“Digital Signatures in LibreOffice” Fundraiser

The Swiss Wilhelm Tux (get it? Like “William Tell” but with Tux, the Linux mascot) Linux group is running a fundraising campaign to get electronic signatures integrated into LibreOffice.

Most public administrations accept that digitally signed documents have the same validity as those signed by hand, with a pen; and courts around the world also accept that contracts and agreements with digital signatures are legally binding.

Digital documents also have a lot of advantages over physically signed documents: multiple copies can be generated instantly with one mouse click and each will have the exact same validity as the original; digitally signed documents can be sent electronically instead of having to use snail-mail, they don’t take up space in your office (and you can carry around literally thousands of them in your pocket), and they can also be searched and filtered from the comfort of your desktop, as any other document on your hard disk.

However, from the end users’ perspective, digitally signing documents is currently a pain in the neck, a cumbersome, complex process that requires an above average degree of technical know-how; for some arcane reason, a web browser (and not any web browser either: it must be “supported”); special applications that only work on certain operating systems; and only God knows what else. The situation is so bad that, despite the clear and obvious advantages listed in the paragraph above, in most businesses digital documentation has failed miserably to catch on and users still much prefer going to the trouble and expense of sending contracts back and forth on paper to get things validated.

Integrating a digital-signing functionality directly into LibreOffice would make the process much simpler, faster, and more convenient, would enhance productivity, and just make plain common sense: where better place to put a digital signing button than on the same application you use to generate the document? Integrating digitally signing of documents in LibreOffice would also give the free office suite a clear advantage over other proprietary alternatives.

The fundraisers hope to raise 8,000 € (about USD $10,000 ) that will be used to commission the development of digital signing within LibreOffice.

Picture by erkinsahin for freeimages.com.