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Subject: Re: [oiic-formation-discuss] My perspective. Extensions

"Ben Baston" <bbaston@gmail.com> wrote on 06/30/2008 05:51:51 PM:

> On Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 4:02 PM, Radoslav DejanoviŠ <
> radoslav.dejanovic@opsus.hr> wrote:

> Gordon MacGinitie wrote:
> > I urge that the forwarding of unknown features be considered a violation
> > of interoperability.

> That is a pretty smart method of niping it in the bud. If there isn't a
> serious reason to preserve unknown features, I vote for this "violation
> act"

> What is described is an historic and well-known method of vendor
> lock-in, i.e. including undocumented features unavailable from
> otherwise conformal competitors. The point made is to forbid this
> behavior. Obviously, this behavior is at the heart of non-
> interoperability between office suite applications today. We would
> do well to formally address the problem, don't you think?

I'm aware of this behavior in the past.  In fact through the 1980's and 1990's almost all word processors relied on document formats that were proprietary and mostly undocumented.  However, I am not aware of this being a problem with ODF applications today.  Maybe someone can point me to an example of where this is a problem?

> I suggest  that this group's charter should endorse this concept
> [forwarding of undocumented and thus unknown features] as a guiding
> principal for interoperability. May I suggest that our OIIC TC
> Charter should state something like [wordsmiths definitely encouraged]
> Inclusion of an unknown feature breaks interoperability and
> therefore, if such features are inserted into an ODF document, the
> result is no longer an ODFdocument. Thus such behavior should [issue
> a warning to the user | not be done | be flagged as fail | be
> considered as non-interoperable behavior].
> An unknown feature is defined as any content placed into an ODF
> document by any method without first providing or making known a
> public and also an unrestricted [able to be used by all without
> royalty or use restriction] and operable implementation of the
> method used being publicly and widely available to all users and
> implementors of ODF.


We are writing a TC charter, not a manifesto.  OASIS defines the specific questions we must answer in a charter, and they are explicit in their rules that we answer these questions and add no other information.  See: http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/process.php#formation

But I certainly agree that the detection of such undocumented extensions can and should be something we flag.   In fact, I see that Sun has recently put online a new "ODF Validator" that has a "strict" mode that will report any such extensions:  http://tools.services.openoffice.org/odfvalidator/

> If this is not part of the ODF standard now [which I suspect but do
> not know to be the case], then this interoperability concept should
> be a suggestion for revision to the appropriate TC IMHO. Otherwise
> we may indeed see lock-in history repeated and any efforts thwarted.


The ODF standard is currently being revised to ODF 1.2.  I'd encourage any feedback of this nature to be submitted to the ODF TC (which I co-chair) here:  http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/comments/index.php?wg_abbrev=office

We can have a fuller discussion on ODF's treatment of extensions there.   Further discussion of this on the oiic-formation-discuss list is off-topic, since the proposed OIIC TC cannot change the ODF standard.



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