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Software

California Joins Open Document Bandwagon 188

Andy Updegrove writes "A legislator in California has decided that it's time for California to get on the open formats bandwagon. If all of the bills filed in the last few weeks pass, California, Texas, and Minnesota will all require, in near-identical language, that 'all documents, including, but not limited to, text, spreadsheets, and presentations, produced by any state agency shall be created, exchanged, and preserved in an open extensible markup language-based, XML-based file format.' What type of formats will qualify? Again, the language is very uniform (the following is from the California statute): 'When deciding how to implement this section, the department in its evaluation of open, XML-based file formats shall consider all of the following features: (1) Interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications; (2) Fully published and available royalty-free; (3) Implemented by multiple vendors; (4) Controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard.'"
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California Joins Open Document Bandwagon

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  • Minnesota also (Score:5, Informative)

    by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:33AM (#18194448) Journal
    • Re:Minnesota also (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bigtomrodney ( 993427 ) * on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:35AM (#18194470)
      From TFS

      'all documents, including, but not limited to, text, spreadsheets, and presentations, produced by any state agency shall be created, exchanged, and preserved in an open extensible markup language-based, XML-based file format.'
      The one thing that stands out to me is specifying that it is XML-based. I have no problem with that, the two competing formats are indeed XML based but shouldn't the mandate of the state simply to specify the Open and Cross-Platform aspects?
      What happens for instance if tomorrow all of us wonderful Slashdot readers co-developed a magical format that not only was open and cross platform but inexplicably worked with all currently available office suites without modification... ...but it wasn't XML. Does that disqualify it? I would rather see the politics of this issue left with the politicians, the tech issues left with the techies. I've seen other combinations go horribly wrong DMCA
      • Re:Minnesota also (Score:5, Interesting)

        by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:17PM (#18195054) Homepage Journal
        If it is an open XML based format then doing a conversion to whatever new format arises should be trivial (maybe not fast, but fairly easy with XSLT). SO better to put it into XML now and worry about what better format may arise later.

        This is good news... why be negative about it?
        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )
          It's somewhat good news. It's certainly a step in the right direction. However these laws still remain flawed and we should certainly strive to have them improved before they become "the law of the land".

          The law should make clear the intent without interfering too much in actually carrying out the goal. Since it is a law, every little bit of cruft can have remarkably far reaching effects in terms of unintended consequences.
      • Re:Minnesota also (Score:4, Insightful)

        by daeg ( 828071 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:34PM (#18195294)
        If, and when, such a format comes into play, and has a large enough subset of tools available for it, then the laws can be revised. With all documents already in XML, converting to the new format should be nearly painless, and more likely, both formats could be used.

        The tech needs to be spelled out clearly in the law, otherwise vendors like Microsoft will be able to say their format qualifies and lobby until enough tech-clueless legislators agree to it.
        • No brainer (Score:5, Funny)

          by electrosoccertux ( 874415 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @01:19PM (#18195916)
          I don't get what all the hoo-haw is and why we need courts or lobbying for any of this. I find it very difficult to write anything when my term paper or [insert your document here] isn't open. Sounds like a bunch of people just need to learn how to double-click.

        • The tech needs to be spelled out clearly in the law

          Which regulatory agency will now be responsible for document formats? Are word processing docs, spreadsheets, slide presentations, and simple desktop databases now to be subjected to government regulation? If so, Congress needs to get in the act to establish consistent regulation for the nation. I would guess these regulations will be managed by the FTC, but I am not sure. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

          Given that web browsers are more com

          • I realize that you were attempting sarcasm, but it fails because the points you are suggesting (regulation of document formats) actually needs to happen for formats that government agencies should use.

            We're not talking about individual choice here - we're talking about government agency internal use, which is something that should not be subject to the whims of a few private individuals or a few corporations.

            Everything the government does should be in open and accessible formats.
          • by daeg ( 828071 )
            Everything is subject to government regulation when it is used directly by the government. The people have an interest in maintaining the government through themselves through community involvement (free beer) instead of through companies. Companies prove left and right that they are only in it for the profit and nothing else.

            And yes, if web browsers were used to produce thousands of publicly-owned documents per year and created them in a locked, proprietary format that was built to attempt to force million
      • All video formats are now illegal. (or is there now an XML video abomination?)
        All audio formats are now illegal.
        Probably all image formats are now illegal.

