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Re: OT: Massachusetts Verdict: MS Office Formats Out

> From: Mike McCarty <mike mccarty sbcglobal net>
> Les Mikesell wrote:
> > On Thu, 2005-09-29 at 15:22, Mike McCarty wrote:
> > 
> > 
> >>Why should I follow around after OO when I can just boot Windows in 
> >>about a minute and a half, and be assured that the doc is ok? If OO 
> >>knows there is a problem, then it should tell me. If there is no 
> >>problem, it shouldn't frighten me. If it doesn't know, then 
> why should 
> >>I use it?

I agree about the "Danger Will Robinson!" warnings.  They irritate me, but I
chalked it up to OO trying hard to be as much like MS Office as possible --
which in my experience does the same thing with a very similar, heavy-handed

> > 
> > 
> > If you don't save it in a portable format yourself, you are 
> > participating in forcing others to join the same proprietary
> This statement is on the face of it ridiculous.

Not really;  I've heard similar statements from others who are strong
proponents of free software.  You might not agree with it, but I think
allowing others that opinion is part of the cost of using free software.
Some of us use free software alongside proprietary code; others try to use
free software exclusively.  I'm happy we have that choice.

The statement about forcing others to use proprietary formats does, however,
ignore that in some circles, free software is not available.  When there is
no free alternative, we have to use proprietary software.

Mike's example is a good one.  If an employer wants a resume in Word format,
and you need to find a job, then you send a Word file.  It would be nice to
advocate for free software, but sometimes you are not in such a position.
One might need the job more than one needs the satisfaction of making a

On the job, I have to advocate for what is best for my client, employer, or
customer.  Sometimes that means I use proprietary software, and often it
doesn't.  But ethically, I am required to work in the best interests of
those who rely on my expertise.  Sometimes that means I can't ethically
advocate for free software.

> And so now I'm part of a vast conspiracy, a contributor to 
> monopoly, tyranny, and other evil practices intended to 
> subjugate the peoples of the third world, because I saved my 
> resume in Word format instead of OO format, when OO itself 
> warned me that it might not be a good idea.
> Grow up and give me a break.
> If there *was* a problem, OO should have told me, WHEN IT 
> LOADED THE DOCUMENT, that the document contained things that 

This isn't fair.  To do this, you are asking OO to open your document,
compare all its elements across all features OO supports across all formats,
and provide you a compatibility report.  That's technically possible, I
assume, but it would be a big programming challenge.  

OO also would have to make guesses about features that might or might not be
in a future version of the "competitor's" software.  I don't know how you
predict the future that way.

> It appears that OO is simply remembering what the format it 
> loaded was, and noticing that it is different from the format 
> it is going to use to save in, and then issuing a lazy-bones 
> The only way to describe this is LAZY, SLOPPY PROGRAMMING.

I guess you could say that.  But here I could insert the usual canard about
"contributing a patch that adds this function to OO".  If OO should do as
you wish, you should be able to do that.  

For those of us who can't (including me), we are left with two choices:

-- use OpenOffice for free and put up with a stupid, alarming compatibility
-- Buy MS Office for about $600 US and put up with a stupid, alarming
compatibility warning.

Maybe that's not much of a choice, but it's all we have...until someone
contributes that future-predicting, compatibility-checking patch to OO.

> NB: I'm not complaining that OO is gerally crappy and poorly 
> written. I'm complaining that this one aspect of it is crappy 
> and poorly written.
> Mike

I'd be happier with this in OpenOffice:

1.  A message that says something like, "When you save in a different
format, some features in your document might not be saved properly.  If you
have a complicated document, be sure to check the compatibility before
working on irreplaceable documents."

2. A way to see which features are well- or poorly-converted, so I can judge
the risk myself.  Even a link to a documentation page in the big ugly
message would be useful.

3. A secondary-save in the "native" format, so that I can recover things if
I go awry.  That means that saving a .DOC file as an .ODT file would save
two files, one .DOC and one .ODT.  If the .ODT is broken, I still have the
"best-efforts" .DOC file.


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