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Interview with Sun's Florian Reuter

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the shiny-new-widgets dept.

Sun Microsystems 132

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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132 comments

"simple end users"? (4, Funny)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763313)

are they insulting our intelligence!?

Re:"simple end users"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763323)

How could they?

Re:"simple end users"? (1)

jnowlan (618290) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764721)

I agree. Just say 'users', it makes no assumptions. Say something like creating 'simple documents' if you need to.

And what makes you think that MS won't... (1, Interesting)

TarrySingh (916400) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763338)

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!

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (2, Interesting)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763409)

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]

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (0)

DigitumDei (578031) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763510)

Thankfully Google know what apps will work on the web and which ones really should stay on the desktop.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (3, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (2, Insightful)

TarrySingh (916400) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763456)

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.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764486)

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 reasons, and I was a part of analysing this. It turns out that as you could of guessed, no good web based office suite quite exist. One other thing, ThinkFree isn't a web based office suite in the sense that most want... it is a java application that can be started through a browser. I work at a fairly large defense contractor and if they are looking for a good web based office suite (by web based I mean AJAX like functionality with Google like quality, not to be cliche), I can only assume that many other corporations are looking too. The sooner businesses start adopting web based office technology, the sooner schools will start teaching it, at which point home users start using it.
Regards,
Steve

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

Scott7477 (785439) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764890)

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 the same about MS Works.

Now if you need to do macro work ThinkFree isn't the tool for the job...

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

Scott7477 (785439) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764542)

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.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (2, Insightful)

TarrySingh (916400) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763547)

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 migrations from Windows to Linux see this as a MAJOR challenge.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763815)

"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 & HP sell are, look at your parents, and maybe your not-so-tech-savvy brothers and sisters.

I work at a computer all day... and I have two major concerns when I fire up any "Office" program:
1. It works.
2. What I produce is readable by other people.

I don't really care how the program goes about that task -- my choice of an 'office suite' is based on those practical criteria, it's not a philosophical statement for me. Much the same way that a lot of other people select their software, I think.

Now that said, I've actually installed the OOo 2.0 beta on my Windows laptop, and have fiddled with it some, just to see what all the fuss is about... and I've actually been impressed, because it works pretty much the same as Microsoft Office. So yeah, it's absolutely a legitimate competitor... but at first blush, I frankly don't see much in the usability / functionality of the tool that's new and ground-breaking. (And this might be the thing that I find the most puzzling of the Open Source movement -- without MSFT to chase, where would they go? Please don't get me wrong, I'm not demonizing open software, or lionizing MSFT... but most of what I actually *see* on my Fedora system at home looks "pretty much just like" the WinXP interface I'm used to here at work... which is good, I guess... but I just don't see a lot to distinguish the two apart.

And yes, I know all the party lines about openness, flexibility, and choice... but for a lot of non-technical home users, the computer is an "appliance" -- used for checking email, browsing the web, occasionally IM'ing with family & friends, and maybe writing the occasional letter in Word. So if that's all they're doing... is there really a compelling difference?

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

Taladar (717494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764793)

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.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13765013)

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 apparent reason... just like my XP system used to), or more features, but advocating change for the sake of flexibility... choice... etc. is irrelevant when 90% of the population will *never* use those advanced capabilities.

In my experience, most people treat a computer & its accompanying o.s. as they would the purchase of a car, or an appliance... does it have the functions I need & want? Is it cost-effective? Is it reliable? What's my long term maintenance cost? MOST of the population doesn't care if that Honda Civic is tuner-friendly or not, or whether or not instructions & tools for maintaining your refrigerator's compressor & ice maker are included with the purchase. Maybe I know too many non-technical people, but I have to wonder whether or not some of these arguments for Linux are trying to scratch something that's not even a mild itch for most users.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763848)

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 Open Office and providing you with a free office suite. Why are you so negative?

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

kmeister62 (699493) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764585)

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 dramatic affect on the bottom line.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (1)

TarrySingh (916400) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764649)

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 Os's. And indeed for corporate it'll be (I guess if you do justice to a properly calculated TCO/ROI) a lot cheaper.

