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Subject: Interop camp example

A few words to explain what I was proposing for an interoperability camp.

I was thinking we could concentrate on word processor format interoperability, since we're more likely to get a critical mass of participants if we focus.  The idea would be to get those who knew the internals of their word process and came with the source code and the ability to prototype changes during the camp.   So we want the coders.

In advance of the camp, we would send out PDF files illustrating some sample documents.  In advance of the camp, each vendor would attempt to replicate that document to the best of their application's abilities.  They would then save the document in ODF format.

An example document might be to replicate the first page of this PDF:  https://www.socialsecurity.be/foreign/en/employer_limosa/infos/documents/pdf/act_mb_28122006.pdf

This is an example of Belgian statute format, where the text is given in parallel translation.  To get the proper alignment would require probably the use of tables with hidden borders.  There are also some challenging aspects of getting the numbered lists and list levels correct .

When we send out the PDF we would also provide some annotations to explain some finer points of the document that might otherwise be overlooked, like the use of em-dahes and en-dashes in the page header.

Depending on the complexity, we might have 5 or so documents that we do in this way, each one emphasizing different practical issues concerning interoperability.

We would collect the ODF's from each vendor in advance of the camp, and distribute them to everyone at the camp, or a few days in advance.  So if we have 5 vendors, then everyone would have 5 different ODF versions of each document.

And what do we do at the camp?  Say we have 5 vendors and 5 target documents.  That gives each vendor 20 documents to try loading, giving 100 different interoperability tests we can perform.  How do we handle this?  One way would be to set aside an hour for each document and have each vendor take a turn first explaining any issues they had in creating the document originally, and then they could load each other vendor's version of that document, and the group could note what new problems, if any, show up.  If each vendor can be projecting their application on the screen while doing this, we can all look and observe together, and do this efficiently.

We would then want to reserve some time for coding, and some time at the end for vendors to demonstrate any fixes, and some time to discuss next steps.

As you can see, this is going to be time consuming.  So maybe we would only be able to do 2-3 test documents?


Rob Weir
Software Architect
Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software
IBM Software Group

email: robert_weir@us.ibm.com
phone: 1-978-399-7122
blog: http://www.robweir.com/blog/

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