happened already a few times, it gives the impression of being just a delay tactic for which I see no valid reasons.

I do appreciate that you learned from your past mistakes and that you now want to see more transparency and evidence that we actually did our research and analysis of the issues and the opportunities. There are documents available to the board which prove we did our job correctly but as they are part of interactions with legal experts the board will have to agree to make them public.




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

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