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Important: Want to join the new OASIS ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC?
Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 04:20 PM EDT

If you saw Alex Brown's offensive suggestion that some think ODF should just "fade away" in News Picks, it no doubt made your blood boil. Here's where you can put some of that energy, if you are so inclined: Rob Weir has announced the new technical committee, ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC, and he's asking for individuals and projects to please sign up to help out. You have to be a member of OASIS, which normally costs $300 but there are ways to chip that down to almost nothing for individuals. He provides all the information you might need. As an aid, I'll place the relevant part of his article here also, so you can read and comment and plan. I am wondering if Groklaw should sign on.

Here's who Weir is particularly looking for:
In particular, I'd like to see:
  1. Additional vendors that support ODF, such as Corel and Microsoft (and yes, before you ask, I have already extended a direct and person invitation to Doug Mahugh at Microsoft)
  2. A representative from KOffice
  3. A representative from the OpenDocument Fellowship, which has already done some work on an ODF test suite. Wouldn't it be good to combine our efforts?
  4. Representatives from non-desktop ODF implementations, e.g., web-based and device-based.
  5. Broader geographic participation.
  6. Participation with specialized skills to help define and review test cases in areas such as: Accessibility, East Asian languages, Bidi text, etc.
  7. People with an interest in archiving, to help to define an ODF/A profile.
So, if you fall into one of those categories, I hope you'll consider joining the new TC. Heck, even if you are outside of those categories you are welcome to join.
I'd skip 1 and 3, personally, but I don't work for a large corporate entity, so I get to say whatever I *really* think. : D

I hope those of you who are technically skilled and so able to follow the bouncing ball in the meetings, and who are willing to spend the time and make the effort this kind of work requires, will sign up to help. Standards work is like flying a plane. Hours and hours of boredom punctuated with sudden moments that require total ability to act decisively and effectively. But this is a *technical* committee, not a political one, so if your purpose is to make points and push standards politics, please leave comments here on Groklaw instead. Sometimes we've seen what appeared to me to be deliberate efforts to interfere with progress. This isn't for such diversions, and so Submarine Dark Side Operatives need not apply.

There's no reason, other than money, Groklaw couldn't join as an entity, so talk among yourselves about that possibility, too. We could take up a collection, after all.

*****************************

Introducing the ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC, by Rob Weir

... We are starting with many commercial and open source implementations. In some cases, with some editors, interoperability is quite good. In other cases it is rather poor. But when a user loads a document, which they may have downloaded on the web, or received via email, they have no idea where that document came from, what application, what operating system. And when you create an ODF document, you may not know who will eventually read it. It isn't enough to have good interoperability between some ODF implementations. We need good interoperability among all ODF implementations.

From a technical perspective, this is a goal we all know how to achieve. It has been done over and over again throughout the history of technology standards, especially network standards. You develop test suites, you test your implementations against these test suites, you have interoperability workshops (or plug-fests as they are sometimes called). You iterate until you have a high level of interoperability.

For the past 6 months I've been talking to my peers at a number of ODF vendor companies, to fellow standards professionals in OASIS, to ODF adopters, as well as to people who have gone through interoperability efforts like this before. I've given a few presentations on ODF interoperability conferences and led a workshop on the topic. I led a 90-day mailing list discussion on the ODF interoperability. Generally, I've been trying to find the best place and set of activities needed to bring the interested parties together and achieve the high level of interoperability we all want to see with ODF.

The culmination of these efforts is the creation of a new Technical Committee in OASIS, called the ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC, or OIC TC for short. The official 30-day OASIS Call for Participation went out last Friday. You can read the full charter there, but you can get a good idea by just reading the "Scope of Work":

