Project status overview - PDF signatures in LibreOffice, March 10th, 2015
The most important news first: The project is completed, and we may proudly say that it was a complete success!
After our fundraising campaign for the implementation of digital PDF signatures in the free Office suite LibreOffice had reached its goal of 10'000 Fr. within a mere couple of days, and even had resulted in a small surplus, we entrusted the software consultancy Collabora with the implementation of the feature.
We are glad to announce today that this work has now been completed. All features have been implemented as requested.
PDF signatures: available in LibreOffice version 4.4!
The base functionality, i.e. the creation of digitally signed PDF documents, was officially included in version 4.4 of LibreOffice: see Release Notes.
The fact that this feature could be incorporated in the release on such short
term is owed to the excellent work of the involved developers, first among all
Tor Lillqvist. Then it was the entire Collabora team who spontaneously took it
onto them to run through the entire quality assurance process and to coordinate
with the release!
And there's more to come ...
But it doesn't end there: Thanks to many pledges, our fundraising campaign
had resulted in exceeding its goal by 1'500 Fr. This extra money, together
with the fact that the ensuing currency fluctuations were favourable for us,
allowed us to commission Collabora to work on another related feature:
the integration of digitally signed timestamps into the PDF signatures.
Digitally signed timestamps as defined in RFC 3161 are an important element
of the signature and a mandatory prerequisite for digitally signing PDF documents
in a legally valid manner. Very much like a notarial attestation, they verify the
exact time when a digital signature was applied - an indispensable component
especially of documents whose validity is bound to a certain date.
PDF timestamps: available in LibreOffice version 4.5!*)
This additional feature has now also been implemented and will be available
in version 4.5*) of LibreOffice. Again, all merits go to the developers: When
the budget was finished, but work was not, they continued to work on the
functionality free of charge, until they had completed it.
*) Edit: As the new maror release 5.0 of LibreOffice was published instead of 4.5, the new features are availabe starting with version 5.0.
But the most special thanks of course go to the donors, who have made
this success possible in the first place!
Thank you very much indeed!
LibreOffice is now the only free, open source software suite available that
handles the entire document life cycle from the first draft, over design
and revisions, to the final publication in immutable, digitally signed form.
It is in fact, to our knowledge, the only software suite at all who can do this.
Some inevitable statistics ...
Countries by number of sponsors (Total: 97)
Countries by percent of total donations (Total: 11'508 CHF)
... and some personal milestones along the way
2. - 5. September 2014
LibreOffice Conference 2014 in Bern
Members of Wilhelm Tux and of the Linux User Group Bern are helping out at the conference. From a chat with Michael Meeks and Jan "Kendy" Holesovsky (Collabora) during a break springs the idea to finish the already partly implemented creation of digitally signed PDF documents directly in LibreOffice. A first rough estimate is done: 10 days.
8. September 2014
First round of contacts with possibly interested companies and individuals. Our proposal is met with some interest.
12. - 14. September 2014
First tests with the existing function. The code shows to be rather instable and incomplete. In a sprint Michael comes up with a fix for the observed crashes. Now finally, meaningful testing is possible. Collabora does an assessment of the required effort, and we are glad to learn that the estimated development time is reduced to 8 days.
3. October 2014
We receive the first couple of pledges from companies and individuals who would be willing to support the project, which is very encouraging. But it also shows that we will not come anywhere near the means required for the development. So we decide to set up a public fundraising campaign, but without using one of the known crowdfunding platforms. We consider the personal contact with potential donors to be more important than the ease of use and professionality offered by those platforms. Furthermore we are a bit awed by the initial effort it would take us to set up a multilingual project page there, which still fits our ideas.
13. October 2014
Official start of the fundraising campaign. The web site goes online, for the first time in the history of Wilhelm Tux also in English. It contains a form which allows sponsors to pledge their donations. Payment shall follow later, as soon as enough contributions have been pledged.
We send out press statements in German and English to over 60 publications, journalists and news sites. At the same time postings go out over twitter and to mailing lists of related communities. Collabora actively supports our communication efforts (Thanks, Sam!)
