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Subject: Re: [oiic-formation-discuss] The importance to users of documents looking the same

On Thu, Jun 19, 2008 at 2:15 AM, Dave Pawson <dave.pawson@gmail.com> wrote:
> Slight correction Simon.
> Page breaks were introduced at the request of the accessibility subcommittee.
> Sighted people have a habit of referring a reader to the top of page XXX.
> Without (software accessible) page breaks, this isn't feasible for a
> person reading the instance via audio.
> They can be ignored when laid out, but on disk they are there.
> At least there is some chance for a blind user to follow your arguments
> by finding the right page?

I strongly suspect that page breaks in ODF will be modified in ODF 1.2
now that Microsoft has joined the TC to work on ODF 1.2. There is a
fundamental interop breakpoint between OOo-ODT and page breaks in
Microsoft Office at the application level. This has been thoroughly
studied in the development of software for converting between Word and
ODF formats.

My personal study of the issue suggests strongly that Microsoft will
be unable to implement ODT page breaks in MS Word unless ODT is
modified. In 2000, I published my study of the persistence of bugs in
MS Word in regard to footnotes and endnotes.
<http://www.llrx.com/features/word.htm>. The data is derived and cited
to published bug reports in the Microsoft Knowledge Base. While I did
not specifically discuss the issue of Word's brittleness in regard to
page breaks, the data there and other bug reports I examined in the
course of that study unmistakably indicate that Microsoft got
something wrong, mostly likely at the architectural level in
developing Word 1.0 in regard to the processing of subdocuments that
must be capable of spanning pages such as footnotes and tables.

There are a host of serious bugs including data loss bugs in Word that
all point to an inability to correct the architectural level proble
mentioned. One may also divine from my published data and the
persistence of bugs in various versions of Word that Word is still
running a 16-bit page layout engine developed for Word 1.0. The only
reasonable inference I have divined from the data is that Microsoft is
unable  to reprogram Word to accommodate the ODT page breaks with the
plausible exception of an external conversion process.

The only alternatives I have conceived of regarding the page break bug
as not being at the architectural level are these: [i] Microsoft left
serious bugs unrepaired through so many versions of Word that the
relevant parts of the page layout engine are so deeply buried beneath
spaghetti code workarounds and other bugfixes that it became
impractical to repair the bugs; or [ii] Microsoft management simply
still does not care about fixing serious bugs. The first is plausible
because Bill Gates was on public record in the 1990s saying that
features are far more important than bug repairs. The second is
implausible to me because Microsoft later acquired a very active
interest in Word bug repair.

That leaves only the question of whether the inability to repair the
bugs is at the architectural level or the result of delaying too long
the repair of bugs now buried under spaghetti code. The distinction is
unnecessary to resolve in arriving at a strong suspicion  that either
way, it will be very difficult for Microsoft to implement ODT page
breaks. This summarizes my basis for suspecting that ODT page breaks
will change in ODF 1.2. .

Best regards,

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

Universal Interoperability Council

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