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Software Government Politics

Trimarco Confirms Mass. ODF Support 95

Andy Updegrove writes "After Peter Quinn resigned, only two brief statements -- both from spokesman for Governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney -- were made to the press regarding whether Quinn's OpenDocument format policy would survive. Both were vague, and both spoke only of the "rules not changing", leaving ODF supporters worried that ODF would be swapped out for Microsoft's XML Reference Schema, even before its expected approval by Ecma. But today, in a private meeting with ITD General Counsel Linda Hamel, Secretary of Administration and Finance Thomas Trimarco assured her that Peter Quinn's departure "will result in no change to the Administration's position on the ODF standard." Trimarco is the public official that will supervise whoever Quinn's replacement will be until after the deadline for the new Massachusetts' policy is to become effective."
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Trimarco Confirms Mass. ODF Support

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  • well that's good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alienpeach ( 930248 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @01:45AM (#14390272) Homepage

    I personally go for open standards in government. I think it makes sense that government would try and stay away from proprietary things. But when you look at the rest of the American government, that is not what you see. Take the military for example: the government hires out everything to be made proprietarily (of course there aren't really that many open options either). Then with technology, us techies critisize the government for using what many others are using and for doing what they always do.

    But that's what democracy is for, for us to tell them their idiots and show them the right way to do things.

    • Take the military for example: the government hires out everything to be made proprietarily

      That's probably the worst example you could have possibly picked.
      The military has standards for EVERYTHING.


      The have specs for connectors, components, hardware.
      The have specs for environmental tests, electical tests, mechanical tests.
      The military has beens pushing standards forever. The first use of interchangable parts was in the military. [blogs.com]
      There is no frickin way you're going to be able to get something lik
      • Re:well that's good (Score:3, Informative)

        by ozmanjusri ( 601766 )
        Did you know that BNC conntector on the back of your monitor is a Bayonet Naval Connector?

        No, and I suspect Amphenol would be very surprised to hear it as well;

        Developed in the late 1940's as a miniature version of the Type C connector, BNC stands for Bayonet Neill Concelman and is named after Amphenol engineer Carl Concelman.

        You can read the rest here: http://www.amphenolrf.com/products/bnc.asp [amphenolrf.com]

        • No, and I suspect Amphenol would be very surprised to hear it as well;

          Crap, looks like I've opened a can of worms.
          Looking around, the sources I see that are not Amphenol seem to list both names, and sometimes a few others as well.

          So I highly doubt Amphenol would be suprised to hear about this. Anyways, it does seem like Bayonet Neill Concelman is the correct name. Thanks for the correction.
      • Well, the Military used to be heavily standards-focused. While they may still be in some areas, these days they tend to prefer "giving the contractor flexibility" since providing "design direction" isn't what the gov't is supposed to be doing anymore. So today they may place less of an emphasis as they used to. Of course "interoperability" is another big buzzword, so they probably still do focus on standards for system-to-system interfaces.
        • While they may still be in some areas, these days they tend to prefer "giving the contractor flexibility" since providing "design direction" isn't what the gov't is supposed to be doing anymore.

          Makes sense to me. You want to buy a box to accomplish a task, so you define a spec for this box to a degree of detail such that you could give the spec to two different companies and get back two boxes that are, for your purposes interchangable.
          It doesn't really make sense to specfify things that are invisible
    • Oh, don't be naive (Score:5, Insightful)

      by btarval ( 874919 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @04:56AM (#14390842)
      I'm sorry, but there's nothing good to see here. If Microsoft can get Peter Quinn to resign, what makes you think for a moment that "what makes sense" is going to happen? Do you really believe that what some State Official is saying right now is going to be what really happens?

      Mr. Quinn resigned because he had "become a lightning rod", and that was getting in the way of his work. Anyone who fills his shoes is going to be a similar lightning rod, and that is one thing successful bureaucrats don't like being. Far more likely is that the next person will attempt compromise in order to smooth things over. And that compromise will end up being far more (if not completely) Microsoft centric, unless people stand up and make their voices heard.

