February 26, 2015

Alan Horkan: Krita 2.9


Congratulations to Krita on releasing version 2.9 and a very positive write-up for Krita by Bruce Byfield writing for Linux Pro Magazine.

I'm amused by his comment comparing Krita to "the cockpit of a fighter jet" and although there are some things I'd like to see done differently* I think Krita is remarkably clear for a program as complex as it is and does a good job of balancing depth and breadth. (* As just one example: I'm never going to use "File, Mail..." so it's just there waiting for me to hit it accidentally, but far as I know I cannot disable or hide it.)

Unfortunately Byfield writes about Krita "versus" other software. I do not accept that premise. Different software does different things, users can mix and match (and if they can't that is a different and bigger problem). Krita is another weapon in the arsenal. Enjoy Krita 2.9.

February 18, 2015

Alan Horkan: OpenRaster Python Plugin


OpenRaster Python Plugin

Early in 2014, version 0.0.2 of the OpenRaster specification added a requirement that each file should include a full size pre-rendered image (mergedimage.png) so that other programs could more easily view OpenRaster files. [Developers: if your program can open a zip file and show a PNG you could add support for viewing OpenRaster files.*]

The GNU Image Manipulation Program includes a python plugin for OpenRaster support, but it did not yet include mergedimage.png so I made the changes myself. You do not need to wait for the next release, or for your distribution to eventually package that release you can benefit from this change immediately. If you are using the GNU Image Manipulation Program version 2.6 you will need to make sure you have support for python plugins included in your version (if you are using Windows you wont), and if you are using version 2.8 it should already be included. (If the link no longer works, see instead https://gitorious.org/openraster/gimp-plugin-file-ora/ as I hope the change will be merged there soon.)

It was only a small change but working with Python and not having to wait for code to compile make it so much easier.

* Although it would probably be best if viewer support was added at the toolkit level, so that many applications could benefit.

February 13, 2015

Alan Horkan: OpenRaster and OpenDocument: Metadata

OpenRaster is a file format for the exchange of layered images, and is loosely based on the OpenDocument standard. I previously wrote about how a little extra XML can make a file that is both OpenRaster and OpenDocument compatible. The OpenRaster specification is small and relatively simple, but it does not do everything, so what happens if a developer wants to do something not covered by the standard? What if you want to include metadata?

How about doing it the same way as OpenDocument, it does not have to be complicated. OpenDocument already cleverly reused the existing Dublin Core (dc) standard for metadata, and includes a file called meta.xml in the zip container. A good idea worth borrowing, a simplified example file follows:

Sample OpenDocument Metadata[Pastebin]

(if you can't see the XML here directly, see the link to Pastebin instead.)

I extended the OpenRaster code in Pinta to support metadata in this way. This is the easy part, it gets more complicated if you want to do more than import and export within the same program. As before the resulting file can renamed from .ora to .odg and be opened using OpenOffice* allowing you to view the image and the metadata too. The code is Pinta OraFormat.cs is freely available on GitHub under the same license (MIT X11) as Pinta. The relevant sections of are "ReadMeta" and "GetMeta". A Properties dialog and other code was also added, and I've edited a screenshot of Pinta to show both the menu and the dialog at the same time:

[* OpenOffice 3 is quite generous, and opens the file without complaint. LibreOffice 4 is far less forgiving and gives an error unless I specifically choose "ODF Drawing (.odg)" as the file type in the Open dialog]

December 12, 2014

Alan Horkan: OpenRaster and OpenDocument


OpenRaster is a file format for layered images. The OpenRaster specification is small and relatively easy to understand, essentially each layer is represented by a PNG image, and other information is contained written in XML and it is all contained in a Zip Archive. OpenRaster is inspired by OpenDocument.
OpenDocument is a group of different file formats, including word processing, spreadsheets, and vector drawings. The specification is huge and continues to grow. It cleverly reuses many existing standards, avoiding repeating old mistakes, and building on existing knowledge.

OpenRaster can and should reuse more from OpenDocument.

It is easy to say but putting it into practice is harder. OpenDocument is a huge standard so where to begin? I am not even talking about the OpenDocument Graphics (.odg) specifically but more generally than that. It is best that show it with an example. So I created an example OpenRaster image with some fractal designs. You can unzip this file and see that like a standard OpenRaster file it contains:

 ├ mimetype
 ├ stack.xml
 ├ data/
 │  ├ layer0.png
 │  ├ layer1.png
 │  ├ layer2.png
 │  ├ layer3.png
 │  ├ layer4.png
 │  └ layer5.png
 ├ Thumbnails/
 │  └ thumbnail.png
 └ mergedimage.png

It also unusually contains two other files manifest.xml content.xml. Despite the fact that OpenDocument is a huge standard the minimum requirements for a valid OpenDocument file comes down to just a few files. The manifest is a list of all the files contained in the archive, and content.xml is the main body of the file, and does some of the things that stack.xml does in OpenRaster (for the purposes of this example, it does many other things too). The result of these two extra files, a few kilobytes of extra XML, is that the image is both OpenRaster AND OpenDocument "compatible" too. Admittedly it is an extremely small tiny subset of OpenDocument but it allows a small intersection between the two formats. You can test it for yourself, rename the file from .ora .odg and LibreOffice can open the image.

To better demonstrate the point, I wanted to "show it with code!" I decided to modify Pinta (a Paint program written in GTK and C#) and my changes are on GitHub. The relevant file is Pinta/Pinta.Core/ImageFormats/OraFormat.cs which is the OpenRaster importer and exporter.

This is a proof of concept, it is limited and not useful to ordinary users. The point is only to show that OpenRaster could borrow more from OpenDocument. It is a small bit of compatibility that is not important by itself but being part of the larger group could be useful.

May 23, 2014

Fridrich Strba: librevenge 0.0.0 is out: Document Liberation Project's framework is available to be used


It is not without emotion that the Document Liberation Project announces today the first release of the new framework library, librevenge-0.0.0. This release means that the API of librevenge is now set into a stone (at least until the 0.1.x series) and thus the library can be used by willing filter-writers.

You might be familiar with some aspects of the librevenge framework from this blog or from this FOSDEM 2014 presentation. David Tardon started a nice serie of articles explaining how to use the framework. So, there are no valid excuses remaining not to use it and not to contribute to the world domination that is the ultimate destiny of the Document Liberation Project.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

But the first release of a new framework would be empty without mentioning those on shoulder of whom we stand. First we would love to thank Will Lachance and Mark Maurer for having started more then 10 years ago the development of libwpd. It is this library and its wise interface design that allowed us to move incrementally to the current framework. Thank you guys, you know that without you we would be nowhere!

Besides your servant, David Tardon, and Valek Filipov, we would love to single out a discrete person, who speaks little but codes a lot. It is Laurent Alonso, without whom we would never be able to recover a huge amount of old MacIntosh documents. We thank equally to all our past and present Google Summer of Code students, without whom the road would be much more thorny.

LibreOffice and The Document Foundation

It would be a very big mistake if we did not thank the project from which we all originate, the LibreOffice project. The community gravitating around LibreOffice creates is caring, encouraging and creates the right environment to foster innovation.

Last but not least, our thanks go to The Document Foundation that did not hesitate to take us under its umbrella and provide all the necessary institutional support.

How to contribute

Now a new phase starts and you can be part of it! There are many ways to contribute. You drop by at the #documentliberation-dev channel at irc.freenode.net. There will always be someone to help you to join this exciting journey.

For more information about our activities, follow @DocLiberation on twitter, Join our Google plus community or like us on Facebook.

April 30, 2014

Hubert Figuiere: Fixing deprecations


Also, I updated the PHP version on the hosting side (the hosting company did, I just clicked on the button in the panel). This cause some glitches with the antispam and the rest when commenting. Sorry about that.

I addressed the known issues, related to deprecated PHP functions. This is still easier than upgrading to the newer version of Dotclear that break the URLs.

April 29, 2014

Hubert Figuiere: Crazy idea: Decentralised bug tracker


Last week, over a nice diner in a nice Portuguese restaurant on "the main", I had a discussion with @pphaneuf about decentralised bug tracking. He had the idea first.

Since you have decentralised version control in the name of git (there are others), couldn't we have the same for a bug tracker? Using sha1 instead of bug name isn't much different as you could use the abbreviated form. After all, Mozilla has reached the 7 digits bug numbers now.

The idea I proposed was something like carrying that metadata in a secondary repository inside that would be linked - or even better, in a different branch. Also there would be an equivalent to cgit to serve this data in a web interface and probably a few new git commands. The bug repository could be skipped on check out for those who don't want it.

And here goes bug fixing and triaging in a European airport or luxurious hotel wifi with proper access to the whole history.

The idea sounds crazy, but I think it can work. Let's call it buggit.

And no I'm not coding it. This is just small talk. And I haven't done due diligence in searching if something already existed but I like crazy ideas.

April 22, 2014

Fridrich Strba: LibreOffice projects for Google Summer of Code 2014


We are happy to announce that the LibreOffice project has 10 Google Summer of Code projects for this 10th edition of the program. The selected projects and students are:

Project Title


Selected Student

Connection to SharePoint and Microsoft OneDrive


Mihai Varga

Calc / Impress tiled rendering support


Andrzej Hunt

Improved Color selection


Krisztián Pintér

Enhancing text frames in Draw


Matteo Campanelli

Implement Adobe Pagemaker import filter


Anurag Kanungo

Improvements to the Template manager


Efe Gürkan YALAMAN

Dialog Widget Conversion



Dialog Widget Conversion



Improve Usability of Personas


Rachit Gupta

Refactor god objects



We wish all of them a lot of success and let the coding start!

April 06, 2014

Fridrich Strba: 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.

March 25, 2014

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: Google Summer of Code 2011 and AbiWord

Being a mentor for Google Summer of Code is yet another interesting experience like being a student. It was a nice memory going through all the 23 excellent proposals for AbiWord and reviewing them as a mentor, during the night at our annual trip at Kandalama. This year, AbiWord has got more smarter applications. GSoC deduplication meeting was something remarkable, where the organization admins (or a representative/mentor from the organizations) resolve the duplicate students issue in the presence of the Google Summer of Code admins over #gsoc at irc.freenode.org. Many students were also seen in the irc meeting to check whether they have been accepted for multiple organizations, and in that case, where are they going to work for their summer. Selected students were announced by Google on 1900UTC, 25th of April, a few days after the dedup meeting.

The list of accepted students, along with their project proposals as well as their mentors are given below.
Fabiano Fidencio - "Get our Mac Port up to speed" - Mentored by Marc Maurer
Volodymyr Rudyj - "Implement an ePub filter" - Mentored by Xun Sun
Chen Xiajian - "Implement Hyphenation" - Mentored by Kathiravelu Pradeeban
Aseem Sharma - "Port AbiWord to Gtk-3.0" - Mentored by Jean Bréfort
Andrei Sfrenț - "Reduce flickering" - Mentored by Martin Sevior

An important factor to notice is that, since 2006, AbiWord has successfully been participated in all the Google Summer of Codes (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011). Hence this becomes the 6th consecutive year for AbiWord to participate in Google Summer of Code! I wish the 5 students who got selected a great summer of code with AbiWord, and I hope they will continue to be a long term contributors even after their summer. At the same time, I should also note that, we had to miss a few nice students as we have only 5 slots. Hope they will still continue with their development on AbiWord.

March 20, 2014

Fridrich Strba: 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.

February 10, 2014

Hubert Figuiere: The open content


Open content is content that is also available openly.

The short: people claiming they don't blog anymore but write lengthy on the closed Google+, a platform that is closed (does not allow to pull the content of RSS), discriminate on names, and in the end just represent the Google black hole as it seems only Google fanboys and employees use it.

This also applies to Facebook, Twitter (to a lesser extent, just because of the 140 char limits) and so on.

Sorry this is not the Internet I want. It is 2014, time to take it back.

