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Author Topic: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)  (Read 4097 times)

zridling

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Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« on: March 31, 2010, 12:37:04 PM »
via rob weir:

document-freedom-odf.jpg

Today is Document Freedom Day.  In the five years since Open Document Format (ODF) first was approved in OASIS we have certainly made progress, but there is still work remaining to be done.  How will we know when we have arrived?  At what point can we declare victory and say “Free at last”?  I think that when we  can agree that all of the following statements are true, then at that point we have achieved the substantial benefits of document freedom.

  • I can create documents on the platform of my choice, using the software of my choice.
  • I can migrate to another editing environment (application or operating system) without losing high-fidelity access to my existing documents.
  • I can send my documents to anyone and know that they can read them without requiring the purchase of new software.
  • I can receive documents from anyone and know that I can read them without requiring the purchase of new software.
  • I have confidence that the documents I create today can be read and understood, 10, 25 or 50 years from now.
  • Programmers can write and distribute software that reads and writes documents without paying royalties to anyone.
  • I have confidence that the document format standard is being evolved in a way that guarantees the above rights equally for all users and vendors.

JavaJones

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2010, 12:48:57 PM »
Sounds good. But sadly I think we're a ways off from achieving most of those. Even different versions of OpenOffice handle its own ODT format differently!

- Oshyan

40hz

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2010, 02:13:31 PM »
Oooo Look up!

I can see the anti-OpenOffice flock of crows approaching!!! Rational talk about ODF draws them.

(Kidding...just kidding.  ;D )


r_av1b.gif Death Before ODF !!!!r_av1.gif
« Last Edit: March 31, 2010, 02:54:24 PM by 40hz »

JavaJones

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2010, 03:06:58 PM »
Haha. I actually really like (or at least *want* to like) OOo. I even migrated my whole office, 20+ clients, to it for several years. In the end though we went back to MS Office. As a non-profit we got enough of a discount to make it worthwhile. Without that I'd have stuck with OOo and slogged through the problems. Many of the issues were honestly due to user perception or mistakes, but these are practical parts of any software deployment and they're often even more challenging to address than technical issues. Amusingly enough now that we're back on MS Office there are still complaints about features and functionality, even though everyone believed beforehand that all their document formatting problems were "Just because we're using a non-standard program". Some people are even missing features that OOo had (e.g. Calc) that MS Office is apparently lacking.

Anyway I digress. I am very happy about the existence of OOo and ODF, I just wish they developed faster. It's also just a tad depressing to see a new and theoretically superior, unencumbered format like ODF still having formatting issues between relatively minor versions of the flagship app that supports it (we seriously saw differences between OOo 3.0 and 3.1 - wtf?).

- Oshyan

IainB

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2010, 04:25:49 PM »

@zridling: About that slogan in the banner image, "Liberate your documents!"

What if your documents don't want to be liberated, eh? Have you ever considered that?    :tellme:

Enquiring minds need to know.    ;)

40hz

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2010, 06:27:08 PM »
@zridling: About that slogan in the banner image, "Liberate your documents!"

What if your documents don't want to be liberated, eh? Have you ever considered that?    :tellme:

Enquiring minds need to know.    ;)

For further information on things that don't want to be liberated, check out the RIAA and WGA websites - along with the EFF's coverage of the marvelously open and forward thinking ACTA negotiations.

greed.jpgToday is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)

 8)


zridling

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2010, 08:34:52 PM »
Understand that the ODF (format) is just that, a file format. While originally based on OpenOffice, it's not tied to that program, which itself reads various versions of the ODF spec. Well over 20 programs use ODF as their native file format. It's not a must by any measure. It's an [open] option not owned and controlled by a single corporation. In the end, I want control of my data; I don't want a corporation's (or a government's) permission to view, access, change, save, share, or archive my documents.

zridling

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2010, 08:47:14 PM »
And here's a better explanation document freedom by a Microsoft job offer -- http://stop.zona-m.net/node/138

"The reason for point 2 is that if you control office productivity software you can control the format of the files produced, distributed and accepted (even if only by inertia) by all the users of that software. What happens if you, in practice, also own that file format, meaning that no other software can decode it 100% of the times because it's either secret or uselessly complicated?

"The result is that you don't need to be good to win: all your initial users will be stuck to your office software (otherwise they'll lose access to their documents) and will force everybody else who needs those files to use the same office software and only the operating systems compatible with that office software."