        Whee.... this'll be entertaining.
    • 3 states who's yearly budget is under review are looking for ways to drive down existing IT costs by threatening to pass legislation that will get them huge discounts on Operating System and Office Software .........
  • by beavis88 ( 25983 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:35AM (#18194472)
    As long as the format meets criteria 1-4, I don't see why it's necessary to specify that it must be XML-based. Keep it simple, and all that...
    • Criteria n3 (Score:5, Funny)

      by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:57AM (#18194770) Homepage

      As long as the format meets criteria 1-4


      In other news, Microsoft is quickly subsidizing 3 small companies to write quick and meaningless stupid plug-ins using OOXML as input, just to pretend that their format is "Implemented by multiple vendors" and on "diverse (...) platforms" (ie.: Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP *and* Windows Vista)...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Coryoth ( 254751 )

        In other news, Microsoft is quickly subsidizing 3 small companies to write quick and meaningless stupid plug-ins using OOXML as input, just to pretend that their format is "Implemented by multiple vendors" and on "diverse (...) platforms" (ie.: Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP *and* Windows Vista)...

        I think MS may actually have already squeezed through this particular hole. The reality is that other vendors are going to have to be able to read and write OOXML at a basic level for compatability. They'll never fully implement the standard that MS has written because they can't possibly implement the behaviour of the <SpaceLikeWord95> tag and all the others like it, but they'll have something. If you demand a "full" implementation from multiple vendors you're just digging yourself a different hole:

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 )
          I think you make a disingenuous argument. By definition, no office suite can fully implement any other office suites interoperability unless suite b is a complete superset of suite a's features, regardless of document type.

          By way of example, let's take something like KOffice. It seems unlikely that KOffice is a complete superset of OpenOffice, therefore even if both OOo and KOffice implement ODF, KOffice can never be completely interoperable with OOo (at least OOo -> Koffice). Further, if KOffice impl
          • by Coryoth ( 254751 )

            I think you make a disingenuous argument.

            Well, I'm making the deliberately disingenuous argument that I expect Microsoft to make. The simple answer is that not fully implementing the standard is, as you say, pretty much inevitable. That means that the partial implementations of OOXML provided by OpenOffice.org and others can be considered as on the same lavel as the various implementations of ODF - at least as far as the wording of the legislation is concerned. That means, from the point of view of the legislation, it can be argued that ODF and O

          • It seems unlikely that KOffice is a complete superset of OpenOffice, therefore even if both OOo and KOffice implement ODF, KOffice can never be completely interoperable with OOo (at least OOo -> Koffice). Further, if KOffice implements any features that OOo doesn't have, then the same is true in reverse.

            Although the starting situation is mortly similar with OOXML, it isn't quite exactly the same.
            Yes, there may be some different way to interpret the standards, and maybe two different implementation produc

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kennygraham ( 894697 )
        That will meet 1-3, but

        (4) Controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard.

        Microsoft still isn't an open industry organization, they're one company. I think #4 is the most important part.

    • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:00PM (#18194802)
      There's only one reason, and that's because the higher-ups think that EVERYTHING should be XML based. Of course, they have no idea what this actually means. They just know that it needs to have XML in it, because that's what the other guys are doing.

      This reminds me of my boss, who keeps saying that we need to publish things in XML, but can't give me any reason why we should. Then again, two years ago I kept on hearing about how our company needed a blog, again with no justification as to how it would help us. Thankfully, that passed. Eventually, the XML thing will, too. Of course, this isn't meant to belittle the things out there that actually can benefit from utilizing an XML format.
      • Your company needs a blog, but (and this is critical) it won't work if it's part of your corporate strategy of appearing-to-look-really-hip. It works if one of your employees creates it on her own initiative, and the strategists leaves her alone.
        • You have absolutely no idea what it is that my company does, yet you are going to tell me that we need a blog. Please tell me exactly why my company needs a blog since you seem to know so much about what we do.
    • XML is just an acronym for Extensible Markup Language. SGML and HTML are subsets along with many other MLs out there. What is important is the Doctype Definition. That is what specifies how the markup is implemented. XML could be anything you want it to be as proven by MSXML.

