Q&A

Questions & Answers

LibreOffice Certification

What is the LibreOffice Certification Program?

LibreOffice Certifications are designed to recognize professionals in the areas of development, migrations and trainings who have the technical capabilities and the real-world experience to provide value added services to enterprises and organizations deploying LibreOffice on a large number of PCs.

In the future, LibreOffice Certifications will be extended to Level 1 and Level 2 Support professionals.

The LibreOffice Certification is not targeted at end users, although Certified Training Professionals will be able to provide such a service upon request (although not as a LibreOffice Certification). In general, end user certification is managed by organizations with a wider reach such as the Linux Professional Institute.

Which is the rationale behind the certification program?

LibreOffice is competing with proprietary office suites, and as such is often evaluated - for the good and for the bad - by people who are used to judge a program and its ecosystem according to the metrics of proprietary software vendors.

Because of this, they look for certified professionals for value added activities such as support for large deployments, integration with third party software, personalizations, trainings, etcetera.

Unfortunately, the lack of any kind of “accreditation” of professionals working within the community does not allow to provide an answer to these requests.

The Document Foundation has therefore decided to launch the LibreOffice Certification Program, in order to recognize the professional skills of people active in development, migration and training projects. At the same time, this program must reflect the ethical values of free software, and as such is based on a unique - for certifications - peer-to-peer review process.

Behind the LibreOffice Certification Program there is the idea to foster the growth of the ecosystem thanks to professionals who provide value-added services for the development, migration, training and support of the free office suite, based on the recognition of their skills.

Which are the available LibreOffice Certifications?

LibreOffice Certification has been available for developers since October 2012, and for migration and training professionals since November 2014.

Requirements are different according on the role, but have a common root in the familiarity with free software and the LibreOffice community.

Why did it take such a long time to develop the Certification Program?

Developing the LibreOffice Certification Program according to the principles of The Document Foundation - meritocracy, democracy, neutrality, and respect of free software ethos - has not been an easy task.

The Document Foundation had to develop the entire process, from the reference protocols for migrations and trainings to the peer-to-peer review. In addition, it has been necessary to reach a consensus between all the parties, as there were different opinions about certification.

It has been easier to reach an agreement about Certification for Developers, as the metrics are based on the amount and the quality of the code.

Why is LibreOffice Certification easier to get for TDF Members?

LibreOffice Certification is easier to get for TDF Members and active project contributors for a number of reasons:

  1. TDF Members are committed to free software and LibreOffice, and to the growth of the LibreOffice ecosystem;
  2. TDF Members, by participating to the project, are knowledgeable about the software, and the issues related to the development, the quality assurance and the localization processes;
  3. TDF Members subscribe to the project mailing lists, which are a source of information about the software, and are familiar with the relevant tools for quality assurance and localization;
  4. TDF Members represent the core of the LibreOffice community, and as such are the best ambassadors for the project.

In general, The Document Foundation suggests to apply for TDF membership before applying for LibreOffice Certification.

What is the structure of the certification process?

The certification process developed by The Document Foundation is different from the “commercial” certification most professionals are used to. In fact, the objective is not to control partners - such as in the case of certifications of large IT vendors - but to develop a healthy ecosystem that can support the growth of LibreOffice.

Thus, the focus is primarily on the professional expertise. The evaluation is carried out by a review committee composed of “equals”, or professionals who have already worked in the context of large deployments, and of migration and training projects. They will consider both the specific knowledge related to the professional activity, plus the knowledge of the community - global or local - and of free software.

Candidates will apply online on the Certification Website, and will provide the documents which can best demonstrate their skills. For example, in the case of a migration project, the plan and the analysis of interoperability needs, and in the case of training the syllabus and the slides of the lectures.

The Certification Review Committee will consider applications based on the knowledge of the community and of free software, and the expertise related to the role. Candidates will go through a face-to-face peer-to-peer review based on the documents provided and the objectives of the certification. The exam will be in English.

Are there any requirements or prerequisites for being certified?

Yes, there is a Certification Pre-Requisites document which should answer this question in full. In addition, we suggest to read the Certification Code of Conduct.

In general, all the information available on the Certification Website can help potential candidates to understand the certification process.