January 17, 2014

Fridrich Strba: 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:

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

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

January 08, 2014

Fridrich Strba: 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


December 10, 2013

Fridrich Strba: 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.

November 22, 2013

Fridrich Strba: 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.

November 19, 2013

Fridrich Strba: 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&aposs 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.


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&aposs "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.


The base type for passing information using the API callbacks is RVNGPropertyList, which was born from libwpd&aposs 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

October 12, 2013

Hubert Figuiere: Reaching the summit


Even the coffee cups are personalised. #MozSummit

Last week-end, Mozilla held its summit in 3 locations: Santa Clara, Toronto and Brussels. The summit is where contributors paid (employees) or not (volunteers) meet and discuss the future of Mozilla and how we are gonna help shape the web. We call them (ourselves) Mozillians.

I attended in Brussels and it was for me the occasion to meet fellow Mozillians for the first in face to face, and to meet other I had never interacted with. I'm reaching my two years as a Mozillian (and paid contributor) and I see a huge value in this. I found that we have a very friendly and vibrant community, spread across the globe, people passionate about the web, passionate about the users and the future of the web, from developers, designers, artists, translators to evangelist, marketing and administrative support. The full spectrum was represented.

I can't wait to attend the next Mozilla summit, in the mean time I'll attend the Gnome Summit that is being held tomorrow in the city I call home: Montréal.

Also I need to go through the 1900 pictures I took during the event. In the mean time you can watch that set on Flickr that contain the stuff I posted on Instagram almost immediately, as well that the Flickr group Mozilla Summit 2013 I created to pool the pictures from other users (feel free to add yours if you haven't already).

August 29, 2013

Hubert Figuiere: Dead tree backup

QR Code
QR Code by lydia_shiningbrightly, on Flickr

This week I am at the Toronto Mozilla office. With Mike and Alan we were discussing information entropy and backups and devised the craziness of doing a hard drive backup onto paper, using QR Codes.

Alan and Mike did the math.

For one TB, it would take 44 trees, and at 20 pages per minute, it would take 123 days to print the 3.6 millions letter-size single sided pages, at 300dpi, in large-size, using the highest-redundancy QR codes.

Now you know how much information we create and how much it would take to make it last longer than the electronic device it is stored on.

August 20, 2013

Fridrich Strba: Service announcement: openning of SXW files produced by early versions of wpd2sxw in LibreOffice


Just a service announcement for those that might have around still SXW files generated from WordPerfect documents by the wpd2sxw tool version 0.6.x or earlier (years 2004 and before). Those files used to open fine in early OpenOffice.org versions, but they miss a crucial element. That is the reason why LibreOffice, the OpenOffice.org modern successor, will refuse them. Nevertheless, they are not lost!

LibreOffice development team, in its constant quest of increased user satisfaction, has a workaround for you!

First grab the zip file with the required manifest. Then get the zipmerge tool that comes with libzip, and merge the manifest into the corresponding SXW file. As an example, this command line could work:

for i in <sxw-file-list>; do zipmerge temporary_sxw.sxw /path/to/sxw_manifest.zip $i && mv temporary_sxw.sxw $i; done

This way you assure that if the original SXW file already had a manifest, it will not be overwritten by the one from sxw_manifest.zip, which would not be a desirable outcome. Nonetheless, if you only have to repair one SXW file and you checked already that manifest is missing in it using tools like zipinfo, you can quietly use:

zipmerge <original-sxw-file>.sxw /path/to/sxw_manifest.zip

In order to merge the manifest directly into that file. Naturally, you can merge the manifest from the sxw_manifest.zip into the SXW file using any other zip-manipulation tool you prefer.

Enjoy and continue using LibreOffice, the free and open source office suite of reference.

August 16, 2013

Fridrich Strba: Extending the Swiss Army knife - an overview about writing of filters for LibreOffice


LibreOffice is sometimes regarded as the Swiss army knife when it comes to opening office file-formats. Although it might be a slight exaggeration, it is a point of honour of the development team to try to allow users to load into the suite as many of their documents as possible. Every major release from the first LibreOffice 3.3 came with new and improved import filters, often for file-formats that are under-documented, if any documentation can be found at all. In this article, we would like to present the way import filters interface with LibreOffice and give to an interested developer a starting point for adding her favourite file-format among those LibreOffice is able to open.

Filters creating documents directly into LibreOffice internal structures

In general, an import filter's task is to parse the foreign document, extract from it useful information, and feed it to the application in a way it can understand. Many internal filters, like the MS Word filter, use a direct way of communicating with LibreOffice. They import the document directly into the internal structures that represent those documents. The advantage of this approach is the lack of intermediary: the document is immediately understood by the application and no additional processing is needed. The disadvantage is that this approach requires an intimate knowledge of the internal structures used and has thus a steep learning curve. The next two types of filters will correspond better to a developer that does not want to dive too deep into LibreOffice internals, yet wants to have his work done.

OpenDocument format as an interchange format

Who has not heard about OpenDocument? Hardly anybody ignores its existence. But it is also a convenient interchange format for filter writers. No need in this case to understand the LibreOffice internals apart from some hundred lines of boilerplate code that are documented in various places. It suffices to read the source document and generate a "flat" OpenDocument representation of it. LibreOffice is able to load this kind of representation as if it was loading an ODF document.

XSLT filters

The easiest way to write a filter for an XML-based file-format is using the XSLT filter dialogue. All you need is to have an XSL transform that converts a foreign XML-based file-format to the "flat" ODF, for import filters; and that converts a corresponding ODF XML to the XML used by the foreign file-format, for export filter. Once those transforms exist, the integration with LibreOffice can be done using the user interface.

Picture 1

In the Tools menu, chose XML Filter Settings, you will see listed all the XSLT filters that are already present in your LibreOffice installation along with the information about the application that is supposed to receive the resulting ODF document. Other information that can be found is about the direction of the conversion. Is it an import filter, export filter, or a filter that can import and export a foreign file-format.

If you click at "New", this dialogue will appear.

Picture 2

In the "General" tab, you will be able to chose the user-visible information about the filter: its name, the application that will receive the converted document (for instance LibreOffice Calc (.ods) for a spreadsheet converted to the OpenDocument Spreadsheet format). This information is also used by LibreOffice to group different types of documents. If you chose presentations in the file-picker and your filter specifies that it is converting into the LibreOffice Impress application, then all files having the file-extension associated with the file-format will be shown in the list.

In the "Name of file type", you will be able to describe the file-format that your filter will handle and in the "File extension" field, you will need to put semicolon-separated list of possible extensions for files in the given file-format. For instance, the extensions for the files in Microsoft Excel 2003 XML file-format will end typically with extensions xml or xls. You can add a comment in the "Comments" field. This last field is optional and you can leave it empty if you desire.

Picture 3

The next tab is the actual information about the XSL transformations that will do the conversion. The DocType field makes sense principally for import filters. The XSLT filters typedetection will scan for the string you enter there in the first 4000 bytes of the file. Since the typedetection searches for this string only in those first 4000 bytes, it is necessary to assure that the string one specifies can be found invariably in the very beginning of the file. You can leave the field empty if you desire. Then the typedetection will be done purely on the basis of an extension.

If you are writing an export filter, you will provide in the "XSLT for export" field the transform that will do the conversion from the OpenDocument XML to the file-format for which you write your filter. If this field remains empty, LibreOffice will know that you filter is not an export filter. The same is valid for the "XSLT for import" field. It will contain the path to the XSLT sheet that does the import transformation. Leaving it empty is telling LibreOffice that your filter is not an import filter. There are already several filters bundled with LibreOffice that do conversion only in one direction. For instance, the XHTML filters or the MediaWiki filter are used only to export to the corresponding file-formats.

You also have the option to specify the default template for filters that import from file-formats that don't carry style information. For instance, the bundled DocBook filter uses a template to specify styles of different outline levels. If you don't specify the template, there are two possibilities. Either your transform creates a document with full styles, or you rely on the default styles that LibreOffice uses.

The check-box "The filter needs XSLT 2.0 processor" is to be checked only if your transforms use some exclusive 2.0 features. It is nevertheless advisable to write xslt sheets of the 1.0 version. They are much simpler and, because of the performance issues of other xslt processors out there, LibreOffice uses under the hood libxslt. The fact that libxslt, has only limited support of the 2.0 features is widely offset by the performance improvement that its use brought.

Now, you are done with the integration of your filter, the dialogue in the Picture 1 allows you to test your transforms, and even to export your filter as an extension package and deploy it on different installations of LibreOffice or to distribute it over our extension web-site http://extensions.libreoffice.org

As you can see, the integration of an XSLT-based filter into LibreOffice is rather simple. That is the biggest advantage of this approach. Nevertheless, there are also some disadvantages. Despite of the migration of the XSLT engine to a relatively fast libxslt, the use of xsl transforms on large document can be relatively slow. Another disadvantage is that the transforms are not really good at converting documents where the concepts of the source and target file-formats cannot be easily mapped.

XFilter framework

The XFilter framework is the other way to integrate import filters with LibreOffice. In fact the previous XSLT-based filters use an intermediary layer that uses this framework too. The advantage of using the XFilter framework directly is the use of higher lever programming languages that allow much easier mapping of incompatible concepts, parsing of documents in several passes, as well as much more complex processing of gathered information. Moreover, this is the way to use if you need to write a filter for a file-format that is not XML-based, since the XSLT-based filters cannot be use to convert binary document file-formats.

The use of the XFilter framework is a bit more complicated then the use of the XSLT-based filter dialogue. Nevertheless, it is far from being rocket science. We will examine the steps needed for a typical import filter using the example of the recently added Microsoft Publisher filter in LibreOffice 4. For the sake of simplicity, we first start with the configuration files. You will need to craft two xml fragments, one for the filter description and one for the file-type.

Filter description:

<node oor:name="Publisher Document" oor:op="replace">
    <prop oor:name="Flags">
    <prop oor:name="FilterService">
    <prop oor:name="UIName">
       <value xml:lang="x-default">Microsoft Publisher 97-2010</value>
    <prop oor:name="FileFormatVersion">
    <prop oor:name="Type">
    <prop oor:name="DocumentService">

The oor:name attribute gives the name of the filter used internally. This name is important because the file-type and a corresponding filter are linked using it. As to the flags, I will mention here only two or three. The others can be used just as they are. The IMPORT flag specifies that we are implementing an import filter. For export filters, the flag is EXPORT and both flags are present for a bi-directional filter. The ALIEN flag is indicating that the filter handles a non-native file-format from the point of view of LibreOffice. When used with EXPORT flag, on export to the given file-format, it will trigger a dialogue warning about a possible data loss.

The FilterService property specifies the service that will be used for converting of the document. It is necessary that it corresponds exactly to the implementation name of your import filter. Since the filter is a so-called UNO component, it uses the java-like naming. The part com.sun.star.comp.Draw indicates that the filter is a component and converts a drawing and the MSPubImportFilter is the actual name of the filter.The UIName indicates a name that will appear in the file-selection dialogue for file-formats where none of the typedetections is able to detect them.The DocumentService property specifies which service will receive the result of the conversion. Here we are converting the Microsoft Publisher files into LibreOffice Draw as a drawing, that is why the document service will be the com.sun.star.drawing.DrawingDocument. If we were converting a text document, the document service would be the com.sun.star.text.TextDocument.

