Every end is a new beginning

It is likely not "the End" of the Germanophone project at OpenOffice.org, but it is a new beginning for most of the core members of our German team.

Today several long-term members of the German OOo team declared that they will focus their future contributions to the Document Foundation and LibreOffice. The message was signed by 33 people, including both Co-Leads and most of the contact persons for different tasks.

We all have respect for the contributions of the whole OpenOffice.org community, including the primary sponsor and it's staff members. We acknowledge, that there have been areas of good collaboration within the last years, but at the same time "it showed more clearly that all the cooperation and the common finding of solutions sometimes faces limitations." To break these limits, we feel that we all need to work for a change - and we will do this at the Document Foundation.

Read the full message at the german mailing list and the translation at the native lang lists for further information.


Steering Committe Meeting Minutes 2010-10-27

Minutes from our last Steering Commitee call are now online at the wiki.

Topics of the call were:
  • Update on: discussion about community structure started (how to define members?)
  • Website: decision on CMS to use
  • Decision on where to have public SC discussions
  • Review and prioritize a list of next steps, discuss where to make this public
  • Update on development status / 3.3 schedule
  • open discussion
This was the first time that we had people from the community listening to our discussion. I hope we did not give a to bad impression of our English skills :) Actually we had only one native English speaker on the call.
The last item "open discussion" was a quick decision during the call - we opened the microphones for those people who just were listening until then and asked them for questions at the IRC channel. Seems that this worked quite well, as we got some questions, that could be answered. I hope, we can continue this way - but I'd expect that there will be times where we have to table the answers for some later calls.


How to define "Membership" at TDF?

As most of you should know we are working to make The Document Foundation an independent self-governing meritocratic Foundation. This Foundation should be lead by it's members, based on their merit.

One of the very basic questions to answer is:
  "Who is a member at TDF?"

Well - we (the Steering Committee) do not have a detailed answer on this, as we think that the voice of our contributors should be respected for this very important topic. So we want to discuss this here, before we come to a decision.

To get things started, I put some notes at the wiki.  

These are initial thoughts, but I hope, you get the idea, what we are heading for. Please read and send comments to the mailinglist (discuss@documentfoundation.org). For the first days I would not suggest to go deeply into details - we should get the general picture first (e.g. the very basic principles).

For discussion please use this mailinglist and join the thread '[SC] How to define "Membership" within TDF?'. If a new thread is started, please add at least the tag [SC] and the word "Membership" in the subject.

I'm looking forward to a constructive discussion.

Some independent view

Working within OpenOffice.org for several years and now being part of the TDF steering committee, it is sometimes not easy to know how you look from outside.

It is always good to learn from other people's thoughts. For today I'd recommend Sebastian's blog on "Is it a spoon? Is it a fork? No, it's LibreOffice!". 


About TDF Steering Committee

The Document Foundation went public about two weeks ago, but indeed the founding members worked on the idea for some more days already. It is hard to tell, when the work exactly started, as there has not been one single initiator but rather a number of individuals and small teams who all had the same idea: enable the community to evolve into the next decade and make it independent from single sponsors.

As we all had the same goal, the team grew up and we asked some more people to join and help with the preparations. Soon we realized, that we need a way to come to general agreement and formal decisions. We are all individuals from different countries, with different background and so we are diverse - but this is exactly, what a community is: diverse. We found, that we need to have a set of people we all trust and to whom we give the power to make formal decisions - with the obligation to seek council from the larger team - or the community as soon as we went public.

The idea of the Steering Committee was born. We then set some basic rules for the Steering Committee's work and structure, discussed this via mail and looked for the first members. We finally agreed on the rules and the names in a face to face meeting.

The names can be found at the Document Foundation website. The most important rules are very simple:
  • The members should be accepted OpenOffice.org community contributors
  • The Steering Committee is provisional and ends it's existence after one year the latest
  • The Steering Committee must work on bylaws for the future governing body and end it's own existence, as soon as this is operational
  • The Steering Committee must be transparent and seek council from the community

After all - we are here to give the community a good start into the next decade. But we are not here forever (at least not as the Steering Committee, which is just provisional).

