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Gary Edwards

Hi Sam,

Thanks for the clear explanation. It's a difficult topic. Bob Sutor has provided a series of discussions on interoperability and intraoperability that are a must read. His latest is at, "Interoperability, more and less"

There is another piece of useful software some of the Foundation developers have been working on called the "Interop Wizard". It's designed to install into OpenOffice as a plugin, providing users with an interface where they can set a document (or application) default to either "full feature", or "interop with MSOffice".

What will surprise many is that high fidelity interop between OpenOffice ODF and MSOffice ODF requires that a few of the OpenOffice advanced presentation features be turned off. A situation we may have to live with until such time as OpenOffice moves to ODF 1.2 compliance.

The simple explanation of this application feature mismatch is that OOo has the more advanced features. You can pour the contents of the smaller glass into the larger glass. But you can't pour the contents of the larger glass into the smaller without some spillage and loss.

While it's a bit more complicated than that (which is why ODF 1.2 can solve the problem) there are two sides of the application feature mismatch. One is the mismatch in mapping feature rich information to applications that implements a similar but not quite sufficient feature. The other is that OOo is starting to break away from MSOffice's traditional features and actually has features that have no equivalent to map to in MSOffice.

This is a good problem anywhere but where documents are being exchanged and full fidelity is demanded; like a workflow or workgroup bound business process.

It's been proposed that we might consider an "interop threshold" for ODF. This would be a well defined layer where the features described are leveled for interoperability purposes. Go above the line, and your advanced features are likely not going to work elsewhere as the document travels the workflow. Again, the wizard i think is a very good approach, but one i hope becomes largely unnecessary as applications move to ODF 1.2.

For sure this problem will recede over time as we move from a stage where existing applications make adjustments to produce ODF, to a time when developers are actually writing applications based on having to implement ODF as the primary file format.


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Sam Hiser




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