Sunday, April 06, 2014

LibreOffice CorelDraw import filter - support of version x7 landed

Corel released CorelDraw x7 on 27 March 2014. We had some time to look at the changes in file-format and we adapted libcdr to be able to open it. The changes landed this week in LibreOffice code, in master and libreoffice-4-2 branch. That means that support will be available in the next 4.2.x release.

It is good to note that while introspecting the files we discovered a flaw in CorelDraw x7 that makes files using the Pantone palette number 30 pretty unusable for CorelDraw users. We worked it around and the files are opening just fine in LibreOffice. Take this as a first contribution by the new Document Liberation Project.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

LibreOffice and Google Summer of Code 2014

Hello, dear students!

This little blog is to remind you that in a bit more then 24 hours, the student applications for the 10th edition of Google Summer of Code will be closed. It is always better to submit an imperfect proposal before the deadline then to miss the deadline by 5 minutes with perfect proposal. So, check our Ideas page and hurry up with applying.

Friday, January 17, 2014

AbiWord import filter in LibreOffice: another tool for the swiss army knife

It all started by an innocent (?) question on 28th of November 2013. The inimitable Caolán asked whether anybody considered writing an import filter for AbiWord document format. And the distinguished readership of this blog knows well what makes your servant tick. So, the very evening, a skeleton was written and libabw, a library to read AbiWord file-format, started. It was pretty exciting to write -- after a host of libraries for file-formats that are not documented anywhere -- a filter for a file-format of our cousin. There was a hope that existence of a reference implementation whose source code is widely accessible would make the endavour easy. It is undeniable that grepping for values of different enums made the work a bit easier. Nonetheless, a huge part of the work was still figuring out what is permitted in AbiWord and how a change of one parameter affects the rendering of a document. Other thing to find out was how to map the concepts in the ABW files into the libwpd API that is heavily influenced by ODF concepts.

But the date of the start meant that soon came the Christmas and with it a possibility to spend some free time on the library. Eventually it became very usable and the import filter made it -- as a late feature -- into the LibreOffice 4.2 line and users of the upcoming LibreOffice 4.2.0 release.

The library currently supports both the plain xml ABW files as well as the gzipped ZABW files. The converted features include:

  • Tables, including nested tables
  • Headers and footers, including different left, right and first page headers/footers
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Multi-column sections
  • Embedded images

And since a picture speaks louder then hundred words, here are some screenshots:

 
A sample ABW file opened
in AbiWord
 The same ABW file opened
in the upcoming LibreOffice 4.2.0
 
A sample (zlib compressed) ZABW
file opened in AbiWord
 The same ZABW file opened
in the upcoming LibreOffice 4.2.0

As you can see from the screenshots, the world domination that we are actively seeking is having several contenders. But if you believe that we are the closest to its realization, please join the filter-writing fun! Show up on #libreoffice-dev channel at irc.freenode.net. You are also encouraged to follow my twitter and Google+ accounts. And stay tuned for more exciting news in the near future. We can promise you that you will have a lot of fun in the growing community of LibreOffice filter writers.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Thank You!

Dear friends!

From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank you for your support during the past elections for The Document Foundation Board of Directors. Without you my election would be never possible and I never took it for granted. I am thankful for your trust. You cannot even immagine how happy and grateful I am for your support. Especially in a moment where my relationship with our project undergoes major changes.

I pray to be always up to the task to co-guide our project with wisdom and integrity.

I love you

Fridrich

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fridrich Štrba, candidate for TDF Board of Directors

The time has come when The Document Foundation will elect a new Board of Directors. As you might already know, there are many good candidates. And since I clearly think I am the best of them, I am writing this to ask you to vote for me. Some of you might know me a bit already, but it is never bad to present myself.

My name is Fridrich Štrba, national of Switzerland and Slovakia, happily married with Susan since more then 12 years and father of 3 wonderful children: Patrick (9), Miriam (6) and Nathanael (3).

My story with LibreOffice started around 2004, with its predecessor, OpenOffice.org. I was just trying to contribute to libwpd which is the horse-power of our WordPerfect import and the OpenOffice.org integration was an interesting thing to contribute to. And since then, my love story with our project went through different stages, but we are still together and sometimes even happy.

I have been mentoring Google Summer of Code students since 2006 and recently I was co-responsible for several import filters for reverse-engineered formats (i.e. Visio, CorelDraw, MS Publisher). I can frankly say that my development and marketing work around the filters are a huge part of the reason why LibreOffice is called the "Swiss army knife of file-formats". We managed quite recently to bootstrap a vibrant community of filter-writers and the the amount of supported file-formats will only grow.

Between 2007 and 2013, I was highly blessed to be working on LO as my day-job, employed by Novell, then SUSE. Since September 2013, I am again a volunteer as many of you. This new-acquired independence is an advantage. I have no monetary interests of any kind in LibreOffice and, if elected, I will take decisions only and only considering the good of the project as such.

