The Document Foundation LibreOffice Certification Program

Rationale for LibreOffice Certification

Certification has been traditionally associated with proprietary software vendors, although the system has been in place at FOSS vendors such as MySQL, Red Hat and SUSE for a number of years. Certification strengthens the relationship with partners, while ensuring a quality of service good enough to avoid problems for final users.

There are two distinct aspects to certification. One is to certify organizations that are recognized partners or franchisees, and the second is to certify the competence in specific areas. LibreOffice Certification has the objective of assessing the competence in areas such as LibreOffice development and L3 support, migrations to LibreOffice, LibreOffice trainings and L1/L2 support of LibreOffice.

According to The Document Foundation’s vision, certified professionals have the objective of extending the reach of the community to the corporate world, by offering CIOs and IT managers a recognition in line with proprietary offerings (in order to give them a comparable choice, not limited to software but including value-added services).

Certified professionals are supposed to become a valuable channel for deeper engagement with the corporate world, that will ultimately lead to improved customer satisfaction. In fact, by communicating with the LibreOffice community through certified professionals, organizations should be able to improve the way they leverage the advantages of free software and the features of LibreOffice, and get a better value added support.

In addition, through certified professionals, organizations should also be able to better communicate their ideas and needs to TDF, and ultimately co-operate with the LibreOffice community in order to start contributing to the development of the free office suite by engaging certified developers to fix specific bugs and regressions, or to add new features.

TDF’s challenge is to grow the project, the product and the ecosystem (the components of the “whole” product), in order to cross the chasm between the adoption of LibreOffice by innovators and early adopters and the adoption of LibreOffice by the early and late majority (a group of pragmatists who are not going to buy into a discontinuous technology unless they can reference other pragmatists, who are highly support oriented).

LibreOffice Certification

LibreOffice Certification is completely different from commercial certification. TDF is looking for something more than simple development, integration, project management, migration, training or technical skills. TDF is looking for LibreOffice Ambassadors, able to provide value-added professional services to grow the LibreOffice ecosystem.

In fact, certification is a key milestone for building the LibreOffice ecosystem, and increase the number of organizations capable of adding value on top of LibreOffice (and help to grow the adoption rate over proprietary office suites). Certification is also going to represent an additional opportunity for TDF, in the medium to long term, to sustain the growth of the ecosystem.

TDF ecosystem already includes all the elements of this new model of certification, in order to make it interesting for the market (i.e. individuals and companies which are not yet thinking about becoming TDF partners, but have the potential to do so). Because of this, LibreOffice Certification is open both to TDF Members and active project contributors and to organizations and individuals actively supporting LibreOffice in their local market.

Before starting to outline LibreOffice Certification Program, it should be absolutely clear that it is not supposed to become a source of competition for TDF corporate supporters, TDF partners and TDF Members who provide Value Added Services to the market. On the contrary, it represents a benchmark for the quality of the services provided by these companies, and provides a transparent criteria for evaluating the quality of the services provided by third parties. This will help build and sustain the ecosystem.

The main focus of LibreOffice Certification Program is the corporate environment. Although there might be a large request for end user certification, it is not as strategic as professional certification as it is not going to help building and growing the ecosystem.

Program Description

The LibreOffice Certification Program will be overseen and coordinated by the Board of Directors of The Document Foundation, through a Certification Committee which will be reporting to the BoD as appropriate. The members of the Certification Committee will be approved by TDF’s BoD.

LibreOffice Certification recognizes the individual skills, but is neither binding The Document Foundation to their actions, nor holding it liable for their actions. There is a document in the Reference section - namely the Certification Code of Conduct - that should inspire the behaviour of Certified Professionals.

The Certification Committee has defined the Certification Pre-Requisites, which are common to all certification categories, and the Certification Criteria, which are specific to each certification category and are provided as reference protocols. For a definition of the different certification categories and the relevant criteria, see the “Individual Certifications” section below.