      This battle is far, far from over, despite what State Officials are now saying. It kind of reminds me of the claims made by Saddams' Minister of Information in the closing days of the Iraq invasion. Personally, I'll believe what I see when this battle has ended.

      And IMHO, the odds went way up that closed formats are going to end up ruling here. What was indeed needed was a lightning rod. A pity that Mr. Quinn found the presure to be too onerous.

      • In other words, this whole "Open Format Thing" will require further study, but for the time being Microsoft "Industry Standard" will be addopted to insure information access... Something like that?
        • That's pretty astute; yes, I'd say such an outcome is an odds-on bet at least.

          You get credit for calling the first such prediction that I've seen posted here, if it happens. :)

      • ...provided my job definition includes "Justin may use four letter words in communication with anyone he believes to be a shill for a large corporation".

        Justin.
      • Exactly. "The position has not changed" most likely means the exact opposite: that the position has changed, but since they're not actually saying how they're interpreting the previous position, they'll work out what they'll actually say later, once the deal is done with MS.
        • Yes; the old passive-agressive approach to CYA is how this appears. Especially given the facts that:

          1. It happened suddenly, with no advance notice.

          2. Mr. Quinn has been extremely quiet about the matter (making one wonder if there are other reasons for the sudden resignation).

          3. His boss has been rather quiet about the issue as well.

          It will be extremely interesting to see who gets Quinn's old job. I'm sure MS is in the process of pushing heavily people who are in their pocket. It would be the cheape

    • I personally go for open standards in government.

      Good, good. Glad to hear it.

      I think it makes sense that government would try and stay away from proprietary things.

      When you say "things", it's not clear whether you mean "standards" or "products", at not least in the context of the remainder of your post.

      For instance:

      Take the military for example: the government hires out everything to be made proprietarily (of course there aren't really that many open options either).

      You see, when you ta

      • What we want is for things that are made to conform to open standards. Then we don't care so much if the product is "open" (whatever that means when applied to products) so long as the standard is independant, unencumbered and freely available.

        It's interesting that your statement, which is commonly taken to be the most rational and balanced view, is actually quite reactionary and dogmatic. In every age, the broad popular understanding of the technology upon which civilization is built was critical to st

    • I don't know. I'm on my second contract with the U.S. Army and both times we were Linux based.... The army is cheap. THey'd much rather have an inexpensive open source solution than an expensive custom one.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Ever since the MA decision to go with ODF, Microsoft apologists and lapdogs have been whining and barking about how it leaves poor little Microsoft out in the cold, and that Microsoft is always the "pragmatic choice" in any situation simply due to the fact that they have a monopoly on office software.

    "It's open enough for most people" says David Coursey, some drone posing as a pundi. Which of course implies "screw the rest of you non-Windows using malcontents, you have no rights as citizens because YOU DARE
  • by oirtemed ( 849229 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @02:03AM (#14390328)
    While I know that it is unreasonable to expect companies or even individuals to actively persue open formats, I feel that it should definitely be considered in the best interest of the people for governments at all levels to make such efforts. People comparing this situation to defense contracting or the use of other closed products are making bad analogies. This is not like hiring a private contractor or purchasing a commercial product. This is more like making codes and regulations that can only be followed with the use of a certain company's product. This would be like if the electrical code said that you could only use wire from a special company or that it had to be assembled in a certain way that only said company has the information and patent for. I'm lost as to what grounds anyone could argue for closed formats anyway - any takers please fire away. There is nothing preventing MS from implementing these formats in Office - this seems to be a case where there is only one logically right option and those that try to push the closed format option look ridiculously silly.

    Ummm..no..open formats are bad...because...ummm...just trust us...Office doesn't use them...and office is so popular so it must be ok!
    I mean, seriously, what is the logic?

