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Subject: RE: [office] One strictly conforming document?

It's worth noting that the ODF metadata mechanisms don't allow for the use of a private/custom schema to tag content within a document.  And that use case has value to many users.  So if we decide that ODF won't be able to support those types of scenarios, for whatever reason, we should not be surprised to find that users who need such capabilities will look elsewhere.

Consider the trivial example of a pre-existing document, created years ago, which needs to be logged in to a content management system that requires an abstract to be identified for each document.  If the format of the document is HTML, then a div with class="abstract" can be used to tag the appropriate paragraph(s) as the abstract.  If the format of the document is DOCX, a customXml element with element="abstract" can be used for the same purposes.  In both cases the document content remains valid HTML or WordprocessingML, while the user adds the custom semantics required for their purpose.  The custom semantics can be (and should be) ignored by others.  The user is free to innovate quickly, and does not have to think in terms of a tradeoff between strict compliance and flexibility/business value.  They can, and do, have the best of both worlds in such scenarios: strict compliance to a standard, and freedom to innovate quickly for their own specialized purposes.

I think ODF would benefit from being as supportive of such scenarios as HTML, IS29500 and other formats already are.  No committee can anticipate every possible class of extension that users might find useful, so I think the format itself should allow for clean, simple tagging of content according to schemas that may never be standardized, and may never be widely known or used.  Done correctly, such tagging puts no burden on simple interoperability between word processors (which typically ignore it), but can enable other types of interoperability that many people find valuable.

- Doug

-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick Durusau [mailto:patrick@durusau.net] 
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2009 7:38 AM
To: office@lists.oasis-open.org
Subject: Re: [office] One strictly conforming document?


robert_weir@us.ibm.com wrote:
> Patrick Durusau <patrick@durusau.net> wrote on 02/03/2009 09:15:01 AM:
> This is really a red herring.  However bad you think interoperability
> would be in that case, you must admit that it is made worse, not better,
> by extending the documents with private schemas.
Sorry. Did I say anything about private schemas?
> Also consider that the problem you describe above can be addressed and is
> being addressed by interoperability testing, the work of the OIC TC, etc.
> The ODF vendors, most of them at least, have a keen interest in improving
> interoperability in that area.  However, allow ODF documents to be freely
> extended with private schemas without the user's choice, and you have made
> the problem much much harder.  We can improve interoperability where we
> agree on a schema.  But it is considerable more difficult to do that when
> a private schema is involved, one which perhaps is not disclosed. Remember
> a private schema extension is not even required to be made available on
> RAND terms, let alone made freely available.
Well, if I had said that private schemas would help here that might be a
valid point. But I didn't.

Actually using the ODF metadata mechanism is the "correct" solution in
my view to the problem posed.

But I pointed it out to merely illustrate that simply saying *ODF*
really loud doesn't solve the interoperability issue.

Nor does wanting to market ODF mean that it automatically meets any user

Yes, I really do think that ODF 1.2 with the new metadata features, can
meet many user requirements but that doesn't mean that I think it meets
all user requirements.

The question (to me anyway) is whether we develop ODF to meet an ever
expanding universe of user requirements or do we promote ODF * (whatever
version we are at) as meeting user requirements?

I readily concede that I enjoy finding ways that ODF can meet user
requirements but for me, user requirements and not the choices of IT
departments or marketing strategies of vendors remain primary.

Remember that I come from a user community and still think of software
as meeting user requirements and not the desires of vendors. It may
really be that simple. I don't see the world as a vendor.

Hope you are having a great day!


Patrick Durusau
Chair, V1 - US TAG to JTC 1/SC 34
Convener, JTC 1/SC 34/WG 3 (Topic Maps)
Editor, OpenDocument Format TC (OASIS), Project Editor ISO/IEC 26300
Co-Editor, ISO/IEC 13250-1, 13250-5 (Topic Maps)

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