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Subject: Re: [oiic-formation-discuss] Interoperability versus Conformity

marbux <marbux@gmail.com> wrote on 06/11/2008 03:14:49 AM:

> Are we not here to actually achieve interoperability? Do we not share
> interoperability as a goal? Are we here for any purpose other than to
> make interoperability happen? Are we not both pining for a world that
> does not exist where office apps are interoperable? I am not here to
> lament. I submitted a specific and affirmative action plan to actually
> achieve interoperability. Are you saying it is impossible to achieve
> interoperability? If so, why should anyone bother participating in
> this proposed TC?

Sorry, Paul, life is too short to read all of your note.  But I'll point out what I see as a key difference in our views.  I do not believe that interoperability is a 1/0 binary question, which is what you seem to be implying.  I do not believe that there is a single perfect level of interoperability that suits all people for all users, and that if we just put some magic words in the ODF standard ("Thou shalt be interoperable") then instantly we would have 100% interoperability.

The question in my mind is how do we _improve_ interoperability of existing ODF implementations.  What is doable in the word today?  What can be done, with the products that exist, the vendors and projects that exist, and with the resources that exist? How do we raise the bar now, and then again, and again and again?  Interoperability is a process not a destination.  We don't stop working on this.  Why because the variety of tools that work on ODF (or documents in general) keep expanding.  Interoperability for print-oriented output is one goal, but so is interoperability with assistive technologies, as is interoperability with tools that extract semantic content from documents, and so is interoperability with other markup standards such as DITA.  To focus exclusively on the visual appearance of a document is to be trapped in the 1980's. Is layout important?  Yes.  But it increasingly is becoming a smaller part of what documents are today.

From the study I've done of the topic, the greatest source of visual interoperability problems today, with the ODF implementations out there, is not from any defect in the ODF standard.  It is caused by incomplete/partial implementations of the standard, where a particular feature is implemented partially, or not implemented at all.  With the way document layout works, a small failure in a single feature can have a global effect in the document, shifting lines, pages, figures, around.  Small failures can make a large difference.  This is a kind of problem that lends itself well to testing, to profiling and to working with vendors toward improvements.

I realize that you and the other two former members of the "Open Document Foundation" have your issues with ODF, and because of that you left OASIS last year in a huff and disbanded, claiming that the W3C's CDF was the only interoperable document format.  See, for example, http://blogs.zdnet.com/Berlind/?p=910   Well, good luck with that. No one is stopping you.


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