We set up a public list of sponsors, publication there is optional ("opt-in")
On the same day some news sites run articles on our campaign, among them a small one on heise.de.
16. October 2014
"Those were four days of overwhelming echo!" An interim achievment status of 90 % of our goal is announced. Articles about the fundraising begin to appear in online media and communities in Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Russia, the Czech Republic, Argentina, and on the EU's Open Source Observatory.
17. October 2014
At 15:31 the sponsoring goal of 10'000 Fr. is reached. Together with the pledge comes a message from the donor: "Wir machen den Sack zu!" ("We're closing the sack!") (Thanks, Michael!). But still pledges keep coming in ...
20. October 2014
In our very first status e-mail we are already able to inform our sponsors that the goal has been reached: "Thanks to your pledges we were able to reach the sponsoring goal of our fundraising within only 4 days from the official campaign start: We currently stand at 10'858 Fr.!"
And pledges keep coming in ...
We decide to propose a "follow-up project" for the utilization of the surplus that is beginning to show: The integration of digital timestamps according to RFC 3161 into the PDF signing function.
20. October - 2. November 2014
Due to the unexpected amount of pledges from european countries, especially from Germany (the heise.de article has shown its effects), among which many small amounts, we need to find a way to be able to receive these donations, without spending large parts of them on fees. We also want to find ways to prevent high fees for the donors.
After some research and a couple of test transactions we decide to offer three payment methods: Transfer from Switzerland and the SEPA countries to our account directly, furthermore PayPal for credit card payments and additionally BitCoin.
By the way, besides those from Switzerland and EU countries, we also recieve pledges from Australia, Egypt, New Zealand and the USA.
2. November 2014
The web site with the payment instructions goes online, and we ask our sponsors to transfer their pledged contributions: "After a little wait, our fundraising campaign for PDF signatures in LibreOffice is entering its next stage." [...] "As soon as the required amount is available in our account, we will sign the contract with Collabora, which has been set up in the meantime. Then the development work can begin."
10. November 2014
It shows that the payment moral of "our" sponsors is extraordinarily high, and a considerable portion of the pledged contributions is in our account after a couple of days already. So, contrary to our original plan, we sign the contract with Collabora, so they can start work as soon as possible. LibreOffice version 4.4 is in the final testing phase, and with some luck we might just make it into there ...
12. November 2014
Together with a test SuisseID, kindly provided by the Swiss Post, we send the prepared test documents, certificates/keys etc. to "our" assigned developer, Tor Lillqvist.
12. December 2014
Good news and bad ... Tor has successfully completed the old code for Apple OSX and Linux. He has furthermore implemented the Windows support, which had been missing entirely, completely from scratch. Unfortunately some unforeseen difficulties arise during the tests with the SuisseID, so that the smartcard support cannot be tested in its entirety. We urgently need a new SuisseID ...
But the primary project goal has already been achieved!
21. December 2014
We can give our sponsors the good news: "First part of development already completed. We have started the test phase. All completed functions are working flawlessly under Windows, Mac OSX and Linux so far!"
At the same time we ask Collabora for an estimate for the implementation of the
RFC 3161 timestamps.
15. January 2015
Preliminary project status publication.
19. January 2015
Collabora estimates the effort for the RFC 3161 timestamps between 5 and 7 days.
2. February 2015
We give the new commission to Collabora. Thanks to the surplus from the fundraising and the currency fluctuations we will be able to pay for another 40 hours of development work.
On the same day we finally receive a new test SuisseID, which we send on to Tor immediately.
10. February 2015
Work on the completion of the smartcard support and on the implementation of the RFC 3161 timestamps commences.
10. - 26. February 2015
We can even make ourselves marginally useful during debugging on different development stages ...
27. February 2015
It's done! Tor has overcome the last remaining undocumented obstacles of the signature interface and sends us the first PDF document, signed with a SuisseID and containing a valid timestamp, that was entirely created with LibreOffice!
And Collabora does not want to charge us for the time spent in excess of the estimated 40 hours ...
10. March 2015
Official press release (in German) announcing the project's completion.