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Sun Microsystems

Interview with Sun's Florian Reuter 132

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the shiny-new-widgets dept.
silentbob4 writes "Mad Penguin is running a series of three interviews with people in the trenches working to bring you OpenOffice.org 2.0. The first of these interviews, with Sun's Florian Reuter, covers some of the differences between the truly open XML found in OpenOffice.org 2.0, and the closed MS Word ML found in the upcoming Microsoft Office 12. He also discusses the importance of simple end users in the process of improving the code with bug reports."
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Interview with Sun's Florian Reuter

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  • by Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @05:59AM (#13763313)
    are they insulting our intelligence!?
  • follow suit.

    OOo 2.0 is really different from Microsoft Office in a way that makes a difference. If MS comes up with same antics what would make it stand out. I've been saying it again and again. WebOffice will stand out and be adopted widely. (and quickly). Before the OOo2.0 is out we'll be ready for another revolution. So hurry Google with the WebOffice!

    • And what makes you think that MS won't follow suit.

      Because historically they have always opted for locking customers in?

      WebOffice will stand out and be adopted widely. (and quickly). Before the OOo2.0 is out we'll be ready for another revolution. So hurry Google with the WebOffice!

      Sorry to disappoint you... [slashdot.org]
    • by killjoe (766577) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:42AM (#13763437)
      There is no google web office. However there is and has been for many years think free office [thinkfree.com]. Contrary to your prediction it has not been adopted rapidly or widely despite being available over the web and despite being a decent product.

      • There are more Web Office related tools on the web , indeed BUT it's Google who has the market-say these days and they have to cash on it. Web is the next stop and people ought to get that straight before it's too late.
      • ThinkFree is *not* a decent product. If you took the union of the set of features in MS Office and the set of features in OpenOffice.Org, ThinkFree has about 60% of them, and that is being generous. In addition, several glaring bugs stand out within seconds of using it. It is inconsistent in many areas and just feels like an alpha product that was pushed to market. I know this because my company *did* evaluate it looking to see if any good web based office suites existed, they want one for a mutlitude of re
        • I have to disagree..after a cursory trial of the calc product I think that this product is a solid basic spreadsheet package. If you were looking to build a low cost pc setup for someone this product would work well, IMO. I haven't looked at the functionality in MS Works spreadsheet in a while, but I'm pretty sure that ThinkFree Calc has quite a few more built in functions(such as engineering and financial) than MS Works..plus it saves into Excel 2003 format flawlessly(which I just tested). You can't say
      • One potential downside to a web based Office product is the potential for DDOS attacks to shut down access; obviously you don't want to be in the middle of an important financial analysis and get cut off because Thinkfree gets attacked. I suppose Google would be immune to such attacks.
    • to reiterate my point.

      People want something new! In the corporate and in their homes. It makes NO sense at all to tell all those word, excel and powerpoint experts that there's yet another Office suite which does JUST THE SAME. Whoaahh, now we're really excited. NOT!!!

      MS Office product has a 90% domination in the World market! And that's a lot. There is no friggin way you can tell the *already tuned people/staff* to start working with a NEW breed of product. It's a challenging option. Lot's of desktop

      • "People want something new."

        I have to question the accuracy of this statement... The vast majority of corporate & home users of Office products that I know are nontechnical, and aren't all that concerned about the fact that their version of Word, Excel, etc. doesn't have the latest & greatest bells and whistles. Slashdot is, by and large, a group of tech enthusiasts who love to play with new toys & new tools. If you want to know who the typical end users of all those computers that Dell
        • Actually the popular Linux Distributions for beginners look like Windows because...TADA...they are made for Windows-converts. If you dig a little deeper you will find a much more unix-like environment (Latex, Windowmanagers with totally different look like e.g. fluxbox or ratpoison,...). But those are hidden from the beginner because experience shows that beginners with Linux are scared away if they have to learn too much too fast.
          • Yes, I'm well aware of all of that... but my original point is, what's the compelling reason to change in the first place?

            Choice? Flexibility? Philosophy? The ability to fix your own bugs? Despite yours & my wishes to the contrary, these arguments are irrelevant to a large portion of users. You might be able to make the sale based on price, or more stability (though I will also say that I end up having to reboot my Fedora system every couple days because things start freezing on me for no appare
            • You forgot security. You can wave hands all you want about the reasons, but there just isn't a reason to be concerned with malware on Linux today. Even if it is a temporary phenomenon, it is that way today, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. And, of course that has ramifications for stability, reliability, and maintenance.