Re:And what makes you think that MS won't... (2, Insightful)

Kefaa (76147) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764479)

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 standard.

Office 12 XML documents will not have an easy introduction into many non-Microsoft products. To do so, you will need to license the format from MS, who has said it sees no reason to support OSS in this regard and the use of MS XML in a GPL'd product would invalidate the GPL, and the MS license. (Microsoft does have some very smart lawyers writing their EULAs and contracts). All the others would need to pay a fee and it is doubtful MS would provide a discount to the disadvantage of their own products.

A better read on OpenDocument vs. MS XML is found on Wheeler's page [dwheeler.com]

The format matters because a company, in part due to its responsibility to stockholders, must have planned obsolescence. MS documents from the 80s are difficult to open and read, even in MS products. An open standard ensures that my documents are available to me, through many companies, for a very long time. Governments need this and are now getting smart enough about technology to understand and demand it. And while no one can imagine MS being gone, the same was said of dozens of top 20 companies over the past 20 years.

As for the comment about the learning curve between open office and MS Office, we can now thank MS. With office 12, they cannot claim an easy transition, the product takes a new direction and whether it is better or not, is irrelevant. The learning curve of going to 12 will be greater than moving to Open Office which retains the current MS office look and feel for the vast majority of users.

New kind of network equipment (4, Funny)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:New kind of network equipment (1)

TheVoice900 (467327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763486)

And I thought it was an interview with some of the members of Kraftwerk, who were for some reason working for Sun. I guess that's what staying up till 4:00 (and listening to copious amounts of Kraftwerk) does to you :S

Re:New kind of network equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763515)

I thought of kraftwerk and Florian Schneider as well.

Re:New kind of network equipment (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763696)

And I thought it was about sexually transmittable deseases (SOA means Sexueel Overdraagbare Aandoening in Dutch).

A thorough technical answer (2, Funny)

gazbo (517111) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763356)

covers some of the differences between the truly open XML found in OpenOffice.org 2.0, and the closed MS Word ML

Am I missing something here? He doesn't seem to cover any of the differences other than restating that OOo XML is "more open". MS may as well post a rebuttal stating that MS XML is better because it leverages more synergies.

Very little content here... (0, Troll)

Peyomp (822650) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763357)

Was this an interview, or a chat facing the wall in the men's room?

Re:Very little content here... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763548)

This was a total fluff piece. Zero actual content.

"Log bugs please!" "We're number one!"

Thats it.

Better HTML export? (4, Interesting)

Crouty (912387) | more than 8 years ago | (#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. (4, Insightful)

holy zarquon's singi (640532) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763412)

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 (3, Funny)

koekepeer (197127) | more than 8 years ago | (#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 ;-)

Re:SOA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763645)

On a similar note the Swedish acronym for CEO is VD.

OpenOffice is dying!! (0, Offtopic)

leereyno (32197) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763426)

This post is the newest addition to the '$ProductName is dying!!' series.

Collect all ++Quantity!!!

Re:OpenOffice is dying!! (-1, Offtopic)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763552)

Looking at the moderation you got there , It appears that the "Is dying joke" is a dying joke

Re:OpenOffice is dying!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763640)

Moderators who use an overrated moderation are pathetic cowards . They can't think of a good reason to mod down a post so they resort to the "I didn't like it" mentality . Moderation is there so we can moderate up the funny or informative etc. posts and moderate down the lies , trolls and flamebait.
If you can't take the heat of the M2 , don't moderate.

Re:OpenOffice is dying!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763963)

That's because some key moderation types are not available, such as "-1 Not Funny"...

OK, so what IS different? (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763427)

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?

Re:OK, so what IS different? (5, Informative)

Uhlek (71945) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763524)

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]?

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763634)

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.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (2, Insightful)

WARM3CH (662028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763687)

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.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763809)

While true, you miss the important point; although in theory you can just as easily implement a Microsoft Office XML reader just as easily as you can in theory implement an OpenDocument XML reader, in practice it will be easier to implement the OpenDocument XML reader because previous developers will have already implemented such readers, and you'll likely be able to obtain a copy of such a reader because many of these implementations will be Open Source and redistributable under Open licenses. This will not be true of any future Microsoft Office XML readers, meaning that the barrier of entry to writing a capable document reader will be much higher for Microsoft Office than OpenDocument.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763710)

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?