Although being a member of The Document Foundation is not a pre-requisite, we do encourage certification candidates to apply for membership. In fact, the ethical values which support TDF have also been used as a foundation for the certification project.

What are the advantages of certified professionals?

Certified professionals have the possibility to access business opportunities which require certification, and have a competitive advantage to those who are not certified in all other cases. The Document Foundation will try to ensure that certification becomes a basic requirement of every LibreOffice related project, but this will happen only with time.

It is important to reiterate, though, that LibreOffice Certification will be not only different from “commercial” certifications but also more strict, as it must become a benchmark for every other free software project.

Are there different levels of certification?

At the moment, there is only one level for the LibreOffice Certification. In the future, though, The Document Foundation might decide to create an advanced certification for some disciplines, although this has not been discussed yet.

Will my certification expire?

Every LibreOffice Certifications expires after 24 months. Candidates for certification renewal must go through the same process, although in some cases the Certification Review Committee might decide to skip either the second and third or just the third stage of the exam.

Do I have to renew my certification?

Yes, every LibreOffice certifications must be renewed after 24 months. This will happen according to the following rules:

  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.

How can I demonstrate my certification to 3rd parties?

Once you are certified, your name will be listed on the Certification Website. In addition, you will receive a PDF certificate. The concurrence of the listing and the PDF certificate will be a proof of certification.

For any other request, please write to certification@libreoffice.org.

Certification Exam

How do I prepare for the certification exam?

LibreOffice Certification is based on experience gained on the job, although The Document Foundation provides a list of reference documents that might help in improving your professional background.

How are the certification exams structured?

LibreOffice Certification exams are different from the norm, because they are based on a three stage peer-to-peer review instead of the usual multiple choice questionnaire. The Document Foundation believes that the peer-to-peer review better reflects the principles of a meritocratic democracy, in comparison with the multiple choice questionnaire.

The two stages of the peer-to-peer review are the following:

  1. Certification candidate fill the application, and provide the requested documents. The certification committee reviews the application and the documents, and - if necessary - asks for further details by email before approving the candidate.
  2. The face-to-face peer-to-peer review starts with a general introduction from the candidate, and is followed by a series of questions on different topics, including free software and the history of The Document Foundation and LibreOffice.

Why a peer-to-peer review?

The Document Foundation believes that only a peer-to-peer review reflects the foundation's and free software ethos and values, and the meritocratic structure of the project. In addition, only a peer-to-peer review allows to evaluate the skills of the candidate based on similar hands on experiences.

The exam tries to combine the theoretical aspect - which is covered by the analysis of the documents - with the practical experience that emerges from the face-to-face discussion (which will not have a fixed structure but will try to adapt to the characteristics of each candidate).

The first group of peer-to-peer reviewers will consist of some old timers of the community who have a hands on experience about migrations and trainings. In the future, the group will grow with the addition of certified professionals who are willing to offer their time for the growth of the certification project.

How difficult are the certification exams?

The certification exams are challenging, according - of course - to the skills of the candidate. Once they are certified, professionals will become LibreOffice ambassadors. Because of this, The Document Foundation wants them to be from excellent to outstanding.

When and where are the certification exams organized?

The Certification Committee will organize two certification sessions per year. One session will be at FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium, during the first quarter (early in February) and another one at the LibreOffice Conference during the third/fourth quarter.

The dates and places of the other two sessions will be communicated at least one month in advance.

Certification candidates are supposed to cover their own travel expenses to the location of the exam. In the case of timing or travel related issues, they may ask to have their certification exam handled through a videoconferencing system such as Google Hangouts.

Where do I take my certification exam?

LibreOffice Certification exams will be at FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium, in winter; and at the LibreOffice Conference in summer or autumn (the city of the LibreOffice Conference is different each year).

How are certification exam scores calculated?

Because of the characteristics of the peer-to-peer review, there is not a score. Candidates are either approved or not approved. When they are not approved, the Certification Review Committee will immediately motivate the decision by highlighting the weaknesses of the candidate.

Can I find out how many questions there will be?

The face-to-face peer-to-peer review does not follow a standard pattern, and should be seen by candidates as an open discussion more than as a questions and answers session. There might be a single question on a single topic, or multiple questions on multiple topics.

