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Subject: Supported by OpenDocument?

I'm looking to see if a feature is supported by ODF, and if not try to
get it included into ODF. If this is not the right place for this, then
please point me where I should be bringing this up. I saw the
office-comment list, and opendocument-users lists, and thought I would
bring it up here first.

If this is already encapsulated by the OpenDocument formats, then please
let me know and I will cease-and-desist from pursuing the discussion any
further. Otherwise, I would like to get this in the right hands to get
into OpenDocument.

Background: This idea came out of my working on a proposal a couple
years back. I had thought of putting together a specialty program to do
this, using an XML-based file format but then looked at how much of an
overlap it would be with (a) existing word processors, and (b) the
OpenDocument formats, and figured it was better to try to get it
included into OpenDocument.

OpenDocument already exhibits some basic principles of my idea in how it
 uses the zip file to put everything together as a single document. My
basic concept was to have the document format interlink numerous
documents to create a single major document - kind of how a spreadsheet
is embedded into a text document, only one better.

My primary goal was to be able to create master document, and hand out
chunks of it to other to do, and then make it super easy to bring those
chunks back together into a single master document. Each piece handed
out would be worked on as a separate document (odt, ods, etc.), and
would contain all the information to do so (styles, formats, etc.). I
was thinking of something along the lines of the HTML's script tag for
including those documents back in. The resulting master file might look
like the following if outlined as a tree:

+->ODT style info

Additionally, each document author could create figures, tables,
numbering (section, chapter, etc.), etc. in their document and when
linked back into the master document it would automatically update to
fit in the original document.

Furthermore, the application using this would present the master
document as a single, continuous document with the table of
contents/figures/tables/etc merged as a single set. The documents would
be able to be edited from this single space, and would not act like Word
does when having an Excel document embedded in it. Only the software
would really keep track of this.

Perhaps this could even be done down multiple levels:
|  +->chapter1.index.xml
|  +->chapter1.section1.odt
|  +->chapter1.section2.odt
|  +->...
|  +->chapter2.index.xml
|  +->chapter2.section1.odt
|  |  +->chapter2.section1.index.xml
|  |  +->chapter2.section1.act1.odt
|  |  +->chapter2.section1.act2.odt
|  |  |  +->...
|  |  +->chapter2.section1.act3.odt
|  +->chapter2.section2.odt
|  +->...

The primary point of this is to make it extremely easy to teams to work
on a document by dividing up the work between them and bringing it back
together. For example, when writing a proposal, request for proposal,
requirements, etc.

Some may argue that you could do this kind of thing (and ought to do
this kind of thing) using some kind of version control, ala Subversion,
CVS, LiveLink, ShareCenter, etc. However, I would argue that those tools
are good and necessary for version controlling a document, but there
should be some sort of method for which documents can be easily split up
and recombined with minimal effort by users, and supported by the file
format, as well. Version controls work great, but are not always needed.

Additionally, suppose not everyone has access to the version control
system; or the version control system does not support the file format
very well (e.g. a binary file format, which basically ends up making
full copies of the document for every version).

I think the above could help many with performing these tasks -
especially people that are not aware of version control systems or know
how to.

Comments, etc. appreciated.

Again, if this is already supported by OpenDocument great - I'll push it
even more than I already do, and whichever implementor of OpenDocument
performs this best, as it will make some of my work easier.


Benjamen R. Meyer

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