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

njyoder (164804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763813)

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].

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13764058)

"Out of context"? That is a quote directly from the license. The sentence is reproduced in it's entirety with no editing. It is a single sentence, contained entirely within it's own paragraph. How do you believe it is possible to quote a single stand-alone sentence out of context? It can not be out of it's own context.

Now I have to wonder what part of "You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights." did you not understand? It means that Microsoft grant you a royalty free licence to their patents when you agree to their licensing terms, but you are not able to transfer that right to others. Which is of course exactly what any Open Source program needs to be able to do in order for it to be distributed legally.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

njyoder (164804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764242)

"Out of context"? That is a quote directly from the license. The sentence is reproduced in it's entirety with no editing. It is a single sentence, contained entirely within it's own paragraph. How do you believe it is possible to quote a single stand-alone sentence out of context? It can not be out of it's own context.

I see the retard brigade has woken up this morning to troll Slashdot. You obviously don't know what 'out of context' means. Being out of context has nothing to do with editing or even being contained within a single sentence. It can be an entire sentence, even two or three or four, quoted verbatim and still be out of context. Your quote neglects to mention what those "rights" are in the first place. Your quote doesn't even mention the patent, let alone what it covers. That's the context that's missing.

It means that Microsoft grant you a royalty free licence to their patents when you agree to their licensing terms, but you are not able to transfer that right to others.

Wow, you got all that from "you are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights"? Funny, because that quote mentions nothing in the CONTEXT of patents or royalties, yet you somehow extracted those out of it. I suggest you go look up the meaning of context now.

That said, that quote and nothing you've said so far describes what the patent covers, which is a specific implementation of xml processing software, as outlined by the link I pasted, WHICH YOU DIDNT READ.

Lastly, why would you want to transfer those rights to anyone else? Microsoft is handing them out to everyone who wants them, what's the point in you trying to grant them?

Which is of course exactly what any Open Source program needs to be able to do in order for it to be distributed legally.

No, wrong, dead wrong. You're very confused. You're thinking specifically of a restriction of the GPL which doesn't apply to other Open Source licenses. And that's all assuming the patent covers what you think it does, which it doesn't.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13764513)

Look you fuckwit, it doesn't even matter one tiny little bit a) How many patents b) What the patents are c) Who owns those patents or d) What rights you get under the Patent License. The license very, very, very clearly states, in the most clear English you could possibly imagine, that if you accept the license to use those patents in order to create software which implements the Microsoft Office XML Schema you can not, under any circumstances, transfer your right to those patented methods to any other person. At all. Ever. Period.

So lets say you write a Word Processor that implements the Microsoft XML Schema. You've gone to the Microsoft Website, you've agreed to the patent license and you've downloaded the documentation. Now you want to distribute your product under an Open Source license (Any common Open Source licence. Let's say, MIT. You seem to have a fixation with the GPL, but you're a retard so I'll let it slip for now) You're welcome to do that. But if another developer wants to work on your product, he can't without individually agreeing to the Microsoft Office XML Patent License, because "You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights.". Any other developer recieving your Open Source work has no rights to use the patented methods covered by the Microsoft Office XML Patent Licence. Well fucking fancy that!

It doesn't matter if the OSS license you use is BSD, MIT, Commons or GPL; every potential developer still needs to visit the Microsoft website, view and agree the patent license. It's true that the GPL has it's own set of additional problems, but you were the one to bring that up, not me.

So in conclusion, shut the fuck up and stop bothering me with your petty fucking argument over wether my quote was "In context" and wether or not you think you know what the fuck you're talking about, when you clearly have no fucking idea because you're too fucking stupid to understand a simple fucking single line sentence from a simple fucking license agreement. It's not like the concept is hard, unless you were starved of oxygen at birth I guess. How'd that work out for you?