    • I fully agree with this but how will they convince everyone to use OpenOffice ? Seriously they will have a lot of problems with they folks who just won't use anything but Word. Word is currently the most powerfull word processor of it's kind (Meaning it will never beat emacs.) I just don't see those governement workers fully willing to relearn the tools they must use every single day. Maybe they can just write the stuff in Word and than use OpenOffice to convert it? But again this will cause a lot of wasted
      • Luckily, while in most companies, employees are expected to follow "company policy" and get a slap on the wrist (at worst) for not doing so, if a law is passed concerning the operation of government workers, they follow it or they are fired. If rank-and-file gov. workers want to keep using word and refuse to create ODF documents (maybe Word can be configured to output ODF sometime in the future?) they put their department at risk of a lawsuit and WILL be reprimanded, moved, or fired.
      • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @02:32AM (#14390424)

        If governments start to use ODF, MS Office will certainly support the format (either natively or via importing and exporting). It will have to or it will lose revenue. However, I'm sure MS will do what it almost always does with open formats, which is fsck it up just enough to make its output incompatible just enough with other readers to keep those readers from being valid replacements for Word.

        Probably the easiest way to do this is to allow importing of an ODF document into native Word DOC format, and then exporting to ODF format. In this way, people will not be restricted to using only features which ODF supports while editing the file in Word. Then, when exporting, they will get a warning message about how features will be lost if they convert this file to ODF. All of a sudden their clip art is grayscale, their title is no longer in 3d and written on a curvature, meta information like comments and 'track changes' is lost or corrupt, etc.

        Just enough of a nuisance to keep the status quo and get the user to send their version of the document in Word DOC format.

        • I expect MS Word's exported ODF files to validate against the ODF Schema. That would be the thing that restricts them of using the extend'n'embrace.
        • Not quite. If Mass. says that all their documents have to be exchanged in ODF, then people will be forced to export from doc to ODF. Others will complain about the quality of the ODF documents produced by Word and eventually they'll move to OpenOffice. Instead, what I suspect is that MS will try to "embrace and extend" ODF any way they can so that Word still reads everything fine, while other implementations have a harder time.

          In any case, if ODF really gets implemented in the end, it going to have at least
      • Most of the people who oppose changing from Word to OO.org, also complain when Word is upgraded to a new version. When we did a company wide upgrade, at first everyone was asking when they'd get the new version, after that they didn't know where to find certain features and complained that it wasn't the same like the old version.
      • Word is currently the most powerfull word processor of it's kind (Meaning it will never beat emacs.) I just don't see those governement workers fully willing to relearn the tools they must use every single day.

        I deal with Word files from lots of different people; and hardly any of them know how to use the "tools" it offers; I'd say less than 5% ever use anything that's not on the formatting bar (which is virtually identical to the formatting bar on dozens of other word processors). And government workers

        • by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:17AM (#14390892) Homepage
          I deal with Word files from lots of different people; and hardly any of them know how to use the "tools" it offers; I'd say less than 5% ever use anything that's not on the formatting bar (which is virtually identical to the formatting bar on dozens of other word processors). And government workers aren't given a choice of which software to use anyway. Of course some do have specialised apps, these can be left alone and eventually converted (as they would have to be the next MS upgrade anyway).
          As a technical writer, I would agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes (often) when we design a document, clients request it in word, because if we use a different program (InDesign, Captivate, whatever) they don't have the software to make updates. I would much prefer InDesign for graphic heavy docs (Word doesn't handle vector graphics... I still can't believe that) People don't understand that word is not a publishing program!
          I use a ton of Field Codes and Styles in Word. I have, by request of a client, created a 200 page parts catalog in word that was one giant table...
          The worst experiences I have had were with Word docs designed with a ton of Field codes and styles, as when a third party updates them they ALWAYS get screwed up. That is why I prefer a program like Framemaker where I can set up a template, and have one person control the template and others only able to make content changes.
          The main problem with word (in my opinion) is that people use it for things it isn't, and wasn't ever intended for...
          • (Word doesn't handle vector graphics... I still can't believe that) People don't understand that word is not a publishing program! I use a ton of Field Codes and Styles in Word. I have, by request of a client, created a 200 page parts catalog in word that was one giant table...

            Getting OT a bit... but anyway, Word can use EPS files, and WMF (you may have heard of them recently) can also be vector (I think that's what Word clip art is). As for tables, these are a nightmare (I'm now converting a Word file fu



          • I think you can make Word use eps graphics, but that only prints on a PS printer.