              Price and stability are the only points I've been able to make the sale on, though. Most people don't really understand what security means to them.

              though I will also s
              • Sure, I'll grant you security, too... but as you admitted in your own post, even that isn't a particularly *compelling* reason for a lot of users to switch from Windows. Unless and until insecurity makes the system unusable, most entry-level users won't care enough to switch. Security is something everybody is going to say, "yeah, that would be great to have," but it's not something that a lot of people care enough to spend time on.

                As for the instabilities in my fc4 system... no, I'm not getting kernel
                • I'm not going to argue that the user experience isn't more or less the same, in fact I think that's a good thing. The real difference is on the Admin side, MY side, and that's why I make my pitch while I'm reinstalling Windows, or removing spyware, or performing any of the other major maintenance jobs Windows requires and Linux doesn't. Linux may be a bit more difficult to get running properly[1], but once you get it working it stays that way.

                  You say there's no compelling reason for them to switch, I say th
      • People want something new! In the corporate and in their homes. It makes NO sense at all to tell all those word, excel and powerpoint experts that there's yet another Office suite which does JUST THE SAME. Whoaahh, now we're really excited. NOT!!!

        There is also the matter of price, and having an open document standard, two important features where Open Office beats MS Office. The first matters a lot for small companies, the latter matters a lot to big companies.

        Sun is paying a lot to keep up development on O
      • Ever look at the cost of doing a major MS Office upgrade? For the home user (me) th cost of a $295 upgrade for MS Office 2000 from MS Office97 when I rarely use all the programs was a waste of money. Started using OpenOffice on my Win machine because, economically I couldn't justify the upgrade expense. In addition, MS Office doesn't run on my Linux machine. Businesses are taking a long hard look at the upgrade cost of programs. If there's an alternative that costs less and functions the same, this has a d
        • Almost everybody I know has a cracked version of MS Office running. It's NOT the cost but the LOCKED MINDSET that needs to change. I may have sounded a bit anti-OOo but that is certainly nto the case. I work in a typical MS centric organization and am the only employee who run's and develops app proudly on his Fedora Core desktop. Open standards are getting a lot of attention in the dutch government and other organization. In fact my ex-employer is spearheading the desktop migrations for Windows to linux O
      • People want something new!

        There is no friggin way you can tell the *already tuned people/staff* to start working with a NEW breed of product.

        Okay, so which is it? Do people want something new, or is there no friggin way you can tell people to use something new?
    • And what makes you think MS won't follow suit

      Because they said so? While that may mean nothing, at this point it is MS' position that they will not support OpenDocument formats, regardless of requirements by governments. MS Not supporting OpenDocument [informationweek.com]

      Now MS is claiming the open document standard is inferior, yet they sit on the standards committee. Instead they support the MS XML standard which is a standard for MS documents. Which means it owns (under copyright and soon patent), the format and stan
  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:13AM (#13763353)
    Interview with Sun's Florian Reuter

    I read the title of that article and the first thing I thought was that Sun had developed a new piece of networking hardware and were actively interviewing it.

    It's late here, I should go home.
  • That sentence should read:
    He does not want to see XML language, like <name> or <date>.
  • Better HTML export? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Crouty (912387) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:31AM (#13763410)
    I only hope the new document format makes it easier for them (and third-party application) to convert an OOo document into readable HTML with style sheets. Whenever I write a documentation that is among others to be published on the web I am tempted to write it in OOo because I like it. I still end up writing it in HTML myself because I don't like OOo's HTML output.
  • Could be a goodie. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by holy zarquon's singi (640532) <abuse.totaldatasolution@com> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:32AM (#13763412) Homepage

    With the critical mass that the adoption of the open document format by Massachusets, google and others implies, the embracement of standards like XML and Xforms in OO.o that makes it pretty easy to create organisational workflows, this could be a real microsoft hobbler. Particularly if as seems likely, Microsoft keeps failing to adapt to an open standards world, and the price tag of OO.o stays lower than M$O.

    Bring it on, I say.