      That being said, XML or a well-defined subset, is a great choice for text documents. It's not the best choice for lots of other structured data but for text that is meant to be human readable in it's raw format, it's great.
  • by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:36AM (#18194482) Homepage
    Why not just require the format to be in ANY published standard format? "XML" by itself is meaningless, "extensible" is a loaded term (and a very bad idea when trying to write a way to keep things compatible). Why do lawmakers always have to over-specify things until the purpose of the law is lost?
    • by beavis88 ( 25983 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:39AM (#18194538)
      Why do lawmakers always have to over-specify things until the purpose of the law is lost?

      Job security. If they wrote clear, concise, and sharply targeted bills, we wouldn't need to keep electing a fresh crop to fix the mess left by the last one.
    • "Why do lawmakers always have to over-specify things until the purpose of the law is lost?"

      This is over-simplified, but here goes... American laws are made in sub-committees of committees of the legislative body. The committees are packed with 'specialized' delegates, i.e. someone with a political stake or in the pocket of a special interest group, (like Microsoft, OSDL, or Green Peace). ...of course that is the federal process, and the states vary in their organization,
    • For one thing... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot@keirs[ ]d.org ['tea' in gap]> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:31PM (#18195226) Homepage
      XML means it is readable by humans. You don't even NEED any kind of a program to get the text.

      • XML means it is readable by humans. You don't even NEED any kind of a program to get the text.
        ... if it's printed out on paper, you mean. If you can suck text directly out of a CD, floppy, hard disk, or USB drive without some sort of power source, CPU, and and OS, then my hat's off to you ... our new ... robotic, data-crunching overlord? [ or something... ]
      • by rtaylor ( 70602 )
        XML means it is readable by humans.

        No it doesn't. XML made for humans is readable by humans. XML made for computers is not going to be any easier to read by humans in a text editor than a typical binary document format.

        Heck, I've even seen self-defining XML documents where the top half contained the tag names and meanings for the bottom half, essentially defining macros to reduce duplication. Toss in several different character encodings and write the data in a random order using pointers (again, to reduce
      • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

        <?xml version="1.0"?><!DOCTYPE p [<!ELEMENT p (PCDATA)><!ENTITY b "&#98;"><!ENTITY e "e"><!ENTITY q "&#x20;"><!ENTITY r "t"><!ENTITY t "&#63;">]><p xmlns="http://example.com/sure/it/is" >&#x57;&#x61;&#x6E;&#110;&#97;&q;&b;&e;&r;&t;</p>

        Sorry, I had to.

        (And, yes, that's both well-formed and valid XML! Well-formed means it can be parsed as XML, and the valid part means it validates against its

      • Yeah friggen right - XML has so much superfluous bracketitice, that it is pretty much unreadable by any human, unless maybe you send through a 'grep ignore' filter first...
      • Yeah, I know... but don't tell my boss or he'll find out the two weeks I spent reverse-engineering that file we got with no specifications was wasted effort!
    • by drix ( 4602 )
      All this carping about the use of XML is really asinine. I mean hey, it's Slashdot, this site is nothing without a million of you, but still... yours is the third post I have read appeals to this mystical competing format, as if the law is some form of lock-in. Can you even name another "published standard format" that fits the bill? I doubt it, because there really aren't any. Nothing else approaches XML in terms of widespread adoption and mature, pre-existing libraries for every platform in existence. Rem
      • Because of the formats that /don't exist yet/.
        If you think anything a government office writes down about "how they're going to do things" won't lock them in long after it makes sense, you've never worked with any government data, probably have never worked with any legacy data of any sort.
  • Text in XML? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Monster ( 227884 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:37AM (#18194496) Homepage

    ...text, spreadsheets, and presentations, produced by any state agency shall be created, exchanged, and preserved in an open extensible markup language-based, XML-based file format.
    Why would text need to be in an XML-based format, when it can be in a... text format? If you have a text document that doesn't require any formatting, just make it text!
    • XML is the future. It's the perfect format for any kind of data.

      The draw of a markup langauge for documents is that you can print out the raw file and even a lay person can read it just by ignoring the markup tags. Even without knowing anything about xml, I could inspect the file format and write an XML to Text converter in about 1 line of perl.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by maxume ( 22995 )
        I can write a text to text converter in about *0 lines* of perl.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I can write a text to text converter in about *0 lines* of perl.


          Which truly is the perfect amount of Perl to ever write.
        • by Coryoth ( 254751 )

          I can write a text to text converter in about *0 lines* of perl.

          Well sure, but you're assuming an encoding standard for the text. If the output text has to be EBCDIC [wikipedia.org] I doubt you'll manage it in zero lines. Given the way things are going, assuming XML as a markup for structured files is no worse than assuming ASCII as the encoding for text files. It doesn't have to be XML, but then a text file doesn't have to be ASCII.