The Type property specifies the file type that the filter handles. This value is important because it must correspond to the oor:name attribute of the corresponding file-type description. It is necessary that the the name of the file-type starts with the indication of the receiving application. Here we use the draw_Publisher_Document and for instance for the Wordperfect file-format, we use in LibreOffice the writer_WordPerfect_Document. But lets profit from this and have a look at the second xml fragment, the file-type one. Here is one that corresponds to our example:

<node oor:name="draw_Publisher_Document" oor:op="replace">
    <prop oor:name="DetectService">
    <prop oor:name="Extensions">
    <prop oor:name="MediaType">
    <prop oor:name="Preferred">
    <prop oor:name="PreferredFilter">
        <value>Publisher Document</value>
    <prop oor:name="UIName">
        <value>Microsoft Publisher</value>

The DetectService specifies a service that is able to determine whether a document is of the given file-format. In our case, the com.sun.star.comp.Draw.MSPUBImportFilter is able to do both, the conversion and the type-detection. In the Extensions property, semi-colon separated values indicate possible extensions for file of the given file-format. In the case of an export filter, the first extension in the list is used for saving with automatic file-extension enabled. The MediaType property basically specifies the mime-type of the file-format. The other element that links the file-format with the corresponding filter is the PreferredFilter property. LibreOffice will invoke the "Publisher Document" to convert the document if the typedetection identifies it as "draw_Publisher_Document". As to the UIName, it specifies the way the document format will be referenced in the list of file-formats in the file-picker.

Now we finished the crafting of the configuration files. It is time to create a boilerplate C++ code. Our filter not only converts from Microsoft Publisher files, but is also able to determine whether a given document is a file-format it can import. For this purpose, it has to support two services: "com.sun.star.document.ImportFilter" and "com.sun.star.document.ExtendedTypeDetection". If we were implementing an export filter, we would have to support also the service "com.sun.star.document.ExportFilter". Besides the com::sun::star::document::XFilter interface that both are bound to implement ExportFilter service must also implement the com::sun::star::document::XExporter interface and ImportFilter has to implement the com::sun::star::document::XImporter. For initialization, the filter must also implement com::sun::star::lang::XInitialization. And since the filter implements UNO servies, it should also implement the com::sun::star::lang::XServiceInfo interface.

But, let us concentrate on the interfaces that are specific to the import filter. The XFilter interface has two functions, the filter and cancel. In our example we will implement the cancel() as a do-nothing function. As for the filter function, it is the one that will do the actual filtering.

sal_Bool SAL_CALL MSPUBImportFilter::filter(const Sequence<PropertyValue> &aDescriptor) {

First, we will have to get the reference to the InputStream that represents the document we want to import. The aDescriptor is a sequence of pairs consisting of the value name and the actual value. The operator>>= will extract the value from the UNO Any (that can contain values of different types) into a variable of the requested type.

    sal_Int32 nLength = aDescriptor.getLength();
    const PropertyValue *pValue = aDescriptor.getConstArray();
    OUString sURL;
    Reference <XInputStream> xInputStream;
    for (sal_Int32 i = 0; i<nLength; i++)
       if (pValue[i].Name == "InputStream")
           pValue[i].Value >>= xInputStream;

Next we will have to specify the import service that will receive the converted document in the form of SAX messages. The com.sun.star.comp.Draw.XMLOasisImporter service is a service that receives the OpenDocument Graphics XML.

    OUString sXMLImportService ("com.sun.star.comp.Draw.XMLOasisImporter");
    Reference <XDocumentHandler> xInternalHandler(

The XImporter sets up an empty target document for XDocumentHandler to write to.

    Reference <XImporter> xImporter(xInternalHandler, UNO_QUERY_THROW);

At this point, there is enough to plug into a filter that will read the xInputStream and write the resulting XML into the xInternalHandler. On success of the filtering operation, the filter function should return true and false on failure. After the implementation of this filter function, we will have to implement XImporter's setTargetDocument function.

void SAL_CALL MSPUBImportFilter::setTargetDocument(const Reference <XComponent> & xDoc)
    mxDoc = xDoc;

In our case we just keep the Reference to XComponent in a member variable that we used in the previous snippet to set up an empty target that receives our imported document. And that would be all for the integration of an Import filter. For an export filter we would have to implement also the XExporter's setSourceDocument that is basically symmetrical to XImporter's setTargetDocument.

It is good to note that another way of integrating of filters into LibreOffice could be using the com::sun::star::xml::XExportFilter and com::sun::star::xml::XImportFilter interfaces that are grosso-modo equivalent to the described method. The difference is that the FilterService in the configuration xml file will be in this case always com.sun.star.comp.Writer.XmlFilterAdaptor and the actual filter component, as well as the target and source services are specified in the configuration file in the UserData property. But this is just for an anecdote, since the method I described in detail is much more generic.

When we were creating the xml configuration files, we said that the com.sun.star.comp.Draw.MSPUBImportFilter component is able to do also the type-detection. For that purpose, it must support the com::sun::star::document::XExtendedFilterDetection interface, and thus its detect function.This function should return the string corresponding to the type name in the configuration file if it detects the document and an empty string for the cases when it is not able to identify the document.

OUString SAL_CALL MSPUBImportFilter::detect(Sequence <PropertyValue> &Descriptor)
    OUString sTypeName;
    sal_Int32 nLength = Descriptor.getLength();
    sal_Int32 location = nLength;
    const PropertyValue *pValue = Descriptor.getConstArray

    Reference <XInputStream> xInputStream;
    for (sal_Int32 i = 0; i<nLength; ++i)
       if (pValue[i].Name == "TypeName")
       else if (pValue[i].Name == "InputStream")
           pValue[i].Value >>= xInputStream;

As in the filter function we need to extract from the sequence the InputStream that we will examine. There is one difference, we will keep the reference of the TypeName property, so that we can fill it with the name of the type in case we detected it. The detect function should fill the variable sTypeName with the right string in case the detection was successful. And it is in this case that we will specify this information to the Descriptor and return the name of the type.

    if (!sTypeName.isEmpty())
       if (location == Descriptor.getLength())
           Descriptor[location].Name = "TypeName";
       Descriptor[location].Value <<= sTypeName;
    return sTypeName;

It would be not true to say that this is all that is needed to integrate a filter into LibreOffice. There are still some ten to fifty lines of code needed for the implementation of the generic UNO boilerplate, an xml file for the UNO component registration during the build and some makefile changes. Nevertheless, those changes are just trivial and can be done by mimicking existing filters like those in the writerperfect module of the LibreOffice code.

Getting involved

Free software is about people and the LibreOffice projects values highly all contributors, regardless of the size of their contribution. The community is thrilled to welcome anybody that wants to lend hand to make the software better. And why not you? If you think that writing filters for LibreOffice is enough fun for you, there are plenty of dedicated developers ready to help you either on the developer list libreoffice@lists.freedesktop.org or on IRC at #libreoffice-dev channel of the Freenode server. Just drop by and we will help you to write your first filter. We guarantee that you will enjoy and stick with the project.

July 02, 2013

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: Building AbiWord 2.9.0 on Ubuntu 10.04 / 64 bit from Source

Short and sweet information on this can be found from AbiWord wiki. This post just deals with a few commonest errors found in building AbiWord, when it goes wrong.

As we are happily moving towards the release of AbiWord-3.0.0, many developers are joining the effort. With the announcement of Google Summer of Code-2011, many students too are interested in joining the project. This guide targets to help anyone to build AbiWord on Ubuntu 10.04/64 bit. This is still applicable to many other linux distributions too, though it is tested on Ubuntu. Unlike the usual building guides, this one is going to follow the worst-path -- assuming every failed cases, for a complete novice.. :)
So, as mentioned in the AbiWord's wiki page, let's start with installing autoconf.
sudo apt-get install autoconf

pradeeban@pradeeban:~/programs/abiword$ sh autogen.sh
Can't exec "libtoolize": No such file or directory at /usr/bin/autoreconf line 189.
Use of uninitialized value in pattern match (m//) at /usr/bin/autoreconf line 189.

configure.in:130: error: possibly undefined macro: AC_LIBTOOL_WIN32_DLL
      If this token and others are legitimate, please use m4_pattern_allow.
      See the Autoconf documentation.
configure.in:131: error: possibly undefined macro: AC_PROG_LIBTOOL
autoreconf: /usr/bin/autoconf failed with exit status: 1
Running ./configure --enable-maintainer-mode ...
configure: error: cannot find install-sh, install.sh, or shtool in "." "./.." "./../.."
OK. We need libtool installed!

sudo apt-get install libtool


pradeeban@pradeeban:~/programs/abiword$ sh autogen.sh
checking pkg-config is at least version 0.9.0... yes
checking whether gcc understands -Wall... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wextra... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wsign-compare... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wpointer-arith... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wchar-subscripts... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wwrite-strings... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wmissing-noreturn... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wunused... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wpointer-arith... no
checking whether gcc understands -Wshadow... no
checking for libpng... no
checking for libpng14... no
checking for libpng12... no
checking png.h usability... no
checking png.h presence... no
checking for png.h... no
configure: error: `png.h' not found, install libpng or specify CPPFLAGS to include custom locations

As we can see, we will be installing each of the dependencies one by one, if we follow the same steps like this.
But we actually need not to!
pradeeban@pradeeban:~/programs/abiword$ sudo apt-get build-dep abiword
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree      
Reading state information... Done
Note, selecting libwpd8-dev instead of libwpd-dev
Note, selecting libxslt1-dev instead of libxslt-dev
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  build-essential cdbs cvs debhelper diffstat dpkg-dev fakeroot fdupes g++ g++-4.4 gettext html2text intltool intltool-debian libaiksaurus-1.2-0c2a
  libaiksaurus-1.2-data libaiksaurus-1.2-dev libaiksaurusgtk-1.2-0c2a libaiksaurusgtk-1.2-dev libasio-dev libatk1.0-dev libboost-date-time-dev
  libboost-date-time1.40-dev libboost-date-time1.40.0 libboost-dev libboost-regex-dev libboost-regex1.40-dev libboost-regex1.40.0 libboost-serialization1.40-dev
  libboost-serialization1.40.0 libboost1.40-dev libbz2-dev libcairo2-dev libdbus-1-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libdirectfb-dev libdirectfb-extra libenchant-dev
  libexpat1-dev libfontconfig1-dev libfreetype6-dev libfribidi-dev libgconf2-dev libgcrypt11-dev libgdome2-0 libgdome2-cpp-smart-dev libgdome2-cpp-smart0c2a
  libgdome2-dev libglade2-dev libglib2.0-dev libgnutls-dev libgoffice-0.8-8 libgoffice-0.8-8-common libgoffice-0.8-dev libgpg-error-dev libgsf-1-dev libgtk2.0-dev
  libgtkmathview-dev libgtkmathview0c2a libgucharmap2-dev libice-dev libicu-dev libidl-dev libidn11-dev libjpeg62-dev liblink-grammar4 liblink-grammar4-dev
  libloudmouth1-dev libmail-sendmail-perl libncurses5-dev liborbit2-dev libots-dev libots0 libpango1.0-dev libpixman-1-dev libpng12-dev libpopt-dev libpsiconv-dev
  libpsiconv6 libpthread-stubs0 libpthread-stubs0-dev libreadline-dev libreadline6-dev librsvg2-dev libsm-dev libsoup2.4-dev libssl-dev libstdc++6-4.4-dev
  libsys-hostname-long-perl libsysfs-dev libt1-dev libt1-doc libtasn1-3-dev libwmf-dev libwpd-stream8c2a libwpd8-dev libwpg-dev libwps-dev libwv-1.2-3 libwv-dev
  libx11-dev libxau-dev libxaw7-dev libxcb-render-util0-dev libxcb-render0-dev libxcb1-dev libxcomposite-dev libxcursor-dev libxdamage-dev libxdmcp-dev libxext-dev
  libxfixes-dev libxft-dev libxi-dev libxinerama-dev libxml2-dev libxmu-dev libxmu-headers libxpm-dev libxrandr-dev libxrender-dev libxslt1-dev libxt-dev
  link-grammar-dictionaries-en orbit2 po-debconf quilt x11proto-composite-dev x11proto-core-dev x11proto-damage-dev x11proto-fixes-dev x11proto-input-dev
  x11proto-kb-dev x11proto-randr-dev x11proto-render-dev x11proto-xext-dev x11proto-xinerama-dev xtrans-dev xz-utils zlib1g-dev
0 upgraded, 140 newly installed, 0 to remove and 3 not upgraded.
Need to get 60.4MB of archives.
After this operation, 269MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? Y
Now again,
pradeeban@pradeeban:~/programs/abiword$ sh autogen.sh
checking for libpng... yes
checking for PNG... yes
checking jpeglib.h usability... yes
checking jpeglib.h presence... yes
checking for jpeglib.h... yes
checking for jpeg_read_header in -ljpeg... yes
checking zlib.h usability... yes
checking zlib.h presence... yes
checking for zlib.h... yes
checking for DEPS... yes
checking for GTK214... yes
checking for GSFGI... yes
checking for PLUGIN... yes
checking for OPENDOCUMENT... configure: error: Package requirements ( libgsf-1 >= 1.12 redland >= 1.0.10 rasqal >= 0.9.17 ) were not met:

No package 'redland' found
No package 'rasqal' found

Consider adjusting the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable if you
installed software in a non-standard prefix.

