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Subject: Re: [office-comment] xml:ids discardable - what!? (ODF 1.2CD01)

On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 3:59 AM, MURATA Makoto (FAMILY Given)
<eb2m-mrt@asahi-net.or.jp> wrote:
> I would go the other way around.  I would like to remove that paragraph.
> I believe that document format standards should specify very little
> about behaviours of application programs.  Data conformance is the most
> imporant thing.  Appliction conformance should be kept at a minimum.

The relevant requirement is that JTC 1 international standards are to
"specify clearly and unambiguously the conformity requirements
essential to achieve the interoperability." Implementation behavior
must be specified to the extent required to comply with that rule.
This is nothing unique to JTC 1; e.g., RFC 2119 provides in relevant

"6. Guidance in the use of these Imperatives

"Imperatives of the type defined in this memo must be used with care
and sparingly.  In particular, they MUST only be used where it is
actually required for interoperation or to limit behavior which has
potential for causing harm (e.g., limiting retransmisssions)  For
example, they must not be used to try to impose a particular method on
implementors where the method is not required for interoperability."

> In the case of IDs, somebody might want to develop a program that
> rename identifiers systematically for some sensible reasons.  Why should
> the ODF spec prohibit such programs?

No such prohibition is necessary in my opinion. It is a matter of
wording. The quoted language might be rewritten as:

"Conforming OpenDocument consumers and producers SHALL preserve any
xml:id attribute and its value when present on any of the following
elements [list follows], except when [describe situations in which
destruction of xml:id attributes/values are permissible using
appropriate requirement keywords].

However, I will note that the Metadata SC and the ODF TC previously
rejected my suggestion that the preservation issue be addressed in
that manner, opting instead for the improper (in context) SHOULD.

SHOULD is only a recommendation under the ISO/IEC Directives Part 2
Annex H requirements keyword definitions. It establishes no conformity
requirement and in the situation of an interoperability breakpoint
like xml:id attribute destruction, SHOULD runs afoul of the JTC 1
Directives requirement that international standards specify "the
conformity requirements essential to achieve the interoperability."

That rule itself is derivative of article 2 section 2.2 of the
Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade requiring that "Members
[nations through their participating national standardization bodies]
shall ensure that technical regulations are not *prepared,* adopted or
applied with a view to or with the effect of creating *unnecessary*
obstacles to international trade. ..."
Therefore, the relevant  inquiry is therefore whether and to what
extent an interoperability breakpoint is necessary. Even if
"necessary," the same Agreement section requires that "technical
regulations shall not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to
fulfil a legitimate objective, taking account of the risks
non-fulfilment would create."

The World Trade Organization's Appellate Panel has held that technical
regulations must specify [i] all characteristics [ii] of an
identifiable product or group of products [iii] only in mandatory
"must" or "must not" terms. WTDS 135 EC - Asbestos, (World Trade
Organization Appellate Body; March 12, 2001; HTML version), ¶¶ 66-70,
reaffirmed and further explained, WTDS 231 EC - Sardines, pp. 41-51
(World Trade Organization Appellate Body; 26 September 2002), pp.
41-51, <http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds231_e.htm>.

Under the Agreement's article 2 section 2.6, preparation and adoption
of an international standard is recognized as a favored method of
*preparing* "technical regulations." The Agreement's provision quoted
above therefore applies to the preparation of both technical
regulations and international standards.

In my studied opinion, "SHOULD preserve" does not comply with either
the international law or the Directives in this instance. Even if
destruction of xml:id attributes and values was deemed a necessary
obstacle to international trade, the least trade-restrictive means
requirement would still apply. Hence the grammatical construct I
suggest for resolving the metadata preservation issue.

Best regards,

Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

Universal Interoperability Council

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