The Document Foundation

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The Document Foundation
Founded28 September 2010 (announced)
17 February 2012 (legally established)
FoundersExisting members of the community
FocusOffice software
ProductsLibreOffice, Document Liberation Project
Key people
Thorsten Behrens, Eliane Domingos de Sousa, Adam Fyne, Joel Madero, Michael Meeks, Björn Michaelsen, Fridrich Štrba, Andreas Mantke, Eike Rathke, Norbert Thiebaud, Florian Effenberger

The Document Foundation (TDF) is a non-profit organization that promotes open-source document handling software. It was created by members of the community to manage and develop LibreOffice, a free and open-source office suite, and is legally registered in Germany as a Stiftung.[1] Its goal is to produce a vendor-independent office suite with ODF support in a development environment free from company control.[2]

The Document Foundation was created partially over fears that Oracle Corporation, after acquiring Sun Microsystems, would discontinue developing as it had done with OpenSolaris.[3][4][5]


This image shows the relationship between various official groups within The Document Foundation, including the Board of Directors, the Membership Committee, and the Board of Trustees.

The Document Foundation has multiple bodies[6] running its operations:

  • the Board of Directors, which represents the foundation and runs its daily business
  • the Membership Committee, which organizes the elections of the board and admits new trustees, giving them voting rights
  • the board of trustees ("members"), which elect the Board of Directors and the Membership Committee.

In addition an informal advisory board exists to connect with other organizations and entities.[citation needed]

Board of Directors and Team[edit]

The fifth elected Board of Directors has seven members and three deputies.[7] As of May 2021, the Board of Directors composition is:[8]

  • Thorsten Behrens
  • Michael Meeks
  • Franklin Weng (Deputy Chairman)
  • Daniel Armando Rodriguez
  • Cor Nouws
  • Lothar Becker (Chairman)
  • Emiliano Vavassori
  • Nicolas Christener (Deputy)
  • Paolo Vecchi (Deputy)

The Document Foundation employs Florian Effenberger as executive director,[9] who oversees a team of 10 people.[10]

Advisory board[edit]

In June 2011 the foundation announced that it had formed an advisory board. The initial members included Google, SUSE, Red Hat, the German registered society Freies Office Deutschland e.V., Software in the Public Interest, and the Free Software Foundation.[11] In February 2012, Intel became a member of the advisory board.[12] In November 2012, Lanedo joined the Advisory Board.[13] In June 2013, the French Inter-Ministry Mutualisation for an Open Productivity Suite (MIMO)—the government working group responsible for 500,000 desktops—and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) of Saudi Arabia joined the advisory board.[14][15] In July 2013, TDF announced that AMD joined the Advisory Board.[16] Swiss FOSS company Adfinis joined the Advisory Board in May 2019.[17] In July 2019, the UK Government Digital Service joined.[18]



Audience of the LibreOffice Conference 2014 in Bern, including member of the Board, the Membership Committee, the Board of Trustees and Employees of the Document Foundation

The Document Foundation was announced on 28 September 2010 with the Foundation being governed by a "Steering Committee" during the phase of initial creation. The announcement received support from companies including Novell,[19] Red Hat, Canonical and Google.[20] In December 2010, The Document Foundation announced that the BrOffice Centre of Excellence for Free Software, the organization behind BrOffice joined the Foundation.[21]

The Foundation also made available a re-branded fork of which was based on the upcoming 3.3 version, with patches and build software from the Go-oo fork. It was hoped that the LibreOffice name would be provisional as Oracle was invited to become a member of The Document Foundation, and was asked to donate the brand to the project.[2] Following the announcement, Oracle asked members of the Community Council who were members of The Document Foundation to step down from the Council, claiming that this represented a conflict of interest,[22] leaving the community council composed 100% of Oracle employees.[23]

Jacqueline Rahemipour, Co-Lead of the Board, stated:

Although it has been stressed several times that there will be collaboration on a technical level, and changes are possible – there is no indication from Oracle to change its mind on the question of the project organization and management. For those who want to achieve such a change, but see no realistic opportunity within the current project and are therefore involved in the TDF, unfortunately this results in an “either / or” question. The answer for us who sign this letter is clear: We want a change to give the community as well as the software it develops the opportunity to evolve. For this reason, from now on we will support The Document Foundation and will – as a team – develop and promote LibreOffice.[24]

When the project was announced, The Document Foundation did not exist as a legal entity. The Steering Committee wished to formally set up a foundation, and following research chose to establish the foundation in Germany.[25] On 16 February 2011, a fundraising drive was announced to raise the €50,000 needed to create a German foundation.[26] The required amount was raised in eight days.[27]

After clearing legal requirements, the foundation was finally incorporated on 17 February 2012.[28]


In assessing Oracle's role in the events surrounding the establishment of The Document Foundation, writer Ryan Cartwright in late October 2010 said:

The worst thing about this move by Oracle is that it will divide a community that didn't need to be divided. The free software community thrives on forked projects and will actively take the path of greater freedom. Mambo became Joomla, Xfree86 has all but disappeared and StarOffice is now regarded as the less-free cousin of (and not in a good way). What Oracle have just done is put their fingers in their ears and say "la la la" to their critics from within the free software community. With that move they will recruit several more opponents... The bottom line is that in all of this Oracle had golden opportunity after golden opportunity to make real progress for everyone – not just the or the free software community. They could have been the key player and the biggest part of the most popular free software office suite and they treated it like a runny nose. They blew it.[29]

In October 2010 Linux Magazine's Bruce Byfield suggested that the formation of The Document Foundation is just the Go-oo project reinventing itself to the long-term detriment of users.[30]

What happened, I suspect, was that Go-OO, already chafing under Sun's tight control of's direction, saw more of the same – if not worse – awaiting in Oracle. Hoping to succeed before Oracle could articulate its plans, Go-OO members reinvented themselves, and announced the foundation that they had long been calling for. But Oracle refused to be stampeded, and escalated the fork into something that resembles corporate warfare. Whatever the merits of either side (and I am most inclined to support The Document Foundation, although only on the principle that any number is greater than zero), I suspect that the losers in this situation will be the users. The risk is that time will continue to be spent in flame wars that could be better spent in coding. What seems likely is not only a general division and duplication of effort, but, in Oracle's case, a decision to focus on proprietary development as a defensive measure. By making the gambit that it did, The Document Foundation may have perpetuated another version of the stalemate that it was trying to break.[30]

In April 2011, Oracle announced its intention to move to a "purely community-based project".[31][32] Oracle also terminated its commercial product, called Oracle Open Office. In the view of some these moves were a reaction to the formation of The Document Foundation, but according to former Sun executive Simon Phipps:

The act of creating The Document Foundation and its LibreOffice project did no demonstrable harm to Oracle's business. There is no new commercial competition to Oracle Open Office (their commercial edition of OO.o) arising from LibreOffice. No contributions that Oracle valued were ended by its creation. Oracle's ability to continue development of the code was in no way impaired. Oracle's decision appears to be simply that, after a year of evaluation, the profit to be made from developing Oracle Open Office and Oracle Cloud Office did not justify the salaries of over 100 senior developers working on them both. Suggesting that TDF was in some way to blame for a hard-headed business decision that seemed inevitable from the day Oracle's acquisition of Sun was announced is at best disingenuous.[33]

As of 2 June 2011 Oracle has relicensed under the Apache License 2.0 and transferred ownership of the project's assets and trademarks to the Apache Software Foundation.[34]

Adding the Document Liberation Project[edit]

On 2 April 2014, The Document Foundation announced a second top-level project, the Document Liberation Project.[35] It defines itself as "a home for the growing community of developers united to free users from vendor lock-in of content".[36]