Alternatively, you may set the environment variables OPENDOCUMENT_CFLAGS
and OPENDOCUMENT_LIBS to avoid the need to call pkg-config.
See the pkg-config man page for more details.

Let's fix the redland RDF dependency issue by installing it.
pradeeban@pradeeban:~$ sudo apt-get install librdf0-dev

again, pradeeban@pradeeban:~/programs/abiword$ sh autogen.sh Now it builds fine!
config.status: creating plugins/ots/xp/Makefile
config.status: creating config.h
config.status: config.h is unchanged
config.status: executing depfiles commands
config.status: executing libtool commands

  host                  x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu
  dynamic binary        yes
  static binary         no
  platform              unix (embedded: no)
  toolkit               gtk
  debug                 no

Optional features:
  menubutton            no
  printing              yes
  spell checking        yes
  status bar            yes
  emacs keybinding      yes
  vi keybinding         yes
  clipart               no
  templates             no

Optional dependencies:
  gtk2 > 2.14           yes
  gnome-vfs             no
  gio            yes
  gsf-gio               yes
  goffice               yes

Builtin plugins        
Plugins                 opendocument

Now type `make' to compile.

pradeeban@pradeeban:~/programs/abiword$ make
"make" goes fine too.
Let's "make install" now!
pradeeban@pradeeban:~/programs/abiword$ make install
test -z "/usr/local/share/abiword-2.9/ui" || /bin/mkdir -p "/usr/local/share/abiword-2.9/ui"
/bin/mkdir: cannot create directory `/usr/local/share/abiword-2.9': Permission denied
make[6]: *** [install-uiDATA] Error 1
make[6]: Leaving directory `/home/pradeeban/programs/abiword/src/af/xap/gtk'
make[5]: *** [install-am] Error 2
make[5]: Leaving directory `/home/pradeeban/programs/abiword/src/af/xap/gtk'
make[4]: *** [install-recursive] Error 1
make[4]: Leaving directory `/home/pradeeban/programs/abiword/src/af/xap/gtk'
make[3]: *** [install-recursive] Error 1
make[3]: Leaving directory `/home/pradeeban/programs/abiword/src/af/xap'
make[2]: *** [install-recursive] Error 1
make[2]: Leaving directory `/home/pradeeban/programs/abiword/src/af'
make[1]: *** [install-recursive] Error 1
make[1]: Leaving directory `/home/pradeeban/programs/abiword/src'
make: *** [install-recursive] Error 1

If this permission issue arises, pls change the write permission of usr/local/share, usr/local/bin, usr/local/include, and usr/include/lib. That will make abiword-2.9 ending up in the above directories respectively.
pradeeban@pradeeban:~/programs/abiword$ make install
Now it goes fine indeed!

Now let's just run AbiWord from terminal and see whether it runs!
pradeeban@pradeeban:~$ abiword 
abiword: error while loading shared libraries: libabiword-2.9.so: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

Typical linking issue.
pradeeban@pradeeban:~$cd /lib
pradeeban@pradeeban:/lib$sudo ln -s /usr/local/lib/libabiword-2.9.so

Now again,
pradeeban@pradeeban:~$ abiword

YAYYY! AbiWord-2.9.0 is running!!!

you also can debug AbiWord using gdb.
pradeeban@pradeeban:~$ gdb abiword

However, my apologies for posting this lengthy post for a simple task. Just followed the worst case to cover all the student queries regarding building AbiWord-2.9.0 from trunk using Linux on terminal.

Hubert Figuiere: Exempi 2.2.1


Just a quick note to announce that I released Exempi 2.2.1. It was long overdue. It is mostly a couple of bugfixes.

Note: so that there is no misunderstanding, since people see this on Planet Mozilla, this is not a Mozilla project. But it is completely Free Software.

Here is the short Changelog

Next release will be 2.3.0 and will integrate the latest Adobe SDK used in the Creative Cloud.

Hubert Figuiere: Your next mobile app should be web based


There is no question about that.

I just switched from an Android phablet made by Samsung, device I came to hate for many reasons, to a Firefox OS Geeksphone Keon. That was my second Android phone, I switched because I got it for free[1], needed a carrier that worked better than the failure that is WIND Mobile on which I was using my Nexus One[2] and said Nexus One was just abandoned in OS upgrade by HTC AND Google after 22 month. I have to admit I missed the Nexus One, still, as Samsung didn't make Android better, quite the opposite.

Back to the point. I got that Geeksphone Keon, provided by my employer: Mozilla.

This is not a review of the phone, BTW, and all of this also applies to the just released Firefox OS phone in Spain.

On my Android phablet[3] I used 4 applications: the web browser, a twitter client (not Twitter's own though), Instagram and Foursquare.

On my Firefox OS phone, I had to scrap the last two. Why? Because despite requiring an internet connection and having some sort of web interface, their are unusable on the web.

Web browser

On Android I used Firefox for Android as my web browser. It is currently the best solution for web browsing is designed to protect your privacy and to run on more devices than Google's own Chrome. Call me biased if you want but truth is I have been using Firefox on the desktop too.

Firefox OS web browser is basically the same thing.


Twitter is a bit hurtfull. It is designed from the ground up to be used as a web application. Twitter has a mobile version that is meant to work well on small screen. They even have a packaged version for the Firefox OS Marketplace. Where it hurts is that Twitter web UI remains awful, either deliberately (given that the iOS client is awfull too) or because we got spoiled by third-party clients. On Android I was using Twicca (no source code) or Twidere (broke a bit at one point), but it should be noted that Twitter gave the finger to third parties when they added restriction on the development of client ; as well as bickering with Instagram to not show their content inline.

They get almost full marks for being a web app and treating it as first class.


On the desktop, if you go to Foursquare you get a decent web application, albeit you can do the major feature that Foursquare calls for: check-in.

On mobile, if I visit the website on Firefox for Android I get prompted to download an app.

On Firefox OS it is worse. Looks like their detection fail and they offer the desktop website that is mostly unusable on such a small screen. I filed bug 878132 for our tech evangelism to eventually have a look at.

Seems like they didn't go all the way to make it relevant on mobile web. Sadly. What was an experiment I started by the end of last year when I signed up for the service stopped here right at Firefox OS. It seems that I don't need it. They lost a user.


This one is the worst of the worst. First and foremost their web interface for desktop is very limited. Secondly, it doesn't scale at all on mobile - some content scale better than other. Third, they bickered with Twitter so that their content is not viewable inline.

Why does that last one matter? Try viewing the instagram content in the Twitter mobile web client.

I give a F as a mark.


Simply make your mobile app web based. It will run on iOS, Android, Firefox OS, Blackberry, etc. and people will be able to follow when they change phone and you won't need to spend a lot of resources for each platforms.

Also if you really want to have a packaged app, remember there are technologies like PhoneGap whose purpose is exactly that.


[1] minus the money I had to spend for unlocking it, thanks to consumer protections that don't exist in Canada

[2] first and foremost I didn't have service at the office downtown. second I was in the process of moving to Montréal where they don't have service anyway

[3] in case you didn't realize I call it phablet because it is a small tablet that one can use as a phone. Too big for your pocket, too small to be a good tablet, the worst of both worlds. It would never have been my choice ; but one doesn't simply look into the gifted horse's mouth.

June 21, 2013

Fridrich Strba: LibreOffice import filter for legacy Mac file-formats - smile and say "mwaw"!


Attentive reader of this blog remembers that, besides improvements in the most frequently used file-formats, each major release of LibreOffice adds to the list of document file-formats that are freed from the dungeon of vendor lock. In a collaboration with re-lab's Valek Filippov and (then GSoC student and now Lanedo's LibreOffice developer) Eilidh McAdam, LibreOffice 3.5 brought the possibility to open and see the most commonly used Visio files to the FLOSS world. LibreOffice 3.6 was able to claim the most comprehensive coverage of CorelDraw file-format with the ability to open even the oldest CorelDraw 1 and 2 files that modern versions of CorelDraw are not able to open any more.

The latest major release of LibreOffice was also full of goodies. First, the fruitful collaboration of re-lab's Valek Filippov with (then GSoC student and now amazon.com employee) Brennan T. Vincent produced the first ever possibility of reading Microsoft Publisher files in the FLOSS world. Second, with the advent of Microsoft Office 2013 and change in the Visio 2013 file-format, LibreOffice extended the coverage of Visio file-format to all files any version of Visio ever produced.

LibreOffice 4.1 release is approaching quickly. And that is an excellent news for bad teenage poetry and other literary production from the late 80s and early 90s. With the up-coming new release, LibreOffice extends support for a host of pre-OSX MAC text formats. This is a result of a continuous effort to open as many legacy file-formats as possible to our users, and help them to settle for ODF.

This particular improvement was possible thank to the integration of libmwaw written by Laurent Alonso, LibreOffice contributor and already co-maintainer of libwps and of the Microsoft Works import filter inside LibreOffice. The horsepower doing the conversions, libmwaw is one of the libraries from the libwpd family. In the same way as libwps, libmwaw reuses libwpd's interfaces and the ODF generator classes in libodfgen in order to convert its callbacks into an xml stream in flat ODF file-format. The import filter lives in the module writerperfect.

The supported file-format include Microsoft Word for Mac from versions 1 to 5.1, Mac versions of Microsoft Works, different versions of ClarisWorks and AppleWorks, to name but a few. The list of supported file-format and of imported features is increasing literally every day. This promises further good news with every minor release of LibreOffice 4.1. More teenage poetry and bad litterature will be freed from the pit of discontinued software products.

After having found a way to get screenshots of some sample documents in their respective generating application, we are able to satisfy those readers that are hungry for pictures. First is a sample document in Mac Word 5.1 (1992) file-format opened in the originating application and in the up-coming LibreOffice 4.1:


Following is a simple document with picture produced by Write Now 4.1 from about 1993. It demonstrates the reason why LibreOffice is frequently called the "Swiss Army knife" of file-formats:


Following is an example of conversion of a document in MacWrite Pro 1.5 file-format from 1994:


And, last but not least is an example of conversion of a wordprocessing documents in AppleWorks 6.0 from the late 90s. The software was discontinued by Apple with the end-of-life of their PowerPC series. But LibreOffice can resurrect your documents:


Pretty exciting news! But the most exciting thing is that you can be part of this adventure. Join the fun by submitting bugs or by fixing your personal itches. So, if you want to help, patches can be sent to libreoffice-dev mailing list. And, do not forget to find a way to join the #libreoffice-dev channel at irc.freenode.net in order to meet other developers. We can promise you that you will have a lot of fun in the LibreOffice community.

June 12, 2013

Hubert Figuiere: C++ 11 in your project


C++ 11 is now available in both gcc and clang. That mean it is really available where it matters.

Using C++ 11 in your project (with autoconf).

First if you use autoconf, you have to detect it. The autoconf archive has a macro. Download the .m4 definition and put it in your m4 directory in your project.

