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Subject: RE: [office] The Rule of Least Power

Jomar Silva <jomar.silva@br.odfalliance.org> wrote on 02/13/2009 04:58:46 
> Every time I see discussions like this one I remember the good and old 
> KISS methodology.
> It is clear to me that we have, at least, two different user cases here, 

> and we are trying to discuss them as if they are the same one.
> They are:
> 1. Users that need to have the ability to exchange their office suite 
> (or application) as they change they socks. They also need to get 
> assured that anyone who need to exchange documents with them will be 
> able to use any office suite too, without missing anything (features or 
> data or even formating properties). For those users (typically 
> governments), a "strict conformance" class is absolutely necessary (and 
> I have several real world histories and use cases in Brazil to 
> illustrate this scenario...).
> 2. Users that may have the opportunity to define (or develop) a specific 

> office suite (or office application) tho their use, that will accept and 

> treat some additional data inside their ODF documents, that are useful 
> on their corporate environment (and may or not, be useful to others). 
> Those users can easily define that Jomar's Office is the best 
> application to their own needs and define that they'll only use that 
> application (despite if it generate "strict" or "extended" ODF 
> I don't think that with two conformance classes we'll be creating a 
> "first" and a "second" class of documents. ODF users have different 
> needs and they will "choose" the best conformance to their needs, not 
> us. (I live in Brazil and it may not be the best place to live to a user 

> that requires "high tech products at low price", but it is a paradise 
> for a user that have as a requirement "great beaches and cold caipirinha 

> !!!").

That's a good way to think of it.

Another question to ask is "Who cares about conformance?"  In other words, 
who is the audience or user of a conformance definition?  The primary use 
of a conformance definition is to specify requirements between two or more 
parties in a transaction, whether a buyer and a seller, or two ends of an 
electronic transaction, or whatever.  The conformance definition specifies 
the agreed upon rules for that transaction. 

There are other uses of conformance definitions as well, for example in 
marketing, as an indication of suitability for a task or even an indicator 
of quality.  Personally I think this is silly, but you see this marketing 
use of conformance happen all the time.  For example, look at how many 
companies make marketing campaigns around their "ISO 9001" certification 

We must acknowledge that the use of ODF has some prestige in some markets 
today.  So it is not surprising that some vendors will want to make 
ODF-conformance as easy as possible, so it can be achieved without much 
effort.  We saw this, for example, with the organic food label 
requirements in the US, where the big agribusiness firms lobbied the 
government to dumb down organic food regulations so that they could claim 
their own products as organic.  So I think it is important, when making a 
decision to ask ourselves, are we doing this to improve interoperability? 
Or are we doing it to increase the number of products which can claim 
conformance to ODF without actually making the changes that will improve 
interoperability?  If it is the latter, then I would be concerned.

Although I have my own opinions on these matters, as a TC Chair, my main 
concern is that everyone has an opportunity to have their views heard and 
that we reach consensus where possible, but don't get bogged down in 
endless debate when it is clear that there is no consensus.  We won't 
agree on everything.  That's fine. 


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