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

njyoder (164804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764699)

b) What the patents are

It doesn't matter what the patents are?! Are you insane?! What the patents are is important. If the patent only covers a specific means of processing the document, rather than ALL means, then OSS software is free to implement any one of a million other ways completely unencombered.

d) What rights you get under the Patent License

Of course this matters. Because MS is granting an automatic royalty free license to everyone to use it. There is no need for the developers to transfer the license since they can just get it directly from MS free of charge.

But if another developer wants to work on your product, he can't without individually agreeing to the Microsoft Office XML Patent License

Ok, lets make the retarded assumption that this patent is all encompassing and that MS is actually capable of making it illegal for someont to write software to parse an XML document without their permission.

Now. Agreeing to that license *gasp* only means that you have to agree to comply with the document specifications and not use some non-standard variant, as well as reproduce a brief notice. Wow. Hard.

every potential developer still needs to visit the Microsoft website, view and agree the patent license.

They don't actually need to view the website at all, there is no requirement for that. Did you actually read the webpage? You don't even need to sign anything. You just need to include the notice. You never even need to get anywhere near microsoft.com.

Of course, we have to remember, that you're still operating under the assumption that their patent is an all encompassing one covering all possible implementations, rather than a very specficic one. Did you even read the patent text to see what it covers? I think not.

shut the fuck up and stop bothering me with your petty fucking argument over wether my quote was "In context"

It was out of context. As stated above, it didn't take into account that anyone can EASILY obtain the license just by including a notice in their software, that's all that's required. So hard. Cry me a river of tears. That makes the whole non-transferability thing moot, since this situation is effectively the same, since all you have to do is copy and paste that notice and BAM you've effectively transferred it.

and wether or not you think you know what the fuck you're talking about, when you clearly have no fucking idea because you're too fucking stupid to understand a simple fucking single line sentence from a simple fucking license agreement.

Wow. This coming from a guy who didn't even read the patent text and thinks that what the patent covers is entirely irrelevent. I'm sorry troll, but you're insane if you think that what the patent covers doesn't matter.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763545)

"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 still holds true. "You won't ever have a problem with X, as long as you only ever use programs which support X." So basically it's just another document format to get locked in. Except it's Sun's instead of MS's. From a pragmatic and "no love for either camp" point of view, that alone is far from counting as either advantage or disadvantage.

"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?"

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? (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?

"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."

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 must start and end with that format. In your words, "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?"

Re:OK, so what IS different? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763584)

Please fuck off and die you miserable dunce.

You're like one of those sad fucks who we saw after Gorbachev dismantled the old Soviet system out protesting to bring back the old days.

The computing world is moving on to open systems. Deal with it.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763619)

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 XSLT, and it would work.. for now. The problem (as anyone who has used Microsoft products for at least a decade will know) is that Microsoft have a nasty habit of not always being compatible with Microsoft. There were several Office upgrades in the 90s that broke old files (anyone remember Access 2 - Access 95?).

Patent license (2, Informative)

zonix (592337) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763675)

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 XML, in my opinion anyway.

The questions people should really be asking are:

  • Will Microsoft use this to limit how people implement programs to interoperate with MS Word documents?
  • Will they use it to charge people for specific uses of Word documents? E.g. use by third party software? Or even your in-house developed software?
  • Why do they need the patent license?

Or am I just spreading FUD?

z

Re:Patent license (1)

njyoder (164804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763782)

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 (4, Interesting)

zonix (592337) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763887)

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

Re:Patent license (1)

njyoder (164804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763953)

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 everybody at W3C. They filed for the patent in secret while developing CSS with the other members of the W3C.

If that's the case and their patent is valid, why aren't they enforcing it against all implementations of CSS?

Re:Patent license (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764082)

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 intellectual property may be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/odcXMLRef/ html/odcXMLRefLegalNotice.asp [microsoft.com]."

By including the above notice in a Licensed Implementation, you will be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions of this license. You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license.

I'm certainly no lawyer, but aside from including the statement included in the above quote in any source code which parses / interprets the MS XML documents, I don't see how Microsoft is forcing you to do "anything" with your data stored in that format... I know that giving any credit to Microsoft is a bitter pill to swallow for some people, but really... what percentage of your end-users are looking at the damn source code? It can be our little secret...