            You can put a tiff preview in a eps using epstool, but it is bitmapped and crappy. Not sure if that helps Word print on non PS printers.

            And I think Word handles wmf (as the recent exploit suggests) and I think you can do some really crappy vector stuff using wmf.

            I do all my stuff in lyx -> latex using tgif for eps figs. Makes great eps, and you are not stuck using a propriatary binary format.
        • I use OOo Writer all the time because it does everything I need. I write things like system specifications with tables and embedded images. It's got numbering, it's got styles. In terms of switching, I had a little trouble with numbering, but that was a one-off investment of an hour of so learning how to do it, which is now done. Anyone who says that OOo is a massive switch cost for the average user is a shill or an idiot. I've given non-techies OOo and they get on fine with it.

          I know it misses certain fe

      • Word is currently the most powerfull word processor of it's kind

        If Word is so good, why won't Microsoft compete on features instead of formats?
        • You hit the nail quite on target - it is main question about everything Microsoft does. Yes, Microsoft rules desktop and it _would_ rule in future, if it would like to coorporate and be open in mixed enviroment, in agreement that they are not "the wholy ones". My pick is that Microsoft overestemate importance of lock-in for they money flow - and it can hit back them very badly in nearest future.

          So question is - does Microsoft understands that it HAS to change? It is no more age of begemoths when big, fat, j
        • If Word is so good, why won't Microsoft compete on features instead of formats?

          I think you have it wrong. They compete on both features AND formats.

      • If the unthinkable happens and MS do embrace open formats and standards I doubt it would make a huge dent in their sales. They have the software brand and a lot of buyers would still buy from them because of that factor. I have no problem with Microsoft being hugely successful, but a bit of competition would make them improve software quality which is still sadly lacking because they still have little to no incentive to do anything about it.
    • Use of ODF reduces political contributions from Microsoft in future election campaigns.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "While I know that it is unreasonable to expect companies or even individuals to actively persue open formats"

      I do have a company and I certainly want to persue it. While my word processing requirements are rather simple, they are specialized and aren't dealt with by any word processor on the market, so I want to have my own developed. But, of course, my clients must be able to read the documents and I can't ask my customers to deal with X11 etc. So, I do need word processor developing companies to support
    • The only reasonable argument I can think of is that a new document format will be a hassle / expense for smaller companies who contract with the state. Their ancient versions of Word, etc, won't support ODF, so they'll be forced to upgrade. And that means expense, training, etc. In short, it's a major shakeup of the status quo, and companies who are not technology-centric may find it expensive and challenging.

      That said, government does the same thing all the time when it changes building codes, tax codes
      • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert@slashdot.firenz e e . com> on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @05:05AM (#14390864) Homepage
        Well upgrading to the latest version of word will cost a lot more than upgrading to openoffice..
        There are about the same level of differences between old and new versions of word, as there are between word and openoffice so any training costs would be very similar..
        On the other hand, they don't need to pay for openoffice and can easily install it on as many machines as they have..
        Also, the latest version of word no longer runs on older versions of windows (NT4, 9x etc) whereas openoffice does, so upgrading word may also require upgrading windows, at more cost.
      • I doubt that anyone will have much of a problem. And they've always got the PDF option and can print from Word to a PDF print driver.

        Converting a Word document to ODF is no big deal. Open in OpenOffice.org, convert to .odf, print and proofread.

        It may even be good for small business. A lot of small businesses don't even know about OpenOffice.org and this could act as a way to get the name out. I've switched a few who are using it now.

        It's a fair point to raise, though.