  • SOA (Score:4, Funny)

    by koekepeer (197127) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:38AM (#13763423)
    SOA (in Dutch) has the same meaning as the English abbreviation STD (sexually transmitted disease). kinda funny to read this in an article on software ;-)
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:39AM (#13763427) Journal
    I've actually RTFA, and I'm still at a loss about exactly _what_ is better about OOo's XML Schema, or wrong about MS's.

    In TFA the guy just goes on about how his own XML Schema is, you know, lovingly handcrafted and how he _cares_ about your data. Which is just a content-free judgment call. Yeah, so he likes his own XML Schema better. Whop-de-do, that's such a total surprise.

    It's not like if I went around the office and asked 10 guys I wouldn't get 10 different schemas, and each loves his own more and is convinced that everyone else's sucks. Just the proper way to use attributes alone has everyone polarized in three camps, with everyone in one camp arguing that the other two are awfully wrong and against the very idea of OOP or of XML itself. Handling validation and showing which fields are wrong to the user who filled the form? Yep, another clean three-way split, and I've actually had to implement three different ways to handle it, to please all three camps. And so on.

    So that he loves his own more and thinks it's a better way to store my data, is very much expected there. I was already sure he thinks that. In fact, I'd be worried if he said he didn't.

    What really interests me is exactly which concrete problems should I expect with MS's, that supposedly aren't there if I use OOo's format. If I try to retrieve that data in 5, 10 or 100 years, as in his answer, exactly in which way is OOo's format better? Exactly _what_ kind of data gets more benefits from his schema than from MS's in that context? In which way, and for what concrete reasons does he foresee that MS's own converters (which so far still import Word 6 documents with no problems) will break down and cry like little girls if fed a Word 12 document some 10 years from now?

    No, really, it's not a flame. I want to know. If I'm to go there and pester my boss to switch from MS Office to OOo, I damn better have some very concrete arguments and use-cases. If my whole argument is "but some guy from Sun likes Sun's format more" and "but Sun's format is lovingly handcrafted with love and care for your data", chances are I'll get laughed out of his office.

    So can anyone shed some more light on that issue?
    • by Uhlek (71945) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @06:50AM (#13763464)
      Problem is the Microsoft XML format is proprietary to Microsoft. While the standard is "open" -- as in published -- there are restrictions as to who can implement it.

      Problem comes 5-10 years down the road, if/when an organization chooses to move away from Microsoft. Maybe they're going to OpenOffice.org 5.0, or maybe they're going to GoogleOffice. Or maybe a whole other developer has come along and revolutionized the office application suite.

      But, you're stuck. You have 10 years of data that's locked into Microsoft products, what do you do? Convert everything -- and hope everything comes through unscathed? Buy Office and the new product for everything? Create a "legacy application gateway" with a few copies of Office accessable via Citrix or VNC?

      Also, there's interoperability with external organizations. Right now, to do business with the federal or most state governments, your business must use Office to be able to exchange data. No ifs ands or buts about it.

      With OpenDocument, this isn't an issue. No matter what product you buy in the future, it can work with OpenDocument. Doesn't matter what product a client or customer uses -- if it's OD-compatible, you can exchange data.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Problem is the Microsoft XML format is proprietary to Microsoft. While the standard is "open" -- as in published -- there are restrictions as to who can implement it.
        You mean just like MS Office reference schemas [microsoft.com]?
        • by Anonymous Coward
          You mean just like the MS Office reference schemas which include a Patent License [microsoft.com] that includes the term:

          "You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights."

          This making it impossible to implement in Free and most Open Source software? Not very useful to OpenOffice.
          • This making it impossible to implement in Free and most Open Source software? Not very useful to OpenOffice.
            Which is not really the point here, is it? The question was if generating/reading MS XML as simple as generating/reading OO.o XML or not. With documentations of both formats publicly available, I don't see any difference here. What you refer to is the distribution of the source of any such program, which is an entirely different topic.
          • But that would not be applicable within the UK and some other countries, where mathematics is not subject to patent restrictions. You do not need a patent licence in a country where the patent in question is not valid: the Law of the Land already gives you the same permission, if not more.

            Is there anything else, beside the inapplicable patents, that would block the creation of Open Source software implementing the Microsoft specification in a "no maths patents" jurisdiction?
          • That's a nice out of context quote that doesn't actually specify what the patent covers. Did you not understand "royalty free"? Perhaps you should read this [microsoft-watch.com].
      • "With OpenDocument, this isn't an issue. No matter what product you buy in the future, it can work with OpenDocument. Doesn't matter what product a client or customer uses -- if it's OD-compatible, you can exchange data."