To quote Shakespeare... I'm really starting to think that all of this furor over Microsoft's "patenting XML to control my data" is nothing more than "A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing..."

A better question (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764507)

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 used XML and XSLT.

Even if they could somehow get a patent as broad as "reading XML data into a word processor" (they didn't, or not yet, but let's take the worst case scenario) can that stop me from just running the file through Xalan and getting a different file, with no word processor involved at that point?

Can they stop me from using Cocoon [apache.org] to automatically transform/convert the files, on demand? Because that's just the kind of thing I'd do, if the company I work for needed to access old files. Dump all those documents on a big fileserver, or into a database so I can also store metadatam including whose file is it. Then just set up a simple intranet web site, that you point at the document you want, and you get the transformed result as a download. It's not even a complicated Cocoon pipeline: a generator that just reads a document and parses it, a transformator that just applies a XSLT to it, and a serializer that just spits another XML (e.g., in DocBook or OpenDocument) or a HTML or a PDF.

Can that MS patent stop that? Because it's something so generic that it would mean forbidding Cocoon completely.

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?

Unlikely (1)

zonix (592337) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764667)

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

Whoops. Correction. (1)

zonix (592337) | more than 8 years ago | (#13765111)

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 patents? What if they patent some specific use of the schemas in the future?

The Word XML schema license is somewhat open-ended because of the the patent license clause. You might say, it's a trap.

z

Re:OK, so what IS different? (2, Interesting)

badriram (699489) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763627)

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 redistribution of source code. It does not prevent people from using a different licence. (Other companies including apple have implemented it)

Maybe you should look at the new office format, all someone has to do is create an online service that can parse MS doc xml and convert to open office.org xml, and guess what that is the point of using xml. And you can get all the documentation you need from MS on how to parse MS doc XML to convert to your own, and we do it at work everyday, to export data from Office to DBs, web services etc. In this connected world, without redistributing, Google, Sun, or even openoffice.org can implement web services to convert that are not part of the source code being redistributed.

Essentially all I am pointing out is just because a license forbids source code distribution does not imply it not open. Open is a relative term. Opensource and royalty free are not.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763469)

In my experience Sun sucks more than Microsoft. Always lame and whiney.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (2, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763530)

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.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763642)

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.
I don't get your poitn. I've pernsonally written programs to directly generate documents MS XML files and don't see why you users are limited to MS tools. The reference schema for office 2003 is publicly available. Generating XML for MS office is simple and if you are running programs on Windows platform, using automation and using office programs through COM is even simpler.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763716)

I've pernsonally written programs to directly generate documents MS XML files and don't see why you users are limited to MS tools.

Have you complied with the terms of the licence?
http://www.microsoft.com/office/xml/licenseovervie w.mspx [microsoft.com]

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763789)

I don't see why he would have any problem with the licence. Have you read it yourself? Have you read this? http://www.microsoft.com/office/xml/janletter.mspx [microsoft.com]

Re:OK, so what IS different? (2, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763876)

Yes, I have. What's interesting is what is not stated, and that is that whether developers can relicense programs using MS schemas.

"We are acknowledging that end users who merely open and read government documents that are saved as Office XML files within software programs will not violate the license."


Note that there was nothing in that "clarification" indemnifying developers. By explicitly indemnifying users, they are leaving the option open to lock out competing developers if they change their minds in some time in the future.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13764026)

The point is that the documents are open and publicly available to anyone. Where did they say developers can't use them? Please show me the phrase barring developers from using the MS schemas in their products to read/write MS XML files.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764092)

The point is that the documents are open and publicly available to anyone.

No, that's not the point. That's what's commonly called a red herring, and it reeks just as badly. The point is that once I've developed an application which writes to Microsoft's schemas, they can claim I've infringed their patents and/or copyrights.

You need to ask yourself why their format needs to be licensed at all. Why not just say "here is our format"?

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 8 years ago | (#13765467)

But you can not transfer the perpetual royalty free rights you were granted. So what happens if MS stops giving it away next year? Would I have to prove that I made use of their offer while it existed?

