How to proceed with the development of the Docear4LibreOffice add-on ?

More than half a year ago, we started a call for donation to pay a freelancer who wanted to develop an add-on for LibreOffice and OpenOffice, comparable to Docear4Word. Originally, we estimated that it would take about 2 months before the work was completed, or at least a decent demo version was ready to released. Well, that estimate wasn’t quite precise – the developer hasn’t finished even an alpha version yet. In addition, we are still missing a significant amount of donations to fully pay the developer ($1,000 are missing).

The question arises, how to proceed? We see the following options:

1. Just wait 

The freelancer is still working on the add-on. So, most likely he will finish the add-on some day – maybe in 2 months, maybe in 6 months, maybe in a year. However, I have to point out that my satisfaction with the current progress and outcomes are not overwhelming. Personally, I have some doubts that the final add-on will meet the quality expectations I have, and that probably most Docear users have.  However, I suggest you get an idea of the add-on yourself. The freelancer sent me a demo version that you can try out. To do so, download the add-on, store it on your hard drive, and open the downloaded file with LibreOffice or OpenOffice. This should open an installation dialog, and you need to confirm all messages in the dialog. After the installation, you should restart Libre/OpenOffice. If you are using OpenOffice, you will have a Docear entry in the menu and in the tool bar (see screenshot below). If you are using LibreOffice, you will only have an entry in the menu.

To being able to use the add-on, you need to specify where you store your citation styles (click “Citation Styler” in the menu). If you are already using Docear4Word, specify the Style folder of Docear4Word. Otherwise, download some example styles, extract the styles in the ZIP file somewhere on your hard drive, and specify that path in Open/LibreOffice (see screenshot below).

Then you need to specify your BibTeX file (click “Settings” in the menu):

Now the add-on should work. Feel free to “Add References” and a Bibliography. However, please note that there are many open issues and the add-on is not ready for productive use.

If you try the add-on, and if you are happy with what you see (considering that this is the result of more than half a year work), please let us know in the comments. If you are not happy, please read on…

2. Seek another freelancer

If you feel that the current achievements do not meet your expectations, we might look for another freelancer. The current freelancer will not receive any reimbursement in this case (unless the next freelancer uses some of the original source code). Please note that we currently have no other freelancer at hand. Finding one might take some time, and there is no guarantee that the new freelancer will do the work for $2,500 (chances are, other freelancers will ask for more money).

3. Cancel the project

If you believe that it’s not possible to develop the add-on in a reasonable amount of time, or in a satisfactory quality, please let us know. In this case you will get back the money you donated. If you donated via PayPal more than six weeks ago, PayPal will keep a small fee (between 1% and 3% I believe). Otherwise, you will get back the full amount.

Finally, a few words about how to handle the problem that we probably will not be able to collect enough money to pay the freelancer in full (be it the current freelancer or a new one): Our suggestion is that we – Docear – pay the missing money. However, we will release the add-on as closed-source shareware. This means, there will either be a free “light” version (e.g. for managing up to 50 references), or a free trial version (e.g. for 30 days). To use the unlimited full version, a fee of e.g. $5 is to be paid. Of course, anybody who contributed with a donation during the development will receive the add-on for free. Once, we “sold” as many full versions to cover our expenses, we will release the add-on as open source. Of course, if you wanted the same (get your donation back as soon as enough users paid), you are welcome. Please note that this is only a suggestion. If you have a better idea how to collect more donations, or how to get the required money otherwise, let us know.

So, what do you think?

Let us know your suggestions and comments, either here in the Blog, or by email.

 

## Update 2014-10-24 ##

Many of the commenters ‘voted’ to wait and see what the freelancer will come up with eventually. However, I have the impression that most users did not try the current demo version of the add-on. Therefore, please download the add-on, and have a look it to find out if it fits your expectations. For instance, you might find out that the add-on  is quite slow (and there is no guarantee that the freelancer will be able to improve the performance). If we all agree that the freelancer should go on, then we will have to pay him the money ($500 for the first Alpha, another $500 for the second version, and so on), and we cannot complain later that the add-on is too slow etc. Personally, we (the Docear team) don’t mind because we won’t use the add-on anyway (we all use Microsoft Word). So, if you donated because you need the add-on, then you need to decide if work done so far meets your expectations.