      • Can't you write any Perl program in only one line?
    • Re:Text in XML? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:03PM (#18194848) Homepage Journal
      Well, obviously it doesn't need to be xml, but XML does have one nice self-documentation property that plain text lacks: the character encoding.

      If you've looked at project gutenberg texts, you can see why this is a problem. Not a huge problem, but a problem. When a source text has a non-ascii character in it, they have to put some sequence of ascii characters which will suggest what the glyph is supposed to be. This doesn't really preserve the information in the source document, nor does it make the document easy to read.

      So, you could have a trivial text XML format that has only one defined tag. It's still useful:
      <xml version="1.0"? encoding="us-ascii">
      <text>
      This is my text. It has no wacky glyphs so ASCII is fine.
      </text>

      vs.

      <?xml version="1.0"? encoding="utf8">
      <text>
      This is my text. It has wacky glyphs therefôre ascii sücks for it!
      </text>
    • ...they could've demanded LaTeX instead.

      (/me ducks and runzlakhell...)

      (though /me wonders... why the hell not ps? Guess it doesn't have all those neat little bracketed thingies in it that say "tech!" to the average politician)

      /P

      • by Coryoth ( 254751 )

        ...they could've demanded LaTeX instead.

        Actually TeX does have something going for it - there are multiple implementations from different vendors that fully implement the standard and will all produce identical output from a given file. That's more than you can say for any of the XML document formats currently around - even ODF produces different output in different implementations (try opening the same file OpenOffice.org, KWord, and Abiword)! Of course much of that is due to the fact that TeX has been around for so long without any significan

        • Of course much of that is due to the fact that TeX has been around for so long without any significant changes and, given enough time, XML formats will likely settle toward the same level of quality from different implementations. Still, TeX's consistency is impressive.

          It's like that by design. IIRC, Knuth is very concerned with the stability of TeX, in terms of producing predictable output from a given input file. I've read that the plan is to completely freeze the codebase when he dies -- I think he descr
    • Some documents need to be further processed.

      For a computer, flat plain vanilla text is meaning less, it's just a long stream of ASCII (or UTF-8 if you need accented letters or more alphabets) letters.
      For a given flat text, you can't easily extract titles and build a table of content for example, because the titles aren't specifically taged as such.
      Therefore you need some tagged kind of format to be able to further process the documents. You can't do it with plain Text (nor ready to print formats like PS or
    • Why would text need to be in an XML-based format, when it can be in a... text format? If you have a text document that doesn't require any formatting, just make it text!

      Well, XML also offers the ability to have a physical structure to your document, the ability to define new structures (ie, schema), and it's hopefully available in a vendor neutral format.

      If you needed to have structured objects in a vendor-neutral format, you might need to come up with your own, or go with a binary structure, or something

  • by wwwillem ( 253720 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:41AM (#18194566) Homepage
    <xml>
    <user="wwwillem">
    <subject>we should do this too</subject>
    <content>
        What is good for government documents is also good for Slashdot posts. :-)
    </content>
    </xml>
  • by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:44AM (#18194600) Homepage Journal
    Format is irrelevant - since these documents will contain legal-speak, they'll be unreadable anyway. ;)
    • As in, do these laws also include stuff like CAD drawings, which currently get stored in Autodesk's proprietary format? That would certainly make me extremely happy, since AutoCAD's monopoly on the CAD industry is as bad or worse than Microsoft's monopoly on office applications.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Eccles ( 932 )
        I believe the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) format, intended for cross-app CAD communication, is XML-based, and major CAD developers are supporting or working on support for it.

        Death to DWG/DXF.
    • This isn't just the Legislature, it's all of the State Agencies.

      Which is why it's largely useless.

      Putting aside people's feelings about Microsoft or ODF, realistically, it ain't gonna happen.

      California State agencies, up until now, haven't had to follow any standard document format. Although most use Microsoft Word, the California CMAS master contract that State Agencies use to buy their software has Word, WordPerfect and other word processing packages on it. Which means that agencies can pick and choose w

      • Although most use Microsoft Word, the California CMAS master contract that State Agencies use to buy their software has Word, WordPerfect and other word processing packages on it. Which means that agencies can pick and choose what they think that they need. Now the Legislature wants to set one..