Re:OK, so what IS different? (2, Interesting)

weicco (645927) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763648)

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 apps using C++, C# and VB.NET. Is there something similar in OpenOffice? Do I have to write XML files (and is there tools for this, or must I do it by hand) or can I use some decent API to create sheets?

Re:OK, so what IS different? (4, Informative)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

njyoder (164804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763880)

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 anything that Microsoft told you not to do, they can punish you.

Wow. Nope. Wrong. 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. Wow. Totally closed. You're right.

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.

Nope, FUD-master is wrong again. Even if the patent covered that, the whole "royalty free" thing would have you there. Oh yeah, it's not proprietary when it's well documented, sorry if that concept is hard for you to understand :-(

Now someone else's document converter may well not be able to handle Microsoft's proprietary format correctly. Your data might become inaccessible!

Uh, the same could be said of OpenDocument, that's not a valid argument.

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.

HAHAHAHAHA, " a very real possibility"? Now the fud-master has gone off the deep end. Even if they went out of business, that would mean their patents would become void and everyone would be free to use the XML Schemas as they please, making it a wide open format. So in other words, your "very real possibility" would actually be a positive.

No such guarantee can be made in respect of Microsoft's schema.

Why not? Are all the copies of MS' schema going to be wiped off of every hard drive in existence? For such a popular format, what are the chances of it just suddenly *poof* vanishing into thin air?

I'm sorry fud-master, but your arguments are not only totally illogical, but they're batshit insane.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (2, Informative)

anandrajan (86137) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764205)

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 they already have a license). I cannot, however, continue to distribute my open source project, because only MS has the right to grant my potential user a license. That is, MS can effectively kill (or at least place in stasis) any project that gets big enough to pose a threat. This is at the core of every OSS license - the right to grant the same rights I have to the recipients of my software. "

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

njyoder (164804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764255)

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.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

anandrajan (86137) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764294)

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 which should help.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

golgotha007 (62687) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764382)

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.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13765314)

>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.

So can the FSF. What's your point?

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763980)

"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's actually a massive over-simplification, missing such aspects as having a standard parser or a standard way to transform it via XSLT and about a dozen other key points. Or that unlike the binary formats it can be read by a human. (Not comfortably, but it can be done.) Or that there are a thousand and one tools that can generate a schema for me from the XML documents, without requiring me to pay a dime to Microsoft. (It won't have all the possible nuances, but it will have all that appear in my documents. That's good enough for me.) Etc.

And that's exactly why I ask. As long as I know I'll expect <foo>..</foo> constructs, exactly how is my data in peril there. 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? I can just run the whole thing through Xerces and get my data out of there myself.

"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."

You mean they can legally prevent Xerces or libxml from parsing that file? Or they can prevent Xalan or libxslt from transforming it? How?

"Any data that belongs to you rather than to Microsoft."

It will still belong to me just as much after it's stored in XML. Regardless of whether it's with MS's schema, or Sun's, or my own.

"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."

Yep, I'm listening. That's in fact why I'm asking.

"Now someone else's document converter may well not be able to handle Microsoft's proprietary format correctly. Your data might become inaccessible!"

And this is the very thing I'm not convinced of. As long as that data is in XML anyway, _how_ are they going to prevent me from getting at least my text out of it?

"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."

In 5, 50 or 100 years, any competent programmer can still feed the document into XMLSpy and get a good enough schema for it. Heck, even without automated tools for that, if anyone so completely retarded as to look at a plaintext file and not possibly be able to get the data out (even if by copy-and-paste in Notepad, if that's all their IQ allows), they have no business getting paid as a programmer. I know that competence went out of style somewhere during the dot-com boom, but ffs, we're talking elementary logic and/or the ability to google [google.com] for something that can generate a schema for them. Not even necessarily both. If anyone can tell me with a straight face that the company's data is lost and forever captured by MS when staring at an XML file, I'll say he/she needs to go back to flipping burgers or whatever job they were qualified for before they faked a resume.

I don't believe you (1)

BerntB (584621) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764690)

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 are known (and maybe more unknown) Microsoft patents around their XML data descriptions and they refused to support alternative XML standards.

