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Re: OT: Massachusetts Verdict: MS Office Formats Out

On Thu, 29 Sep 2005 10:42 pm, Matthew Saltzman wrote:
> On Thu, 29 Sep 2005, Mike McCarty wrote:
> > Craig White wrote:
> >> On Thu, 2005-09-29 at 17:22 -0500, Mike McCarty wrote:
> >
> > [snip big quote which didn't get referenced]
> >
> >> of course you are ignoring the fact that if you use Word and save the
> >> file in a foreign format, you get the same type of warnings.
> >
> > When did I say that Word was well-written? I don't recall saying that.
> > I don't recall defending Word at all.
> >
> >> I guess I don't see the distinction except that the warnings in OO only
> >> come when you save files in .DOC format and in Word, when you don't save
> >> in .DOC format.
> >
> > I don't recall trying to compare the quality of OO with the quality of
> > Word in any respect.
> >
> > Lazy programming is lazy programming, whoever does it.
> >
> > One distinction is that OO can *know* when it loads in that it
> > cannot save out without either
> >  (1) losing information, or
> >  (2) changing to a different format, or
> >  (3) both.
> > Word doesn't have to warn about that until saving the output
> > because it *can* write out in the original format. If one saves
> > to a format which cannot store the original, but that cannot
> > be known until that time, then it is reasonable to warn (if
> > info *will* be lost) that this is going to occur. If OO waits
> > until I tell it to export my document in plain ASCII to say
> > that I'm definitely going to lose some stuff, and asks whether
> > I want to continue, that's fine, and it's also fine for Word
> > to wait until one exports into a foreign format that something
> > is definitely going to be lost. If a generic "YOU MAY LOSE SOMETHING"
> > gets displayed just because of change of format, but nothing is
> > actually going to get lost, then that's bad, whoever did it.
> But that's not the use case that matters.
> You can load a document in any format (.doc, txt, OOo format) and oowriter
> will do its best to preserve the formatting while converting to OOo
> format.  You now have the document open in font of you, and you can see
> for yourself if the formatting is acceptable.  (OK agreed, if oowriter had
> to drop information on import, it could warn you then.)
> Now you are presumably going to modify the document.  (Otherwise, what's
> the point of saving it?  You already have the unmodified document in the
> format you want.)  So you make changes.  Certainly all of those changes
> can be preserved in OOo format--after all, that's what you are editing.
> Now you want to save the modified document in .doc or .txt format.
> oowriter can't tell until it actually carries out the conversion if
> anything you've done could not be preserved in the external format. (Well,
> for txt format, it knows for sure that information will be lost, but it
> can't know if you care.)  You might also have created a document from
> scratch in oowriter, and oowriter would never have had the opportunity to
> analyse any version in an external format.  Your creation would be in OOo
> format with no possibility of knowing what formatting information might be
> lost on conversion until the conversion is carried out.
> One way to proceed would be to export the document anyway and warn you ex
> post that formatting information was lost during the conversion.  But that
> doesn't seem to be the convention.  The convention seems to be to warn you
> in advance if the conversion might fail and ask if that's what you want.
> You could argue that an ex post warning would be better, but you can't
> argue that oowriter can always know ex ante precisely when the warning is
> needed.

I would think it would be fairly easy, when exporting to any format to know 
what of the OOo formating can't be saved properly, then check if the document 
about to be saved has any of these.  And put up a requester only if something 
in the formating can't be saved correctly.

create a test.txt file using 
$ echo "this is a test" > test.txt

Start OpenOffice.org 1.1
Open a test.txt (OK)
Save as test.doc (OK)
Add an empty line to the end of the document
Save (Got requester)

I know that there isn't anything that can't be saved correctly in this plain 
text document but I still got the requester saying there might be.  I don't 
think this is wise.

> > Perhaps you are right. The only distinction between the crap
> > MS puts out and OO is that OO is open source crap. :-)
> >
> > [take that as a very BIG smiley!]
> >
> > Mike
> --
>    Matthew Saltzman
> Clemson University Math Sciences
> mjs AT clemson DOT edu
> http://www.math.clemson.edu/~mjs

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