    • by judabuddhist ( 909092 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @04:05AM (#14390709)
      When I heard RMS speak earlier this year he mentioned that a lawmaker's support for open standards and non-proprietary stuff in government makes a good litmus test of their integrity. It's an issue that's pretty straightfoward, since no reasonable government should be locked into proprietary formats and whatnot, but your average Joe couldn't care less, and isn't going to be basing any votes on the subject. There's so much money being thrown around by software companies, and so little political incentive to resist, that it's a wonder any polititian would be on the side of free software. This is why the whole Massachusetts thing is so important, since it's very much an exception to the rule and could raise public aweness even if it's not entirely successful.
    • by brw12 ( 763380 ) <brw12&columbia,edu> on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @08:11AM (#14391445)

      New York City agreed to a proprietary, closed design for their bus/subway card, "MetroCard." Only the company that designed the card knows the information storage format (although hackers have deciphered some of the unencrypted information, like some users' social security numbers!)

      The result? As the Village Voice revealed in several investigative pieces in 1997/8, The state (which administers the city's public transportation) is forced to pay an obscene $125,000 for each full-sized MetroCard vending machine they buy. They've lost millions of dollars (money which, for example, might have prevented the recent strike) just because they misunderstood the difference between "proprietary" and "secure."

      • Well, I'm not familiar with that particular situation, but as it's involving commerce, I have no problem with it NOT being based in open source. It's entirely different. The Massachusetts ruling is about *government documents that need to be accessed by the public*. Anything that is DESIGNED to be public needs to be done in a way that can actually be ACCESSED by the public.

        Bravo to MA for standing up to the 800-lb gorilla. I hope they can stick to their guns. MS could trivially implement ODC if they wa
        • Well, I'm not familiar with that particular situation, but as it's involving commerce, I have no problem with it NOT being based in open source.

          Open source was not mentioned in the GP's posting. He was complaining that the state of New York has bought a system based on a closed format instead of an open format for their bus/subway cards. This means that they have locked themselves into a specifik vendor for all new purchases and upgrades to this system.

          You do not need open source to get open formats.
  • No change on ODF (Score:1, Redundant)

    by FukYa ( 927019 )
    It doesn't matter. Once the clueless Mass. officals responsible were persuaded to let Microsoft's mutated pseudo-open version of ODF into the picture, rather than insisting on the one truly open standard, they basically gave away the farm. This action by them will prevent OpenOffice from becoming a seriously used software by the state, no doubt. No one in the tech industry seriously believes that Micosoft's version is *really* necessary other than to perpetuate their monopoly. I just wonder if this decision
    • Re:No change on ODF (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @02:49AM (#14390480) Journal
      Not that this really relates to your comment, but OpenOffice.org doesn't have a grammar checker.

      I wrote a paper in OpenOffice once... then I took it to a computer with MS Office to run the grammar check. I think the lack has a serious effect on OO's functionality and as a consequence, its usefulness.

      AbiWord has one though.
      • I fully agree.. why OpenOffice is amazing considering where it comes from it still has along way to go to mach let alone beat something that has had many years poured into it by some great programers (i know they make stupid mistakes but we all do and you can admit it) just the shear speed of MS office vs. OpenOffice keeps me using it.. OpenOffice has got alot of room to grow.. and i can't wait for it to get there but for now it isn't.
      • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @03:03AM (#14390504)
        Not that this really relates to your comment, but OpenOffice.org doesn't have a grammar checker.

        I wrote a paper in OpenOffice once... then I took it to a computer with MS Office to run the grammar check. I think the lack has a serious effect on OO's functionality and as a consequence, its usefulness.

        does a word processor really need a Grammar Checker? A grammar checker can't substitute for a proper grounding in your language. If you need a grammar checker, then perhaps you, yourself, are lacking somewhat.

        • I used to switch off the grammar check in Word because it annoyed me, constantly nagging me with suggestions.

          Now I've just switched off Word completely.

        • by mattwarden ( 699984 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @03:14AM (#14390534)

          A grammar checker can't substitute for a proper grounding in your language. If you need a grammar checker, then perhaps you, yourself, are lacking somewhat.

          If you had RTFA, you would have realized that the topic of discussion is use of ODF by government employees.

          Seriously, though, there are certain things that aren't really grammar errors in the traditional sense. True grammar errors are difficult to make on accident, when the author truly does comprehend the language but simply slips up. However, other "grammar errors", like the misuse of 'there', 'their', and 'they're' are simple verbal errors that can happen just like a spelling error or typo.

