In just three days, the Swiss open source community Wilhelm Tux reached its crowdfunding target of 10,000 CHF (about 8000 euro) to add support for digital signatures in PDF documents. The feature will be added to LibreOffice, a free and open source suite of office productivity tools. The project is awarded to Collabora, an open source IT service provider, which will deliver the new functionality in April.
The Swiss open source group began raising funds on 13 October. The campaign will allow users of LibreOffice to create PDF documents with digital signatures, conform to PDF/A signature standards. This is a requirement to creating PDF documents that can be legally binding.
Electronically signed PDFs can be legally binding when the signature is accompanied by a timestamp, explains Markus Wernig, the group's chairman. The open source group hopes to be able to fund this as well, if further donations come in.
The idea for the crowdfunding campaign was conceived at the LibreOffice Conference, which took place in Bern in early September. The open source group writes that a discussion on the feature attracted a lot of interest at the conference. “Digital signatures are important for being able to verify the authenticity of a document.”
So far, 90 organisations, companies and individuals contributed to the Wilhelm Tux campaign. One of the sponsors is Swiss Post Solutions, a division of the government-owned Swiss Post.
Free document exchange
“For more than 10 years Wilhelm Tux has advocated the use of free software, especially in public administration and in enterprises”, the group introduces its campaign. Digitally signing PDFs “is of great importance for free document exchange and thus should be implemented in free software.”
In a statement, Collabora, a company based in Cambridge (UK), writes that the success of the crowdfunding campaign shows that “businesses want LibreOffice, want digital signing, and, given the opportunity, are happy to pay for it. It also demonstrates the freedom that the LibreOffice ecosystem provides to businesses.”
Wilhelm Tux’s crowdfunding campaign page will stay open until the end of the year.
The past few years, Swiss, German and French public administrations have paid for comparable software development projects to improve open source office productivity.