A community resolving issues collaboratively

Resolving issues and bringing improvements to LibreOffice is usually the result of team work – a team often made up of people who have never met each other!

As a Free / Open Source project, LibreOffice has contributors in the space of translation, documentation, development, design… and Quality Assurance (QA) from around the globe. Some might have contributed for decades, others just reported a bug for the first time yesterday.

Let’s have a look at three stories in which issues were identified, triaged and resolved in different ways, but always through a combined effort.

Many hands make light work

Take for example bug 153790 on Bugzilla. At least six contributors were involved in its resolution:

  • Ruud reported an issue in sheet referencing in Calc formulas;
  • Stéphane confirmed the issue, provided more precise steps and let others know that the issue is a regression;
  • ady pinpointed more precisely in which version the issue started;
  • raal bibisected the issue to a precise commit by Eike – the issue started in version 7.4;
  • Eike provided a fix for version 7.5;
  • Finally, Xisco created a unit test so the issue does not reappear in the future.
Plot of number of distinct contributors to TDF Bugzilla tickets since 2017, showing moderate variation around an average of about 40 distinct contributors a day.

Since 2017, an average of about 40 different accounts modify reports daily on The Document Foundation’s Bugzilla.

Looking into an issue reveals another

Here’s another story split between three reports.

It all starts with an enhancement in how Tables of Figures can be populated, which was originally an issue in OOXML compatibility. Since LibreOffice 7.6, it is possible to make a Table of Figures track an extra paragraph style for a more customised result (and for improved DOCX support).

Screenshot of Table of Figures dialog in which an extra style can be used with the new checkbox "Create from additional paragraph style".

In LibreOffice 7.6, an extra style can be used to populate a Table of Figures.

Susanne tested it, noticed duplicated entries in the Table of Figures, and reported a separate issue in bug 157200.

At the time of writing, the issue Susanne reported is still being discussed. However, while testing (and learning about the feature), Stéphane noticed a problem in how the dialog resets the Table of Figures to using the “Figures” category instead of “Illustrations”. Turns out this GTK-specific issue was a regression from when the dialog was heavily refactored back in LibreOffice 6.3, and lived on unreported for more than four years. Once it was described in bug 157223, Caolán fixed the regression… less than two hours after opening the report!

Enhancements… and their consequences

One final example in bug 156282.

Bathsheba reported an Outline Folding issue that makes its use more cumbersome in Writer: not being able to fold/unfold all headings at once in the Navigator. She also pointed out an associated frustration in not seeing the hidden headings in the Navigator. Jim, who designed the feature, offered a solution for both issues, including greying out the hidden headings in the Navigator instead of hiding them. Two birds with one stone!

Screenshot of the Navigator sidebar deck, showing the improved feature with greyed-out headings.

The improved Outline Folding display in the Navigator, which will be available in LibreOffice 24.2.

Unfortunately, the patch introduced a nasty regression: a crash when using the Navigator, only happening with the GTK interface. Thankfully, Timur caught the issue only two days after it appeared, and it was therefore quickly fixed by Jim two more days after – before it could affect general users of LibreOffice releases.

Thank you all!

These are three examples among thousands of others that illustrate how improving LibreOffice is a combined effort.

All these success stories wouldn’t have unfolded, and resulted in fixes and new features, if it wasn’t for the users initiating them with a report. So thank you all for reporting issues, but also for triaging the reports, re-testing older ones, and contributing fixes! By combining our various skills and diverse perspectives, we can continue making LibreOffice better for everyone, building on its 38 years of history.

Join us to learn new skills and meet other QA contributors!

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