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Subject: PROPOSAL -- Name change for proposed TC


The name for the proposed TC is currently proposed as "ODF
Implementation, Interoperability and Conformance Technical Committee"

That is a mouthful unlikely to be understood by those who do not
understand the technology and know what the acronym "ODF" means.


I propose instead that the TC be named the "OpenDocument Exchange
Formats Technical Committee ("ODEF TC").


1. By using "OpenDocument" rather than "ODF", the alphabet soup is
removed from this existing proposed name and the relationship of this
TC to the work of the ODF TC's work is more explicitly stated.

2. The term "exchange formats" encapsulates the range of work
contemplated for this TC in terminology more easily understandable to
far more people, yet still distinguishes this TC's name from the ODF
TC's name. .

3. If this TC's profiles are faithful to the goal of interoperability,
those profiles will eventually displace the work of the ODF TC in the
market and become the new standard. At such time, those profiles will
need a name to brand them separately from "ODF." The name I propose
and its acronym ODEF fulfills that requirement.

4. It is impossible for this TC's profiles to maintain compatability
with the work of the ODF TC if the goals of interoperability and
application-neutrality are to be fulfilled. All of the "may" and
"should" clauses and the ocean of passive voice sentences in the ODF
TC's work mask hard-coded programming decisions made in existing
implementations. These areas of under-specification represent
dependencies on non-interoperable implementations of  the ODF
standard. There are also huge black holes in the ODF specification,
such as the lack of an identified interoperability framework that
specifies conformance requirements and application behavior necessary
to achieve interoperability.

There is no way to avoid reprogramming of existing implementations if
the goals of interoperability and application neutrality are to be
fulfilled by this TC's work.  If this TC's work is to succeed, the
application dependencies must be removed in the developed profiles and
an application-neutral interoperability framework must be fully
specified. The goals of interoperability and application neutrality
necessitate a fork from the ODF standard that requries its own name.

5. The name OpenDocument Exchange Formats differs from the name given
to a very closely-related project under way conducted by European
Union governments only by the lack of a space between the words "open"
and "document" in the name I propose. This proposed TC is obviously
intended to respond to the requirements established by the E.U.
government IT departments and procurement officials participating in
that effort. E.g., they required that profiles and conformity
assessment procedures be developed and that a single standard be
developed based on ODF that responds to the needs of all vendors.
Rejection of OOXML was explicit. The importance of vendor-neutral
interoperability was stressed in the requirements.

IBM and Sun, through the European Committtee for Interoperable
Systems, instigated an antitrust investigation of Microsoft that has
resulted in Microsoft bowing to the wishes of the E.U. government IT
and procurement officials committing to development of native file
support for ODF 1.1 in Office 2007, and joining the ODF TC to work on
ODF 1.2. ODF 1.2 when adopted will be quite different from the current
draft in order to remove interop barriers with Microsoft Office.
Substantial reprogramming of both OOo and MS Office will be required.

The ODEF name I propose.is intended to establish this TC's work as
responsive to the market requirements specified by E.U. government and
the antitrust investigation's fruit, rather than to the requirements
of the big vendors who created the interop mess in the first place.

Those who wish to thoroughly examine the requirements established by
E.U. government for Open Document Exchange Formats can start on this
page, which links all related materials
<http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/en/document/6474>. Those who wish only a
quick overview may visit this page,
<http://ec.europa.eu/idabc/servlets/Doc?id=27956>, and skim the eight
slides used in Dr. Barbara Held's report to the plenary session. Dr.
Held is the E.U. official with lead responsibility for coordinating
the interoperable exchange of documents throughout all levels of E.U.

6. This proposal in essence asks the big vendors to disclose whether
this proposed TC or the ODF TC is the TC that will actually be working
on responding to the interoperability requirements of E.U. government.
There is an interoperability agenda that has not been disclosed by the
big vendors and I wish to know whether this TC proposal is anything
more than a smoke screen to distract attention from the TC where the
big vendors are making the real interop decisions.

What is the utility of this TC if the real Microsoft-Sun-IBM-Novell
interop agreement is being negotiated on the ODF TC using ODF 1.2 as
the document that records the agreement? Any earlier version of ODF
will be obsoleted by that agreement because of the numerous, serious,
and thoroughly documented interop barriers between the OOo code base
and the code base of Microsoft Office that are embodied in the earlier
versions of ODF.

Why is this TC not a waste of everyone's time? I want full disclosure
of the big vendors' interop agenda for ODF. I am not interested in
being used as a pawn by the big vendors to distract public attention
from the real negotiation.  Disclose the real interop agenda or stop
wasting people's valuable time.

As was said by E.U. DG Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes last week
when she laid out the guidelines for the IBM-Sun-Microsoft negotiation
of interoperability between their applications:

"... standardisation agreements should be based on the merits of the
technologies involved. Allowing companies to sit around a table and
agree technical developments for their industry is not something that
the competition rules would usually allow. So when it is allowed we
have to look carefully at how it is done."

I also wish to "look carefully at how it is done." Which TC should I
be watching, this one or the ODF TC? I have no interest in this
proposed TC if the real interop decisions are going to be made on the
ODF TC.  Disclose the real interop agenda, please.

Best regards,

Paul E. Merrell,, J.D. (Marbux)

Universal Interoperability Council

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