Summer of Tables!

I’m probably one of the last GSoC student to blog after the announcement, but I’m just knee high in school work right now :)

The good news is: Yes! My proposal was accepted and I’ll be working this summer with implementing basic support for tables in KOffice’s text shape. Of course I’m very excited about this and I just wish school was over so I can start hacking.

I’ve been aggregated on the planet for a while now, so maybe some of you have an idea of who I am, though my very infrequent posting surely hasn’t helped. My name is Elvis Stansvik and I’m a 25 year old student from Sweden. A little more about me in my original proposal. I’ve followed the KOffice project with great interest for the past 4 years or so, and when time has allowed I’ve done some bug fixing et.c. I’m looking forward to finally be able to put my heart into the project this summer.

Since support for tables is quite an ambitious task and one that is important to get right, I’m very honored by the confidence put in me by the KOffice mentors and I’ll make sure to work closely with my assigned mentor Thomas and other senior devs within KOffice to bring it to fruition. Don’t be fooled by the word “basic” in my proposal title, tables are a complex thing to implement and although my goals for this summer does not include support for every single detail of the ODF specification of tables, all the requirements of the spec must still be kept in mind in order for my implementation to be able to grow in the future.

As I said, at the moment I’m kind of swamped by school work, but during the little free moments that I actually have, I’m putting my nose in the text layout and loading code of KOffice, and I think that I already have quite a good grasp of how it fits together. School work should ease up a bit in the coming week or two, and during this initial “Community Bonding” period, my plan is to:

  • Read all the relevant portions of the ODF specification and keep my eye out for things that I need to keep in mind that I haven’t thought of already, and maybe create a short list of “requirements” to get a better overview of what ODF demands when it comes to tables.
  • Spend more time reading and maybe even poking at some at the text layout code in plugins/textshape and loading code in libs/kotext/opendocument. No better way to learn than to break stuff.
  • Ask my good’ol mentor quite some questions! :)

In the beginning of June, I’ll also be attending the KOffice meeting in Berlin, where I’ll be able to meet Thomas and the other KOffice devs.

All in all, I think this summer will be a lot of hard work, but a great opportunity, both for me to grow as a programmer and learn more about the KOffice code, but also for KOffice who will finally be getting a proper implementation of tables for the 2.x series, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

My somewhat unsung heroes

Right now, this very weekend, the developers of KOffice, a free software office suite, are gathering at the KDAB offices in Berlin for a final meeting before their long anticipated 2.0 release. Among the attendants are both developers and marketing people. The meeting will have two tracks; one technical track for discussions about all the remaining technical issues with KOffice that needs to be solved before the release, and one marketing track for discussions about how to present the release and how to handle people’s expectations of it. Something that is very important after such a long and hard development cycle.

These people have been working relentlessly on this release, with a release cycle that spans years. Along the way much has happened. Endless design discussions have taken place on the mailing list and on IRC. There have been disagreements among developers, but also reconciliation. The developers are all motivated by different things, and they have all put in a tremendous amount of free time in making this release come out as good as possible. I’ve tried to help out a little bit by putting in a few patches here and there, but at the end of the day, I find the amount of work and the dedication shown by the core KOffice team simply amazing.

In my eyes the KOffice project is one of the more important ones within the KDE sphere. An office suite is something that almost any computer user have to use one day or another, and in the Free Software world the only real alternative at the moment is the OpenOffice.org suite. Other KDE projects such as Amarok, which are not near the size or scope of KOffice have gotten a huge amount of attention, and rightfully so, don’t get me wrong. However, KOffice haven’t really.

Anyway, to conclude this post; the KOffice developers are my heroes, and however the 2.0 release turns out, I think they deserve a big Thank You!