In the configure.ac, add the following line:


Make sure it appears after


This is will make configure detect C++11 support, without GNU extension (I tend to avoid these in general) and fail if it doesn't exist. If you prefer to make it optional, read the above documentation that has more details.

The interesting features

I'm interested in several features from C++11.

  1. auto to automatically deduct the type where it can. Ever gotten annoyed by the long type name for iterators of containers? Just use auto instead.
  2. Lambda: now you can write lambda functions like in Python or JavaScript. This is overly convenient when you iterate over containers or use std::for_each().
  3. The smart pointers: I was using the one from Boost, then the one from std::tr1::. Just replace with std::
  4. std::bind and std::function to replace Boost own versions.

There are more, I'll talk about it when I get to look at them.

May 28, 2013

Fridrich Strba: LibreOffice Google Summer of Code 2013 - selected projects


There is now again the period of the year when the results of Google Summer of Code selection are public. As for LibreOffice project, we have got 13 slots this year. We love you, Google! We really do!

Nonetheless, we had much more good applications then the slots and we had to do hard choices based on a variety of parameters. And the final line-up that came out is:

Project Student
Adding alterating row coloring to database ranges and supporting new structured reference syntax she91
Code completion in the Basic IDE stalker08
Extend support for Document Management Systems Cuong Cao Ngo
Implement Firebird SQL connector for LibreOfficeBase Andrzej Hunt
Implementing an about:config functionality Efe Gürkan YALAMAN
Implementing Proper Table Styles in Writer Ivan Nicolae-Alexandru
Impress Remote Control for iOS LIU Siqi
Improve toolbars in LibreOffice Prashant Pandey
Improved Android / Impress Remote Control Artur Dryomov
Slide Layout Extendibility Vishv Brahmbhatt
Use Widget Layout for the Start Center Krisztian Pinter
VLC integration into LibreOffice Minh Ngo
Writer: Border around characters Zolnai Tamás

Congratulations to the selected students. We expect you to be bonding hard during the community bonding period that just started. Your presence on IRC and even start of the hacking is required now!

For the students that unfortunately could not be selected, do not be discouraged. Your Easy Hack patches made a real difference, sorry it did not work out this time. The LibreOffice community is always welcoming and you can learn a lot just by staying around and working at your pace on your chosen Easy Hack.

April 03, 2013

Hubert Figuiere: Mozilla is 15


Mozilla is 15 and that's 15 years of fighting for the open web. I remember the source code release, I built it on in Pentium 166 with 64MB of RAM - a Debian box. I maybe less RAM than that, I forgot. It was huge.

Since, the web has gone forward big times, and Firefox helped users to take back the web by bringing down the IE supremacy and focusing on a standardized web technology.

I have great hopes for the future of the free web.

March 20, 2013

Hubert Figuiere: The importance of RSS and friends


Google did shutdown Reader, their feed aggregator. Speculation is that it is to promote the use of the proprietary publishing silo that is Google+, and I'm not saying as a Google+ grudge I might hold, I actually believe it might be one of the considerations.

Imagine a second if all the content was pushed exclusively to a popular silo like Twitter, Facebook and Google+: it would be confined to these environments and people wouldn't be able to aggregate elsewhere. Now what if one of these hugely popular silos disappeared. It has happened, it can happen again, I have numerous examples. And I am still look for the Google+ or Facebook feeds, while it is clear that Twitter already removed them.

With RSS[1] all we need is a different aggregator to pull the feed. It would still work. And that's what happening with Google Reader user base: they are moving to other platforms that offer the same feature, either web based, or using desktop software.

Let's have this a learning step and continue to focusing on open standards for publishing. Let's continue to provide feeds. Let's continue to request feeds. And more importantly, us software hackers, let's continue to provide awesome libre software to do the job and on which we can reliably build upon.


[1] this include ATOM and other variation of feed publishing based on open standards

January 02, 2013

Hubert Figuiere: Happy MMXIII


It is the new year. We have a tendency to put artificial starting points in time to want to (start to) do things, something like the "new year resolutions". I don't really abide to that because I believe you should do things when you want to, have to or can. You don't need a January 1st or some sort. This year it happens that the new year almost coincide with my timeline. Two weeks into the new house in Montréal, this mean that for once I can use that as the starting point ; or not.


Happy new year, and remember, be excellent to each other !

December 07, 2012

Fridrich Strba: LibreOffice Visio Import Filter: 20 years of drawings opened in your favourite office suite

It is true that the support of the most used Microsoft Visio file formats in LibreOffice will celebrate 1 year next February. And I will gladly have a birthday talk with any of you who will be freezing in Brussels during the next FOSDEM 2013. Nonetheless, even though libvisio was in development for several months already, the Visio story was far from finished when we released that day. As I already mentioned in another blogpost concerning reverse-engineering of file formats, assessment of a conversion quality in this kind of cases is illusory before real users get to stress-test it with real-life documents.
Since the first release of our filter in LibreOffice 3.5.0, we were improving it thanks to bug reports from our users. It is a big thank you that I would like to say to all those that took the bother to submit reports in our bugzilla. Without you, guys, this filter would be only a moot exercise.
But wait... Do I write this blog now only to thank the people who contributed to the current quality of the filter? Yes to a big extent! Nevertheless, I know that the distinguished readers of this blog would like to have some news. And, yes, we have some news.
The libvisio library underwent heavy re-factoring as we started to understand more and more details about the underlying file-format.
  1. A particular bug report about files imported as empty pages provided us with a document structure that we did never see before. This resulted in a more generic parser and unification on the way we parse master shapes and visible pages.
  2. This re-factoring in its turn allowed us to extend our file-format coverage to all earlier binary Visio file-format versions. We now support all binary Visio documents starting from Visio 1 (released in 1992).
  3. Extending the support to earlier file-format versions allowed us to better understand the development of the file-format, to find more information that we did not parse before, and improve the conversion quality for other binary versions too.
  4. Another re-factoring came with our work to support the XML-based Visio file-formats, namely the "XML Drawing" also known as *.vdx; and the Microsoft Visio 2013 new file-format, known as *.vsdx.
So the news is that LibreOffice 4.0.0 will be able to open ALL Visio files starting from Visio 1 (release in 1992) until Microsoft Visio 2013 (released just some weeks ago).
And since the readers of this blog are more interested in pictures than in pointless words, here come some candies for your eyes:
File opened in Visio 1.0 The same file opened in LibreOffice 4.0.0 beta1
File in Visio 1.0 File in LibreOffice 4.0.0 beta1

VSDX File opened in Microsoft Visio 2013 The same file opened in LibreOffice 4.0.0 beta1
VSDX File in Microsoft Visio 2013 File in LibreOffice 4.0.0 beta1
So, download the LibreOffice 4.0.0 beta1 and help us testing the new big release. We are interested in bug reports that help us to improve our quality. And for those that would love to support us with donations, just click here:
Donate for LibreOffice

November 26, 2012

Fridrich Strba: LibreOffice CorelDraw import filter: improvements by user input


It has been a long time without communicating with the distinguished readership of my blog. There was a hard decision to be made between producing code and producing literature. The code won until now. But now I have found a time to lift my head up from the coding, so the literature is back.

Many of you might be wondering what happened since my post about the text support in CorelDraw files from last June. Things are going pretty well. Since the CorelDraw import filter was released with LibreOffice 3.6, the users started to use the feature and report bugs. We were working on fixing them and improving the libcdr's quality.

Quick overview of reverse-engineering process

From my discussions with our users and developers on-line and during some of the conferences that I attended, I realize that there is a slight misunderstanding in the large public about how the reverse-engineering works. So, here are some thoughts that may help understand it a bit more:

At the beginning of the process, there is a file-format. We don't know anything about its internal structure. There is no documentation whatsoever about it. One tries to generate a file in this file-format and examine it in hexadecimal viewer. Next, one tries to operate some little change in the document and examine what changed in the file itself. Eventually after many iterations, one might find regularities and some structure that helps to divide the file into several sections or blocks of more manageable size. It is essential in this phase that one can encode this information into some kind of introspection tool, since a plain hexadecimal viewer is not a very productive tool in the long run. We use for introspection of documents Valek Filippov's oletoy, a python tool that stores our knowledge about the structure of different file-formats.

Once there is enough information about how to parse the document structure, the next target becomes to get some visible results. In order to save time and get visible results in a short time, all libraries such as libcdr or libvisio, use the libwpg's interface. Reusing this interface means a considerable saving of time, since there are already working generators of ODG and SVG from the callbacks of this interface. Having visible results soon in the development/reverse-engineering cycle also allows visually asses the import results and correct them if necessary. Eventually, one can realize the absence of necessary information and try to go back to reverse-engineering to find it.

Users' feedback is essential

The support of reverse-engineered file-formats is a constant work-in-progress. A subtle dance between implementation and information digging. In this process, the user feedback is an essential element. The theories about the meaning of some information inside file hold only until a file comes to falsify them. Even a complex file generated by a developer is easily beaten by real life documents. And each file that shows a "weird" bug is advancing the understanding of the file-format. Let us look at this example:

After the release of LibreOffice 3.6.1, we got a not so good assessment of the quality of the CorelDraw import filter in the heise.de' c't review. Those of you that understand German can delight in the nuanced evaluation:

Ein neuer Import-Filter in Draw öffnet jetzt auch CorelDraw-Dateien, was uns im Test allerdings nur mit sehr einfachen Zeichnungen fehlerfrei gelang. In dieser Form ist er schlicht unbrauchbar.

Which can be mildly translated into English (given the understatements so common in en-GB):

A new import filter in Draw opens now also CorelDraw files, which we managed to do without errors only with very simple drawings. In this form, it is rather unusable.

Since we are really concerned about the quality of our software, we are thankful for any bug report whether it is brought to us in a friendly or other manner. This specific bug report helped us to understand how are stored in newer CorelDraw files chains of matrix transforms. And since a picture speaks louder then thousand words, compare the document c't was refering to opened in LibreOffice 3.6.2 and then in LibreOffice 3.6.3, after we fixed the position bits.

File opened in Libreoffice 3.6.2 The same file opened in LibreOffice 3.6.3
File in LibreOffice 3.6.2 File in LibreOffice 3.6.2

So feel encouraged to submit bugs against the CorelDraw import filter, or — even better — send us patches for your favorite itch.

September 26, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: Bad security


Broken Lock
Broken Lock by lyudagreen, on Flickr

A big North American online travel booking system still store passwords in plain text. Worse: they claim they take your security seriously. Here is the excerpt of the confirmation email you get when you register:

PASSWORD:  We're serious about security. Since your
password is confidential, we won't repeat it here. However, if you ever
forget your password, you can always request a reminder

Yes, the email has been capitalized.

The other day I wanted to book some airline tickets, so I returned to the website. I had forgotten the password. No biggie, I follow the "lost password procedure" and chose the "email" instead of the still idiotic "security question".

Guess what? I didn't get a link to reset my password, or a temporary password. No. I got my password sent in plain text. Worse. It was in UPPERCASE and the passwords are case insensitive in the system. Wow. Just wow.

PS: this is not the corporate travel booking system we use at Mozilla.

August 30, 2012

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: Moments with Twitter..

I was recently playing with a few tools, that let you have a look into your past tweets. All My Tweets is an interesting service, that lets you view all your tweets in a simple page, from the beginning. Interestingly, another service, named Twitario gives a view of all your tweets, as a diary. Though Twitario provides a nice interface to find the tweets easily, based on the calendar, it doesn't support Unicode characters, which is surely a minus for those who tweet in Unicode languages. "All My Tweets" include the link to the original tweet itself, where Twitario provides the option to delete the tweets. Having analyzed these tools, I should mention that these tweets were really useful, and brought a few interesting memories back.

