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Subject: Change Tracking: next steps

Rob asked for ideas on this, so let me put out a strawman for discussion.

1. There are three possible approaches that have been put forward:

ECT: Extended Change Tracking, based on extending the current functionality to cover ODT.

GCT: Generic Change Tracking, provides a generic approach based on a representation of any change to the XML and applies to all of ODF.

MCT: Merge-enabled Change Tracking, based on an external representation of changes to allow merging/collaboration as well as change tracking.

2. The ODF user community is demanding something better than the current CT abilities, and so something needs to be done in this area: the TC therefore has a responsibility to solve this. We are probably reaching the point where failing to decide how to move forward is worse than making the wrong decision on how to move forward - simply because delay provides nothing useful to the user community, whereas a non-optimal way forward will at least provide an improvement.

3. Each approach has its own rationale, strengths and weaknesses. The 'consensus report' outlines these for ECT and GCT and work is ongoing to include MCT in this report (though there is no point in doing this unless the TC knows what it will then do with the report!).

4. Having three approaches is a problem because there is no obvious way forward, but also an opportunity to choose what is best for ODF.

5. How would any organisation normally make a choice in a similar situation? Work out what is required and then determine which choice is best to meet the requirements (bearing in mind also how much work is needed and who will do it, i.e. resources). I do not think such a task is best done by a committee - it is a job for a small number of experts who have to answer to the committee and wider community.

6. So here is one possible way forward: the TC asks a task group of three trusted/respected experts, none of whom are proponents of one particular approach, to review the current approaches and recommend to the TC which approach or combination of approaches or new approach should be adopted. There is quite a lot of useful material on which to base such a recommendation.


-- -----------------------------------------------------------------
Robin La Fontaine, Director, DeltaXML Ltd  "Experts in information change"
T: +44 1684 592 144  E: robin.lafontaine@deltaxml.com      
Registered in England 02528681 Reg. Office: Monsell House, WR8 0QN, UK

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