You Can Help Us Improve OpenOffice

Category: blog
Hamilton Watch. Inspecting plate - skilled inspecting job, 1936

A Call for QA Volunteers

This is a call for volunteers for our QA team.   The Apache OpenOffice (formerly project has an ambitious plan for our next major release.  But for this plan to be successful we need to grow our Quality Assurance (QA) team to keep up with the output from our programmers.  The more QA volunteers we have, the more bugs we can find and get fixed for Apache OpenOffice.  This work has a direct impact on OpenOffice product quality.  It is also fun!

 Why volunteer?

Why would you want to help with OpenOffice QA? 

  1. We're a fun, international group of testers, of a range of skills and experience, dedicated to free software and making OpenOffice a high quality choice for users.
  2. This is a good way to learn about QA and get some practical experience.  This is useful, for example, if you are thinking about Software Quality Engineering (SQE) as a possible career choice.
  3. Helping as a tester is a good way to "give back" to the open source community in a way that makes a direct difference in the product, but doesn't require programming skills.
  4. It is a good way to raise the visibility of bugs in areas that matter to you.  For example, maybe you personally are concerned about bugs that cause problems on the Mac, or bugs that impact color blind users, or bugs related to bidirectional text.  Participating on the QA team is a good way to ensure that areas of personal interest work right.
  5. We have tasks for volunteers with a range of skills.  From novices who can help with manual testing and fix verifications, to experts who can help with our test automation framework, we have a full range of QA activities.
  6. As an extremely popular open source product, with many millions of users, there are opportunities here to do some new and exciting things on the QA front.  We're a laboratory for new ideas and approach to QA.

 What does QA do?

QA activities within the Apache OpenOffice project include:

  • Reviewing incoming bug reports from users to see if the reported issues can be reproduced
  • Verifying bugs that the developers say they have fixed, to confirm that they actually have been fixed
  • Testing new builds of OpenOffice against a test plan
  • Defining new test cases
  • Running automated regression tests
  • Specialized tests in areas such as performance, accessibility, localization, security, etc.
  • Analyzing defect reports to see how we are doing, in terms of quality level, defect find and fix rates, etc.
  • Reporting summary defect data and recommending whether a given build of OpenOffice is ready to release.

What are we looking for?

The skills we need on the QA team include:

  • Familiarity with OpenOffice as a user.
  • Attention to detail.  In QA we find the bugs that the developers missed.  And our developers are pretty good.
  • Access to a Windows, Mac or Linux machine for testing
  • Interest, enthusiasm and teamwork.
  • Also, specialized skills are always welcome, such as expertise in assistive technology tools, bidirectional scripts, East Asian text layout, power users of OpenOffice Base, etc.

How to Get Involved

You can start now, in three easy steps:

  1. Subscribe to our public QA mailing list by sending an email to and responding to the confirmation email you will then receive.
  2. Introduce yourself on the list by sending  an email to the QA mailing list:
  3. Review our self-paced orientation modules to help you get started.  If you are already familiar with open source development at Apache, then you can quickly skim over the Level 1 and Level 2 modules and concentrate on the Introduction to QA module.   If, however, you are new to Apache, and want a more methodical approach to getting started, then you can start at Level 1 modules first.

We hope to hear from you soon!