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Subject: RE: [office] ODF 1.2 Single-Level Conformance and Law of Unintended Consequences

One more thing about floor=ceiling.  

Later, not realizing the connection to the floor=ceiling case until now, I
took on as an architectural practice for interfaces and specifications that
it is always easier to relax a restriction later than it is to later
restrict a relaxed definition.  When I am in a quandary over some provision,
this is always a valuable tie-breaker for me.  (I call this the Wilson
Principle for Richard Wilson, an internal-systems architect at Xerox in the

We find ourselves facing the second situation, not the first, and we have a
number of "extension" points baked in.  We will have to decide what we will
do, normatively, about the 1.2-ness of scripts in languages specified by a
QName prefix, table formulas (ditto), defined extension provisions in the
repertoire of formula functions, etc.

By the way, I have no objection to conformant being tightly defined,
although honoring the strict schema by itself won't do the job we think it
accomplishes, depending on how the above things are accounted for in the
schema (I don't know), and how things like binary sub-files having vnd.*
MIME types are to be accounted for.

It may be that loosely-conformant is the wrong term, but neither conformant
nor loosely-conformant, at the moment, determine whether interoperability
will be easy or hard.  What I like about loosely-conformant is that it
provides that there be a conformant document in there, given certain
adjustments.  (There are also some edge cases that one might worry about,
where dropping an attribute means there is no attribute in a way that
impairs the document, table cell formulas being an interesting case.  This
condition only works well for ODF 1.2 because of its completeness with
OpenFormula.  This is an argument for recognizing those cases as
loosely-conformant, but it is not my ox that gets gored if only the
OpenFormula case qualifies in a conformant spreadsheet document.)

 - Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis E. Hamilton [mailto:dennis.hamilton@acm.org] 

Sent: Monday, January 19, 2009 10:45
To: robert_weir@us.ibm.com
Cc: office@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: RE: [office] ODF 1.2 Single-Level Conformance and Law of Unintended

This also reminds me of another debate, called floor=ceiling.  

Floor=Ceiling was debated in the early days of initial COBOL standardization
efforts and it continued for a while.  I can't recall which side of the
debate Committee Chair Howard Bromberg held onto and if he flipped at any

Generally, producers of implementations did not look kindly at floor=ceiling
and user communities (but not all of them) and especially standards sheriffs
of various persuasions wanted floor=ceiling.  Of course, COBOL was
modularized and there were definite implementation-specific provisions
(COMPUTATIONAL-1, COMPUTATIONAL-2, ... and similar aspects coming to mind),
so I am not sure how much it was felt that floor=ceiling was achieved, in
the end.   

[ ... ]

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