## Update 2014-10-29 ##
Thank you for all your feedback. We decided to stop the current project, and to look for another freelancer. Since we collected only $1,405 of donations so far, and probably no freelancer will develop the required add-on for that amount of money, we, the Docear team, probably will pay the missing money (as long as it’s not $10,000). However, we will release the add-on with some restrictions (see above for details), and as closed source until we got our money back. Of course, anybody who donated at least $1, will get the add-on for free with full functionality right away. If you already donated money, and the proposed solution is not acceptable, please let us know, and you will get back your donation.

## Update 2015-02-26 ##
Unfortunately, we were not able to find any freelancer who could deliver the add-on. They either didn’t make a competent impression, or wanted to have ~20.000 Dollars and more to develop the add-on. Hence, we will pause our efforts on this project, until we stumble upon a capable freelancer who meets our price expectations (<10.000$).

34 comments to How to proceed with the development of the Docear4LibreOffice add-on ?

  • I vote for waiting. I know that not everything is immediate. I believe this add-on is going to be a powerful tool in the hands of many.
    Wish the best,
    Tim

  • valioni

    I vote for waiting.

    In the case docear would pay the missing sum, I believe you should search for a backup freelancer just to be safe.

    In the end, I don’t believe in canceling the project under no circumstance, no matter how long it takes to develop it. I’m tiring to evade the closed sourced jail and each piece of freedom matters.

    hope for the best,
    vali

  • Georg

    Jorean, you are very generous.

    I exclusively use Word. Yet I would like this Add-On to come into being, but I have time to wait and agree with Tim.
    The text reads as if you are unhappy with the work of the current freelancer, almost doubting his ability to create a good product. I cannot judge this and will leave it to others to decide whether to keep him or not.
    Even if you decide to cancel this Add-On, I would not want my money back, consider it paid towards all your great effort.

    Best,
    Georg

  • Jay

    I use Word but understand that for folks that use OpenOffice or LibreOffice this is feature they can’t be waiting more than a year for and with no guarantee that it will be a quality release. I have a long experience of using freelancers and one thing is for certain: if they miss the first two deadlines for project (first one and second opportunity to rectify) they won’t complete the project on time and most likely the product won’t be of quality.

    Another problem is what is going to happen when the plugin have to be updated to work with future releases of Docear? Wait another year? If you can’t find another freelancer that can do the job now, freeze the project and remove the current freelancer, with time you should be able to find someone in the Apache Foundation OpenOffice forums or LibreOffice ones.

  • Piotr

    From the post above I assume that you, the Project Manager, you are unhappy with the outcome. I vote for waiting one more month and then making a decision between 1. and 2. (unless you have sent “a warning” already), but please carry on! Keep my cash and I can chip in bit more if necessary.

    Piotr

  • david

    a while ago i donated $30, and i don’t mind to wait a few more months. however, i tried the addon, and, imho, results are kinda disappointing. 1. it’s really slow. if the response times for opening dialogs does not improve drastically, the addon wouldn’t be useful for me. 2. seems to me that lots of functionality is still missing.

  • david

    sorry, forgot to vote: stop project. hire other freelancer. i donate another $30 if necessary.

  • Nicolas

    In the computer at my office the AddOn doesn’t work at all. It opens the dialog, but doesn’t allow me to add the references to my documents. Furthermore, it increase the counter of number of reference every time I open it. But wait, not just the counter, the references appear repeated in the list also. So, the plugin is just a visualizer of the database with a worse interface than Docear or Jabref.

    I vote for 2, find another freelancer.

    • >It opens the dialog, but doesn’t allow me to add the references to my documents

      What happens? Nothing? An error message? I think you need first to select a citation style, and maybe not all are working correctly. Try e.g. “ACM SIG Proceedings”.

  • CharlesD

    I installed the add-on. It runs on my Windows 7 machine with LibreOffice. However, the add-on seems like a very early prototype (more like a proof-of-concept than anything near a stable add-on). If it took the freelancer 6 months to develop this add-on, a 1.0 stable, that could be used in a productive environment, will take – my guess – at least 1 more year, probably 2.