Now time to look into the trail of my tweets. Here are some of my tweets, since the 26th of March, 2009.

is finishing the documentation. Mar 26, 2009
It is notable that my first tweet is on documentation. It was probably on the documentation on the project done during the internship. I have always been a supporter of good documentation - It helps the blood flow of open source.

Abiword Cross-compiling using wine successful on Ubuntu. Apr 16, 2009
At that time, uwog was still completing the MSVC build for AbiWord. I found Cross-building useful, since it was complete and gave me a usable AbiWord build for Windows, with no issues. This was indeed a remarkable point, which gave me further confidence to work on AbiWord Windows API, using Ubuntu as my platform.

Summer Love with Abiword... Apr 20, 2009
This was a happy announcement of me getting into the Google Summer of Code 2009. This was my first Google Summer of Code, and I was pretty much excited. AbiWord community was super-friendly, and I am proud to be a member, since then.

with Anjuta.. an IDE similar to Visual Studio... for Linux. May 08, 2009
Anjuta DevStudio is a Gnome Integrated Development Environment. I have mostly used Anjuta as a syntax highlighter for my C/C++ projects including AbiWord development. For compiling and building of AbiWord, I just use make directly.

needs a mute option and filtering for facebook messages. Any suggestions... Jun 01, 2009  
At that time, there was no way to opt-out from the Facebook notifications from the photos that we commented, or to remove ourselves from the facebook threads. I was annoyed, when someone sends group messages directly to inbox. It is great to see that these options are now available for facebook. Now we can remove ourselves from the messages. However, filtering is still not possible. Neither muting (receiving the messages, but not getting the notification of that red one for the new message, for the uninteresting thread).

#AbiWord Turns 11! Happy Birthday to dear Abiword! Happy Birthday to you... Jul 16, 2009
That was remarkable to mark the 11th year of AbiWord, since it started as an open source project in the year 1998.

My computer never complained abt me repeating the same build million times, and I've never complained abt its time delays. We <3 each other. Aug 17, 2009  
Some romance with my computer.. ;)

10 reasons to avoid talking on the phone http://theoatmeal.com/comics/phone from @oatmeal Feb 23, 2010  
Oatmeal never fails to amuse me. Many of its posts deserve a tweet.

my #javascript has gone wild and bigggggg and GO #bananascript GOO.. http://www.bananascript.com/ Compress it.. :) #fb Mar 03, 2010  
Bananascript is a nice online tool to compress javascript files.

A periodic table of visualization methods http://www.visual-literacy.org/periodic_table/periodic_table.html Apr 04, 2010  
Each of these visualization methods deserves a blog post on its own. Visual-Literacy.org provides interesting learning resources, such as an introduction to argumentum. I have also enrolled to their online courses, full of study materials.

I should create some of my own thought experiments as well.. :D http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/thought-experiment/ Jun 06, 2010  
Thought experiments are fun, and it enhances your ability to think, weird. ;) Follow the above link to realize that. Again, each of these thought experiments deserves a post on its own.

GSoC welcome package once more. Special thanks and love OGSA-DAI, OMII-UK and Google. Reminds me the lovable days of GSoC2009 - Abiword too. Jun 19, 2010  
A blog post that happily announces my second welcome package from Google. Yes, this was for my Google Summer of Code with OMII-UK.

Also make sure to read Moments with Twitter - II, the successor of this post.

August 17, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: Personal computing pioneers - part 2


In my previous post ''What happened to all the pioneers in personal computing?'' I forgot a few notable companies.

As I was writing this second, post, Ars Technica published From Altair to iPad: 35 years of personal computer market share where they relate the 35 years from the Altair to the move to the iPad as a personal computing device.

August 06, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: What happened to all the pioneers in personal computing?


The Commodore 64 is 30. The TRS-80 is 35. But what happened to all the pioneers of the Personal Computing era?

So what is left from the pioneers?

Am I missing anything?

Update: part deux

July 23, 2012

Ben Martin: RDF: Abiword and Calligra

Over the last few years I've been fortunate enough to hack on Calligra and Abiword, adding support for the RDF/XML that can be stored as part of an ODF document. Both suites can also interact with each other, allowing RDF to move over the clipboard along with the text content.

There are some things abiword can do with RDF that Calligra currently can't. These include highlighting the parts of the document that have RDF associated and initial support for capturing relations between things in RDF. Such relationships from RDF can give back to the user right off the bat. For example they can be useful for navigating the document by semantics, moving from a child to their parent, or the cat to it's owner. RDF also opens up document computing to other possibilities like navigating by time rather than by the linear sequence of pages.

I am currently looking to do some more development around ODF. It would be wonderful to do some more indepth hacking on either project as they both have a very nice, welcoming, open source team behind them. If anybody knows of some sponsored hacking floating around for these tools, please get in touch :)

I recently committed a small change to Calligra to move back to using intrusive reference counting for some non graphical RDF objects. While Calligra can use marble to allow editing locations from RDF, I used marble at a level in the calligra stack that isn't optimal, so have to shift that to a plugin to allow it to be easily accessible to distribution builds.

July 16, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: Accessible Mac Firefox (Aurora) 16


Firefox 16 uplift to Aurora is today. This version will have Accessibility enabled on Mac, finally, but you must either force enable or use VoiceOver. It should work for basic tasks, albeit there is some serious performance problems with VoiceOver I'm investigating.

Also, coming soon for Firefox 17: handling properly image maps.

July 02, 2012

Fridrich Strba: Susan's Book on Intellectual Property and Access to Education


I am happy to announce the upcoming book of my dear wife. A must read for all interested in intellectual property, in access to copyrighted materials and in development issues.

This book originates from a PhD thesis defended at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. It has been awarded "summa cum laude" mention.

Check, please, with your libraries whether they know about the book and advise them strongly to purchase it for the biggest good of the humanity :)

July 01, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: YouTube HTML5 error message decoding


One thing puzzling with YouTube HTML5 support is the message "this video is currently unavailable" which could mean a lot of things. The actual translation is "we need to show you ads and you need Flash for that".

If should be noted that there is no problem on mobile platform, Android or iOS, the video is shown.

June 21, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: Android phone camera failure


I don't know if you noticed, but when you connect a Nexus One or a Samsung phone (Gingerbread or ICS, tested with a SGS 2 or Galaxy Note) to your Mac, the phone isn't recognized as a camera.

There is a difference between the Nexus One (stuck to Gingerbread) and the Samsung. The Nexus is USB Mass Storage (ie the phone is seen as a USB disk) while the Samsung is MTP (a variant of PTP, the USB standard for still image cameras). But in both case, the MacOS digital camera support (Image Capture, iPhoto or Aperture) recognize it but do not show anything. Adobe Lightroom is in the same boat (I'm not sure if it uses the OS capability or reimplemented it). This is because Android butcher the implementation of the Design rules for Camera Filesystem. See Android bug 2960 where you'll notice that it was largely ignored by Google despite even having a patch.

For the Nexus One this does not prevent from manually copying the images. But Samsung.... one would think they would have fixed that, but obviously they didn't. To make things worse, Samsung doesn't use Mass Storage but MTP, which mean that there is no way to just copy files from the camera[1]. That last bit is utter fail.

Update (June 21st): from the comment, apparently I can set the Galaxy Note to be as USB Mass Storage. It is complicated, needs to be done manually, require disabling USB Debugging (it will do it for you, but not reenable it), etc. In short they turned something relatively simple to something overly complex and unfriendly. Worse, it is so many to reach the dialog where like on the Nexus One, you can tap to enable Mass Storage. The positive side is that you can't enable Mass Storage without unlocking the phone, which is a security feature.


[1] unless maybe you install some tool, but anything runs better without Samsung software

Hubert Figuiere: Firefox Mac accessibility update


Some update about Firefox accessibility on Mac:

Using about:config: accessibility.force_disable. This option has 3 values:

This also works on Windows (the value -1 is unused) and soon on Linux with atk (I have to finish it)

I hope to get more rolling before we uplift Aurora 16.

June 14, 2012

Tomas Frydrych: Guacamayo feature on LWN


Pleasantly surpised we made it into the great LWN :-)

June 12, 2012

Fridrich Strba: LibreOffice CorelDraw Import filter - text support hatches out


Uff, it is done!!!

We started to work on the text support inside libcdr already before the Libre Graphics Meeting in Vienna. We worked hard during the talks and the long evenings after having eaten some portions of Wienerschnitzl.

Now we are proud to announce that we managed to release yesterday libcdr-0.0.8 with "basic initial primitive [u]ncomplete" (further BIPU) text support. At the moment, we are supporting only a couple of parameters as a font face and font size and we are able to detect the encoding and produce a corresponding utf-8 string. Far from being perfect, it is nonetheless a milestone, because in the FOSS world, there was no support for CorelDraw text before.

We know that you prefer to look at nice pictures instead of reading bad text. So, this gives your heart's desires.

A simple document with text in CorelDraw 7:

fancytext_cdr7.cdr in CorelDraw 7

The same document opened in a build of LibreOffice from yesterday:

fancytext_cdr7.cdr in CorelDraw 7

At the moment, libcdr is able to convert text in CorelDraw documents from versions 7 to 16. Nonetheless, we know already roughly how to read it in files of lower versions and we will add the support for next release. In the same way, we will extend our support of other text properties, like font colour, transparency, effects, paragraph alignments, character positions, etc.

How can I test it? All this goodness will be part of LibreOffice 3.6.0 release. You will be able to test the text support in the 3.6.0 beta2 pre-release. For the brave, any of the daily builds that are built from a code checkout after June 11th also include libcdr-0.0.8 and thus the text support in CorelDraw files.

As usual, this is a free and open source software project and, as such, it delights in developers that want to help. So, if you feel the itch, patches can be sent to libreoffice-dev mailing list. And, do not forget to find a way to join the #libreoffice-dev channel at irc.freenode.net in order to meet other developers. We can promis you that you will feel at home in the LibreOffice community.

June 06, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: Deleted my LinkedIn account


Yep, I deleted my LinkedIn account. Despite the fact that I got no value from it, the leak of 6.5M unsalted password hashes was just the icing on the cake. For so long they had a deficient SSL support, they ask to decrypt a captcha to login and lot of other stupidities. And their mobile app steal or leak personal info like your iPhone calendar.

I should have done that a long time ago. When they asked a reason I typed in "too dumb with security"

You know where you can find me.

Fridrich Strba: LibreOffice MS Publisher Import filter - young but strong baby


As Sophie Gauthier announced in the language of Voltaire, LibreOffice was branched for the beta phase in view of the 3.6 release. This is a major step in order to bring the features we were working on during the last half a year to the end users. But, it is also oportunity to bring to the main codebase all the nifty nice features that were developed in feature branches and targeted for the next big release, presumably the 3.7.

It is this way that the first version of our new Microsoft Publisher import filter landed to the master. This filter is developed by Brennan Vincent from the University of Arizona in the frame of the Google Summer of Code. Although being a work in progress and supporting for the while only the Publisher 2003 file-format, the progress is spectacular. Brennan has been busy like a bee even long before the start of the program. After only two weeks from the official kick-off, we have a first (non-)release, libmspub-0.0.0.

And as the careful readers of this blog already know, an image speaks louder then thousand words, here are the pics:

A random document from the Internet opened in Microsoft Publisher 2003:

Document in Publisher 2003

The same document opened in LibreOffice master build from yesterday:

The same document in LibreOffice Draw

With Valek Filippov, we have a lot of fun mentoring this project. If anybody of the distinguished readership wants to join this effort, the code of libmspub lives in LibreOffice freedesktop.org repository. The patches can be sent to libreoffice-dev mailing list. And, do not forget to find a way to join the #libreoffice-dev channel at irc.freenode.net in order to meet other developers.

You will never regret the decision to get involved in LibreOffice.

June 03, 2012

Marc Maurer: Happy 1st week Amélie!


