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Technorati Tags: Ecma International, BRM, DIS 29500, ECMA-376, Document Interoperability Initiative, ODF-OOXML Harmonization, nfoWorks, Harmony Principles, Alex Brown, Jan van den Beld
I've been waiting to see more about the Microsoft Document Interoperability Initiative so that I can assess its value in the context of the Harmony Principles. I'm wondering what nfoWorks might provide by way of resources, and vice versa. The potential changes to
1. Unfolding Document Interoperability
The first actions under the Document Interoperability Initiative were announced in a March 6 press release . The release reported that day's event in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with additional events to follow around the world. There was not much meat in the announcement. I found the approach to be slanted in an odd way:
This fits with having plug-fests to test interchange and also having round tables to learn the concerns of the vendors who ask to participate. It seems straightforward enough. Yet I find an odd disharmony in the statement from Jean Paoli,
The notion that putting vendors together addresses user needs occurs in the statements of other participants as well. Somehow, I thought we had reached the point where we know to engage users and representatives of significant user communities to find out what their interoperability needs are. I guess I think I know what users want too. Don't you? Out of fairness, commercial firms may have a good sense of what customers are telling them. I suspect we will see more about that as the Document Interoperability Initiative continues. Still, I think the notion of "industry" here is too narrow.
Meanwhile, the press release led Mike Gunderloy to question the focus on commercial vendors with closed-source products :
It is difficult to say what went into the initial selection and what the invitation process might have been. Sometimes the most difficult part of having multiple vendors in the same room testing their wares is arriving at acceptable mutual NDA agreements. Even if there is no need to share or discuss their code, there is information that can be taken away concerning product directions, product readiness, and also defects exposed during any lab exercises. With regard to "fully" open-source projects, I suspect it depends on whether those projects are interested and organized to participate. I would hope so.
The Microsoft agent-in-charge is Interoperability Evangelist Craig Kitterman, whose blog has interesting photographs and event details. Kitterman ends his summary with an open invitation :
We're still in vendor church, but now there's a person who stands up for the activity. Also, there are interesting notes on the round table held during the event.
I assume that the Microsoft-Novell joint laboratory provided the setting for the Massachusetts event . Craig Kitterman's blog has a slide show that provides clues. Craig reports that the next events will be in Korea and Germany. I can't tell whether permanent facilities are available for periodic events and plug-fests, such as Port 25 and Building 20 in Redmond.
2. Format Plug-and-Play
The press release on the Document Interoperability Initiative also invokes the Interoperability Principles as part of announcing a new drop of the open-source OpenXML-ODF Translator software. The tie-in:
The OpenXML-ODF Translator project (well, that is what it is called) will eventually be a demonstration of the use of the new Microsoft Office interfaces for smooth integration of new formats.
[Note to self. At some point, it would be interesting to see if it ever makes sense that there be a separate conversion interface for back-and-forth with particular harmonization levels/profiles, even of OOXML format. I have no idea at this point.]
3. Waiting for BRM Closure
At the moment, it is not possible to do anything concrete and detailed with Office Open XML harmonization until it is known what the final ISO/IEC status of DIS 29500 becomes and what the final edited specification is.
For now, the only stable specification for working with Office Open XML is ECMA-376. There's plenty to deal with there. At the same time, I want to anticipate how an approved ISO/IEC DIS 29500 might
I have obtained the information that Alan Brown has made public so far . I've found useful guidance on how ZIP usage and Open Packaging Conventions (OPC) will be adjusted. I also searched out some items that address conformance and levels of application. There was a proposal to provide for application descriptions that may be a future opening for what I have been vaguely referring to as interchange profiles.
My attention was drawn to Alan Brown's material by hints in a post from Jan van den Beld . That post
I received my third Waggener Engstrom e-mail last week. It pointed me to the Document Interoperability Initiative press release. There was nothing there to talk about, with all links being to materials already covered about the Microsoft Interoperability Principles. Later, it seemed that the OStatic folks could find some value in Craig Kitterman's more-substantial report and contact. Since I did not want to go through the pain of registering at yet one more site in order to comment at OStatic, I chose to make the introductions here.
The ultimate trigger for this post is the BRM information from Alex Brown and the (currently-unavailable) background from Jan van den Beld.
The nfoWorks site is bootstrapping along. The goal is to having enough structure in place that I can start compiling notes on available materials. My first interest is identifying what is needed to build up some document-processing infrastructure with progressive layers of abstraction for processing of open-standard document formats under the Harmony Principles. The first clue that the site is becoming something humans can use will be appearance of a genuine home page. This will have the first links to content other than site masonry and plumbing.
[update 2008-03-11T17:14Z: I don't know how long it will take me to stop missremembering the number of ECMA-376, especially since all I have to do is look down at my computer desktop and the folder that is named for the specification it contains. Since I needed to correct one designation at the top of this post, I added a link to the Ecma International source of the specifications and adjusted other statements in the body of this article. I also checked Jan van den Beld's blog and am happy to report that he has put up a refined version of the deleted post that I found so valuable.]
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