        So basically it's a case of "with OpenDocument you don't have a problem, as long as you buy only applications which are OpenDocument compatible". However, replace "OpenDocument" with "MS Word Format" or "WordPerfect Doc" or "Moraelin's Own Format" (.mof;) or whatever in there and the same s
        • If the XML Schema for it is published, why can't I write a simple XSLT to convert it to some other format? (E.g., to DocBook, or OpenDocument, or simply to HTML.) Or can't I run it through Xerces/Saxon/libxml/whatever and extract the data the old fashioned way? What concrete problems would I be looking at in that scenario? ....
          So wouldn't that count as a reason to stay with MS Office, then? Because then it wouldn't matter how much I think MS's schema sucks or not, it's a given.


          You could do the work with XSL
        • Patent license (Score:3, Informative)

          by zonix (592337)

          Well, that's exactly what I'm asking. If the XML Schema for it is published, why can't I write a simple XSLT to convert it to some other format?

          There's one important point most people seem to have forgotten so far. IIRC, to have the MS Word XML schema you have to sign a patent license. In essence what this means is that Microsoft want to retain control over how you use your data (ie. how you handle your documents, parse them, etc.). This should concern you. It goes against the purpose and the openness of

          • Or am I just spreading FUD?

            Yes [microsoft-watch.com]. The XML Schemas are freely downloadable, you don't have to sign anything. They are just patenting their own software implementation that processes those XML documents. You can still make your own implementaiton.
            • Re:Patent license (Score:5, Interesting)

              by zonix (592337) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @08:53AM (#13763887) Homepage Journal

              The XML Schemas are freely downloadable, you don't have to sign anything. They are just patenting their own software implementation that processes those XML documents. You can still make your own implementaiton.

              Ok, so you don't have to actually sign the patent license, but still the legal notice is provided within the downloadable MSI:

              There is a separate patent license available to parties interested in implementing software programs that can read and write files that conform to the Specification. This patent license is available at this location: http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/format/xmlpaten tlicense.asp [microsoft.com].

              But let's look at the article you linked to:

              The patent application states: "The present invention (word processing document stored in a single XML file) is directed at providing a word-processing document in a native XML file format that may be understood by an application that understands XML, or to enable another application or service to create a rich document in XML so that the word-processing application can open it as if it was one of its own documents."

              Broad, non-specific. This could include any kind of use of the schemas.

              Microsoft spokesman Mark Martin denied that the recently discovered patents contradict Microsoft's fall 2003 moves to open up its XML schemas. [...] Martin said it would not make sense for Microsoft to block or hamper XML development -- "something it has been working to establish as a standard and get broadly and consistently developed."

              Embrace.

              However, Microsoft will "innovate above the standard -- just as other companies will do in an effort to seek differentiation, address customer needs, add competitive value, etc.," he explained.

              Extend. You know the next word.

              This isn't the first time that Microsoft has sought patent protection for technologies that are W3C standards. For example, the Redmond software company was granted a patent for the W3C cascading-style-sheet technology in 1999.

              No, and that pretty much pissed off everybody at W3C. They filed for the patent in secret while developing CSS with the other members of the W3C.

              I'm not convinced by this article.

              z
              • Broad, non-specific. This could include any kind of use of the schemas.

                That's just the patent summary. Patent summaries, being brief, are typically very broad sounding, even (especially?) when dealing with something that is very technical and complex. You need to read the actual patent text to see what it covers.

                This has to be one of my bigges pet peeves when it comes to Slashdot readers. They get pissed off at patent applications based only on the patent summary.

                No, and that pretty much pissed off every
              • Quoted from Microsoft's XML Patent License [microsoft.com]:

                If you distribute, license or sell a Licensed Implementation, this license is conditioned upon you requiring that the following notice be prominently displayed in all copies and derivative works of your source code and in copies of the documentation and licenses associated with your Licensed Implementation:

                "This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such i

            • Patents never require you to sign an agreement. They are in place by being granted.
          • Well, it's a good question. I don't know why they need a patent there, especially since it covers a very specific process, and not the XML Schema files themselves.

            But the better question is: ok, so exactly what _can_ big bad MS prevent me from doing? Again, I'm genuinely curious. I want to know. Any lawyers in the house?

