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Re: OT: Massachusetts Verdict: MS Office Formats Out

On Wed, 2005-28-09 at 14:26 -0500, Mike McCarty wrote:
> Guy Fraser wrote:
> > 
> > If you read the articles on this, that is not an option.
> I did read the articles.
> > Massachusetts has adopted the Open Document Format and 
> > expects the vendors to support that format. All documents 
> Yes, but if MicroSoft opened up their formats, then they
> could push to get them adopted as well.

That was why they decided to do what they did, they wanted 
a single uniform format. Not a bunch of similar yet 
competing formats.

> > used by the state must use ODF or PDF format, so that 
> > they are "future safe". The Open Document Format was 
> > developed by an international committee, and was intended 
> > to be openly defined and available for use without 
> > restriction or royalty.
> > 
> > Even if MS opened their formats, it is unlikely they 
> > would have given up all legal claims and patents to anyone 
> > who wanted to use it for their own products. Besides there 
> Only time will tell on this one. If MS sniffs out money to
> be made by putting their formats in the public domain, they
> might do it. I'm inclined to agree that it does not seem
> very likely.
> > is already an available set of formats that provide the 
> > features and requirements desired. If MS supports the format 
> > they will be able to contend for software contracts, if they 
> > don't then they will not be allowed.
> > 
> > The notion that features are tied to the document format 
> > hold little value. Most features are just designed to make 
> I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. When I use
> OpenOffice, and want to save something that I created using
> MS Office, I find that it frequently wants to warn me that
> I may be losing some special features. For this reason,
> I have abandoned using OO for editing stuff created with MSO.
> I don't know enough about these things to know whether anything
> in the files are actually at risk, but rather than lose them,
> I re-boot to Windows and do the editing there. A friend of mine
> helped me do my resume, using MSO, and recently I needed to
> update it. OO warned me that it might be discarding some information,
> so I rebooted Windows, and edited with more confidence.
> Are you arguing against tying the feature to a file format,
> or are you arguing that the feature is not tied to the
> file format? If the latter, then why does OO warn?

Microsoft uses proprietary macros, that can not be supported 
by OO for many reasons. Macros are not a necessary feature 
for most documents, and have often been used to pass viruses. 
Macros are generally used only by advanced document creators 
to access dynamic data. OO supports macros, but not Visual
Basic and ActiveX macros. I believe OO macros use Python.

OO is likely warning that when importing or exporting a 
document, that it is unable to convert the macros if there 
were any or that some formatting may not be preserved 
exactly the same. If the format MS used was open and 
accessible without restriction, it is very likely that 
all conversions could be made with full confidence, as 
long as it did not contain macros written in proprietary 
restricted languages.

As for Resumes, my organization prefers to receive them 
either printed or via email in ascii text format. But we 
are an IT company not a publishing company. We consider 
the content to be more important that the esoteric 
appearance. Many other organizations take the opposite 
stance and want the esoterically presented Word Document, 
and consider a well done presentation as a sign of attention 
to detail. I would prefer to not receive a Word document 
and if I was unable to open it in OO, I would either file 
it in bin 13 or would request that it be resubmitted in 
ascii text or rtf. If the person didn't know how to provide 
it as such without question, they would be considered 
unqualified, but then I require technically resourceful 
and flexible staff.

> > manual tasks simpler, but do not affect the well known and 
> > defined methods for typesetting and laying out documents.
> > Having not read the ODF specs I can not comment on how it 
> > deals with linked data from other documents, but it would 
> > be fair to presume that considerations were made for 
> > linked and embedded data.
> > 
> > I can only hope that all levels of Government everywhere 
> > do the same thing. Contrary to Microsofts spin, this will 
> > improve competition and be good for all effected economies.
> I suppose that just about anyone here who cares shares your
> hopes.

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