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Re: [Fsfe-uk] E-envoy and Open file formats

From: ian
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] E-envoy and Open file formats
Date: 03 Aug 2003 10:22:04 +0100

On Sun, 2003-08-03 at 09:58, Mike Taylor wrote:
> > Date: 01 Aug 2003 14:58:52 +0100
> > From: ian <address@hidden>
> > 
> > Just had an E-mail from the E-envoy's office after pointing out that
> > just making files available on Gov sites using Word was not on.
> > Encouragingly they said they agreed and were now discussing ways of
> > getting round this. I suggested using OO.org on some test sites and
> > volunteered to convert some files from Word for them if they wanted.
> > 
> > If we can get OO.org versions of files even alongside Word for
> > downloads it will be a big step forward.
> Hmm.  I am encouraged by the E-Envoy's response, but I don't see that
> OO.org files are a step forward at all.  To read them, you need
> OpenOffice. 

Or in the future KDE Office, ABI word etc as these projects seem very
likely to adopt the OO.org XML based file formats. All are free software
so infintely better than requiring someone to have Word. Since OO.org
formats are free and open, in the long term, getting this as the
standard is far preferable to proprietary Word documents. It also
provides a free advertising platform for free software.

>  But if you have OpenOffice, you can also read MS .doc
> files.  

Its not about reading them. They already use pdf for that (and therefor
free advertising for Adobe), its about conveying the same access rights
to users who can not afford to buy proprietary software. If OO.o filters
were perfect, there would be an argument to just import Word docs. I'm
rather glad they aren't because it gives a real reason to require OO.o
on the grounds any citizen can have it free and then down load the free
files with full edit abilities. Since there is pdf and Word export
direct from OO.o the logical thing to do would be to prepare Government
documents in OO.o and than export to pdf and Word. ie the free format
takes priority but that is further down the line.

> So a real step forward would be to use a format such as HTML
> or possibly PDF that _everyone_ can use.

They are already doing that but from the free software point of view
this is an opportunity to promote open file formats. Its a step in a
strategy not that important from a functional point of view in itself,
but because it opens up other possibilities. If we want to change the
situation where .doc attachments are considered the standard way of
exchanging files we have to start somewhere and its the file exchange
thing that is the main reason people are tied to Word. Tied to Word
means tied to Office and tied to office means tied to Windows. Tied to
Windows means unlikely to use free software.

ian <address@hidden>

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