            Can they prevent me from running an XML file through Xerces/libxml and Xalan/libxslt? I like to think they can't have patented that. At any rate, that would also affect anyone who's ever use
            • Bear in mind that at no point does it need to even access MS's XML Schemas. It just applies an XSLT to a generic XML. How's MS going to use patents against that?

              Unless they had a patent on XML itselt (like CSS?), I can't see how they could prevent you from doing that. What I'm suggesting is, that Microsoft, down the line, may be able (or wish) to license how you use their schemas. Read: charge you money. That's all.

              z
              • Sorry, that didn't come out right - obviously Microsoft is able to license their products in anyway they see fit.

                What I meant was, that Microsoft with the current Word XML schema license, may be able to charge people, down the line, for specific use of said schemas, because of the patent license clause therein.

                I mean, if they have an honest interest in the adoption of these schemas, and there are patents covering some specific use of these, why not state this and grant royalty free license on those paten

      • I think you are new to standards. Standards are rarely implemented the same way by everyone irregardless of how well defined it is. For example look at html/css etc. and browser support reminding yourself browsers are just catching up to 1997-8 standards.

        I think there is a very good probability that MS XML document format will survive just as long as any open format, just be they are the de facto. And I should remind you that MS XML format would be considered an open format, if it were not for MS excluding
    • What really interests me is exactly which concrete problems should I expect with MS's, that supposedly aren't there if I use OOo's format.

      It's not just what problems are created, it's what opportunities are lost. Automated creation of text, drawing, spreadsheet, etc documents using non native tools (such as databases or scripts) is simple with OOo formats for example, but with Microsoft's proprietary format, I'm limited to using the tools Microsoft provides.
      • Thanks. That's just the kind of thing that I was interested in.
      • I've written many apps that reads data from databases (SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle) and/or files (XML, CSV), opens Excel or Word or even Powerpoint and creates documents with nice charts and so on. I've done this using Microsoft Visual Studio 6, 2003 and 2005 but what I've heard, you don't have to use MS's IDEs or other tools for this. Office apps I used through COM-interface. In fact I've done some tools to convert stuff from Excel and Word to other formats throught those interfaces. I've written all these a
    • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @08:00AM (#13763629)
      I've actually RTFA, and I'm still at a loss about exactly _what_ is better about OOo's XML Schema, or wrong about MS's.
      OK, first things first; let's have a little lesson on what XML is. XML is not really that big a deal. All it means really is that the less-than and more-than signs are reserved symbols; one writes constructs such as <foo> ..... </foo> to indicate a bounded block of type foo, or <bar /> to indicate a single instance of type bar. The meanings of different foo and bar are what constitute a schema. The HTML used for web pages is actually just a bastardised dialect of XML. End of lesson.

      The issues are nothing to do with the schema itself, but rather to do with openness. The OpenOffice.org data format was conceived so that anybody who cares can write applications that speak it, as a right. By contrast, the Microsoft format is closed. If you want to write an application that speaks it, you have to ask Microsoft; they can charge you money for telling you, withhold bits if they see fit, and withdraw the privilege anytime. And if you do anything that Microsoft told you not to do, they can punish you.
      What really interests me is exactly which concrete problems should I expect with MS's, that supposedly aren't there if I use OOo's format. If I try to retrieve that data in 5, 10 or 100 years, as in his answer, exactly in which way is OOo's format better?
      You can expect the problem with Microsoft's format that only Microsoft -- and a chosen few appointed by Microsoft -- are allowed to write programs that can retrieve your data once it has been saved in Microsoft's proprietary format. OpenOffice.org's format is better because any competent programmer can help you to retrieve that data, without being beholden to anyone.
      Exactly _what_ kind of data gets more benefits from his schema than from MS's in that context?
      Any data that belongs to you rather than to Microsoft.
      In which way, and for what concrete reasons does he foresee that MS's own converters (which so far still import Word 6 documents with no problems) will break down and cry like little girls if fed a Word 12 document some 10 years from now?
      That is not the problem. The problem is if, five or ten years down the line, you decide for some reason to move away from Microsoft. There are any number of reasons why you might want to do that: for argument's sake, let's say MS have kept cranking up the cost of Office to the point where you now have to decide whether to try to save money on software licences or lay off staff. Now someone else's document converter may well not be able to handle Microsoft's proprietary format correctly. Your data might become inaccessible! There is also a very real possibility that Microsoft may not exist 10 years from now, and they may take their proprietary formats to the grave with them.