If I fail an exam, what can I do?

If you do not pass an exam, you may attempt to retake the same exam at one of the next sessions.

In case of failure, can I request a re-evaluation of my score?

No, exams cannot be re-scored. Given the credentials of the certification review committee and the respect they garner from the LibreOffice community, their evaluation should be considered as final.

Can I learn about the rationale for the decision?

Yes, of course. The certification review committee will provide a rationale for their decision, and in case of failure will provide the candidate a list of topics to study in deep. In general, though, the documents provided on the Certification Website should be more than enough to pass the peer-to-peer review, with the exception of topics such as free software and software licenses.

Which is the cost of the certification exam?

The Certification Program cannot be a source of revenue for The Document Foundation. As such, LibreOffice Certification will be free (as in beer) for TDF Members and for active project members.

Which languages are the certification exams offered in?

LibreOffice Certification exams are in English, although face-to-face peer-to-peer reviews may partially be in the native language of the candidate (if at least one member of the Certification Review Committee is a native speaker of the same language of the candidate).

What about candidates with disabilities?

The Document Foundation offers equal opportunities to every individual. Certification candidates with disabilities will be evaluated according to their skills, but the process will be adapted to their disabilities. Candidates should contact the Certification Committee via email at the time of the application, using the address: certification@libreoffice.org.

When will I receive my certification exam results?

The candidate will know immediately the result of the peer-to-peer review.

What happens after I pass a certification exam?

You will receive an email to confirm your LibreOffice Certification. This email will contain a PDF of your certificate, and the expiration date.

The Document Foundation

What are the basic principles of The Document Foundation?

The Document Foundation is based on five “pillars”: copyleft license, lack of copyright assignment, meritocracy, community governance, and large vendor independence. The five principles were shared by the founders, based on ten years of experience in the OOo community.

The copyleft license and the lack of copyright assignment are key factors. The first protects the activities of volunteer developers vs large enterprises, through the creation of a substantially even playing field, and the second breaks down any “red tape” barrier around the project.

The meritocracy is common to many free software projects, where decisions are made by those who contribute more actively. In this way, roles are based on consensus and not on hierarchical decisions.

Governance from the community derives from the meritocracy, and gives the control of The Document Foundation to members, who can elect and be elected in governance roles. Membership is based on contributions, and must be renewed on a yearly basis.

The vendor independence is another fundamental asset that protects The Document Foundation from any attempt of interference by a single company. To achieve vendor independence, TDF statutes do not allow to have more than one/third of members of decision-making bodies - such as the Board of Directors and the Membership Committee - affiliated to the same company or organization.

Why a completely new foundation?

The Document Foundation was created from scratch with the money donated by the global community, to guarantee the independent growth of LibreOffice according to the five “pillars”: copyleft license, lack of copyright assignment, meritocratic democracy, community governance, and large vendor independence.

Which are the decision-making bodies of The Document Foundation?

The Document Foundation has three decision-making bodies:

  1. The Board of Directors, composed of seven members and three deputies, which governs the activities of the foundation and administers the budget (consisting of the fee for the Advisory Board plus the donations).
  2. The Membership Committee, composed of five members and two deputies, who handles requests for membership and coordinates the election of members of the Board of Directors.
  3. The Engineering Steering Committee, with sixteen members proposed by the developer community and approved by the Board of Directors, which oversees all development related activities.

What should I do to become a Member of The Document Foundation?

You can become a TDF Member if you are contributing to the project. You can find the necessary information in the “foundation” section of The Document Foundation website: http://www.documentfoundation.org.

What is the role of the Advisory Board?

The Advisory Board represents the interests of companies and organizations supporting The Document Foundation, based either on their contributions to the development or on the size of their deployment or on the business they build on top of LibreOffice.

As of today, the following organizations are full members of TDF Advisory Board: AMD, CIB, CloudOn, Collabora, Google, Intel, Itomig, KACST (Saudi Arabia), Lanedo, MIMO (France), Red Hat, Studio Storti and SUSE.

In addition, the following  not for profit organizations are free members of TDF Advisory Board: Freies Office Deutschland (FrODeV), Free Software Foundation (FSF) and Software in the Public Interest (SPI).

