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Subject: Backwards compatibility?


The recent discussion about style name uniqueness raises a more general 
question: How much do we care about backwards compatibility? Are we 
willing to change the format in a way that makes some existing files 
invalid? Or do we want to guarantee that once a file is valid it will 
always be valid?

Robert Weir wrote a poposal on the OD-users list which I copy below.

One way of looking it is like this:

1) Versions of ODF that are part of the ODF 1.0 "family" must remain 
compatible with each other.  This means any document valid/conformant 
with one revision of the specification is also valid/conformant with the 
others.  This would limit our changes to errata and new features which 
can be added in a backwards-compatible way.  Format revisions of the 
same "family" would share the same value of the office:version attribute.

2) At certain points in the evolution of ODF, we may wish to make larger 
changes, a big leap forward.  This would result in us issuing a major 
specification update, e.g., ODF 2.0, and incrementing the office:version 
attribute.  Backwards compatibility would not be guaranteed.

So, at some stages the goal is simply to make a "good enough" fix, for 
now, to address an issue without breaking compatibility.  And then at 
periodic points, perhaps every two years or so, we can make more 
substantial changes.

It is a tricky balancing act and there is more than one way of looking 
at this.

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