  1. ^ "The Document Foundation officially incorporated in Berlin, Germany « The Document Foundation Blog". 20 February 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b The Document Foundation (28 September 2010). " Community announces The Document Foundation". Archived from the original on 30 September 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  3. ^ Collins, Barry. "OpenOffice group breaks away from Oracle". PC Pro. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  4. ^ Clarke, Gavin. "OpenOffice files Oracle divorce papers". The Register. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  5. ^ Paul, Ryan. "Document Foundation forks, liberates it from Oracle". ars technica. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  6. ^ Effenberger, Florian. "The Document Foundation - The open, transparent and meritocratic future of free office software". Florian Effenberger. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  7. ^ "The Document Foundation Statutes". The Document Foundation. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  8. ^ "Board of Directors". The Document Foundation. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  9. ^ "TDF BoD Meeting Minutes". The Document Foundation. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  10. ^ Saunders, Mike (25 September 2020). "Meet the TDF team".
  11. ^ Kerner, Sean Michael (14 June 2011). "LibreOffice gets serious with new release and Advisory Board". Archived from the original on 22 June 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  12. ^ Vignoli, Italo (23 February 2012). "The Document Foundation announces LibreOffice for Windows from SUSE is now available in Intel AppUp(SM) Center". The Documentation Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  13. ^ "TDF/Advisory Board". 3 July 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  14. ^ "The Document Foundation welcomes France's MIMO in the Advisory Board" (Press release).
  15. ^ "The Document Foundation welcomes a new member of the Advisory Board: King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) of Saudi Arabia" (Press release). The Document Foundation. 25 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013..
  16. ^ "AMD joins The Document Foundation Advisory Board to accelerate LibreOffice". 3 July 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  17. ^ "The Document Foundation welcomes Adfinis SyGroup to the project's Advisory Board". 23 May 2019. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  18. ^ "UK Government Digital Service joins The Document Foundation Advisory Board". 24 July 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  19. ^ Kerry Adorno (28 September 2010). "Viva la LibreOffice!". Novell News. Novell. Archived from the original on 15 April 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  20. ^ Jeremy Kirk (28 September 2010). "Update: developers move to break ties with Oracle". Computerworld. Computerworld Inc. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  21. ^ Effenberger, Florian (6 December 2010). "LibreOffice development extends to Brazil". Blog. The Document Foundation. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  22. ^ Ryan Paul (18 October 2010). "Oracle wants LibreOffice members to leave OOo council". ars technica. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  23. ^ Blankenhorn, Dana (19 October 2010). "Oracle purging community council". ZDNet. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  24. ^ Ricky (1 November 2010). "And So The Exodus Begins – 33 Developers Leave". Digitizor. Digitizor Media & Web, Inc. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  25. ^ LibreOffice 50,000 Euro Challenge Archived 18 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine The Document Foundation accessed 2011-02-20
  26. ^ LibreOffice Community starts 50,000 Euro challenge for setting-up its foundation
  27. ^ Thousands of donors contribute €50,000 in just eight days to The Document Foundation
  28. ^ "The Document Foundation officially incorporated in Berlin, Germany". The Document Foundation Blog. The Document Foundation. 20 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
  29. ^ Ryan Cartwright (27 October 2010). "Have Oracle just made it worse for everyone?". Free Software Magazine. The Open Company Partners Inc. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  30. ^ a b Bruce Byfield (22 October 2010). "The Cold War Between and LibreOffice". Linux Magazine. Linux New Media. Retrieved 1 February 2011.
  31. ^ Paul, Ryan (April 2011). "Oracle gives up on OpenOffice after community forks the project". Ars Technica. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  32. ^ Deborah Hellinger (15 April 2011). "Oracle Announces Its Intention to Move to a Community-Based Project". Oracle. Archived from the original on 22 April 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  33. ^ Simon Phipps (May 2011). " and contributor agreements". Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  34. ^ Heise Media UK Ltd (June 2011). "OpenOffice proposed as Apache project". The Open H. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  35. ^ "Document Liberation Project aims to break vendor lock-in". Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  36. ^ Document Liberation Homepage

External links[edit]