A Vision for LibreOffice
I am standing for re-election to the board of The Document Foundation (TDF) as an independent candidate again. The most important thing TDF needs is a uniting vision for the future of #LibreOffice, the leading #OpenSource document preparation tool. Here is the outline of a vision I would propose to the Trustees and Board if elected, obviously evolved collaboratively with them.
Where are we choosing to go?
- TDF exists to serve the public globally, not the needs of any corporation. Consequently TDF should not be directing donated money to give any company an alternative to Microsoft Office, nor to give any service provider an alternative to Google Docs, nor to unnecessarily subsidise the companies benefiting from each.
- Today's online office tools are a service for cloud providers and corporate users, but of limited value in serving the mission of TDF because it is beyond the means of almost any user to deploy it themselves. Rather than encouraging us to become dependent on (even good-faith) service providers, TDF should limit engagement with server versions to deploying a copy of Collabora Online as a stepping-stone for TDF's evolution.
- LibreOffice Desktop needs to be able to interoperate with it however, both via file format and in real-time.
- What we most need is peer-to-peer collaboration built in to desktop LibreOffice without the requirement for a cloud provider
- Ideally it should be interoperable with Collabora Online™ too, via real-time connection
- We need this on a platform-neutral basis so every version is interoperable
- We should also start looking beyond the “document” paradigm. Even e-mail attachments are becoming rarer; we need to consider distributed filesystems, fediverse systems and other content containers.
- So as a minimum we also need support within LibreOffice for distributed filesystems such as IPFS so we are not dependent on a hosted filesystem for collaboration.
- TDF should be directly spending its significant donated cash balance to make LibreOffice a future-proof and accessible tool for every citizen in every country and every language, not on tenders to corporate suppliers to fix bugs that they need fixed but can't fix economically.
Possible paths to P2P
- This could be achieved by adapting the remote access capability from Collabora Online and integrating it into desktop Libreoffice
- It would need redesign to make it work for ordinary users without technical intervention, possibly using IPv6 libraries such as LibreCast.
- If a browser-accessible build were available (WASM seems possible), it might also be feasible to allow a user without LibreOffice installed to collaborate peer-to-peer — in response to an individual invitation — with just a browser.
Once elected I would propose this as a starting point for the Board and seek to work with the Trustees to evolve it to a consensus direction for the Foundation.