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Re: OT: Massachusetts Verdict: MS Office Formats Out

On Thu, 2005-09-29 at 14:09 -0400, Tony Nelson wrote:

> As a programmer, foolish warnings such as the above "All might not be
> safe" disgust me.

Same here.  I particularly hate misleading ones like MSIE's "scripts are
probably safe" (or word to that effect), when it's probably unsafe; and
error messages which are completely ambiguous or utterly useless (they
might as well just say, "forget it, start again...".

Generally, I've only noticed some programs warn me that I might lose
something saving in a different format if it were true.  If it could
save the data without loss, even if there was some sort of conversion,
it just saved it.

> If the code thinks that something might not work, the author is
> responsible for making it do the right thing.  In this case, make the
> file in a temporary place (and this is the only responsible way to do
> it ever) and notice if anything didn't make it through the export
> process.  If that happens, /then/ warn the user, tell them what got
> lost, and ask what to do.  Such a warning actually means something
> that the user might care about.  If they don't use any non-exportable
> feature in a document, they won't get any warning; if they do, they
> can at least decide whether to keep using the feature.

I think a big problem is that for some formats you are going to
unavoidably lose some features.  It just won't be possible to do what
you wanted in the other format.  A more sensible "publish file for other
users" feature, that exported in generally usable formats (PDF, HTML,
RTF, open document formats, etc.), would be a good addition to software
that works with proprietary formats.

But I've always considered word processors to be a means to an end of
getting something typed on my PC onto paper.  Not a program for giving
someone else a file to read.  There's so many problems with just that
angle, never mind hoping that they can print it (they'll need the fonts,
the same size paper, a printer capable of printing out to the margins I
used, etc.).

Don't send private replies to my address, the mailbox is ignored.
I read messages from the public lists.

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