[Linux-aus] [Osia-discuss] Tax office - Open Source policy

Bret Busby bret at busby.net
Mon Aug 31 14:03:22 EST 2009

On Mon, 31 Aug 2009, Arjen Lentz wrote:

> Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2009 13:51:36 +1000 (EST)
> From: Arjen Lentz <arjen at lentz.com.au>
> To: Bret Busby <bret at busby.net>
> Cc: Open Source Industry Australia <osia-discuss at lists.osia.net.au>,
>     Linux Australia List <linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au>
> Subject: Re: [Linux-aus] [Osia-discuss] Tax office - Open Source policy
> Hi Bret
>>>> Obviously it would be better for the ATO to use an open and
>>>> published standard such as ODF (Open Document Format). There are many
>>>> products that support this standard and it can be read and written on
>>>> all major operating systems including Linux, OSX, OpenSolaris and Windows.
> ----- "Bret Busby" <bret at busby.net> wrote:
>> I am wondering what is wrong with simply using MS Word 97 document
>> format (.doc), without the malicious inclusion of macro's.
>> Most of the free word processors (AbiWord, Open Office, etc) readily
>> import and export that document format, and, are available on multiple
>> OS platforms, including MS Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and others.
> Notice the conditionals in your own sentence: it has to be Word97 compatible, not contain any macros, etc. So seeing a .DOC file does not mean everybody will be able to read it.
> It places a burden on the author of a document to know more about the product they use, and use it appropriately to ensure that the resulting files can indeed be processed by others.
> With ODF and PDF, while not perfect, it will work. People are used to working on the basis of an extension and understand that already. In short, non-techies "get it", and thus the process is not hindered by a requirement for additional education (a requirement which would just hinder the desired objective).
> Cheers,
> Arjen.
> -- 
> Arjen Lentz, Director @ Open Query (http://openquery.com)
> Exceptional Services for MySQL at a fixed budget.

I had not realised that PDF was included as a format in which documents 
should be published, in the thread.

One of the problems with PDF, now, is that it is no longer standardised, 
and bodgy PDF files have been distributed, that are not viewable, or, 
that cause problems, with different PDF viewers. In this, I have 
experienced PDF files that have been viewable using gPDF or xPDF, but, 
not using Acrobat Reader.

And, CERT Advisories have been posted about Acrobat Reader, at various 
times, due to malicious code that can apparently be put in PDF files.

I think that legislation should exist, requiring all government 
departments to publish documents in universally accessible formats, 
devoid of things like macro's, and, once again, I suggest MS Word 97 
format, without macro's, for documents that are designed to be edited by 
a person accessing them, or, an earlier PDF format, that is universally 
accessible, and that is not sabotaged by "extensions or enhancements" by 
"the latest versions" of software producing the files, where the 
documents are not designed to be ddited by the people viewing the 

Bret Busby
West Australia

"So once you do know what the question actually is,
  you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
   Chapter 28 of Book 1 of
   "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
   A Trilogy In Four Parts",
   written by Douglas Adams,
   published by Pan Books, 1992


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