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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 10:01:16 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.4i

On Mon, Aug 04, 2003 at 09:45:07AM +0100, ian wrote:
> So maybe its just the DfES? I'm just relaying what people tell me who
> work in the Department. I have no way of verifying the accuracy beyond
> that.

Depends what they mean by "publications" - actual white papers, etc., 
leaflets, I can believe that. I know ex-civil servants who worked for
DfES though, and they did not use Quark - and taking a statistically
significant random sample from the DfES website (one pdf ;) shows
it was done in Word and Distilled. 

For print publication, I would believe they would use Quark, it's utterly
industry standard. But, it's also unusable and there's no way they would
ever get civil servants to understand it ;)

Interestingly, most of the DfES site does have PDFs available alongside
Word files - they also seem to be very readable, and don't have anything

> > 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.
> But the main reason for getting OO.o files as an option is to raise
> awareness that there is a free software replacement for MS Office for
> those who might like to try it. Its marketing strategy, not primarily
> technical strategy.

Well, indeed, there are lots of reasons. I don't think there is a winning
technical strategy; we could quibble about the best format for ages. There
is a clear benefit to having one that at least one free software application
can read, especially a format that is feature-competitive with Word. It's a
shame there aren't other reasons to leverage OOo though - it would be nice
to just to present it as an alternative, but as having a specific role to
play. In terms of OOo vs. PDF, the ability to write does have advantages -
I'm not able to cut'n'paste from my PDF reader, for example, but it 
would be nice to have other key advantages to using OOo. 

Things that spring to mind are the ability to mine the files for information
easily, and pull content about - generating search indexes over OOo files
is probably very easy. So, there could be specific reasons that would also
show the format to be advantageous, esp. when fitting into this 'Government
gateway' concept. Being able to upload an OOo file, and have the system
automatically convert from that to Word and PDF - that could be winning.



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