        They are proposing to set one format, not one word processor. Agencies can still choose among software packages, just with noncompliant packages removed from the bidding. I think there are a dozen products now with ODF support.

        If the bill is passed, agencies will need to convert already existing processes and applications to use the new format. With no new staff nor new money to hire someone else to do it.

        There are now free software solutions that read both MSWord and ODF files, including Google's Web based offering. When departments start budgeting for next year they will have to take these rules into account and it will probably end up saving them money from their budgets withi

        • What are they? All the "enterprise-level" products I have heard of are Office and OpenOffice. WordPerfect or PerfectOffice has been out of that game so long as to not even be a real consideration.

          Are you including things like KOffice?

          Where is the compatibility certification that says the documents are rendered identically? You know that is going to come up, sooner or later. Because it is going to be important at a government level. You have preprinted forms that are filled in on the printer. Without i
  • XML panacea (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:44AM (#18194608)
    N00b: Hey we have this data representation problem, we'll use XML!
    Greybeard: Son, now you have two problems.
    • I keep seeing that quote posted, but what exactly are those two problems?

      • The joke whooshing over your head is that the two problems are : the N00b's original problem, plus the second new problem of having to deal with XML.
        • You're right that it went (and still is) whooshing over my head, because I don't understand why "having to deal with XML" is a problem.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ratboy666 ( 104074 )
            From a greybeard

            XML Problem Checklist:

            - Ensure the library functions are flexible enough for the application, and do not consume too many resources. This can be an issue for smaller systems, and may be an issue for larger ones as well.

            - Ensure that the XML implementation is usable on a security basis. Should not have buffer overruns - parsing problems etc.

            - Ensure that the XML works with ANOTHER XML implementation. Adds testing (its not just "someone elses problem").

            - Application data structures are influe
            • by nasch ( 598556 )
              Other than (maybe) the last one, don't all of those considerations apply to any data representation? For example, it's not OK to have buffer overruns and parsing problems if you're using some non-XML format.
          • I agree, on XML, but your original post was that you 'keep seeeing' that quote, and was wondering what it meant. The original used regular expressions [regex.info] as the issue rather than XML. The phrase itself seems to have become a meme. [google.com]

            Your original post implied (to me at least) that you were missing the point of the meme itself (if I'm misunderestimating you, apologies), especially since I've never seen it applied to XML before. (Agreed that the validity of the meme for both XML and regexps is at least debata
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:44AM (#18194610) Journal
    Well why corporate America is so silent on this issue? After all almost all the revenue of MSFT comes from corporations. If the palying field becomes level and multiple vendors compete to serve them while being fully inter-operatble, it will be the corporate America that will benefit most. Technically they are the victim of the monopolistic deeds of MSFT. Still they remain silent, and the Govenment, after protecting the citizens from their own stupidity (seat belts, airbags, spacing between crib railings) now comes to rescue corporate America?

    If Government intervention is what it takes to force a level playing field, I will accept it. But still I would prefer it if market forces create a level playing field instead of government mandates.

    • If the palying[sic] field becomes level and multiple vendors compete to serve them while being fully inter-operatble, it will be the corporate America that will benefit most. Technically they are the victim of the monopolistic deeds of MSFT. Still they remain silent, and the Govenment, after protecting the citizens from their own stupidity (seat belts, airbags, spacing between crib railings) now comes to rescue corporate America?

      Corporate america is not a single entity that acts in a unified fashion. It is a horde of competing companies. Many of those companies probably know that it is in the best interests of corporate america as a whole to switch to open standards, but that does not make it in the best interests of any one company to switch until the others have done so. Aside from that, they can only ask for action through the government.

      If Government intervention is what it takes to force a level playing field, I will accept it. But still I would prefer it if market forces create a level playing field instead of government mandates.

      It is important to note, that the government is not mandating open standards for corpor

    • Well why corporate America is so silent on this issue?

