Wednesday, January 25, 2012

FOSDEM 2012 - How to make the best of it and become LibreOffice developer

I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting

FOSDEM 2012 is just round the corner and, as you might know, LibreOffice will have a DevRoom this year too. And, as it was already publicized, your servant and Eilidh McAdam of libvisio fame will attend too. The goal of this event will be to help you to become a LibreOffice developer, by helping you to get your first contact with the code from inside.

How to prepare for the event?

In order to give as many community members the possibility to speak, the presentations will not take more then 15 minutes each. But we will be there for one-to-one contacts and hacking goodness. If you are interested in contributing to our new Visio import filter, or the upcomming Corel Draw and MS Publisher filters, here is what you can do:

  1. Find a bug that is bothering you in the current Visio import filter, or some simple feature that the importer currently does not support
  2. Check out the following libraries:
    • master branch of libwpd (git clone git://
    • STABLE-0-2-0 branch of libwpg (git clone -b STABLE-0-2-0 git://
    • master branch of libwps (git clone git://
    • master branch of libvisio (git clone git://, and
    • master branch of libcdr (git clone git://
  3. Build them as system libraries and install them in the same order.
  4. Then build LibreOffice according to these instructions. The important thing is to use those system libraries that you just built. To do so, be sure you added to the configure flags
    • --with-system-libwpd
    • --with-system-libwpg
    • --with-system-libwps
    • --with-system-libvisio
    • --with-system-libcdr

With this kind of build, you will be ready to make the most from your Brussels weekend. Nevetheless, you can drop around at our IRC channel #libreoffice-dev channel at for more information and ideas.

Starting to do it instead of planning to do it ...

... is the best way to enter the FOSS development. That is why your servant and Eilidh will be around to hold your hand with debugging and finding way to implement your favourite features. We will answer your questions about the library design. We will point you to the place in the code where your bug might linger. And for more complicated stuff, we will debug it with you.

Don't expect us to give you a fish, but we will certainly teach you how to catch it by yourself. And in the same token, you will become a contributor inside a community of smart people that is fun to hang and hack with.

See you in Brussels the 4th and 5th of February 2012.