Thanks, Mr Weir

by Italo Vignoli on November 1, 2012

I must admit that my first reaction to Mr Weir’s post has been typically Italian, and I have replied without even reading what I was writing. I was unfortunately wrong in doing this, but it is difficult for an Italian – even for an old and supposedly wise one – to refrain from this kind of attitude, when there is such a seemingly virulent attack.

Once the temper has settled down, I have decided to look at Mr Weir’s post in a different way, using the tools of my profession. I have then applied some NLP filters to the text, to realize – to my astonishment – that Mr Weir’s post was a formidable endorsement of TDF and LibreOffice success.

Let’s look at the facts.

During LibreOffice Conference we have released several figures, including the estimated number of LibreOffice users. The word “estimated” was associated with the 60 million figure both in the presentation and in the press release, and during my speech I have reiterated the concept that it is an “estimated” figure. For any English native speaker but Mr Weir, the word “estimated” as a rather clear meaning.

We have not even mentioned Mr Weir’s pet project, as we have always avoided to do since the very first day when we were representing The Document Foundation at events or speaking on behalf of the project. As an organization, we have never commented or questioned any number, from any project.

We perfectly know that there are other office suites which have been around for over a decade, and therefore have a better brand recognition than LibreOffice. For one of these suites, we – I mean, the members of The Document Foundation – have been instrumental in creating this brand recognition, which is a key factor for the actual number of downloads.

These are the facts.

According to Mr Weir, the project he cares for is extremely successful, both in terms of downloads (which is undoubtedly true) and in terms of community size and diversity. I am happy for him, of course, although I do not understand why such a large and diverse community is able to provide a software in just 20 native languages, while the supposedly smaller LibreOffice community is able to deliver a similar software in 109 native languages.

Anyway, given the success of his pet project, it is difficult to understand why Mr Weir has spent quite a lot of his personal time to dig into LibreOffice figures, in order to show how much they are inflated or inconsistent (according to him). He could probably spend his time in a better way, attending the ODF PlugFest in Berlin to contribute to the progress of a standard he is supposed to care for.

Unfortunately for Mr Weir, all this attention for the supposedly small LibreOffice user number is a demonstration of the success of The Document Foundation and LibreOffice, as much as his refusal to attend Berlin PlugFest and his usually acrimonious comments to each and every article that covers LibreOffice in a positive way. You do not bash a project and a software if you are not scared by their success.

Maybe, if the French Government, the City of Munich in Germany, the Hospitals of Copenhagen in Denmark, Regione Umbria, Provincia di Milano and Consorzio dei Comuni della Provincia di Bolzano in Italy, the City of Limerick in Ireland, the C├ómara Municipal de Vieira do Minho in Portugal, the City of Grygov in the Czeck Republic, the City of Las Palmas in Spain, the City of Largo in Florida, the municipality of Pilea-Hortiatis in Greece and the Public Library System of Chicago – amongst the others – had not chosen to migrate to LibreOffice, then Mr Weir would have ignored The Document Foundation.

Several friends and free software advocates, who have read Mr Weir’s post after I have shared the link with them (as otherwise they would have completely ignored it), have had the very same perception: the post is the backlash of a scared man.

Thanks for the endorsement, Mr Weir. We, and all the people who have decided to migrate to LibreOffice, are looking forward to the second chapter of the saga.

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{ 2 comments }

Chris Cunningham November 2, 2012 at 10:45 pm

It also appears that disapproving comments are being moderated from the comments section of said blog post. Hardly surprising for such a deeply dishonest individual. Indicative of the Apache Foundation’s enthusiasm to be a stalking horse for proprietary interests at odds with the principles of free software.

Chris

Sum Yung Gai February 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

The community is LibreOffice, and Mr. Weir knows it. That’s why he’s scared. It’s his ego on the line now, and this is a shame, because there was a time when what he said made some sense. But now LibreOffice is at version 4.0 and they haven’t looked back yet. I have long since replaced the older (pre-Oracle) OpenOffice.org 3.x installations with LibreOffice, and it’s been smooth sailing.

The original OpenOffice.org got us started. The future is its true descendant–both in code and in spirit–LibreOffice.

Thank you to the LibreOffice team for having the chutzpah to do what needed to be done.

–SYG

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