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Subject: Questions/comments concerning the Select Committee report on Change Tracking

Questions/comments concerning the Select Committee report on Change Tracking

1. "GCT and ECT were proposed and discussed as changes to the ODF format for change tracking, not collaboration. In fairness to those proposals and to create a common basis for comparison, the select committee choose to compare GCT, ECT and MCT as change tracking proposals only."

A sensible decision, in line with the TC terms of reference for the Subcommittee.

2. "Without implying a decision on syntax, the select committee chose the ETC's feature matrix as the basis for features to be supported by the new change tracking features of ODF (Annex A)."

Speaking as chair of the Subcommittee, there have been strong requests for change tracking in spreadsheets and the terms of reference of the Subcommittee was even wider than this. I note that you have added global operations and that seems very sensible, although useful operations such as text-to-table and vice versa will remain untrackable.

3. "GCT, ECT and MCT all chose different paths but with some minor differences all would satisfy the change tracking use cases."

Actually that is incorrect: ECT was unable to satisfy the use cases for spreadsheets. MCT to date has shown solutions for only a small set of use cases.

4. "Having said that, however, ECT adds detailed markup in an attempt to make change tracking “easier” which it may do in some view of the format. Lack of verbosity is not a goal for XML but as has been seen from practical experience, performance of XML editors can suffer from overly verbose XML."

This implies ECT was rejected on grounds of verbosity. I understand from our conference call that this is not the case so perhaps you could clarify this and be a bit more specific in identifying why ECT was not favoured.

5. "GCT ... represents a great change to the ODF format. It would require a substantial overhead, both for XML and non-XML implementations of ODF. Particularly when compared to the operations proposal which we discuss below. The select committee cannot recommend GCT as the proposal to “fix” change tracking in ODF."

This statement that GCT has a more substantial overhead than MCT seems to be a bold declaration, given that MCT is some considerable way away from being fully defined. Please would you add an explanation of this for the record as you are asking the TC to base the future direction of ODF on this.

Also note that there are already two independent implementations of GCT which provide clear evidence that the overhead is not substantial. Have you dismissed this evidence, and if so please explain why?

6. "MCT has been distracting with its emphasis on collaboration issues in a change tracking context. It does offer the cleanest proposal for tracking changes in ODF documents."

Please explain what you mean by "cleanest".

7. "The first point to be made is that once operations and addressing are defined, the MCT change tracking proposal only requires an understanding of existing ODF markup. As opposed to specification and parsing of additional, “change tracking” markup."

My understanding was that MCT would require a new set of markup (for operations and addressing) that would need to be defined for use in undo.xml. Each operation would have its own specific markup, which would need to be defined, parsed and understood by an application. Moreover, the application would need to understand and be tested against the definition of all the operations. Therefore, if that is correct, I suggest that this statement is somewhat misleading. Please provide a more detailed explanation of what you mean here.


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