          Others more in the gray area but just as easy to make are verb number agreement in comlpex sentences like one I wrote just a few minutes ago: "Meta information like comments and 'track changes' is lost or corrupt." I admit that I had to read it over again to make sure I had verb number agreeing with my subject, because it sounds almost like it should be plural rather than singular.

          Writing a 50-page report, these sort of things are easy to miss. If I have to pay attention to these minor grammar details, that will slow me down (however little) and annoy me. If I can use Office, already installed on my computer, with its grammar checker and not have to worry about these things, I might.

          • by WWWWolf ( 2428 )

            If humans have serious trouble spotting that, how could computers, with their admitted inadequacy to process natural languages, do much better? They might easily spot one kind of errors while humans easily spot the other kind - either way, you're left with trickiest of the errors.

            I don't trust grammar to algorithms that fail to understand an insect's love of fructose without some severe special-case hackery.

            I say if there are cases when good language matters, I mean, really matters, we can just feed the

            • Here are some actual examples of poor grammar that a grammar-checker might help:

              "We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you."

              "The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who's spending time investigating it."

              "It means your own money would grow better than that which the government can make it grow. And that's important."

              "Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?"
          • [J]ust as easy to make are verb number agreement in comlpex sentences like one I wrote just a few minutes ago: "Meta information like comments and 'track changes' is lost or corrupt."

            Hey, that should be "Meta information likes comments, and 'track changes' are lost or corrupt." ;-)

            I have no idea what that means. But, as a human emulating a grammar checker, I don't have to understand it; I just have to find a parsing and point out the errors.

            [Written as an illustration of why grammar checkers are so often w
          • Re:No change on ODF (Score:2, Informative)

            by iccaros ( 811041 )
            grammer checker for OpenOffice 2.0 http://www.danielnaber.de/languagetool/ [danielnaber.de]
        • mattwarden pretty much said it.

          Even though my grammar is quite good, I still run a grammar check and then print my work to proofread it.

          Unless you're something special, you're going to make mistakes at 2 AM or 15 pages into a document.

          And you know what, everything else aside, it can't hurt for you to run it. The best thing that could happen is the grammar check reports no errors. Even then, I still proofread my work.
          • the grammar checker shouldn't be bundled with the word processor, it should be a separate, bolt-on item so that YOU can choose the best grammar checker YOU want.

            Note, MS-Word did not originally have a built-in grammar checker. In fact, there used to be a very healthy software scene for grammar checkers that could be called by means of hot keys when you actually wanted to do the check. When MS introduced the Grammar checker, this killed that healthy third party market instantly...

            This is precisely WHY I beli

        • I have run grammar checkers from time to time. I almost always switch them off. It's pretty rare that they come up with a suggestion that I agree with. For the most part, these days I run the grammar checker on a document if I need a good laugh.

          Probably the thing that bothers me the most about them is that they're constantly trying to get me to write at about a 4th grade level. Sorry, I'm not going to do that.

          However, I do understand that some people like the crutch, and will whine if someone tries to t
      • For what it's worth, StarOffice does have a grammar checker; it's licensed from another company, so they can't release it with OOo.

        So if someone just has to have that grammar checker, don't give up on them. StarOffice is still a good, way cheaper alternative to MS Office, and it'll get them in the ODF universe (if not quite the open source universe) all the same.

        (Then, once they learn to write, they can just start using OOo and let the grammar checker die the death it deserves. ;D )
      • Re:No change on ODF (Score:3, Interesting)

        by deaddrunk ( 443038 )
        The grammar checker, at least in Word 2002, is pretty crap. I rarely trust its judgement, since it's often wrong.
      • Not that this really relates to your comment, but OpenOffice.org doesn't have a grammar checker... I think the lack has a serious effect on OO's functionality and as a consequence, its usefulness.

