Hi all, I'm back at home in Portugal, it is always great to come back after a long fun journey to see things haven't changed much, but I myself, on the other hand, have. Now I am packed with some more knowledge :) .
I'm very happy I was able to take these days off and rest a bit. It had been 18 months since I last had some vacations, so these were some pretty good days.
Well, even though I had to wake up at 5AM to go to the Libre Graphics Meeting on most of the three days of the event, I really don't regret it, it was very good.
Now I will try to sum things up on what happened in Libre Graphics Meeting, what I think we can expect in the future and also mention somethings I might have missed in my daily reports.
First of all I think I must mention that it is important to have some "big names" sponsoring these kind of events, and even though I don't really know what sort of sponsoring each sponsor did at the Libre Graphics Meeting, I must say that it is important to see big names concerned with Free Software and wanting to get their names attached to it.
And picking up on the sponsors I will just give this minor focus to them and give some of my own feedback.
Starting with HP (which I believe was the main sponsor). It was good to see HP there, they had two guys representing the company, their Linux and Open Source operations CTO and an employee who also developed the Little CMS tool. With this we can really see that HP is aware of Free Software and they are trying to keep up with the future, especially in graphics, which is their main market. Now, I hope they can contribute more to Free Software and not just try to take advantage of it; hopefuly we can get a good commitment of both, HP already got some Open Source projects sponsored and as a trade off they got some benefit from them.
Then you have O'Reilly, they are getting more and more books out on Free Software and I want to thank them for doing it. I know they are getting paid for this but if there were no books on Free Software I'm sure that the amount of users and companies using Open Source Software would still be low. They took the risk and they got rewarded for it, so hopefully we can have even more books on Free Software from O'Reilly in the future. Also, it was pretty cool of them to distribute some free books during the whole event.
The other supporter that was visible there was Xara. I will focus a bit more on Xara in a minute, but right now I want to focus just on their sponsoring. They offered a CD with Xara LX (the Open Source version of Xara Xtreme), it was good, but I noticed that the sponsoring had mostly to do with having more visibility for Xara and their move into the Open Source world. I can understand this and it is a great tool to have as Free Software, but I will address some concerns of mine in just a minute.
There were some other sponsors that were mentioned in the flyers but were hidden during the whole event. One was Flock (I saw nothing about these guys during the event...), Gnome, Linux Magazine and Eyerolles.com . Linux Magazine did offer some magazines (in French), but none of them were recent; the most recent one was from November. But I'm pretty sure they did some other kind sponsoring of the event that I'm not aware of.
Picking now on Xara, I really liked the software, it reminds me of Blender and how it was Open Sourced, but with Xara you don't really have a foundation, but a company behind it.
I didn't really got the chance to talk to the Xara guys, just caught up some of their conversations, but, except for the founder of Xara, who was pretty excited with the move to Open Source and seemed to have a business plan prepared for it, the other guys there (which I believe were developers) looked really sad to see this happen and looked concerned to maybe lose their positions with this move. Well, I can understand their concerns (if I'm actually right about this), but I think they should look a bit more happy about it and try to at least look more excited, after all, the company is the one to suffer. Also, I hope their business plan is a good one, because I don't really want to see this great software disappear. My thought right now is that they plan to live with support, books, training and eventually with an Enterprise Version of Xara that has some features that are not available in the Open Source version. But for this to work, they must look excited and enthusiastic about it, because if you get this negative feedback you will most likely think twice before working with them and their tools.
With this I don't want people to not try Xara or not use it, I want you to do exactly the opposite. I'm just addressing my concerns on what I think they should improve in the future. It is one of the best tools I've seen so far and having it as Free Software is the best thing you can get from the Xara guys, so treat them with respect; what we are getting now are some years of development and they are giving it for free.
Inkscape / The GiMP
On Inkscape and The GiMP, I think the future is good for both. Right now we can already see some good integration of both applications and there is the idea that it will be even better in the future. Inkscape is progressing really nicely and has a fast workflow and their aim for the future is getting as much of the SVG standart supported as possible, meaning you will get all the features in SVG by the time they get to version 1.0. With The GiMP things are not really clear yet, but if GEGL goes to CVS soon and replaces the current base, we can expect The GiMP to be up to par with Photoshop in lesser time than expected.
I didn't really got the chance to see the Scribus talk and I appologize the Scribus guys for that, I already used it for doing some work, but at the time they were doing the talk I was doing a workshop. Yet from what I heard they are moving fast too and we can also expect some better integration with The GiMP and Inkscape in the future, yet these were just rumours I heard, not really from the actual developers.
The ones I did talk a bit more with were the guys behind SIOX, mostly because Brecht was doing the integration of SIOX into the Blender Node Compositing system and I wanted to know a bit more about it too. They are concerned about big companies doing this sort of software too and they want to get there before they do, so they want people to use SIOX, test it, report bugs/problems and request features, so they can improve it and eventually have it in as many applications as possible. I really liked what they were doing and they know much about it, one thing they told me is, if you want to integrate SIOX with your application and you don't really know how to do it, just contact them and they can help you with that; even more, they want to help you reach your goals the best way possible and they really would like to know that you are using SIOX. It is very important for them to have a list of applications and people using SIOX.
Art Of Illusion
I was almost forgetting about Art Of Illusion, yes they were there, even though I could only listen to 5 minutes of the demo session, Brecht was there for the whole session, so eventually he can comment a bit on it...
Of course, I couldn't miss Blender. My main overview of Blender in the event is a very good one: the workshops were good, they really worked and people really liked to see that happen, so I would expect some more French users from now on. I will still have to address some things for future sessions, but all of the sessions went well and I think we are moving forward with Blender Education. Now, the talk on Blender, Orange and the Foundation could have gone better; I was rushed to do the presentation in less time and I kind of missed some things I wanted to show, but even so people got the message and I got some feedback from some people wanting to do business with Blender and there was even one developer interested in checking out the Blender source code and even start hacking on it. So, even though there were some things that didn't go as expected, the overall balance of the Blender representation was pretty good.
There is just one thing I would also like to address, the guys from the other projects seemed to look at Blender as an established tool that is at this higher level; they were much more enthusiastic with the other projects than with Blender. Maybe it was a bit my fault, but I urge you all to think of Blender as being in the same stage, as we have the same concerns you do, and we also need many of the same things you need too.
Last thing I like to mention is that on the last day things didn't really end at 16:00. There was still the closing were Dave tried to get everyone to say what they got from the event, which was a positive thing, and there was the idea that next year we will get another LGM, so hopefully I can be there again. Even after it closed, people remained outside and I really got to know many of the people I missed during most of the event. I even met this guy from Brazil which is doing the same things on education that I am trying to do with Blender, but in his case, it had to do with The GiMP.
My last moments in Lyon before departing were with Raphael. We had this long talk on Blender. He is a really nice guy and I hope to see him at the Blender Conference. He could really help out, especially in education as he is very good on delivering the knowledge to people.
Summing up, it was fun and we all got something good from it, so, if there is another one next year I hope to be there and to see you there too :) .
You can get some photos from the event. Just go to the official website at www.libregraphicsmeeting.org and there is a new item on the News area concerning photos.
-- Rui --