Thank you very much, Uwe for proposing me as a candidate to the TDF board of directors in the next term. I accept the nomination and will stand for election.
I’m László Németh, 49 years old free software activist and LibreOffice developer. Code contributor of our code base since 2002. Member of the Certification Committee of TDF since 2020. Member of the Board, TDF since 2022. Regular speaker of Hungarian and international free software and LibreOffice conferences organized by The Document Foundation (TDF), FSF.hu, Hungary and other organizations. Previously co-lead of OpenOffice.org Lingucomponent project.
Contractor of NISZ Inc., Hungary since 2018 to fix interoperability problems and support a small group of LibreOffice developers. LibreOffice software engineer at Collabora Productivity, Cambridge, UK between 2014–2017. Freelance software developer since 1998. Expert of open source language technology, code contributor and consultant of several nativ language projects of OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice. My main free software developments: Hunspell spell checker and morphological analyser (integrated with LibreOffice, Firefox, Google Chrome and free operating systems, also with Apple iOS, PhotoShop, Microsoft Edge and Windows), Lightproor (grammar checker of LibreOffice), open source Hungarian spelling and morphological dictionary.*
I recently summarised for the board and our legal experts what TDF means to me and to many of us. I would like to quote from the edited version of my letter:
Using Wilhelm von Humboldt’s great legal term, which was the base of the German university reform, i.e. university reform of all the world, TDF is a Freistätte. “Freistätte für Kunst und Wissenschaft”, i.e. a ~sanctuary for art and science.
Sustaining LibreOffice development is an impossibly difficult challenge, because of the incomprehensibly large and undocumented source code with reported bugs in the order of 100s of thousands, and with insufficient and dwindling numbers of core developers, who can understand, fix and improve the code. It needs years from the best to achieve the mastery in LibreOffice code base, as I can only mention with the highest praise Michael Stahl’s near 600 (recently 569) commits to fix a single bug, the unusably slow change tracking (https://archive.fosdem.org/2019/schedule/event/are_we_optimiert_yet/attachments/slides/3262/export/events/attachments/are_we_optimiert_yet/slides/3262/FOSDEM2019_swredlinehide.pdf). No one else could have done it. (Just as the role of tendering was to ensure that the most difficult tasks, which could never be solved in any other way, were carried out by the best experts of our code base.)
Sustaining LibreOffice development is an impossibly difficult challenge, because there is no recipe for how to keep it alive, and without knowledge of the future. All single owners of OpenOffice.org have failed, and so will the Foundation if it does not recognise what TDF is.
TDF is a “community space, developing the capacity for collegiality, solidarity and listening to each other”*, where my code is voluntary reviewed by the best experts, regardless of the company or organisation to which they are affiliated (I’ve got 4-5 very important reviews/feedback only in the last few weeks, that I could list). TDF is the a place, where the volunteers maintain the OASIS/ISO OpenDocument standard, the community-driven open standard for office documents. TDF is the place, where the volunteers decipher the secret formats and algorithms of the proprieraty MSO (just like I do now with the justification algorithm of MS Word 2013 and later: 119908 – FILEOPEN: DOCX: Layout differences with justified paragraph. MS 2013 introduced a new "smart justify" that can shrink as well as expand., LibreOffice/Collabora Online Typography). TDF is the place, where volunteers invent and develop new approaches for office software, used also in science and at home (see my conference presentations about the innovations in language technology, which based on the contribution of language experts of our community). TDF is the place, where these results and the scientific methods around them are shared in blog posts, publications and presentations. TDF is the place, where I can get free help on the development channel, mailing lists and the bug tracker to create my code contribution. TDF is the place where I can learn from others to reach the mastery in LibreOffice development, and where I can teach others.
I could give you many examples of what the free software community, built around OpenOffice.org and then LibreOffice, means to me. I was really grateful, when Hunspell***, my fork of OpenOffice.org’s MySpell was integrated with Linux distributions and later, in mainstream OpenOffice.org.* That is why I started to work with Björn Jacke, also a volunteer of the OpenOffice.org project, author of the German spelling dictionary, to create a state-of-the-art German spell checker, and I added to Hunspell, what Björn and me found useful for that.****
I deeply grateful to our community and deeply concerned for its future, these are why I took the lead of Lingucomponent project of OpenOffice.org, wrote textbooks and scientific articles in the area of my OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice developments, and applied to be a board member at TDF.
For me, leaving of Jan ‘Kendy’ Holešovský, who was not only the member of the board, but whose heart was in the community, and whose work (porting our code base to the modern 64 bit CPU architecture, direct support to TDF etc. etc.) was essential to the success of LibreOffice is the most appalling sign of negligence. If a (part of the) community values its most unselfish, most hard-working members in this way, it is no longer a community.
I believe and hope that we can really recognize what TDF means to many of us and give us all the help we need to keep TDF still a sanctuary, without which we all fail.
Full Name: László Németh
affiliation: unaffiliated/Csevej Bt.
75 words statement:
I’m László Németh, free software activist and contributor since 2002. My aim is to keep TDF a sanctuary for art and science, rebuilding the trust in our community, based on our manifesto***** and statutes.
** Zoltán Fleck: A menedékhelyek felszámolása a nihilizmus korában [Dismantling of sanctuaries in the age of nihilism], Élet és Irodalom, LXVII. 47., 2023-11-24, A menedékhelyek felszámolása a nihilizmus korában | ÉLET ÉS IRODALOM
*** I doubled the code of Myspell to create a real international spelling checker with Unicode support, compound word recognition and complex morphology, state-of-the-art suggestion mechanism etc. MySpell/Hunspell was one of the biggest code contribution to OpenOffice.org from third-party developers who were not affiliated to Sun Microsystems (owner and liberator of the code base of OpenOffice.org, i.e. LibreOffice).
**** See Björn Jacke in ChangeLog of Hunspell: https://github.com/hunspell/hunspell/blob/master/ChangeLog
***** New-Era Manifesto - HedgeDoc, TDF/Next Decade Manifesto - The Document Foundation Wiki
(edit: updated manifesto links, same content)