    -> Option 2

  • Roland

    Hey,

    I wanted to try the add-on, however the following error occurs: “java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException”
    I am running LibreOffice 4.3.2.2.0 on Manjaro Linux (based on Arch) with the latest oracle java. If someone can point me toward a solution, I would be happy to try the add-on.
    As I am a donator for the development of this add-on, I think the project should not be aborted. I agree with CharlesD, you should seek another freelancer, the current one seems not be able to finish the project in an acceptable time-frame.
    Beside that, I wonder if you ever discussed possible financing models? I used Docear for my MSc thesis and still use it during my PhD thesis and in my eyes it is the most powerful literature/knowledge organization tool I know. However, there are still a lot of open (small) issues, being it the interface/usability, the workflow, LibreOffice ad-don, etc. Of course you are a small team and don’t have the resources to speed up the development. But in the case of the development of the metadata retrieval one could see a successful funding of an additional feature. Docear should stay free for everyone, but what about a premium membership version? As I use the software on a daily basis I would willingly pay for it (for example one pays 50 bucks for Evernote premium per year, something I would also pay readily for Docear). Premium members would then get the latest features 2 weeks earlier or could vote on the direction of the development. Or what about kickstarter? Would it be possible to gather funding there for the future development?

    • >I wonder if you ever discussed possible financing models?
      >Docear should stay free for everyone, but what about a premium membership version?

      We currently are discussing options for funding. Unfortunately, we are really busy right now (with some not-Docear-related work), but I am confident that in a few weeks we will present and discuss our ideas with Docear’s users (visit the Blog if you are interested, or follow us on Docear or Twitter).

  • NormanS

    Hallo,

    ich hatte vor einiger Zeit einen Antrag zur Unterstuetzung freier literaturverwaltungssoftware gestellt, welchem damals zugestimmt wurde. Ein erster Antrag auf finanzielle Unterstützung scheiterte damals aber leider.

    Es wäre schon sehr gut ein solches Plugin den Studenten (und nicht nur den) anbieten zu können. Besonders weil sowohl das Plugin als auch die Textverarbeitung, für die es gedacht ist, Freie Software sind.

  • Anna

    I vote for finding another freelancer for this project, and making the addon paid until Docear gets its money back.

    I am a freelancer myself, and I’d never let myself go that slack on a project – especially when it’s clear how many people are waiting for it. This guy either doesn’t really have the skills, or has productivity issues.

    It’s a good idea to check in the LibreOffice/OpenOffice forums.

  • valioni

    I’m changing my vote, I believe you should search for another freelancer.

    I do not have experience in programming and I don’t know if another freelancer could use what this one has almost made, but while we wait for a new programmer, the current one should be given a fixed amount of time, say 1-2 months to produce a working alpha, and release the code to get the first 500$, his involvement in the next phase should be discussed after that, if there is something to be discussed (a working alpha).

    I also did not like the attitude of some of his comments on github, that is the main reason for changing the vote, sorry for him but he’s pretty much a “no” person, we need a “yes” one.

  • Guido

    Hi,
    I tried once Docear few months ago and I wish starting using it on a regular basis (as Roland does).
    I do not use Microsoft software since many years now, and the missing plugin is one of the things people like me would really appreciate in order to “adopt” Docear, so you should definitely keep going on with the development (up to you evaluating whether with another freelancer or not), and the plugin should be developed in a reasonable time span.
    I still haven’t made a donation but I am ready to contribute even if I (still) don’t use your great program (I advertise it to anyone I think might be interested).
    Please keep going on!

  • Guido

    Sorry I forgot to mention that I am also experiencing the “java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException”
    I am running LibreOffice 4.3.2.2 on Lubuntu 12.04 LTS.

  • Roland

    A small update on the “java.lang.reflect.InvocationTargetException”-error:

    2 possible approaches:
    1) Ubuntu user should check if they have the libreoffice-java-common pkg installed.
    2) Start Libreoffice as root (sudo), then installation worked for me. However, the extension is not really working/crashes.

  • Bettina

    It’s not running on Macintosh and Openoffice. The programm didn’t react anymore, after I had clicked on Citation styler to choose the bib-file. So I would search for a new freelancer.

    I like the idea of a shareware or test version to finance the project. If it would be sure to get back the main part of the donation, I would consider to donate more money.