JavaJones

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2010, 09:21:09 PM »
Oh yes, I *do* understand that ODF is open and not actually an OpenOffice format anymore. I just had what I thought was a reasonable expectation that a document made in one version of OOo would open in a slightly later version of OOo and look the same. But I guess that's too much for an "open and free" format? ;) To be fair MS Office formats have the same issues. I just had *hoped* that ODF would at least resolve that issue.

- Oshyan

IainB

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2010, 04:25:13 AM »
@JavaJones:
Quote
"I just had what I thought was a reasonable expectation that a document made in one version of OOo would open in a slightly later version of OOo and look the same"
Yes, well, I would suggest that there is fat chance of that, because your expectation - though probably quite reasonable - would tend to run against normal and observed commercial corporate behaviours.
I say this because of - and at the risk of seeming overly pedantic - the following points:
  • The need to provide backwards compatibility for computer-based document files has been an issue since the '80's, and it is still an issue today. (e.g., witness this discussion thread.)
  • Commercial software concerns are obliged to work to maximise their software sales and profitability, and hence maximise shareholder returns. (QED)
  • To do this, the software manufacturers have usually opted for the old favourite marketing method called "Lock-in". They thus persist in setting a de facto standard for what are proprietary document file formats. These formats tend to necessitate (what a surprise - NOT) that their software be used to variously open/view/update/print the documents. (QED)
  • Arguably the greatest offender is probably the monopoly Micro$oft, with their various MS Office formats. Arguably the second greatest might be the opportunistic Adobe with the .pdf file format. However, to be fair to both companies, they have put considerable development resources into ensuring that new software versions (e.g., Word 2007) can not only read older document formats, but also can output in some of those formats - if that is what the user chooses.
  • These commercially-driven  behaviours will tend to continue - because they work - until a newly-emerging disruptive technology is introduced.
  • The initial response by the dominant/monopoly players to a new, disruptive technology is naturally to deny, obfuscate and generally try to destroy the new technology. If they can't do that directly, then they may try buying the technology and shutting it down (e.g., Google and EtherPad?), or just downright stealing it and offering it as their own product (e.g., MicroSoft and "Double Space" versus Stac Technologies and "Stacker").
  • If the new, disruptive technology survives this baptism by fire and starts to become pervasive, then it may well become ubiquitous and set a new de facto standard. This would be unlikely to happen without resistance from the established market players. Open Office has arguably been able to move some way towards this, but it is bogged down by a standards "committee" process run by Open Standards evangelists, and clearly it is not being managed commercially if basic things like maintaining backwards compatibility are being omitted/overlooked.
  • An example of a new and disruptive technology that emerged in 2000 was Cerulean Studios' "Trillian", which was (still is) a superb IM aggregator for IRC, ICQ, AIM, Yahoo and MSM. It was a fantastic boon to the user. You no longer needed to have the proprietary and peculiar IM software to use each of these blessed chat media. All your contacts were known in Trillian, and it didn't matter which chat media your friends, family, or colleagues were using - you could manage them all via Trillian. The response of those media owners was absolutely classic and predictable - e.g., try to kill it; change their proprietary message protocols every day/week to frustrate Trillian's operation. Didn't work. Trillian survived. (Crikey! I've been using Trilian for almost 10 years!)
  • One of the more recent disruptive technologies that seems to have become ubiquitous overnight is Google Docs. If you do not see what it's potential is for disruptiveness on several fronts, then you probably haven't played with it enough, or not thoughtfully enough. There is nothing much that the established market players seem to be able to do about this one except mimic it (e.g., Microsoft Windows Live and Windows Live Sync), or drag their feet on the way to the "open" standards party (e.g., as Adobe would seem to be doing).

Hope this helps or is of use, or at least interesting to someone.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2010, 04:30:04 AM by IainB »

f0dder

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2010, 10:32:55 AM »
OOo, the program, sucks. Office2007 is somewhat of a heavy pig, but even that is faster and more comfortable to work with than OOo. And while I was really skeptic of the ribbon interface, I'll grudgingly have to admit that it's something that's grown on me - it actually does make editing faster & easier. (All versions of office suck wrt. multi-file documents and externally linked images, though).

