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Subject: RE: [office-comment] Proposal for new document element, "Document history"

Follow-up question:

6. In current implementations, it is possible to turn change-tracking on and off independent on whether or not changes are shown or not.  (This is for text.  The situation for spreadsheet change-tracking is rather more complicated).

   Is this in accord with your assumptions for the document-history element being produced?

  Is it also important to have excellent document comparison tools to deal with any questions about changes and ones not accounted for in the history (e.g., minor editorial matters not related to substance and either not tracked or not accounted for in the history)?

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis E. Hamilton [mailto:dennis.hamilton@acm.org] 
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2011 08:15
To: 'Michiel Leenaars'; office-comment@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: RE: [office-comment] Proposal for new document element, "Document history"

I have some questions about the history and related metadata you are requesting.

 1. The existing ODF 1.0-1.2 Change Tracking mechanism captures descriptive information about each tracked change.  These are in <office:change-info> and other text that are part of the <text:changed-region> elements gathered up into a single <text:tracked-changes>.  There is provision for descriptive text, whether synthesized or provided by users in some implementation-specific manner.  

  Have you examined that and also seen how the information is provided as part of change-tracking review in current implementations?

 2. In the ODF 1.0-1.2 implementations, the change-tracking information tends to disappear when the changes are accepted or rejected.  I presume that is also the case for the generic proposal, since there is really no place to keep tombstones for changes that are no longer present and/or no longer tracked.  So the history would need to be kept persistently longer than the technical change tracking itself.  (I haven't checked to see how that works with regard to marginal change bars, which should in some cases survive the acceptance of changes.)

Is it correct to assume that you want a history of accepted changes and this needs to persist through successive revisions?  This would appear to be a quite new feature if it is intended that the history would reflect the pagination/section-numbering in the current version, especially for the current place where material was previously deleted.

 3. I would also think that there is difficulty with changes that rescind/obsolete previous changes.  That means the obsoleted change history can't point to any place in the current document where they have effect.   I assume one might still want to have them in the history, optionally, although they are technically not in the history of the current document.

Do you see limitations placed on what can be removed/suppressed from the history by someone editing the document?  (I assume it is not possible to prevent turning off the history.)

 4. I assume that the facts in a history entry would not be editable, although accompanying descriptive annotation might be.   (In the current ODF, such things can themselves be change-tracked, though I don't know that there is any implementation that provides any way to accomplish that.)  There is also some question how the authors involved are identified and known to the software in which a revision is being edited.

Are there any limitations on what you see as alterable and non-alterable in a document history entry?

 5. On reflection, this strikes me as a substantial feature, especially once one also deals with the styling and formatting of the document history, where it can be placed in the document, etc., as for other kinds of "indexes."  There are also granularity issues.  For example, a mass change of a word or phrase throughout the document (for a change of name or organization or reference to something external) would appear to be many changes but it would probably best be handled in the history as one entry. 

 Is this an use case?

 - Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Michiel Leenaars [mailto:michiel.ml@nlnet.nl]
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2011 02:49
To: office-comment@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: [office-comment] Proposal for new document element, "Document history"

[ ... ]

I would like to propose to create a new primitive for life cycle management of documents: "Document history".

This would technically be quite similar to the already existing "Table of contents" and "Index", but instead of tracking headings of certain levels to page numbers it would map alterations of the document as captured by the track changes history and the document versions linked to their position in the document (chapters, sections, pages - at the preference of the user).

Many official documents (including standards) are reviewed periodically to accommodate for errata and new requirements and insights. In order to keep track of what has happened such documents have a dedicated section (in some cases a table with three columns: date, description of the change, author; in other cases textual or in a list) so that the reader can understand the revision history of a document. As is these have to be manually crafted and maintained - while all of it could be done automatically with relative ease, which would save a lot of time and would allow for a more thorough (technically verifiable) audit trail. Also, such a Document History would be persistent when archived to other formats (e.g. PDF-A). ODF is a popular format within governments, and such a feature would therefore be very relevant for that target group.

[ ... ]

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