  • Edmund Laugasson

    I would vote on 2 – find another freelancer. Also I would suggest to find crowdfunding site and promote the project there. Here are top 10 crowdfunding sites – http://www.crowdfunding.com/
    Other opportunities are written here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdfunding – also Angel Inverstors etc.
    I really hope that the LibreOffice extension will get ready before I have to finish my PhD (started at 2012).
    Also there are possibilities, that if Docear will be the tool to use at Mac OS, GNU/Linux, MS Windows then I am pretty sure, that also universities are ready to support. I mean there could be find some project in partnership with some university and Docear Team and do the LibreOffice plugin and even more development you need.
    Currently I know, that also Mendeley is a lot used – there is possible to create research communities, share your library or part of it, etc. I assume Docear should have similar features, otherwise researchers will not adopt it. Especially collaboration features. Also integrating ResearchGate, https://www.academia.edu/ would be good idea. I mean – there would be not a good idea create new community but integrate existing ones into Docear.

  • Edmund Laugasson

    The Mendeley, Researchgate, https://www.academia.edu/ would be three main communities to rely on – if there are anyone else – please let here know.

  • zaxebo1

    rather than finding just another “random” developer,
    it will be BETTER to contact LIBREOFFICE’s ORGANIZATION “CERTIFIED” DEVELOPERS listed at
    https://www.documentfoundation.org/certification/developers

    The unaffiliated or collbora section on that above url link may get you the cheapest deal from those developers, to develop this.

  • Libre

    Agree with zaxebo1 above. Please contact the Libreoffice Certified Developers. No more ‘freelancers’ – I’d rather have a guild doing my work then someone who promises big but has few credentials.

  • nicosaon

    Hello!
    Please don’t leave this objective, it is an urgent issue to freely work using Docear
    I really need the extension because I can’t use Word and I’m almost finishing my thesis.

    In the comparison of software from Wikipedia Docear appears as a compatible with both LO and OO, I start using it, create a database and now I can’t use it with the text processor.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software

    I will make another contribution for the development next month, but I think it could go starting. I really hope so.

  • zaxebo1

    When you download “standalone” jabref http://jabref.sourceforge.net/screenshots.php , or install it on ubuntu using “sudo apt-get install jabref” and then launch the jabref. Then in Jabref->”Tools” menu->”Openoffice/Libreoffice connection” , you can connect to libreoffice and dynamically manage the references in libreoffice (using jabref) . I have tested it using latest jabref version 2.10 and libreoffice 4.4.
    HENCE, jabref correctly manages libreoffice bibliographic references.
    ==
    NOW when “docear” uses “jabref” itself, then why docear can not use this facility of jabref? Why are searching for development of a seaprate plugin. Why inbuilt jabref into docear can not be used by docear ,for connection with libreoffice and managing the bibliography dynamically?

  • zaxebo1

    help regarding standalone “jabref” integration with libreoffice/Openoffice
    http://jabref.sourceforge.net/help/OpenOfficeIntegration.php

    docear has inbuilt jabref , so use this above feature to integrate with libreoffice.

  • annonymous

    Are the authors of the docear4word plugin not the people best placed to develop an open office / libre office plugin?
    Surely they have experience of porting or re-coding simmilar plugins for other refernce platforms.
    Why do they not want to touch this with a barge pole?
    Is this a more complicated / messy / difficult problem than the budget and previous freelancer care to admit?

    did they just bite off more than they can chew?

    Is this some kind of OLE / DLL thing – or is it handled by some java / perl / python whatever backend.

  • annonymous

    this tool offers so much promise – but on linux/bsd OS appears to be only half-baked (rendering it useless for mainstream academic use).
    integration is everything.

    I wish you the best of luck, but it looks like a tie in with MS is unavoidable removing the USP of this tool.

  • leoperbo

    I agree with zaxebo1, I’m using Docear for manage PDF’s annotations and reference data, then, I use the standalone JabRef application for introducing cites and generate the references list in a Libreoffice document, using the OpenOffice plugin for JabRef. If Docear team “integrates” the OpenOffice plugin in their JabRef implementation the objective will be nearly accomplished. Considering that, in words od JabRef developers, “the former plugin has become an integral part of JabRef since version 2.9 and is maintained along new releases of JabRef”, this shouldn’t be as difficult as developing “Docear4LibreOffice add-on”.

    • Gabriel

      I have LibreOffice and Docear installed.

      If I install standalone JabRef, can I send my reference list from Docear to the standalone JabRef, so I can further send the references to LibreOffice?

  • greg

    Docear is very useful program. It is uniqe expirience to use it. Briliant idea is support for libre ofice becouse libre or freeofice are free. Libre and fre office are faster than office.

    Kickstarter donation??

  • Niels

    I agree to continue developing the add-on, it would be a great tool using it also with LibreOffice.

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