It is too much like a big wooden horse that coughs from it's legs and stommach..

Re:OK, so what IS different? (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764270)

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 designed to be human-readable so that data should not be 'lost' in the middle of proprietary binary formats where the software to read them has been lost.

XML is designed to be cleanly extensible so that new tags and structure can be added without losing the meaning of what is there, and without breaking software that relies on the existing tags and structure.

XML is optionally validatable so that the integrity of the information can be checked.

XML is designed to easily handle internationalisation.

The HTML used for web pages is actually just a bastardised dialect of XML. End of lesson.

HTML was based on SGML syntax. It has nothing to do with XML. XML was not around until the mid 90's.

Re:OK, so what IS different? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13765250)

XML is designed to be human-readable so that data should not be 'lost' in the middle of proprietary binary formats where the software to read them has been lost.

Have you ever looked at the guts of an Illustrator-exported SVG file? SVG is a dialect of XML. Oddly enough, you can make SVG in a text editor by doing things like this:

<circle width="50" height="50" fill-color="red" />

But if you pry into an exported SVG file, you'll find something more like this:

<bcirc>ahewkijrhoiuyh98y5r2h5rtoih30983yu03ujr 24u09jklasjf2@#%9u)90#%)(2%4390U2M5...

Tell me, now, which one of these things is XML? One of them is human-readable, the other is not. But they're both valid SVG, which is XML.

XML is designed to be cleanly extensible so that new tags and structure can be added without losing the meaning of what is there, and without breaking software that relies on the existing tags and structure.

Yeah, sure. "Cleanly extensible" is the requirement for the step after "embrace". And while Microsoft isn't the only company to do it (see the above example from Adobe), they are the most notorious. If you think for a moment that the grandparent's point wasn't valid, you're fooling yourself. Microsoft can adhere to the letter of the standard easily, while at the same time obfuscating their format sufficiently to lock most people in. That's the issue here. That's what nobody wants to see happen. That's why Massachusetts told Microsoft to GFI (go f*** itself, not ground fault interrupt). If Microsoft is going to play hardball on this, they're gonna start a brawl that clears the bench. I have a feeling there are enough people against them that they'll walk with a limp for a long time.

Note: the above examples are not functional examples, as I don't know the exact schema for SVG, nor do I have a copy of Illustrator handy to give me garbage output in SVG format.

this is: goatsex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763484)

gig in fro8t Of

I loved this part (2, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Interviews: Interview with Slashdot's Faggoty Fag (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763532)

Commander Taco is clearly incompetent.

Rich with misunderstandings (2, Interesting)

Florian (2471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763671)

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".

Hurry hurry (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763678)

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 snakes. This, I believe, is the key difference between MSO and OOo. MS has had 10 years to get the edges right so while they might not be as polished as the core they are pretty good.

I suppose time will improve the quality of the edges. There are already some serious MSO killers in 1.1.4 that have been greatly improved in 2.0. I love the mail merge for instance - it's harder to use than the one in MSO but so much more powerful.

Submit .docs? (1)

DeafByBeheading (881815) | more than 8 years ago | (#13763855)

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 are belong to us" strategy without even a regard for user privacy...

Re:Submit .docs? (1)

mrjatsun (543322) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764131)

> 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...

Re:Submit .docs? (1)

DeafByBeheading (881815) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764350)

> 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...

Re:Submit .docs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13764404)

It is possible to create Word documents that do not contain your blood type, credit-card number nor any other personal information. Shocking, I know.

Sun's Relevance (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13763868)

if (Sun == relevant)
        hellAmbientTemperature = 31;

Forms routing is not that new (2, Interesting)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764137)

... 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. :)

OO Not A Possibility For Some Distro Users (1)

MogNuts (97512) | more than 8 years ago | (#13764377)

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 time and effort.

In addition, I do not mind paying for software alternatives such as the new StarOffice or buying MS Office for a seperate computer. But I *like* OO 2.0: plain and simple.

Re:OO Not A Possibility For Some Distro Users (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13764866)

$ fakeroot alien -k *.rpm
$ sudo dpkg -i *.deb

That wasn't so hard, was it?
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