[Linux-aus] Benefits - mandated formats

Leon Brooks leon at cyberknights.com.au
Tue Jul 15 15:53:02 UTC 2003

On Tue, 15 Jul 2003 14:23, Craig Turner wrote:
> Its not just training
> users, its also all the thousands of Excel macros routinely used, the
> Word templates and macros, the custom written apps that will work
> under Windows, etc. This is a massive job, and sometimes decades of
> work is stored in these propriatry formats.

Agree. And sometimes those docs are even more fragile than they look. 
One smallish customer had to revise and check *all* of their templates 
when their laser printer died and had to be replaced with a different 
model that printed onto a slightly different paper area. Don't ask me 
why Word documents with margins considerably larger than either 
printer's minima would reshape documents when sent to another printer, 
but they do. This is exactly the kind of trauma which arises when 
making any kind of change at all, so it applies (if not equally) across 
the board.

> What government should be convinced to mandate (not recomend, no ifs,
> no buts, MANDATE) is that document and information should all be
> stored in openly documented formats.

I would go slightly further than that on two points, one being that the 
document format is in no way encumbered by patents, copyrights or any 
such nonsense requiring fees and arbitrary restrictions; the other is 
that the demonstration of completeness of document format documentation 
(meta-documentation?) should be the ability of a third party (with no 
outside help, just publicly available information) to create code which 
reads and writes every feature of that format (ie, accompanying 
stylesheets, templates, fonts, etc included).

OpenOffice.org or KOffice, to pick two examples, would be a shoe-in 
because the code itself is publicly available information and the only 
licence "restriction" on them is that distribution should _not_ be 
restricted. Other than to verify that the compliance code was written 
without covert help, you are not mandating any opening of source for 
competing packages.

OpenOffice.org would be an even better choice than average because the 
Euros are planning to implement its document format as a Union-wide 
standard (http://www.1dok.org/eng/ - they've kind of mostly skipped 
ahead to Step 4 after having seen OOo's format, but are still sort-of 
at Step 2, "1dok.org is part of a programme of the Ministry of 
Economics, Technology and Transport (MWTV) and the Schleswig-Holstein 
Technology Foundation (TSH) funded out of the Innovative Actions of the 
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) by the European Commission's 
GD Regio" and (on their "aims" page) "1dok.org wants to achieve a 
parallel situation for electronic documents to what is the usual thing 
with the medium paper long since - realized in DIN size A4" except, 
surprise, for the USA).

Cheers; Leon

http://cyberknights.com.au/     Modern tools; traditional dedication
http://plug.linux.org.au/       Committee Member, Perth Linux User Group
http://slpwa.asn.au/            Committee Member, Linux Professionals WA
http://linux.org.au/            Committee Member, Linux Australia

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