        I agree with you, partly, but I do have a number of reservations. First, I think Word (and most other) grammar checkers are much less useful than many people think. They are incorrect as often as they are correct. Second, I don't think a word processor is the proper place for a spell checker or a grammar checker

  • Makes it sound like OpenDocument Format is the only viable alternative to buying Microsoft Office if you need to use spreadsheeting, but I thought that's what BitTorrent was for...
  • I know I've asked this before but what about macros. If the documents are to be portable there has to be some sort of macro standard too. AFAIK there isn't a common macro language for the ODF but I'd love to be proven wrong. As it is now they're only exchanging the requirement for MS-Office to OpenOffice.org. Not that this is a bad thing in itself as OO.o is free and documents created for tax dollars shouldn't require a high-cost reader (or OS) to read.

    So, what about those macros. Those of us working with s
    • What about 'em? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @04:09AM (#14390722)
      Macros are scripts: they manipulate data in ways the data processing application wasn't originally designed to. Macros run within the context of said program, because you, as consumer-user, are not permitted to know either the structure of the data in memory or self-similarly, the layout of the data in the output and input files. Macros are a direct result of you not being allowed to know the secret sauce of the memory structures or file format.

      Not so in the case of an Open Format. Both the input and output formats are fully known and so: one can write a program outside the context of the original data processing application in whatever language one chooses. There is zero need for macros when anyone with sufficient skills can write processes to evaluate input data and transform it to useful output data.

      • I agree somewhat, however that will require a fair bit of conversion work for companies that use VBA extensively. There is also a place for automating certain things. For example where I work quite a few of the people we type documents for don't trust automatic numbering so you have to type it in manually. As you can imagine that numbering can then very easily get out of sync. I wrote a very simple macro to renumber. That makes perfect sense as a macro and zero sense as an external script.
        On the other hand
      • While I agree with the concept of what you're saying (abstraction), I think you've missed the point of the OP's question. He's asking about "portability", not "scriptability". In other words, he doesn't want to re-write his VB Macros. Or, if he has to, he doesn't want to re-write them for every suite that supports ODF. In other words, take the format abstraction one step further into the functionality of the document as well.

        Like it or not, the tech industry opened up a (extremely useful) can of worms by ma
      • Exactly. Any language used for file and text processing can be used to process ODF.

        And since it's XML, you can also use XSLT, XPath, and DOM processing.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think ODF is just the beginning, it is a first step in making a uniform standard which everyone can use. I read there were a few problems with formulas in spreadsheets too. Well wenn most wordprocessors support it, ODF 2.0 will probably solve those (minor) cliches...

      I think OpenOffice is a small step back in comparison to Word 2003. But sometimes you have to take a step back to be able to take a very big leap forward...

      OpenOffice still lacks a few things, like working with tables it still is no much to MS
  • by Max Nugget ( 581772 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @03:31AM (#14390578)
    But today, in a private meeting with ITD General Counsel Linda Hamel, Secretary of Administration and Finance Thomas Trimarco assured her that Peter Quinn's departure "will result in no change to the Administration's position on the ODF standard."

    Well I'm sure Mr. Trimarco will be pleased to know that his private comments to Ms. Hamel remained private, leaving bloggers like Andy Updegrove with no choice but to resort to speculation as to the contents of said meeting, in absence of a direct quote from those inolved.
  • by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Wednesday January 04, 2006 @07:22AM (#14391265)
    Because there is too much information in the air, there is already said too much both from Microsoft ("well, we _could_ support OpenDocument, but...ohhhh, that's a nice clippy, isn't it?") and their lobbies in state institutions.

    If they would step back, that would be disasterous for Microsoft's future efforts to lobby to use Microsoft Office and their "open" format. See, if someone sees that Microsoft simply forces influence, politicians will get resitant. Not only because they afraid of their outlook in voter's eyes, but also they understand the whole issue - Microsoft is desperate and getting very personal when someone wants to take away their monopoly at least for abit. So they will start to see the whole issue then. And that is what Microsoft wants to avoid, I guess.

    So...yes. OpenDocument will be there and Microsoft will make export feature for goverments. And I don't think that they will embrace it or make specially with bugs or errors. They will try to fight it different way.
  • SCALE [socallinuxexpo.org] will be holding a workshop on using ODF and open-standards in government. If you want to see happen in California or in some other state contact your representatives as ask them to attend.

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