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

From: Ralph Corderoy
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] E-envoy and Open file formats
Date: Sun, 03 Aug 2003 13:46:54 +0100

Hi Ian,

> > I have to agree here.  Getting .doc replaced by another format
> > understood by a single program, e.g. Open Office, even if that
> > program is FLOSS, isn't the answer.  We need formats that are
> > clearly documented, and supported on *many* platforms, not just
> > those that Open Office runs on.
> Have you looked at the OASIS technical committee stuff that is indeed
> suggesting the the OO.org format is developed in just this way? See
> for example http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1104-966691.html

Thanks, I wasn't aware of OASIS, but it doesn't change my point since it
is in the early stages of development.

> BTW, what platform are you using that OO.o doesn't run on?

Plan 9 and RISC OS are two that spring to mind.  Both are happy with

> The OO.o community encourages porting to as many platforms as possible
> and the code is open with some support to do it. Maybe you mean file
> format rather OO.o itself? 

I don't understand what you mean by that last sentence.  I'm complaining
that OO file format instead of Word's doc file format is an improvement,
but not a great one.

It's clear from the rest of your reply that you're talking about
read/write document formats.  I wasn't.  I was only talking about
read-only formats.  There are still a high number of Word and Excel
files for download from gov.uk without PDF equivalents.  Given your
original email to the list

    "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."

it is never stated that read/write files were the topic under

> > Besides, I've used Unix for 15 years, and Linux for quite a few.  I
> > don't have Open Office installed, nor am I likely to
> Well it seems to me that what you are saying is that if it doesn't
> affect you personally, its not of benefit to the cause of free
> software.

That's unfair.  I was trying to point out that just because someone uses
Linux it doesn't mean they'll have a large office suite installed.

> But its not about you, its about making progress in promoting free
> software as opposed to proprietary. Its not about perfection but
> improvement. It is about the bigger picture. Who would you rather
> dictate government file formats, Microsoft with .doc or OASIS with a
> well documented open standard that your free software project can
> freely adopt if it wants to? 

For read/write formats I wish for a move away from MS's formats and
OASIS seems a good prospect.

> > For read-only documents, PDF would seem to be the way to go.
> But this isn't about read only documents or even whether downloading
> documents for word processors is a sensible thing to do. Its about
> taking an opportunity to further the free software cause.

Careful.  If they pick up that you're just trying to push OO in via a
back-door rather than improve what they offer for download for the
general good, it may get their backs up.

> I have just downloaded a Word document from
> www.dfes.gov.uk/elearningstrategy/strategy.stm. This is a consultation
> document to be filled in and sent back and its in Word format. Yes,
> there is a pdf format available but that is useless for filling in a
> form.

BTW, even for read/write documents that they want you to send back, I'd
still like to see a PDF version since I often want to see what's asked
for by the form, its length, etc., before bothering, and if PDF is still
the predominant viewing format then that's most likely to be to hand.



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