  1. Initially and periodically thereafter, to review the current state of conformance and interoperability among a number of ODF implementations; To produce reports on overall trends in conformance and interoperability that note areas of accomplishment as well as areas needing improvement, and to recommend prioritized activities for advancing the state of conformance and interoperability among ODF implementations in general without identifying or commenting on particular implementations;
  2. To collect the provisions of the ODF standard, and of standards normatively referenced by the ODF standard, and to produce a comprehensive conformity assessment methodology specification which enumerates all collected provisions, as well as specific actions recommended to test each provision, including definition of preconditions, expected results, scoring and reporting;
  3. To select a corpus of ODF interoperability test documents, such documents to be created by the OIC TC, or received as member or public contributions; To publish the ODF interoperability test corpus and promote its use in interoperability workshops and similar events;
  4. To define profiles of ODF which will increase interoperability among implementations in the same vertical domain, for example, ODF/A for archiving;
  5. To define profiles of ODF which will increase interoperability among implementations in the same horizontal domain, for example ODF Mobile for pervasive devices, or ODF Web for browser-based editors.
  6. To provide feedback, where necessary, to the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) TC on changes to ODF that might improve interoperability;
  7. To coordinate, in conjunction with the ODF Adoption TC, Interop Workshops and OASIS InterOp Demonstrations related to ODF;
  8. To liaise on conformance and interoperability topics with other TC's and bodies whose work is leveraged in present or future ODF specifications, and with committees dealing with conformance and interoperability in general.
We have a broad set of co-proposers of this new TC, representing ODF vendors, ODF adopters, private sector and government:

  • Robert Weir, IBM
  • Bart Hanssens, Individual
  • Dennis E. Hamilton, Individual
  • Zaheda Bhorat, Google
  • Charles-H. Schulz, Ars Aperta
  • Michael Brauer, Sun Microsystems
  • Donald Harbison, IBM
  • Alan Clark, Novell
  • Jerry Smith, US Department of Defense
  • Aslam Raffee, South Africa Department of Science and Technology

The OIC TC will have its first meeting, via teleconference, on October 22nd. At that point members will elect their chairman.

I'd like to see broader representation in this TC's important work. In particular, I'd like to see:
  1. Additional vendors that support ODF, such as Corel and Microsoft (and yes, before you ask, I have already extended a direct and person invitation to Doug Mahugh at Microsoft)
  2. A representative from KOffice
  3. A representative from the OpenDocument Fellowship, which has already done some work on an ODF test suite. Wouldn't it be good to combine our efforts?
  4. Representatives from non-desktop ODF implementations, e.g., web-based and device-based.
  5. Broader geographic participation.
  6. Participation with specialized skills to help define and review test cases in areas such as: Accessibility, East Asian languages, Bidi text, etc.
  7. People with an interest in archiving, to help to define an ODF/A profile.
So, if you fall into one of those categories, I hope you'll consider joining the new TC. Heck, even if you are outside of those categories you are welcome to join. The only prerequisite is that you are an OASIS member. OASIS membership is $300 for individuals, and for companies has a sliding scale according to company size. More information on OASIS membership is here.

We have a lot of work to do, but now we finally have a place where we can get the work done. This is big. This is important, both for ODF vendors and ODF users. I hope you'll join us as we all work to improve interoperability among ODF implementations!

  


Important: Want to join the new OASIS ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC? | 72 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Hello world.
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 04:32 PM EDT
This seems like a step in the right direction.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Important: Want to join the new OASIS ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 04:39 PM EDT
Why would Groklaw join. Is there any document you ever
published in ODF format?

Did you consider that the non-editable format PDF actually
discourages participation in terms of corrections and other
fields?

Yours,
Kay

PS: Sorry, I meant to reply to the article, but replied to
an unrelated comment above. You may delete that one,
please.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections here
Authored by: Tufty on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 04:47 PM EDT
Summary in the title


---
Linux powered squirrel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here
Authored by: Tufty on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 04:48 PM EDT
All yer off tropic as well.


---
Linux powered squirrel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspick comments
Authored by: Tufty on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 04:50 PM EDT
Latest, latest!


---
Linux powered squirrel.

[ Reply to This | # ]

If collection were taken up
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 05:24 PM EDT
Are you prepared for the extra work PJ? Would someone else be "in
charge"? How would this work?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Important: Want to join the new OASIS ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 05:25 PM EDT
Asking ODF to fade away is like asking paper tape to fade away just because
someone's come up with a slightly different form of punch-card.

ODF won't fade away. It's an ISO standard, and its use is growing.

It doesn't really matter what Alex says. He's doing a difficult job; you might
think his words to be offensive, but it's more productive to laugh them off and
get on with the business of building the future.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Standards aren't enough
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 05:37 PM EDT
if anyone can read a different interpretation and construct
a conflicting implementation, which still, in their opinion,
conforms to the standard. So we need rules and referees,
in addition to the standard, to ensure that implementations
not only conform to the standard, but to each other.

Red vs Blue huh?

