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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

REPORT: LibreOffice mini-conference 2017 Japan (in openSUSE.Asia Summit 2017 Tokyo)

On Oct 22nd, 2017, we hosted an event titled "LibreOffice mini-conference 2017 Japan," as a sub-event of "openSUSE.Asia Summit 2017 Tokyo."
openSUSE.Asia Summit is:
"one of the great events for openSUSE community (i.e., both contributors, and users) in Asia. Those who usually communicate online can get together from all over the world, talk face to face, and have fun. Members of the community will share their most recent knowledge, experiences, and learn FLOSS technologies surrounding openSUSE."
This year hosted this event at the University of Electro-Communications (UEC) in Chofu, Tokyo, and I was honored to be a committee member.
In spite of the bad weather immediately before the hit of the huge typhoon Lan, over 150 participants from nine countries gathered in two days (Oct 21st and 22nd), and we enjoyed various talks and workshops on openSUSE and various open source software (including LibreOffice, of course) and were able to interact with each other.

Thanks to The Document Foundation for helping the travel cost, we could invite 3 speakers from cities far from Tokyo, then we had 6 speakers from 3 countries (Taiwan, Indonesia, and Japan).
Sponsor board and event board.  See "LibreOffice: The Document Foundation" logo!

Talk highlight

Let's see each talk in our mini-conference!

Opening Talk: LibreOffice: The Office Suite with Mixing Bowl Culture, by Naruhiko Ogasawara

My talk :)
Introducing LibreOffice to use the keyword "Mixing bowl," taken from TDF official slide provided as a marketing material.
I love LibreOffice because everyone in the community is kind to anyone who acts to do something.  I aimed to convey a message that anyone can participate LibreOffice project in the same opportunities, and I could do (hope so).

The Interoperability of Documents, by Franklin Weng

Not only the full talk in mini-conference, but he also had a lightning talk on 21st Oct evening. by hisa_x.  Flickr link

Franklin, who leads ODF migration in Taiwan, talked about the importance of creating interoperable documents and how to do it.  "Document interoperability = Working together better" in this talk was a simple and strong, important message.
One of the keys is "document format," so we must choose ODF instead of OOXML to make interoperable documents (and of course LibreOffice is the best office suite to generate ODF ;).
I thought "interoperability" was a keyword of the mini-conference (coincidentally, many talks mentioned that).

State of CJK issues of LibreOffice, by Shinji Enoki

Shinji wearing Rome conference T-shirt. Cool! by hisa_x. Flickr link

Shinji Enoki is a member of LibreOffice Japanese Team (Japanese NLP), same as mine.  He continuously attended LibreOffice Conference for years, and this talk was "replay" of last global conference talk in Rome.
In The Next Decade Manifesto,
WE COMMIT OURSELVES:  to support the preservation of mother tongues by encouraging all peoples to translate, document, support, and promote our office productivity tools in their mother tongue
Then, not only UI/document translations but language-dependent features work well is also important.   But sometimes it is quite hard for developers to understand what is "work well" in language which is not his/her mother tongue.  Especially CJK, RTL for a developer who uses latin language.  So we, Asian users have to improve LibreOffice by ourselves and to help developers to go the right way.
He introduced current status of CJK issues with examples such as IVS problem, and several resources provided by the project:

Introduction to Japanese Darkness "Excel Houganshi," by Rin Nakamura

Rin Nakamura talking about Excel Houganshi. by hisa_x. Flickr link
Hmm... it is quite hard to explain what the talk means because it very tied to Japanese culture... but I'm trying.
"Houganshi (方眼紙)" means "graph paper," paper with pre-printed square grids.  In Japan, it is common to use Excel like as Houganshi, to make all cell width and height exactly same.  You can easily see so many "Excel Houganshi" via google images.
Nakamura-san claimed "You don't do this (to create "Excel Houganshi"), then introduced an example that he was bothered by such Excel Houganshi, and demonstrated the trick to make it a proper document based on it.
His message was "use tools (like office suite) with proper way."   Excel Houganshi has been a good technic in "print to paper" era, but in the digital era, it became "Japanese Darkness" culture.  No one wants to maintain Excel Houganshi document.  So, the talk was strongly related to Franklin's talk;  Excel Houganshi is exchangeable, but NOT interoperable.

Write Your Story with OpenSource, by Umul Sidikoh

Umul talking with demonstrations. by Edwin Zakaria. Flickr link

Umul from Indonesia told us how to write a document using Writer style features, with lots of demonstrations.  Live demo sometimes makes us very frustrated, but she tried well :).
This talk also related to interoperability.  Using style feature makes documents more interoperable.  It is "right way" to use Writer, instead of insert new line, white space or specify font directly, as Franklin mentioned.
I heard that this was her first overseas trip and she seemed to enjoy both the conference and Tokyo.  I believe it was a great step for her to move forward to contributing LibreOffice, and she'll continue to contribute us, with contacting other LibreOffice people.

How to build LibreOffice on your desktop, by Masataka Kondo

(Oops, I couldn't find out his photo... ><)

LibreOffice is open source software.  It means, we could build LibreOffice from source code by ourselves.  Kondo-san, another member of LibreOffice Japanese Team, introduced LibreOffice building-how-to with openSUSE and Linux Mint.
Franklin commented we also could try with Docker (and he let us know the link).  I never tried to use Docker to build LibreOffice, then I would like to try near future.

Lightning Talks

openSUSE.Asia Summit has 2 lightning talk sessions in evening each of day.
In day 1 session, Franklin presented "Become a TDF Member."  It was fantastic!  Everyone was bursting laughing :).

In day 2 (the day of LibreOffice mini-conference) session, two interns from iCraft, the company which provides LibreOffice support in Japan and sponsored openSUSE.Asia Summit, had talks related their home country (Tunisia and Ethiopia) and LibreOffice.  They are also very interested.
TRABELSI Mohamed talking about Tunisia and LibreOffice, by hisa_x, Flickr link
Aschalew Arega Ademe talking about Ethiopian IT / FLOSS includes LibreOffice, by hisa_x, Flickr link

What is a "LibreOffice mini-conference"?  Is this different from LibreOffice Kaigi?

Anyway, I would like to explain that ;)
In my personal opinion, since LibreOffice is a consumer product, it is important that there are events where users can participate it by their mother tongue. That's why there is LibreOffice Kaigi. "Kaigi" is taken from a Japanese word "会議" means "conference," which means that it is the event for Japanese speakers by Japanese speakers. Of course, it is respect for RubyKaigi (the annual conference of the programming language Ruby), too.
Nonetheless, for the community members, of course, international exchange is also very important. We already have an annual event called LibreOffice Conference which is a wonderful opportunity to exchange information and opinions. However, the LibreOffice Conference is held in Europe (I do not want to say that is a bad thing), it is a bit difficult for Asian "neighbors" to gather. We use different mother tongues, but we live in a similar time zone, similar culture, so there should be something we can do together. Therefore, I think that it is better to have an "international, regional" conference. That is a "mini-conference."


I could say that our "mini-conference" this year was a huge success.  Everyone enjoyed lots of interesting talks and spent a great time to talk each other.

Thanks to all attendees, speakers, sponsors (includes The Document Foundation) and excellent volunteer staffs of openSUSE.Asia Summit.  Hope others will host another mini-conference (or any title, means "international, regional") and we will meet there!
Speakers group photo in our booth, by Edwin Zakaria. Flickr link 


I believe all videos of openSUSE.Asia Summit 2017 will be published soon.  I will inform you here when it's done immediately.

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