[odf-discuss] plug-in and ODF 1.2 (was: Miguel on OXML)
daniel.carrera at zmsl.com
Fri Feb 2 19:14:41 EST 2007
On Sat, 2007-02-03 at 00:19 +0100, Peter Vandenabeele wrote:
> Thanks a lot for bringing this discussion to the open :-) This will allow us
> to understand the issues and find workable solutions for interoperability
I agree. Discussing this sort of thing in private makes it a lot more
difficult to locate problems and find solutions.
> <disclaimer: my personal view, not an official standpoint>
> I am not sure if I would want to advice to use the approach of enshrining
> "black boxes" ...into
> ODF or any format that is used for forward use or long term storage. As
> I understand it, the entire goal of adopting ODF in Belgium was to use it
> as an open standard for interoperability.
I agree. The biggest problem is that if it becomes "normal" for
applications to make their own extensions of ODF, and we call those
things "ODF", the interoperability of ODF vanishes.
The only reason why we go through the hassle of open standards (let's
face it, it's a lot easier to dump your own memory structure in a file)
is interoperability. Remove interoperability, and there's no reason for
A minute ago I wrote a post narrating the story of TIFF. Maybe I should
blog it so I can point people to it later. TIFF is what happens when
vendors start adding extensions or picking subsets all nilly willy.
> That means:
> * "open spec": fully specified
> * "free spec": freely implementable (no inhibitors to implementation, also
> by Open Source SW; so that also enforces the use of RF license and not
> * "open standard": adopted by a major international standards body
> (such as IETF, W3C, ISO, ...)
> I doubt if an ODF document containing "black boxes" should be qualified
> as conforming to the "Open Standards" definition (failing the first criterium
> of fully specified), and thus not allowing 100% interop with all applications.
Fully specified is a very important criterion. While you can't specify
everything (e.g. you're not going to add the specification of for every
image format to the ODF spec) you can't start adding unknown binary
blobs to the file and call it ODF.
Take HTML for example. HTML doesn't include a specification for image
formats, but it has an <img> tag, and it doesn't allow you to insert
unknown binary blobs. This is where ODF should be. ODF actually goes a
bit further and recommends that you use SVG or PNG.
> My opinion remains that the only fundamentally correct solution for interop
> with legacy (partially non-open) formats is to have specialized applications
> that understand these legacy formats (such as MS Office) convert them to
> true Open Standards formats, without the inclusion of any "black boxes" in
> the result. If that is not possible ... and documents need to be
> maintained "Copy Exact", why not simply leave those documents in their
> original format or convert them to PDF or PDF/A for archiving ?
In addition, I'll point out that no office format is designed to be
"copy exact" anyways (not .doc, not OXML, and not ODF). Simply because
the only way to get copy exact is to do something like PDF, which is not
really useful for editing. An office format can only be "high fidelity",
not copy exact. Therefore, any document that needs to be copy exact
should be PDF anyways.
> If they need to be used in the future for editing (and not archiving),
> then maybe
> we should bite the bullet at once and do the manual conversion to a true Open
> Standard such as ODF (without black boxes). That is actually the approach I have
> seen at the political cabinets of the Brussels local government agencies when
> they fully migrated to OO.o as the uniform word processing application. They
> manually converted the important templates to new and clean ODF templates.
So there is precedent for that approach, and evidence that it can work.
> Particularly, if e.g. all ODF documents for text have the .odt extension, how
> then will we know which .odt documents are fully specified and which contain
> "black boxes". I fear grand confusion over this.
ODF would become the TIFF of office formats!
May you live in interesting times.
May people in high places take notice of you.
May all your wishes come true.
-- Chinese curse.
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