As for ODF, that sucks as well. A bit less than MS's OOXML, but it still sucks. Just as OOXML, it's basically a messy memory dump, it's not super compatible between versions, and it's not properly documented - one of the developers working on gnumeric has a bunch of nice details about this. Also, it's outright insane using zip+xml based documents for anything but document exchange... which you'll realize as soon as you're working on anything larger than a "dear mum" letter.
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2010, 12:42:30 PM »
@f0dder: You mentioned OOXML in your sucky diatribe there.

There's an interesting and very recent reference to Micro$oft and its commercial behaviours in regards to OOXML here: Microsoft Fails the Standards Test

f0dder

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2010, 01:36:09 PM »
@f0dder: You mentioned OOXML in your sucky diatribe there.
Yup, and I mentioned that it's even suckier than ODF - didn't claim it was better :)

There's an interesting and very recent reference to Micro$oft and its commercial behaviours in regards to OOXML here: Microsoft Fails the Standards Test
Not much new there - and why did the article have to be that long? :)

Anyway, I still stand by my claim - that both formats suck. I'm not sure if any of the formats is more "open" than the other, especially considering ODF's apparent version incompatibilities, as well as not documenting all features used (hunt around Morten Welinders blog).
- carpe noctem

IainB

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2010, 02:58:33 PM »
@f0dder: Yes, I noted that you regarded OOXML as being more sucky than ODF.    :)
In answer to your Q:
Quote
"Why did the article have to be that long?"
- I have no idea.

zridling

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2010, 02:02:27 AM »
On a related note, a detailed account of how Microsoft failed its own MS-OOXML standard this week:
http://www.adjb.net/...-Standards-Test.aspx

IainB

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2010, 05:23:27 AM »
@zridling: You might not realise this, but you have just duplicated the link I had already provided above, where I wrote:
Quote
There's an interesting and very recent reference to Micro$oft and its commercial behaviours in regards to OOXML here: Microsoft Fails the Standards Test

40hz

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2010, 08:08:15 AM »

There's an interesting and very recent reference to Micro$oft and its commercial behaviours in regards to OOXML here: Microsoft Fails the Standards Test
Not much new there - and why did the article have to be that long? :)



Maybe because the author realized many of his readers might not have been following the issue as closely as some of us and and thought it would be a good idea to bring them up to speed?

Hey, I know it's hard to believe, but I've discovered there's a huge amount of stuff up on the web that wasn't put there just for me. Real bummer huh?

 :P

Besides, it's only 1902 words. Even a 'slow reader' can breeze through it in a couple of minutes. Jeez!
« Last Edit: April 02, 2010, 08:09:56 AM by 40hz »

Lashiec

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2010, 07:00:21 PM »
Looking at that list of objectives for a true open format makes me want to convert everything to pure text :S

zridling

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2010, 11:16:19 PM »
@zridling: You might not realise this, but you have just duplicated the link I had already provided above, where I wrote:
Quote

Now I do, IainB. Sorry about that. I added it without reading the last two posts. My apologies.

zridling

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Re: Today is Document Freedom Day! (March 31)
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2010, 01:36:03 AM »
OOo, the program, sucks. Office2007 is somewhat of a heavy pig, but even that is faster and more comfortable to work with than OOo.

Can't argue with personal preference.

Quote
As for ODF, that sucks as well. A bit less than MS's OOXML, but it still sucks. Just as OOXML, it's basically a messy memory dump, it's not super compatible between versions, and it's not properly documented - one of the developers working on gnumeric has a bunch of nice details about this. Also, it's outright insane using zip+xml based documents for anything but document exchange... which you'll realize as soon as you're working on anything larger than a "dear mum" letter.

Hmm, well that's complete bull. Let's take a look at how OOXML and ODF represent a staple of document formats: text color and alignment. If I created six documents: word processor, spreadsheet and presentation graphics, in OOXML and ODF formats. In each case I entered one simple string "This is red text." In each case I made the word "red" red, and right aligned the entire string. The following table shows the representation of this formatting instruction in OOXML and ODF, for each of the three application types:

odf-vs-ooxml-instructions.png

ODF uses the W3C’s XSL-FO vocabulary for text styling, and uses this vocabulary consistently. OOXML’s representation, on the other hand, appears incompatible with any deliberate design methodology. Instead, it's obvious this accurately reflects the internals of Microsoft Office, and shows how these three applications were developed by three different, isolated teams. Heckuva job, Microsoft!