Oct 102005

Dave Kearns, Network World, 10/03/05, Massachusetts Open Doc moves lack logic.
While I generally enjoy Dave’s articles in Network World, I am left aghast at what he has writ of late. I do not ever recall reading such a factually incorrect and logically flawed article from him, ever. My only guess is that he was under the weather and needed to make his post time. I’ll leave the medication to Dave’s doctor, but I’ll take care of the facts and logic.

First off, Dave contends that the 1.0 version of OASIS OpenDocument specification is a brand new work. Straight off the back of some cocktail napkins after an academic social hour. So therefore it is a lacking and hopelessly flawed spec.

“… You are aware, I hope, of what 1.0 means to an “open standards” body, right? It means, essentially, that it has started the process of identifying the area in which its members think they need to create a protocol or standard.

They may even have defined a few terms. But because everything could – and probably will – change by Version 2.0, no one in his right mind will implement it.”

While Dave may be right in general, I would point out the the OASIS OpenDocument specification is a continuation of the orignal OpenOffice.org XML file format. An amazingly good and complete 1.0 format. While the OASIS standards group may refer to it as a 1.0 specification is in reality a 2.0 specification that has seen two (2) different office packages, OpenOffice and KOffice. I refer Dave to the FAQ easily found on the OASIS web site, oasis-open.org/committees/office/faq, specifically items 13 and 14.

13. OpenDocument previously was called Open Office. What is the relation to OpenOffice.org?

When the OASIS OpenDocument TC was founded, it chose the OpenOffice.org XML file format as the basis for its work, because the OpenOffice.org XML file format had already proven its value in real life. The OpenDocument format, therefore, is an advancement of the OpenOffice.org XML file format. It us usable and used by OpenOffice.org, but also by other office applications like KOffice.

The OASIS OpenDocument TC itself is not part of the OpenOffice.org open source project, and only some of the TC members are associated with the OpenOffice.org project.

14. Isn’t OpenDocument only the file format of the OpenOffice.org application that has been standardized?

OpenDocument has been developed as an application-independent format by a vendor-neutral OASIS Technical Committee (TC) with the participation of multiple office application vendors. The basis for the OASIS OpenDocument TC’s work indeed was the OpenOffice.org XML file format, but even the OpenOffice.org XML file format was developed as an application-independent file format that is not usable by the OpenOffice.org application only.”

Later in the article later Dave goes on to opine the injustice done the Microsoft Word Viewer. …

“Adobe’s PDF format is specifically declared to be “open” and may continue to be used.

I can only guess that because there is a freely downloadable PDF reader available, the letter of the law’s published intent is satisfied.

But, wait a minute! Microsoft also allows you to download (for free) readers for it’s Office documents. Wouldn’t that let Microsoft qualify, too? Well, yes, it should. “

Oh my! The way they treat those stepchildren back in Redmond. Seriously, Dave –you are attempting to compare a published specification, PDF and the myriads of viewers and writers available from many different sources and available on many different systems with a closed, non-published specification that only offers viewers for a select few Operating Systems, who are of course available for a fee from the same company?

I would direct you first to the primary reason it would be considered open, the published reference: PDF Reference found on the Adobe Developer Site

“The PDF Reference provides a description of the Portable Document Format and is intended for application developers wishing to develop applications that create PDF files directly, as well as read or modify PDF document content.”

Next maybe a look on what we can find in a wikipedia article. Portable_Document_Format is a valuable resource for finding other non-Adobe readers and writers that support PDF format. In fact, I would bet that Mr. Kearns would have a hard time finding a workstation OS that didn’t support PDF’s. So we have a document format, that is published and is supported on almost every workstation known to man versus the Microsoft Word Viewer that only runs on various flavors of windows, specifically Windows 2000 sp4 or better. No love for Windows 95, 98 or ME or any version of Win2k prior to sp4.

and finally Dave suffers from some memory lapses,

“In more than 20 years of specifying and buying software applications and services, I can’t recall one instance where the file formats made a scintilla of difference.”

Dave, I’ve got 4 letters for you — H T M L. The specification and it’s openess make all the difference.

Everybody keeps babbling about whether or not it is the computer or the network. It is all just misdirection.

My friends this is the 21st century and what matters is the data.

 Posted by at 11:07 pm

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