      In five, fifty or a hundred years, any competent programmer will still be able to obtain the schema which will enable them to make sense of an OpenOffice.org document, because no one person or organisation controls that schema. No such guarantee can be made in respect of Microsoft's schema.

      Or, let me put it this way. Imagine you buy a new car. The bonnet is fastened shut with a tamperproof seal, so only authorised dealers can make repairs -- and they have to use the manufacturer's original specified parts and procedures. You have to buy petrol from the manufacturer's specified filling stations {who will check from time to time that you haven't been tampering with things that do not concern you}. When the car reaches the end of its life {which may come sooner than you think, since the manufacturer can order their service centres not to repair it on a whim} you have to replace it with another one from that same manufacturer; otherwise everything and everybody you ever carried in that car will be left in limbo somewhere, and not fit properly in your new car.
      • The issues are nothing to do with the schema itself, but rather to do with openness.

        Actually, in the interview, he WAS making it about the schemas. And XML is more than just a bunch of tags, there are actually quite a few requirements in the standard, but you wouldn't know that, being ignorant and all :(

        If you want to write an application that speaks it, you have to ask Microsoft; they can charge you money for telling you, withhold bits if they see fit, and withdraw the privilege anytime. And if you do an
        • well said...

          MOD PARENT UP!
        • I found this comment on groklaw [groklaw.net] which itself is a comment on Brian Jones' (Office manager) blog. I believe that it gets to the core of the issue. I don't think it was ever answered. So yes, the patents are licensed royalty free but not in perpetuity.

          "MS can stop granting the license when they want. At that point, anyone who already has a copy of the software I wrote that infringes the patents in question can continue to use it. Perhaps new versions could be distributed to those same people (since the
          • Somehow, I'm not concerned with the theoretical possibility that MS is just going to suddenly blanket revoke the licenses for everyone and the speculation on what this patent covers, despite the fact that no one speculating has read the patent text.
            • Somehow, I'm not concerned with the theoretical possibility that MS is just going to suddenly blanket revoke the licenses for everyone and the speculation on what this patent covers, despite the fact that no one speculating has read the patent text.

              You may not be concerned, but other people are and that's the rub. I think MS should grant all users/developers a license in perpetuity to implement their upcoming Office XML format. They can always compete on the implementation and they've had a huge head start
            • "Somehow, I'm not concerned with the theoretical possibility that MS is just going to suddenly blanket revoke the licenses..."

              Why aren't you concerned that the right isn't transferable? The only possible profit to added that in is that it does allow MS the ability to do what you "somehow" aren't "concerned with". So what you are saying is that you "somehow" trust Microsoft not to use their rights to their advantage? What do you base this trust on?
              • Perhaps their history of never doing anything like that before, but I could be wrong.
                • Perhaps their history of never doing anything like that before, but I could be wrong.

                  I think govts. cannot afford to take the chance that the license will never be revoked in the future. Mass. may have made a decision based on this issue. They may end up outliving MS and must therefore take the long view.
        • Stop spreading the FUD. Not only do you not know what MS' patents cover (a specifici implementation--which you wouldn't have to use), you also neglect to note that the patents are licensed "royalty free." You can download the XML Schemas and write fully compliant software for free.

          You mean right now. What about in 5 years? MS can change the terms of their license whenever they see fit. Therein lies the main problem.
      • "OK, first things first; let's have a little lesson on what XML is. XML is not really that big a deal. All it means really is that the less-than and more-than signs are reserved symbols; one writes constructs such as ..... to indicate a bounded block of type foo, or to indicate a single instance of type bar. The meanings of different foo and bar are what constitute a schema. The HTML used for web pages is actually just a bastardised dialect of XML. End of lesson."

        At a _very_ superficial level, yes. But it
        • I keep getting being told about some scary bullshit scenarios in which MS owns all my data, and I can't possibly get it ever again from their evil clutches. Well, that's the whole question: exactly how _are_ they going to do that, then?

          You know perfectly well that Microsoft has a history of lockin -- embrace, extend and extinguish, etc.

          This is natural for monopolists; it is in their interest to not be compatible.

          I don't believe you when you claim to not understand why people are nervous when there

          • You know perfectly well that Microsoft has a history of lockin -- embrace, extend and extinguish, etc.

