Supporting more PDF forms in Free Software products (Re: Going beyond advocacy)

Carsten Agger agger at
Thu Feb 13 12:03:27 UTC 2020

On 2/13/20 9:58 AM, Bernhard E. Reiter wrote:

> It is hard work to "track" what the proprietary developers of the PDF format 
> do and it needs people that do this for years, which means they need to be 
> financed. We at Intevation were toying with how this can be done a few time, 
> but haven't found something promissing yet.
> Maybe a crowd-funding for some features? But the work can probably not be 
> estimated well enough. A pay-as-you-want windows build of okular? Maybe, but 
> it needs serious time invest and expertise.
> The problem is: Getting somewhere with better form handling in PDF, we are not 
> looking at a 20 k€ project, but it would need years with funding around 200 
> k€ per year or more to get somewhere.
I haven't worked with PDF implementations, but €200k/year sound
reasonable for an actual program to track the functionality of
proprietary developers and hopefully lead the way on some points.

Ironically, or perhaps rather: Tragically, this would be easy to do if
public authorities were focused on using free software in their daily
work. With pooling of resources, they could get a lot of these things
done and end up with software that was  free and in the end also
technically better as well as cheaper and more flexible for each
customer. But they are not, and as a result there's much less resources
available for free software development, and hence some core products
are perceived to be lacking.

And that's something advocacy *can* do: Change this political
understanding and hence make public organisations (among others)
dedicate more funds to development of software that is not only good,
but also free.


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