A very happy first week to my baby daughter Amélie! She was born last Sunday, May 27th, and she and her lovely mother are doing very well. During the day she is total cuteness, rainbows and unicorns, while at night she turns into a hungry monster! A cute monster, but still… :P

Welcome to this world Amélie!

June 01, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: How to take a screenshot on an Android phone


How to take a screenshot on an Android phone, a Google Nexus One in my case. I have to document it, because "home + power" like on an iPhone (or any iOS device) is far too complicated.

Warning: this post contain whole parts of ranting and sarcasm.

  1. Configure your phone to allow USB debugging.
  2. Install the Android SDK
  3. Connect the phone over USB
  4. Start ddms from the Android SDK
  5. Select your phone.

Kaboom. It crashes.

01:42:04 E/ddms: Failed to execute runnable (java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException: -1)
org.eclipse.swt.SWTException: Failed to execute runnable (java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException: -1)
	at org.eclipse.swt.SWT.error(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.SWT.error(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Synchronizer.runAsyncMessages(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Display.runAsyncMessages(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Display.readAndDispatch(Unknown Source)
	at com.android.ddms.UIThread.runUI(UIThread.java:517)
	at com.android.ddms.Main.main(Main.java:116)
Caused by: java.lang.ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException: -1
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.AbstractTableViewer$VirtualManager.resolveElement(AbstractTableViewer.java:100)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.AbstractTableViewer$1.handleEvent(AbstractTableViewer.java:70)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.EventTable.sendEvent(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Widget.sendEvent(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Widget.sendEvent(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Widget.sendEvent(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Table.checkData(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Table.cellDataProc(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Display.cellDataProc(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.internal.gtk.OS._gtk_list_store_append(Native Method)
	at org.eclipse.swt.internal.gtk.OS.gtk_list_store_append(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.Table.setItemCount(Unknown Source)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.TableViewer.doSetItemCount(TableViewer.java:217)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.AbstractTableViewer.internalVirtualRefreshAll(AbstractTableViewer.java:661)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.AbstractTableViewer.internalRefresh(AbstractTableViewer.java:635)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.AbstractTableViewer.internalRefresh(AbstractTableViewer.java:620)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.StructuredViewer$7.run(StructuredViewer.java:1430)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.StructuredViewer.preservingSelection(StructuredViewer.java:1365)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.StructuredViewer.preservingSelection(StructuredViewer.java:1328)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.StructuredViewer.refresh(StructuredViewer.java:1428)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.ColumnViewer.refresh(ColumnViewer.java:537)
	at org.eclipse.jface.viewers.StructuredViewer.refresh(StructuredViewer.java:1387)
	at com.android.ddmuilib.logcat.LogCatPanel$LogCatTableRefresherTask.run(LogCatPanel.java:1000)
	at org.eclipse.swt.widgets.RunnableLock.run(Unknown Source)
	... 5 more

En voila. You still haven't taken a screenshot.

And for the record, I'm aware that Android 4.0 can do it, but Google still hasn't provided an update for the Nexus One (their first flagship device) and is unlikely to do it. That's not really encouraging into buying a newer device.

Update: upgraded to platforn tools version 11 and still the same problem.

May 24, 2012

Tomas Frydrych: Guacamayo


For the last few weeks my spare cycles have been mostly spent on the Guacamayo Project; this is something that myself and Ross have been toying with for a while, and it’s probably time to say a bit about it.

In a gist Guacamayo is a specialised Linux distribution for networked multimedia devices; I say specialised, because the aim is not to produce yet another rehashed desktop distro with a bit of multimedia functionality on the side, but a system built from ground up for a pure multimedia experience.

The clearly defined focus allows us to do one thing in particular: we can ditch the traditional Linux desktop! The Guacamayo aim is to provide an intuitive gateway into a multi media world; the traditional desktop metaphor made up of workspaces, applications, documents and no end of toolbars and menus does nothing but stand in the way. Considering most of us have to put up with that sort of mess during working hours, I think we deserve better when it’s time to chill out. :)

Ditching the traditional Linux desktop has some other inherent benefits; we can forget about legacy technologies, not least the venerable X11 windowing system, and instead choose what makes best sense for creating that sort of user experience we are after.

So what are we doing:

Supported HW? We are not focusing on any HW in particular. Our aim is to create a distro that could be used on a broad variety of suitable HW.  The current development is done using the Zotac zbox (Intel Atom) and the Beagleboard (Arm Cortex A8), and we fully intend to support Raspberry PI (eagerly awaiting HW).

We did our first release code named ‘See No Evil, Hear All You Want!’, aka 0.2, last week. As the name suggests, this is a limited functionality audio-only release, to get folk interested to come along and start testing and contributing. The next stable release is planed to include MEX running under X11, as a stepping stone toward a pure OpenGL system beyond that.

If you are interested, the source is here, you can drop by #guacamayo on Freenode, or follow @MetaGuacamayo on Twitter.

May 18, 2012

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: Community Matters!!!111

Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2011
We had several interesting unconference sessions and talks at the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2011. I proposed and coordinated the unconference session titled "Community matters", the Saturday 22nd of October 1.30 - 2.30, at the room "Algiers". We had around 12 active participants from multiple organizations, representing AbiWord, Apache, and more.
The session notes are recorded in the Google Summer of Code wiki, which needs the log in credentials to access. Hence I summarize the notes again for the wider audience. These notes are from the thoughts of the mentors from the communities involved in the discussion, and they might reflect the communities involved (Hence the points, may of course, disagree to each other to some extend). I represent AbiWord, and hence my views are biased towards the culture of the AbiWord community, which I consider the best of all. ;)

What is a community 
Issues in building a community (and solutions)

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2011

Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit
Google invites the mentors for a two day unconference over a weekend to discuss about the Google Summer of Code, the respective projects, FOSS in general, or whatever that is applicable for the set of geeks. Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit is an interesting event hosted by Google and the sessions are scheduled by the attendees themselves. Google pays for the flight and the stay for the two nights (Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd of Oct/2011), providing dinner with style for the two nights. The mentor summits are held at the Google Headquarters (Building 43), CA 94043, USA. The event schedule is completed only at the day of the summit, as an ideal unconference! [Have a look at the Mentor Summit 2011  schedule with the parallel unconference tracks]. 

AbiWord at the Summit
As a mentoring organization, AbiWord has been mentoring students for Google Summer of Code since 2006 - for 6 years consecutively, since the program was announced in 2005. In 2006, Martin Sevior represented AbiWord in the mentor summit [Read more on his experience at the mentor summit 2006]. I was, as a mentor from AbiWord for 2011, was really glad to represent AbiWord in  the summit for 2011. This was the second time, AbiWord being present at the summit. This year we had 4 students who successfully completed their summer, among the 5 who had their summer with AbiWord [Read more on my thoughts on Google Summer of Code 2011].

Stay at California (21st - 24th, Oct 2011)
This year, the summit was held on 22nd of October the Saturday and 23rd the Sunday. "WildPalms" and "Domain" were the hotels organized by Google for the stay for the two nights. Most of the mentors stayed at WildPalms, Sunnyvale, CA, where some of them stayed at Domain, as rooms in WildPalms filled up. 2011 was the biggest summit ever with around 360 participants, where it was around 200 last year, mentioned Carol. Wild Palms is a silent and simple hotel. It reminded me the structure of the typical hostels - but I like it. We had shuttles to and from Google. We also had shuttles connecting Domain hotel, for them to join the dinner at Wild Palms.

Scheduling the unconference sessions
The sessions were scheduled and held at different rooms at the Google Headquarters, in parallel tracks. Initially, everyone was given 30 seconds to introduce themselves and their session, to begin with. Each session spans for an hour. A location was picked from the available 16 rooms. Once introduced their sessions, each one writes down the proposed session in a paper, and posts that on the white boards available, which had a table drawn with "Time Intervals" against the "Location". Once everyone introduced and posted their sessions, everyone is given the option to vote for their preferred session. The voting is interesting. We move along the white board, and pick a session of interest for each time frame, and mark it with a circle. Once this is done, the circles are counted and considered a '+1', and the sessions are relocated to fit the size of the room, according to the interested audience. Some sessions had exceptionally huge preference votes, and were scheduled to be held at Tunis, which has room for 200. Other rooms fit the audience from 10 to 20.

Community Matters!!!111
I [my user profile in the wiki] proposed and coordinated the unconference session titled "Community matters", the Saturday 1.30 - 2.30 at "Algiers". We discussed how and why a community matters the most, how to build a community, the challenges faced, and overcoming them. The session notes can be found in the wiki [Needs credentials to access the wiki page].

I have blogged with the session notes for the wider audience [Read "Community Matters!!!111" in this blog]. However, Google Summer of Code mentors can access the wiki to read more about the Mentor Summit 2011. All the session notes are posted to the wiki.

From Sri Lanka
It was a long journey to Sunnyvale from Colombo! I traveled from Colombo (CMB) to Dubai (DXB), and to Los Angeles (LAX), followed by a local flight to San Jose (SJC). A cab from San Jose to Wild Palms is relatively cheaper (~38$), than from San Francisco (SFO). SJC is known as the airport of the Silicon Valley. I stayed one more night (Sunday night), since my flight was on Monday noon 12 pm. This was my first trip to the new world (Americas). It was a great experience seeing darkness at 3 pm in the sky of the north pole.

Mentor Summit
The summit went really well, starting with a warm welcome from Carol Smith, at "Tunis". I got the chance to meet many folks from many organizations, and listen to their interesting and crazy experiences. Everyone had at least a single interesting experience to share, during the tea, breakfast, or lunch. 2011 was the first year for many organizations (~50) in Google Summer of Code, and (the mentors from those organizations whom I had a chat) were impressed to hear the successful involvement of AbiWord in Google Summer of Code. I met Fridrich representing LibreOffice at the summit. It was really great to meet someone whom I have talked to, over the AbiWord IRC.

Meeting the Haiku community was remarkable. Haiku is an MIT licensed open source operating system inspired by BeOS. We thought of a possibility to propose a project co-mentored by AbiWord and Haiku for Google Summer of Code 2012 - "Haiku port for AbiWord". There was also a discussion on this during GSoC 2009 too, which we couldn't make it at that time. Scott from Haiku also pointed out that AbiWord used to run perfectly on Haiku during the early days (well before I joined AbiWord at 2009). We have to go back to the history of AbiWord source code and get it back to build and run, which ceased to build. As we are more into gtk, we have never looked much into this yet, I feel. The relevant discussion can be found at abiword-dev mailing list. Refer to the Haiku FAQ to learn what Haiku is and what it is not.

All the 4 mentors from the project Catroid were present at the summit. They were doing interesting demos with their Catroid project running on Android, over the corridors during the breaks. It was their first year at Google Summer of Code and Catroid is really excited as a young organization to participate in Google Summer of Code. By default, Google invites two mentors from each project, along with a waiting list to allow more interested mentors in first-come-first-served. Catroid was really lucky to have everyone around! :)

Marketing and Open Source
An interesting session on "Marketing and Spreading the word about the project/community", followed the session "Community Matters", in the same room (Algiers). How localizers help to widen the user community was discussed. The mentor from PostgreSQL mentioned that they have allowed independent local user/dev communities to own the site in their languages (French, Japanese, ..) Social media engagement (twitter, facebook, dzone) to spread the word of the community and project releases were discussed.

Student Salaries
The other two sessions I attended on the first day were on "Humanitarian FOSS", with the participation from OpenMRS, Sahana, and Ushahidi, and "Student Salaries". "Student Salaries" discussed about managing the GSoC's payment. It had a few controversial suggestions followed by a healthy discussion, whether each student should be paid equally, or based on their geographical location, or by the outcomes - a final outcome of the discussion was to propose a reward for the outstanding students - may be a GSoC Student Summit. 

