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

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] E-envoy and Open file formats
Date: Mon, 4 Aug 2003 09:08:32 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.4i

On Mon, Aug 04, 2003 at 08:21:17AM +0100, ian wrote:
> > Actually, most of what the government puts online could be done as
> > HTML without too much trouble, but I suspect the idea of a structured,
> > near-device-independent *information* format seems to give the people
> > who spew out DTPd work headaches.
> I was told most government documents are originated in Quark Express and
> then exported to Word, pdf etc. 

I would very much doubt that's the case - it makes no sense on any kind
of financial basis. It certainly doesn't fit with my experience of 
Government - perhaps you're thinking of a specific branch of Gov.? It
is probably the case with published works, but the majority of stuff I
don't believe is done in Quark. Quark requires experienced operators to
use it, and I don't often get the impression their documents are marked
up by experienced operators ;)

I personally do see the benefit in getting them to produce OOo files - the
question is only partially about what tools we have available to manipulate
the files, but also over what tools are possible. Word processing is 
an incredibly important topic - MS Word is basically a lot of people's 
desktop; they write stuff in it, they do their spreadsheets it in, they
use it to organise their files, they write emails in it. It's incredible.

PDF is potentially useful, but isn't really an open standard as I understand
it, although much of it is well-known. Free Software readers are also quite
thin on the ground - any kind of advanced PDF file is basically unreadable,
and I do know a lot of people who make use of features such as annotation.
HTML is practically unusable, simple things like page footnotes are 
ridiculously hard. To be honest, we're picking the best of a bad bunch here,
and going down the semantic content route probably isn't possible.



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