More information about the Steering Committee, meeting minutes and decisions are soon to be found at the wiki.

Finally the formal bylaws for the provisional Steering Committee ...

The Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is the primary decision-making body of our community until the Document Foundation has been established and a new governing body has been elected.

The Steering Committee is bound to the activities for creating the Document Foundation, or the charter of the Document Foundation itself (as soon as this exists). It needs to consult the larger community and respond to the community’s concerns.

The Steering Committee will end it's existence 1 year the latest after public announcement, or earlier, if the Document Foundation has been established and a new steering body is operational.


The Steering Committee is made up of a small, limited number of people, initially elected by the people going to establish the Document foundation.

These members should be accepted community contributors who represent all parts of our community, including
  • developers (code hackers)
  • general development (supporting tasks like QA, marketing, documentation)
  • active contributors form localization / native-lang teams
  • user community

Steering Committee Members need to name at least one deputy, who will vote on their behalf, in case the member is not available for voting.

The initially elected members of the Steering Commitee are:
  • Thorsten Behrens (deputy: Michael Meeks)
  • Florian Effenberger (deputy: Christoph Noack)
  • Sophie Gautier (deputies: Christoph Noack / Cor Nouws)
  • Caolán McNamara (deputy: Thorsten Behrens)
  • Olivier Hallot (deputy: Claudio Filho)
  • André Schnabel (deputy: Cor Nouws)
  • Charles-H. Schulz (deputy: Leif Lodahl)
  • Italo Vignoli (deputy: Davide Dozza)

Adding or removing members, Committee size

Any member of the Steering Committee may declare to resign from the Steering Committee at any given time. The member's deputy will exercise the duties until a new member has been appointed by the Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee may decide to change the number of the Committee's members (adding or removing members). Such a decision needs to be based on consensus.

The Steering Committee may appoint new members or people to replace leaving members with a 2/3rd majority vote.

The Steering Committee shall have not less than 5 and not more than 9 members.

Committee Meetings & Votes

Voting sessions of the Steering Committees will be performed either in-person, via telephone, e-mail, or on IRC. Information necessary for such a session (including agenda) should be published at least one day in advance.

Minutes will be kept for all sessions. Voting results (including the item voted on and number of positive, negative, absent and missing votes) will be documented and published.

On certain occasions, conversations within the Steering Committee will be confidential. On those occasions, notes from meetings etc. may be edited to maintain confidentiality. We will work to keep confidential conversations down to a minimum.

A 2/3rd majority is required to approve a decision. 2/3rd of all Committee members need to vote positive on an item - absent or abstain votes have the same effect as negative votes. A missing vote is considered as absent after 2 days. In any case the committee should seek for consensus decisions.


Few first words

I must confess, that this is my first blog and therefore my first blog post ever. I never felt, that I have things to tell that are interesting or important enough to share them with the whole internet. Well - things may change and they do change.

The last two weeks have been very busy and exciting. We announced the idea of an independent foundation for the OpenOffice.org community and we saw the first people joining. Well - "first people" is a vast understatement. We saw more than 20 new contributors submitting patches, about 40 native lang teams started with translations and are eager to have own mailing lists and forums. Within the next week, we are going to get this started - and we will provide localized builds.

But it's not only about code hacking and translation. People start to discuss quality assurance processes, head for UX team, think about LibO features in general and indeed give input on the way the Foundation and the Community should be organized. In fact, we already have a vibrant community - we are moving very fast.

This perception of a fast moving community was also the reason to choose my blog's name. Initially I just tried to see, if I can do a palindrome from LibreOffice or LibO. LibObiL is one and it reminds me of the "LibreOffice mobile" - a thing that is moving, driven by a community following paths defined by the community.