Around Google
We took a group photo with all the mentors around, at the end of the first day. We also move around the Google Campus and also visited the Google Store. A room full of chocolates from Goolge, as well as from the mentors allover the globe was awaiting us throughout the summit! ;). The welcome desk was full of Google TShirts and give aways from Google and from the mentoring organizations - specifically stickers from the organizations. I took a few photos around the Google Campus. Feel free to view them in my Facebook album.

The Second Day
I attended the sessions at Tunis, the second day. "Non-profit infrastructure for software freedom" with the views from Software Freedom Conservancy, Free Software Foundation, and Apache Software Foundation, gave some insights in the non-profit infrastructures. "Fund raising 101" by Cat from Google provided some basic hints on successfully getting the open source project funded.

Wrapping Up!
A final speech from Carol ended the summit in a vote of thanks manner. Wait - No! Mentors were asked to provide their suggestions of improvement after her talk. Some encouraging, interesting and also funny comments were thrown, with room full of laughter and applauses. One interesting and usual suggestion was to have the summit at Europe next year. "I love you guys, but, sometimes, I hate you guys," replied Carol.

The Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit was surely a remarkable experience for everyone who attended. I would like to thank Google and Carol for organizing the Google Summer of Code as well as the summit, on behalf of the AbiWord team.

May 06, 2012

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: "Reading Level" ~ Google gets more interesting!

"Verbatim" and "Reading Level" are two new cool search tools from Google. Verbatim lets us search the exact term as it is, eliminating the spelling corrections, and all the smart features of Google.

Reading Level
"Reading Level" categorizes the search results according to the level of expertise needed in reading the page. Simple and easy-to-comprehend pages are categorized as "Basic", where the advanced and high-standard pages are categorized "Advanced". "Intermediate" stays in between. Highly technical or articles with complex language structures are often categorized as "Advanced".

I searched "Kathiravelu Pradeeban" using Reading Level, and found the below.
Basic - 10%
Intermediate  - 80%
Advanced - 11%

Similarly, searched a few projects that I am interested in.
Basic - 14%
Intermediate  - 83%
Advanced - 3%

Basic < 1%
Intermediate 11%
Advanced 89%

It is pretty reasonable to have the highly complex and technically advanced OGSA-DAI to have more pages classified as "Advanced" and only a tiny bit classified as "Basic". However, AbiWord, the word processor has more contennt classified as "Intermediate". This again is reasonable for an end-reason software product. Google Reading Level is surely an interesting feature.

May 01, 2012

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: Apache Meetup, Kandy and Community Matters!

Yesterday (28th April, 10 a.m. - 4.30 p.m.) we had an Apache Meetup at the Engineering Faculty of the University of Peradeniya. It was an excellent event, which followed the recent Apache BarCamp, Colombo. I presented how to build a new open source community for the audience. The presentation was titled, "Community Matters!!!111" and was based on "Community Matters," the GSoC Mentor Summit discussion that I coordinated.

If the presentation below takes a long time to load, feel free to download it!
Community Matters!!!111
View more presentations from Kathiravelu Pradeeban

April 26, 2012

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: Google Summer of Code 2012 and AbiWord

Being a mentor for the Google Summer of Code with AbiWord for the second time is going to be an interesting experience once more. It was a nice memory going through all the 29 proposals for AbiWord and reviewing them as a mentor. Selected students were announced by Google on 1900UTC, 23rd of April.

The list of accepted students, along with their project proposals as well as their mentors are given below.

1) Tanya Guza - "Improve ODF support"  - Mentored by Hub
2) Kousik Kumar - "Table Improvements" - Mentored by Simon
3) Aaditya - "Implement Rotated Text" - Mentored by Martin
4) Vincent (Zuyin Kang) - "Dialog improvements" - Mentored by Pradeeban
5) Bafna - "Implement and Improve the import and export of math from/to odt, doc & docx formats" - Mentored by Jean
6) Serhatkiyak - "Improving Abiword's OpenXML(.docx) support" - Mentored by Dom
An interesting point to notice is that, since 2006, AbiWord has successfully been participated in all the Google Summer of Codes (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012). Hence this becomes the 7th consecutive year for AbiWord to participate in Google Summer of Code! I wish the 6 students who got selected a great summer of code with AbiWord, and I hope they will continue to be a long term contributors even after their summer. At the same time, I should also note that, we had to miss a few nice students as we have only 6 slots. Hope they will still continue with their development on AbiWord.

April 23, 2012

Fridrich Strba: Google Summer of Code 2012 - accepted projects for LibreOffice


Google announced today the accepted students for Google Summer of Code 2011.

The students working on LibreOffice will be:

Andrzej HuntSmartphone remote control for LibreOffice ImpressMuthu Subramanian
ArturoPLTooling - More and better tests Michael Stahl
Brennan VincentImplementing a Microsoft Publisher import filter for LibreOfficeValek Filippov
Daniel BankstonCalc Performance ImprovementsKohei Yoshida
Daniel KorostilLightproof improvementsLászló Németh
Gökcen EraslanSigned PDF exportStephan Bergmann
iainbJava GUI for Libre-Office Based Android App(s)Tor Lillqvist
Marco CecchettiEnhanced Impress svg export filterThorsten Behrens
Matúš KukanTelepathy for collaborationEike Rathke (erAck)
RafaelNew templates picking UICédric Bosdonnat

Let the summer start immediately and let quality code fall like a spring rain!

April 09, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: On Facebook buying Instagram


This morning we learned that Facebook bought Instagram, and that Facebook paid something like 1B$. I'll skip the part where I find that this acquisition is highly overpriced, and I'll leave the speculation of who might have participated into a bidding to the analyst.

But one thing I'm sure is that they didn't buy Instagram for its revenue. What is being said is that Facebook paid 33$ per user, and quite a number of users. But what will they do with that? Simple. Monetize. And this might by the solution to my criticism of Instagram: adding a web frontend to it. A web frontend is IMHO the easiest way for Facebook to track their users. In the announcement Facebook promised to keep Instagram a separate entity, but even the owe anybody but themselves to hold that promise, they can do that and track users using a web based frontend, like all the "Like" buttons to all over the Internet. Similarly I don't see why they should remove the function to Tweet the picture. Quite the opposite, keep it, people click to view the picture, "leave" Twitter to go to that Instagram page, and voila. Checked in.

In the end, it will be a bit more like the Hotel California: you can check out anytime, but you can never leave.

If you don't like that, you can still go and request your account to be removed.

Mandatory Instagram. Deep Cove, BC.

April 06, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: On Instagram


Instagram just released the Android version of their application. Instagram allows you to take pictures with your phone, apply some filters, upload it to their service and then have user that follow you comment or favorite them. A sort of Twitter for images.

This led me to rethink why I dislike Instagram.

I dislike Instagram not because of the photographic aspect of applying random filter to random pictures to try to let them look cool, not because it is (was) an exclusive club for iOS users, users that are self entitled and angry[1] as there are also plenty of talented people whose work I have a lot of respect for. No, it is not about that ; well it could be but that would be a very opiniated rant that would make me look like a hater. It is about the technical aspect: it is not the web.

Let's see.

If I go to the main website of Instagram, I get offered to download the app for iPhone, for Android, and beside info about them, their blog, their jobs, all I can do is edit my account. Yes you got that: it is about taking and posting picture, and from there I can't even view anything. WAT?

Now when people share their Instagram picture on twitter, you get a link like this http://instagr.am/p/JAqNexzGZr/. At that URL, you can see the picture, the comments if any, and that's it. You can not decide to start following the person even if you have an account nor can you browse through the other pictures. And to get that URL I had to "share" the image view e-mail or Twitter. There was no other way to get it.

That's exactly where my issue is. One has to use the app on your phone (previously only iPhone - even though it worked with other iOS devices including iPad) to view the pictures and the people. It is not a web application, it is Instagram. Imagine if Facebook or Twitter was like that? It is not like technology is missing. All the browsing and social features can be done as a web application, and modern browser today would allow even the editing part of the picture, and soon the taking a picture part.

And, yes I have an Instagram account, yes I have posted a few pictures from my iPad and from my Nexus One, one having a better camera than the other. Suddenly I got a surge in follower with the Android version released. But what if I wanted to use it from b2g[2]? Even Flickr I can.

Mandatory Instagram:


[1] read the twitter stream of @AndroidAGram, what he re-tweets is priceless

[2] non-withstanding that the camera capture isn't functional yet on b2g

April 02, 2012

Fridrich Strba: LibreOffice CorelDraw Import filter - the best file-format coverage in the FOSS world


I just realized that has been a long long time since I last blogged about libcdr and the CorelDraw import filter in LibreOffice. Those that know me well can imagine that it is much more fun to write code then to write blogs. Nonetheless, one serious breakthrough happened this weekend and I cannot prevent myself from climbing on the roofs and shout.

On 20th of March 2012, Corel released a new version of CorelDraw Graphics Suite X6. We got the information from this Wikipedia page and downloaded the evaluation version on Friday. Although it was usual to see the file-format mutate a bit with every released version, this release changed the file-format substantially in what concerns the RIFF chunks. To cut the long story short, we managed to get the last pieces reverse-engineered today and we released libcdr-0.0.6 with support of all 32-bit CorelDraw formats, from version 6 to 16.

The new release tarball was integrated in LibreOffice which became the first and only FOSS application that supports versions 6, 15 and 16 of the CorelDraw file-format. This goodness will be part of our 3.6 release later this year. For those that do not know fear, the feature can be tested in daily builds that will start to appear tomorrow morning here.

I know that the distinguished readership prefers pictures to words. Here is this simple document in CorelDraw X6 format:

Terra in Corel 1  Terra in Corel 2

Here is the same document opened by LibreOffice Draw:

Terra in LibreOffice Draw

And here is the libcdr-generated SVG opened in Inkscape:

Terra in converted to SVG

If you are tempted and think that it might be fun to participate in a reverse-engineering endavour, we have with Valek two project proposals for Google Summer of Code 2012. The first is the implementation of MS Publisher import filter for LibreOffice and the second is to help to improve and extend the Corel Draw import filter I am currently blogging about. Try to apply with LibreOffice and your life will never be the same again.

Be aware though that the application deadline is the 6th of April and you will need to accomplish a simple programing task in order to be eligible. More details in this blog.

March 29, 2012

Hubert Figuiere: Building b2g on Fedora. Field notes - part 2


See part 1 if you haven't.

As of this week, some changes in b2g cause more breakage in the build process on Fedora. Plus some various bugs.

First, if when doing the make config-galaxy-s2 you get the following error:

cp: cannot create regular file `../../../vendor/samsung/c1-common/proprietary/etc/mdnie_tune_bypass_mode': No such file or directory

in the B2G directory, do a

mkdir ./glue/gonk/vendor/samsung/c1-common/proprietary/etc

and try again.

Also, make gonk will want to run a pre-build xulrunner in 32-bits

Ideally, the fix would be to actually get a 64-bits xulrunner instead. Patches welcome™ I was told. On your copious-spare-time™.

March 24, 2012

Kathiravelu Pradeeban: GSoC-2012 (The Second Life)

Today we had a Google Summer of Code (GSoC) meetup at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Moratuwa, 9 am - 3 pm, with multiple presentations and demos. This was the second time I presented the GSoC for the CSE, UoM undergraduates. However, last year the session was held at the IESL auditorium. Hence this year's session was important to all the resource persons, as doing the session at our own department for the very first time. The juniors showed a great enthusiasm, and I am confident that today's session was the best of all the sessions we had so far. 150 heads was recorded as the highest in our GSoC sessions history in today's session.

My GSoC presentation (given above), which went for 80 mins, was themed "The Second Life." We were informed the list of the selected organizations at 12.30 a.m (IST) today, and we had the session at 09.00 a.m. This gave an additional motivation to the students. Not forgetting to update, AbiWord has been selected as a mentoring organization this year as well. I hope to mentor for AbiWord once more.

In a slow network, it may take ages to properly load and display the presentation above. Feel free to download the presentation, in that case.