CyberTech Rambler

July 20, 2007

Good question from Dr. Nagarjuna

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:05 pm

By way of Groklaw, I came across an exchange between Dr Nagarjuna of FSF India and Mr Kapur of Microsoft India. I find the exchange interesting because it shatter one of seriously wrong assumption I have with OOXML and I am pretty sure I am not alone.

The assumption is “I will be able to convert from existing Microsoft binary formats to OOXML **MYSELF**”. The key operative word is “myself”. I realize that I cannot do it myself but have to run back to Microsoft. Even if OpenOffice.org provide a converter, it will be based on years on reverse-engineering rather than Microsoft truely open up the format. Without this, a lot of promise of OOXML that I once thought will surface just vanished. One of which is you still have to go and buy Microsoft Office or someone who is willing to sign an NDA with Microsoft to convert your legacy document to OOXML first. This means, one way or another, you got to pay since open source people are generally adverse to signing an NDA.

Even if you get one-to-one mapping, there is still another important hurdle. Without legacy version of MS Office, you cannot implement so-called “optional” tags like “autoSpaceLikeWord95” that requires you to refer to legacy application.

Mr Kapur said that “Implementing backward compatibility is an application function not a file format specification requirement.” Since he says backward compatibility is not a requirement, then we have to insist on removing ALL legacy looking tags such as “autoSpaceLikeWord95” and throw out VML as they are backward compatibility issues and made it to the specification. To a  certain extent, the 1900/1904 date system will have to be throw out as well as they are for backward compatibility and including them will make sure the problem will not go away.

What Mr Kapur cannot do is to choose when to put backward compatibility in. I am going to be generous, however, by allowing him to choose one more time.

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