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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.

Regards,

-Rob

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