            Sure, but like the grandparent, I can't see how they're going to do it this time.

            Here is some Word XML (nicked from the first useful Google hit [msdn.com])

            (damn lameness filter - please check the link...)

            Please look at that, then explain: just how is MS going to stop me rescuing documents from this format?

            • Please look at that, then explain: just how is MS going to stop me rescuing documents from this format?

              I note that you didn't argue against when I wrote that the signs are there that they have something bad coming. And that Microsoft have motivation.

              I will speculate on your question if you answer, this time:
              Again, why do Microsoft refuse support alternative XML standards if they are going to be open anyway?!

              Oh, hell. I'll guess. It could be a combination of some of these. (together with some "cal

            • If you don't get it after this I'll assume you're a troll.

              Do you think traps to catch monkeys work if the monkeys understand how the traps works when they see it?

              What if the monkeys have seen monkeys get caught in that kind of trap many times before?

              Now, consider lockin from monopolists in an application area where everyone has learned that it's a lot of pain.

              If the monke.. buyers realized how the lockin would work, it wouldn't work. They must be trapped with something that doesn't look like a locki

        • OK, I'll put my hands up and admit that it was a deliberate oversimplification about XML. Strictly speaking, HTML is derived from SGML; XML is derived from SGML {it's a superset of a subset}, and XHTML is a version of HTML expressed in XML rather than SGML. And yes, there are standards. A properly-written application will pick up on what it knows about and ignore what it does not know about, meaning the standard can be extended indefinitely. It all sounds completely common-sense and wonderful. Which i
      • OK, first things first; let's have a little lesson on what XML is. XML is not really that big a deal. All it means really is that the less-than and more-than signs are reserved symbols; one writes constructs such as ..... to indicate a bounded block of type foo, or to indicate a single instance of type bar. The meanings of different foo and bar are what constitute a schema.

        XML is FAR more than that, and it is a big deal.

        XML is a standard, so that users and developers know what they are dealing with.

        XML is
        • > XML is designed to be human-readable

          Erm. Just because you can recognise a sequence of characters and deliniate between tags and data and what the data types are doesn't mean you can understand and parse a Microsoft or even Open Office docuement. Unless someone publishes a spec giving the intent of each tag and how they interact, binary or XML, you are up the Swanee.
      • Imagine you buy a new car. The bonnet is fastened shut with a tamperproof seal, so only authorised dealers can make repairs -- and they have to use the manufacturer's original specified parts and procedures.

        It isn't like this at all. The XML is still just a text file that you can open and read. You may not understand what all of the tags mean, but that is different than having no access. It's more like you have a car, but can't get the blueprints for the engine, and none of the parts are labeled. If you hav
    • So can anyone shed some more light on that issue?

      Maybe. I don't know. It seems like discussions about MS products always generate more heat and smoke than light, but I'll give it a go anyway.

      If your company plans a migration to MSO.v12, then everyone involved in the decision can pat themselves on the back because nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft. Yet.

      When your company is running MSO.v12, it will be able to take advantage of any future tools that MS develops for MSO.v12; these will become se

    • What he seems to me to be saying is that Microsoft formats have, at least traditionally, been tied to the behavior of the application, rather than being defined in terms of what the document is supposed to be about. This means that, if you're trying to do something very much unlike what the original application was supposed to do, the Microsoft format may be problematic, in terms of lacking information you want or requiring information you don't have. I have no idea if OpenDocument actually has any particul
  • I loved this part (Score:3, Interesting)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @07:06AM (#13763502)
    > As Kevin Kelley said in a recent Wired article, the Internet is probably going to become the first form of artificial intelligence.

    Genuine stupidity perhaps, but artificial intelligence???

    Riiiiiiight.

  • by Florian (2471) <cantsin@zedat.fu-berlin.de> on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @08:12AM (#13763671) Homepage
    The enthusiastic rambling on "Web 2.0" in the opening paragraph is quite unrelated to OpenOffice, an old-fashioned stand-alone application. It's probably related to a mistake Florian Reuter makes throughout the interview. He speaks of "formulas" where he actually means "forms" - He's a native German speaker and mixes up the two words because the German word for "form" is "Formular".
  • I for one can't wait for OOo 2.0 to be released. Version 1.1.4 is great but it looks awful (MSO 95 era quality looks) even with the KDE L&F installed. More importantly for me it doesn't compile for 64 bit (at least not on Debian) which 2.0 should.