All candidates can access the LibreOffice Certification Program for free, provided they comply with the Certification Pre-Requisites.

In order to apply, they have to fill in the Application Form and provide the necessary information. Developers are not supposed to apply for certification, as they will be invited by the Engineering Steering Committee based on their code contributions to LibreOffice.

LibreOffice Certification can be attributed to individuals who have developed their skills by managing, coordinating, developing or contributing to LibreOffice Migration (or Large Deployment) or Training Projects, or both. To demonstrate the involvement in such projects, candidates must provide the necessary evidence with project reports or other documents such as interoperability tests or presentations and examples for trainings, or a declaration from a Certified TDF Member whose status has been active for at least one full calendar year.

LibreOffice Certification will be attributed after a peer-to-peer review by the Certification Committee (in general, by a sub-committee of three members: Lothar Becker and/or Italo Vignoli as coordinator[s], plus one/two additional member[s] selected according to criteria such as language and geography), and will last two calendar years.

Individuals who are neither contributing to the LibreOffice project nor participating in any activity of the LibreOffice community, but have been active in LibreOffice Migration (or Large Deployment) or Training Projects, or both, and will be able to demonstrate their involvement with the necessary evidence (the same as TDF Members), will be allowed to access the LibreOffice Certification. In any case, during the peer-to-peer review they will have to assess their knowledge of free software, copyleft licenses, open document standards, Open Document Format, The Document Foundation and LibreOffice.

Certification will be renewed for another two years after the expiration date, based on the following criteria:

  1. Professionals whose activity is known to at least one member of the Certification Committee will be renewed automatically, and will be informed by email;
  2. Professionals whose activity is not known by Certification Committee members but is known at community level will be renewed when the local community will have confirmed their activity, and will be informed by email
  3. Professionals whose activity is not known at any level, neither by Certification Committee members nor by the local community, will be asked about their continued interest in LibreOffice certification and will have to go through the peer-to-peer review.

Peer-to-peer reviews will also be provided online using a video conferencing software (if possible, TDF’s Jitsi instance), to allow participants to attend using a standard PC (Linux, macOS or Windows), and to share presentations and other documents.

Certification Committee

The Certification Committee oversees the certification process, approves individual certifications (which must be confirmed by the Board of Directors). The Certification Committee operates mainly via email.

The Certification Committee is staffed as follows: Lothar Becker and Italo Vignoli (co-chairs, M/T), Thorsten Behrens (D), Stephan Bergmann (D), Sophie Gautier (M/T), Olivier Hallot (M/T), Marina Latini (M/T), Björn Michaelsen (D), Eric Sun (M/T) and Franklin Weng (M/T).

The Peer-to-Peer Review Committee is staffed as follows: Lothar Becker and Italo Vignoli (coordination), Eliane Domingos de Sousa, Sophie Gautier, Enio Gemmo, Olivier Hallot, Marina Latini, Gustavo Pacheco, Gabriele Ponzo and Franklin Weng.

The Board of Directors will be able to change the composition of the Certification Committee and the Peer-to-Peer Review Committee at any time.

Individual Certifications

Certified Developer

Is able to hack LibreOffice code to develop new features or provide L3 Support to enterprise users, researching and developing solutions to new or unknown issues, designing and developing one or more courses of action, evaluating each of these courses in a test case environment, and implementing the best solution to the problem. Once the solution is verified, it is added to LibreOffice source code.

Certified Developers must be TDF members, and part of their certification is peer reviewed by the Certification Committee and the Engineering Steering Committee, based on criteria defined by the Engineering Steering Committee.

Certified Migration Professional

The expected profile of Certified Migration Professionals is detailed in the Certification Pre-Requisites document.

Certification criteria are based on the Migration Protocol, which is considered a reference document for migrations and large deployments.

Certified Professional Trainer

The expected profile of Certified Professional Trainers is detailed in the Certification Pre-Requisites document.

Certification criteria are based on the Training Protocol, which is considered a reference document for all trainings.