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Subject: Re: [oiic-formation-discuss] Caution and Disclaimer on Interoperability

jose lorenzo <hozelda@yahoo.com> wrote on 06/13/2008 06:20:47 PM:

> I think this is a pretty important message just illustrated. I doubt
> most laypeople, when they talk about ODF compliance, realize this
> scenario is possible and actually quite possibly likely to happen at
> some point in the future.
> I think this is a pretty important message.

Indeed.  It can even be done with plain ASCII text.  It can be done with a PNG file even.  When done intentionally to hide a message they call it "steganography".  But the same techniques can be used to encode extensions, scripts, whatever.  I call them "embedded formats", the formats within the format.

There are good embedded formats.  For example, an ODF 1.2 spreadsheet formula is just a string, from an XML perspective.  But within that string is encoded an expression in a complex expression language.  But since the syntax and semantics of that expression language are defined in ODF 1.2, this is not a problem.

But embedded formats, especially private ones, can certainly be abused.

Is there anything that can be done about this, from a standards perspective?  Saying "No undisclosed embedded formats allowed" is not really a testable provision.

A while back I said that conformity was the relationship of an implementation to a standard, and interoperability was the relationship of two implementations of the same standard with each other.  There are some things that you will never find just testing an application and a test suite.  The world is complex and strange enough that some sort of "plugfest" event to bring itogether the vendors to test real round-trip scenarios with real-world complex documents is needed.

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