    The worst problem with 1.1.4 though, for me anyway, is that when you step off the well beaten track of common functions you very quickly get into areas where things only "sort of" work. The core is good and solid but the edges are like a jungle full of deadly s

    • Out of curiosity: What are the MS Office killer features in OOo 1.1.4?
      • Outlining that works. Save to PDF. The ability to hand a CD to a friend who needs an office application. LaTeX. The ability to tell the BSA to go to hell when they knock open your door at 4AM. Not having to deal with "You can run this program 50 times until you prove you aren't a thief" popups. Being able to wipe the hard disk and reinstall without being told "you can run this program 50 times until you prove you aren't a thief", again. Being able to add hard drives and RAM and upgrade to your hearts
  • He's suggesting that if OO.o isn't opening a .doc correctly, I should submit it? Does he expect all the users to just throw their privacy right out the window? Maybe if they wrote a utility that scrambled non-whitespace characters (although they'd have to be careful with width) both in the document text and metadata, and stripped out embedded pictures and graphs and such, and replaced them with blanks of the same size. I'm not the paranoid sort, but I'm a little concerned he's pushing this "all your .docs a
    • > I'm not the paranoid sort


      If you have something that you don't want to share, you don't have to submit it. :-)


      You could replace the offending data with garbage, or try to reproduce the problem from a new document. But the point he was trying to make it that you can help the problem by submitting docuements which have formating problems. i.e. don't complain, help. You don't have to write code to contribute to an open source effort...

      • > If you have something that you don't want to share, you don't have to submit it. :-)

        Sure, I know that. But .doc is notorious [computerbytesman.com] for including all sorts of metadata. I understand what Reuter's goals are. I just think that in the general case, it's irresponsible of him to advocate just submitting .doc files without advising users to at least wipe metadata...
  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Tuesday October 11, 2005 @09:30AM (#13764137) Homepage
    ... I'd like to give an example. Everybody has filled out a form with a request for vacation holiday to submit to your boss. You have to fill out the starting date, the end date, how many days you want to be gone, and who is responsible when you are gone. You first have to get the form, you download it, you print it, you fill it out. Then you mail it or you get it to your boss in some other way. Then the request gets granted, then somebody has to maintain the data base of how many holidays you have left, and so forth. It is slow and inefficient.

    With web services and service-oriented architectures and X-forms, this process will be entirely different. You'll download the forms from your company's website, fill out the form, press submit button, the data will be sent to a web server which maintains the holidays left, and everything will get done automatically. It will tell you if you have enough days left, a notification will be sent to the person who has to approve the holiday application, and the whole process will be much smoother. This is how web flow will be done more and more over the next year or two. Having support for the end user this way will be a big deal, and will change how we think of collaboration with forms.


    No offense to anyone involved here, but I worked at a company that was doing that over a year ago with Sharepoint/MSOffice. The backend technical details were probably slightly different than what they're talking about here, but lordy this is nothing revolutionary. The fact that OO is now offering a way to do it - maybe. The thing that bugs me is that reading things like this, I get the impression that people working on things like this (I don't mean vacation request systems, but many open source projects in general) is that features like this area touted out like they are something new or revolutionary. It indicates that they're probably not keeping up with with other vendors/platforms are doing. I wish I could put this in to words better, but I don't have any more time right now. :)
    • I think that the point is supposed to be that the "backend technical details" which are necessary with Sharepoint (which requires you to be an asp.net programmer) aren't necessary with X-Forms creation built into the Office suite. The idea is that it gives everyone and their kid sister the ability to build XForms with a simple drag and drop interface.

      Open Office supports XForms. Not just in a, well if you have an XForms document that you handcrafted especially and spent many many hours on trying to get th

  • I do hope that the creators have plans to develop a nice install binary for OO 2.0 as was done with 1.x.x. Recently, I went to download and install OO RC2 and found only RPMs inside. That leaves many users of particular distributions (like mine) unable to use it. IIRC, Debian or Debian-based users do not have a package as well (within the download or in the repositories); thus, they are stuck as well.

    And to answer the question I know I shall hear: have YOU compiled OO 2.0 from source? It isn't worth the t
  • I read the headline quickly and thought they were interviewing a router. Now that would have been interesting.

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