LibreOffice

Why are LibreOffice releases so frequent?

LibreOffice adopts a “time-based” release, which is substantially different from a "feature-based" release cycle. This means that the releases take place under a fairly rigid schedule, with two major releases at the end of January and July, and a number of monthly minor releases with bug fixes.

The choice of a such a release cycle is based on three factors:

  1. The high frequency of new releases motivates developers - and especially volunteer developers - as it allows them to see their work integrated in the new version of LibreOffice in a reasonably short time after the commit;
  2. The “predictable” release schedule allows Linux distributions to plan and execute in advance the integration of the next stable version of the suite in their package management system;
  3. The time-based release cycle allows IT departments responsible for large LibreOffice deployments to plan in advance the update process, based on a balance between new features and stability.

Why are you providing two different versions of LibreOffice?

LibreOffice is available for download in two different versions: the latest, most advanced and feature rich, and the previous, better tested and more suited for a production environment. Users should choose the version best suited to their needs, according to the work environment and the technical skills.

Novice users, those who use LibreOffice for production documents, and all organizations should opt for the better tested version, and let to “power users” the most feature rich.

What should I do to contribute to the project?

Contributing to LibreOffice is not difficult, but requires a little perseverance and goodwill. In fact, you'll be spoiled for choice when deciding where to start, given the amount of things to do. To get started, just ask for advice from more experienced members who attend the project mailing lists, which are listed here: http://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/mailing-lists/.

In short, you need to invest a little bit of your free time (starting from one/two hours per week), a fair amount of good will, a strong sense of discipline (other members of the project depend from your ability to work and meet deadlines) and a ton of common sense.

I have a problem running LibreOffice: should I report it?

Reporting problems is at the same time a right and a duty of all free software users, as it is the only available path to software improvement. The system for bug reporting adopted by LibreOffice is Bugzilla - https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/ - and while it is not very user friendly, it is the place where developers look for problems to solve.

If you cannot “tame” Bugzilla, you can write a message to the user mailing list (email: users@global.libreoffice.org) to describe the problem. Someone will help you in reporting it on Bugzilla, using the right methodology.

I have found a problem with the localization in my mother tongue: how can I report it?

Localizations in native languages are handled by teams of volunteers, who connect on the international mailing list (email: l10n@global.libreoffice.org) or on one of the several local mailing list (available here:https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Local_Mailing_Lists).

Can I use LibreOffice for free in the enterprise environment?

Of course. LibreOffice LGPLv3+/MPL license allows the use of the program in any environment, and for any type of use. You are only requested to share with the community any improvement you make to the software, such as a patch for a bug or an entirely new feature.

Open Document Format

What is the Open Document Format (ODF)?

The Open Document Format is the native file format of LibreOffice.

You have several sources of information about ODF:

  1. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument
  2. OpenDoc Society: http://www.opendocumentformat.org/
  3. ODF Online Community: http://opendocument.xml.org/

People looking for technical details should have a look at the OASIS website, which hosts two ODF Technical Committeees:

  1. Interoperability: https://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=oic
  2. Adoption: https://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=odf-adoption

What are ODF file extensions?

Open Document Format (ODF) file extensions are the following: ODT for text documents (LibreOffice Writer), ODS for spreadsheets (LibreOffice Calc), ODP for presentations (LibreOffice Impress), ODG for graphics (LibreOffice Draw), ODB for databases (LibreOffice Base), and ODF for mathematical formulas (LibreOffice Math).

ODF specifications are also providing extensions for business charts (ODC), for images (ODI), and for master documents (ODM), which are not used frequently.

What should users do to improve interoperability?

Users must report interoperability problems using Bugzilla, the system for bug reporting: https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/. If you cannot “tame” Bugzilla, you can write a message to the user mailing list - users@global.libreoffice.org - with an accurate description of the problem. Someone will help you in reporting it on Bugzilla, using the right methodology.

Interoperability problems are easier to solve if they are well documented. So, it is always a good idea - if there are no privacy issues related to the contents - to attach the original file to the bug report.

What if I have a different question?

If you have a question that is not answered in these FAQs, please email us at certification@libreoffice.org.

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