The advantage of my election would be that I am part of various native language communities. I speak several languages and can understand the aspirations of the corresponding communities. Besides that, I was part of the Membership Committee from 2010 and the last year, I was its Chairman. In this quality, I was able to push forward my vision of diverse and open and inclusive community that goes beyond personal sympathies or aversions. And this is the vision I desire to pursue if you give me your trust.

And since it is written "You don't have because you don't ask", with this message I ask you to cast your vote for me.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Document Foundation elections: an intimacy between you, your choices and (maybe) the NSA guy

As many who follow the LibreOffice mailing lists know, soon we will have the elections for the Bord of Directors again. Without doubt, there will be a lot of good candidates and the choice will be difficult. Different competencies, personalities, sensibilities. As many parameters as there could ever be. Nonetheless, there is one parameter that was eliminated from before the first election: the corporate pressure.

From the very beginning of The Document Foundation, the Steering Committee and the initial Membership Committee knew that while corporations can contribute a lot to open source, they can also in some moments try to use the community bodies for their own interest. That is the reason that all elected bodies of The Document Foundation have the 30 per cent rule, where no more then 30 per cent of any body can have the same affiliation. In the same spirit, the election system was designed the way that it is technically impossible for anybody to know how a given member voted. From the experience with the "old good times" of OpenOffice.org, it was obvious that corporate influence can do a lot of harm and skew the elections in a considerable way. And even if the rule of 30 per cent is in place, it might be hard for a election officer or for a MC member to stand strong before a corporate pressure. And this was the reason why we chose a design that makes it impossible even for the election officer to know whom you voted for. This information is known only to you.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

LibreOffice Import filters - what is stewing in the sauce-pan

Long time not see, dear friends. But that does not mean that there is nothing to speak about. So, hence a new blog post for those that were wondering what was happenning in the reverse-straight engineering partnership.

After the moments in August and September, where I transitioned from working on LibreOffice to working on SuSE Linux Enterprise and after some breathing pause to give to the Cesar (or also known as family) what is belonging to Cesar, the activity on LibreOffice related stuff restarted in October. Just this time, during nights, weekends and other free time.

Sample Keynote presentation in LibreOffice 4.2

It is with a huge pleasure that I realized that we start to have a vibrant developer community around the libwpd/libwpg family, as well as around Valek's reverse-engineering framework. SUSE Hackweek 10 helped me to produce an initial importer for Freehand file-format. Close to that, David Tardon of RedHat fame added a library to parse Keynote files and a library to convert different e-book file-formats. Laurent Alonso works like a bee on importing Microsoft Works spreadsheets (*.wks). Many exciting things in the pipeline, as you can see.

Wireframe of shapes from a sample Freehand drawing in LibreOffice 4.2

With the extension to presentations and spreadsheets, we decided that the time has come to simply break the super-stable libwpd/libwpg API and profit to make it even more future-proof and in the same token solve some of the API issues that were preventing us from importing correctly several features; most notable of which the Visio connectors.

librevenge

We decided to diminish drastically dupplication of code and we extracted from libwpd, libwpg and from libetonyek the API classes along with the used types. We created a new library, librevenge where we also added as sub-libraries the (structured) stream implementations that used to be in libwpd-stream, as well as several classes that the libraries used to copy and paste between them. The structured stream implementations support now both OLE2 and Zip containers and the relevant libraries assume this. That means that we will have to eventually extend the WPXSvStream implementation in LibreOffice's "writerperfect" module to cater for Zip too.

A new sub-library, librevenge-generators has the simple implementations of the interface classes that we use to convert documents into html, text, or that we use to see the raw API calls for the purpose of regression testing. The exception is the RVNGSVGDrawingGenerator class. In the current stable branches, all of the libraries that convert graphics file-formats contain an SVG generator and they rely on its presence in several cases for things like fills with vector graphics. This class is thus not part of the librevenge-generators library, but of the base librevenge, which is a hard dependency of all of the converter libraries.

RVNGPropertyList

The base type for passing information using the API callbacks is RVNGPropertyList, which was born from libwpd's WPXPropertyList. We modified the design of this class the way that each atrribute can have as a value either a simple property or an array of RVNGPropertyList element. This allows us to do more or less all that JSON is able to do. The API classes are even more flexible and future-proof, since extending the information passed in the different callbacks will not modify function signatures.

Quality improvement

Although the relevant libraries were quite extensively regression-tested in the past, the new librevenge extends the coverage of unit tests. We hope that this helps us to keep under control the basic functionalities without having to use the heavy regression tests on each commit.

Other effort is to avoid to copy in the API calls huge data structures. This effort will result in some performance improvements especially if a document contains a lot of shapes that are filled by different bitmap fills.

When will it be ready?

When it is ready! But seriously, we are trying to take our time and get the APIs right. Like this we intend to prevent gratuitous breakages of binary compatibility in the future. So, it will not be in LibreOffice 4.2 for sure.

If this is interesting for you, please drop by at #libreoffice-dev channel at irc.freenode.net in order to meet us. We cannot promise you that you will become rich, but we can guarantee you fame and eternal gratitude