Brussels in the night

This year’s FOSDEM (Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting) has been held in in the beautiful city of Brussels (Belgium), as usual, on February 2 & 3, 2019. It was organised by volunteers to promote the widespread use of free and open source software..

This was my first FOSDEM as a deputy member of the MC, and a fresh member of the Collabora team.

I will try to give some information about my talks, and share my experience.

TDF Meetings, LibreOffice Hackfest & LibreOffice Dinner…

The first 2 days was spent on the LibreOffice Hackfest, MC & BoD joint meetings. Seeing all friends face to face was a pleasure. We discussed some important matters face to face, and had a great time together.

Did some work on the LibreOffice themes, and discovered the ugly truth of major Mozilla API change.

We also had a community night/dinner with the LibreOffice community members on Saturday. Had pleasant chats with many friends, and a nice ‘kosher/halaal’ meal with Lior (thank you again!).

It was also a nice adventure, chasing Indian/Eastern/Asian tastes with Mike. :)

The Hotel

This year, I stayed with the pack in Bedford. Its location is perfect, but you may feel the building’s age. (In good & bad ways.) I had the first night with a semi-functional heater in the room. Not very pleasant, considering the winter of Brussels. Next day they gave a second portable heater -yay! :)-, and I survived with those.

The Talks

Talk 1: Resurrecting Mozilla Themes for LibreOffice

Past, present, and the future of LibreOffice’s Personalization dialog.

LibreOffice has had the ability to use Mozilla Themes (Personas) for some time (Tools > Options > Personalization); but it kept breaking all the time, and never had an acceptable UX. Also tons of errors/warnings, and very slow search and apply processes almost brought it to the point of being killed for good. But I couldn’t let it die, started looking into the related code and the bug reports. Now it has a better UX/UI, and got most annoying bugs/crashers fixed, and is much faster.

I tried to present a summary about the journey so far, and the plans for the future.

Talk 2: Document Redaction with LibreOffice

Redaction in its sanitization sense (as distinguished from its other editing sense) is the blacking out or deletion of text in a document, or the result of such an effort. It is intended to allow the selective disclosure of information in a document while keeping other parts of the document secret. Typically the result is a document that is suitable for publication or for dissemination to others than the intended audience of the original document. For example, when a document is subpoenaed in a court case, information not specifically relevant to the case at hand is often redacted. Another example is patient information of hospitals, which is distributed to be used for research purposes.

A new document redaction feature for Collabora Office is being developed, and it will also be available on the next major version of LibreOffice. This new feature will provide a much more efficient means than the traditional print-redact-scan process, and will try to prevent also the accidental leakage of redacted information by completely removing them in the resulting PDF document, rather than just hiding.


Again a good use of time, full of experience sharing with fellow FLOSS developers, and community members.

Looking forward to the next FOSDEM! :)