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Subject: Re: [office] A few thoughts on ODF change tracking


I think part of the issue is simply one of resources. With everyone at
near max trying to resolve/apply all the remaining issues, there simply
aren't enough resources for "complete" review, acknowledging that there
is no "complete" change tracking.

Having said that, Oliver has devoted a good deal of effort to producing
a coherent solution and one that may serve us for ODF 1.2.

Not to look too far into the future, should some NB take exception to
the change tracking in ODF 1.2, it may well be the case that if that and
some other obvious topics are treated as part of the next release, we
may have the time/resources to produce a version by the time to answer
NB comments that addresses those concerns.

I don't mean to suggest that as a means to avoid fixing any known issues
with the current version but I do mean to suggest that if we can devise
a schedule after ODF 1.2 is out the door for the production of
subsequent versions, that will encourage a better development process.

Before any implementors work on "complete" change tracking, I would
really like to see RDF based metadata support.

Bringing intelligence to "dumb" documents is like buying foreign
language dictionaries in hopes a class will learn a foreign language. A
few may, but very few. 

A smarter web needs to start with smarter documents. ODF/RDF metadata is
a step in that direction. 

Hope you are having a great day!


On Tue, 2010-09-21 at 13:29 -0400, robert_weir@us.ibm.com wrote:
> A few thoughts on change tracking.
> What would make this feature "complete"?  I think change tracking is 
> complete if an application can record any change to the end-user semantics 
> of the document.  This includes things like changing the visible content 
> of the document, but also changing the metadata.  It does not include 
> changes that have no end-user semantic value, e.g., changing an xml:id or 
> automatic style name to a different value, provided the referential 
> integrity is maintained. 
> I should be able to take two arbitrary ODF documents of the same type, say 
> text documents A and B, generate a diff of them and encoded that diff of A 
> to B as change tracks on A, such that when I accept all tracked changes in 
> A I get something semantically equivalent to B.
> Given that as a goal, I think we need to get it out of our heads that any 
> standard or implementation does change tracking completely today. 
> Everything I can find has some notable areas of missing functionality.
> Aside from the issues already noted in JIRA, consider:
> - It is possible for a named style to change its definition, without 
> changing anything in content.xml.  For example, I could have a style 
> called "hidden" that is defined as white text on a white background, and 
> then unhide it later by merely redefining the definition in styles.xml. 
> How is that tracked?  MS Word does this, and in the UI appears to hint 
> that it is a change to the document as-a-whole rather than any particular 
> content.  This seems reasonable.
> - It is possible to replace an image file with an identically named image 
> file but with different content.  How is that tracked? 
> - Similarly, for any object embedding, OLE or whatever, how are changes 
> tracked? (MS Word doesn't seem to track these changes)
> - And what about MathML, a special kind of object in ODF?
> - And what about sub-documents?
> - Or RDF XML metadata?
> - Or Changes to the manifest, such as adding a new resource, not 
> necessarily references from content.xml
> - And what about presentation files, which appears to lack support even in 
>  OOXML? 
> So change tracking, if you want to be complete, needs to deal with changes 
> at the packaging level, in all of the defined XML's, as well as changes in 
> linked resources, such as jpeg images and RDF XML.  As far as I can tell, 
> no application and no standard does complete change tracking.  So I 
> suggest we don't take it as a last-minute goal for ODF 1.2 to achieve 
> completeness there. 
> However, inability to do everything is not an excuse not to do nothing. If 
> we can extend the current change tracking approach to some of the more 
> commonly-reported pain points, like change tracking if table row 
> deletions, etc., then this would be good.  But I'd propose that before we 
> move to a new and incompatible representation of change tracking that we 
> sit down and work through the entire semantic content of an ODF document 
> and ensure that we're using an approach that is capable of recording 
> changes across the entire range of possible document edits.  This is 
> important, and worth doing, but worth doing right.  The proposal submitted 
> via the comment list appears to be an excellent start, but we need to 
> expand it to cover some of these other use cases, if we want to claim 
> completeness. 
> Regards,
> -Rob
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