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Subject: Public Comment

Comment from: mfe@optusnet.com.au

Name: Nigel Evans
Title: Mr
Regarding Specification: Open Document Format for Office Applications

Congratulations on an excellent piece of work.  However, in my view there is a feature missing, although it may not be offered by any existing product.

I will merely describe the missing feature from the perspective of a human writer/reader of a document.  It could be implemented as a special
class of Annotation or as a special class of Text Field.

The requirement is to be able to assign a data type to any element of text, typically a word or two and or a number, or the graphic representation of a real world object wherever it appears in an office document.  This typed element could have additional attributes assigned
to it, either as part of the office document that it appeared in or by reference to another data source.

The need for this arises primarily from the ambiguity of 'names'.  For example 'Sydney Hill' could be a person, a place or an organization.  If
a person they could be male or female. To the human reader context usually provides the cues needed to interpret and understand the meaning.  However, nothing beats a computer for stupidity so automated searching results in large numbers of 'hits' that the human user then as to filter, all of which is a very inefficient use of time.  Providing type information as part of the visible 'text' itself is not a good solution in most cases because it introduces clutter and verbosity.

Operationally, an Office Document writer (or recipient) would be able to 'tag' anything they wanted as a particular type of real world object.
For example as a person, place, etc.  Additional attributes could also be assigned, eg gender, surname, client Id.  Types and schemas could be
local defined, but  using published XML schemas, eg for street addresses, would be an option.  The use in searching is obvious. Readers would be offered options for invocation and automatic display.

I believe this proposal should be an early addition to the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications.  I could even suggest some
market segments as likely early adopters of products offering the proposed feature. 

This concept is very simple and obvious, there may be concerns about copyright.  For the record I described the concept and benefits of applying information types to text items in my article 'Software Support for Battlefield Staff' published in Military Technology Vol XVI Issue 8 1992, pg 76.

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