[ Reply to This | # ]

well it wasn't his suggestion, he just reported it
Authored by: Alan Bell on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 05:49 PM EDT
of course in reporting this statement from an anonymous NB member he would have known it would be inflammatory. He ended that paragraph with his views
personally I think ODF is more likely to emerge as a kind of “default choice” than OOXML
which I would have to agree with. I send people ODF files all the time, sometimes I include a PDF too, sometimes I don't. It is becoming less of an issue and as the global economy changes people are now much more receptive to listen to the important concepts of Freedom and Openness because their attention has been caught by the price.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Important: Want to join the new OASIS ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC?
Authored by: Stumbles on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 06:18 PM EDT
I am wondering if Groklaw should sign on.

I cannot not think of anyone who would be better.

---
You can tuna piano but you can't tune a fish.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Important: Want to join the new OASIS ODF Interoperability and Conformance TC?
Authored by: geir.isene on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 06:27 PM EDT
We would be happy to pay your admission to OASIS. Your eyes and ears there would
be invaluable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

"fading away gracefully"
Authored by: mattflaschen on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 07:34 PM EDT
Alex Brown's comment is hilarious. Last time I checked, it was OOXML that's
fading into the woodwork, with Microsoft implementing ODF first
(http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2008/may08/05-21ExpandedFormatsPR.mspx
), with OOXML implemented...sometime.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is it possible to get a Kroes update?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 08:30 PM EDT

I suppose not, but if there was ever a smoking gun for anticompetitive
-- and possibly criminal -- behavior, it's OOXML, and Microsoft shills'
continuing PR campaign against ODF. If nothing comes out of OOXML
against Microsoft from the EU, then nothing ever will.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I'd Prefer OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 30 2008 @ 11:18 PM EDT
I'd prefer to join the OOXML Conformance TC. Except that we all know that OOXML
will never actually conform to anything useful.

[ Reply to This | # ]

No, Please no!
Authored by: MadTom1999 on Wednesday, October 01 2008 @ 03:02 AM EDT
While it is useful to have a standard that people can use to exchange documents
it is of very little use to people in the long run to exchange encrypted
information, the encrypting of which is NOT a standard:
I purchase most of my farm supplies from one company.
I have about 200 receipts with several thousand items on them each year.
I can get them all in word format or even PDF - but I still have to type them in
to my system by hand as they are documents and someone thinks this structure is
better that that .... So thats about a week a year of my life wasted.
Give me some structured XML and it could be done in click.
Please Please give me standards that let my computer talk to your computer! I
want to use my computer as a computer and not a typewriter. Dont use documnets -
they're for managers not precision equupment.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Give Alex a Break, then Join the OIC TC
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, October 01 2008 @ 12:06 PM EDT

OK, Alex didn't suggest that about ODF, he reported on a range of attitudes expressed over drinks while he was in Korea for a standards meeting.  Here is Alex's opinion: "Personally I think ODF is more likely to emerge as a kind of 'default choice' than OOXML (not perhaps, that most users care)."

Meanwhile, please read Rob Weir's appeal.  At this moment, there are 8 members of the OASIS OIC Technical Committee.  That is enough to form the committee on the first conference-call meeting on October 22, where a quorum will be established, a chair or co-chairs will be elected, and the schedule and initial tasks will be discussed for the weekly calls to be held until an event in conjunction with the November OpenOffice conference in Beijing.  Those OASIS members (individuals or approved employees of organizational members) who join the TC before October 15 will be voting members if they participate in the first call.  (Otherwise, attendance at two consecutive meetings/calls is normally required to achieve voting membership.)

This is an opportunity to take part in bringing ODF interoperability from partisan posturing to practical reality in document-centric applications and important commercial, public, and civil-government activities.  It is important to have participation by more than developers so that the felt problems of practical interoperability are addressed in a way that serves the users of ODF-supporting products and their reliance on documents in an ODF format.  Please read Rob Weir's account and visit the preliminary OASIS OIC TC page for more information, especially the charter of the Technical Committee.

 - orcmid

PS: I'd post with my usual user name but the system says my handle or my e-mail have already been used.  I'll resolve that later.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Additional vendors that support ODF... Such as Microsoft?
Authored by: luvr on Wednesday, October 01 2008 @ 04:00 PM EDT
I obviously wonder in what way Microsoft "supports" ODF. But, even in the highly unlikely case that they do, I see that Alan Clark from Novell is on the list of co-proposers, so I guess he is joining.

That makes me wonder: Since Novell is present in the committee, isn't that sufficient Microsoft presence already?

[ Reply to This | # ]

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