      Because our market based system isn't as good as delivering efficiency as proponents make it out to be. Making money != delivering value to society. Many times the corpoarat profit motive does deliver social value, and often more efficiently then other comparable systems, but its not equivalent and has many disconnects. (see U.S. heathcare for example)
  • Called my rep (Score:3, Informative)

    by inverselimit ( 900794 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @11:58AM (#18194780)
    Just called my CA Assembly rep to ask them to support the bill. Look yours up here [ca.gov].
    It may not be perfect, but is a move in the right direction.
  • by danpsmith ( 922127 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:01PM (#18194818)
    MS made a format that fits the very definition of what they said will be required in this bill. Is this bill just going to lead to government organizations upgrading to the new Office? Technically, all of these things apply even if the implementation of the "standard" will later be forked by MS with their extend and extinguish model. In short, does this really mean truly open formats will get a boost? Or that MS's new format will seem like the solution to a problem they have practically invented?
    • by Dan Ost ( 415913 )
      Microsofts format fails the 4th criterion:

      (4) Controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard.
    • by Ngwenya ( 147097 )
      Doesn't the requirement state that multiple implementations must exist? As far as I know, only Office fully supports OOXML [though I did hear about someone else attempting an implementation, but I could be wrong].

      If there is such a requirement, then MS's offering would not qualify. However, if they selected ODF, and Office supported ODF properly, then the government offices might very well upgrade to the next Office. That would be a matter for their local IT decision makers.

      But the software used must satisf
  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@noSpaM.smokingcube.be> on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:02PM (#18194830) Homepage
    I think the only document format that would qualify is ODF (by OASIS). It's the only well known document format, based on XML and extensible, open and implemented by different vendors and office suites.
  • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:10PM (#18194942) Journal
    Just specifying XML doesn't mean much, really:

    <document>
    Description of MS Open Format
    <![CDATA[
    37642364 78346478 23465789 34657834 65783465 78934653 47895634 78563478 65347856
    56347825 63478256 34786578 34567893 45678934 65783456 78465783 46578346 57834567
    34895723 48957348 90578934 75890347 58934758 93475892 ... more binary crap...
    ]]>
    </document>
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Coryoth ( 254751 )
      I think the kicker for Microsoft will be the

      (1) Interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications;

      and

      (3) Implemented by multiple vendors;

      clauses, though it will of course depend on exactly how those are interpreted. It is unlikely that anyone other than Microsoft will fully implement OOXML, so "multiple vendors" rules it out under a strict interpretation. If people want to get around it, however, you can go with a loose interpretation and point to all the vendors who will, out of necessity, provide a basic implementation of OOXML for the sake of compatability and importing documents. Like

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by skubeedooo ( 826094 )

      Just specifying XML doesn't mean much, really

      Which is why the bill doesn't just specify XML. FTFA,

      ...the department in its evaluation of open, XML-based file formats shall consider all of the following features:

      1. Interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications.
      2. Fully published and available royalty-free.
      3. Implemented by multiple vendors.
      4. Controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard.
      • by hoggoth ( 414195 )
        Well, my point was that Microsoft can and will do what they can to make their 'open standard' as proprietary as possible. They can hire/bribe third-party companies to write (crappy) implementations to meet some of those requirements. I think specifying XML in the requirements is a useless, even foolish, thing to do. If XML is the best way to meet the interoperable requirements then it will be used, otherwise something else will. Why are politicians making technical implementation decisions? And this isn't b
  • by ptbarnett ( 159784 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:16PM (#18195022)
    HB 1794 [state.tx.us]
    SB 446 [state.tx.us]

    So far, each bill has been filed and referred to the appropriate committee. However, the legislative session just started in January and things don't usually start happening until after the filing deadline on 2007-03-09.

  • Here's my problem: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by superbus1929 ( 1069292 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:27PM (#18195174) Homepage
    There's one company missing from the Open Document party here, and without it playing along, I don't see this lasting long.

    I am, of course, talking about Microsoft. They refuse to accept the Open standard.

    Until that happens, there will be problems. Yes, you could have .odt documents sent internally, but what if someone has to send a document to someone outside the company? Microsoft Office does not recognize .odt, and if you think that you can train someone to remember to send .doc files to outside users, and keep internal documents to .odt, then I have a bridge to sell you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) *

      Yes, you could have .odt documents sent internally, but what if someone has to send a document to someone outside the company?

      We're talking about government offices here, not companies. The answer to your question in this case is (or at least, should be) "we compel the outside person to get an ODT-compatible program by government fiat."

    • Problem solved. See this previous post [slashdot.org]
  • by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Thursday March 01, 2007 @12:38PM (#18195342) Journal
    What next? Hasta la vista, Vista?

    • Governor Swartzenager said in a press release, "The state of California has Terminated vendor lock in. It's the End of Days for the Raw Deal and True Lies we were getting from Microsoft. Documents can now be backed up for Total Recall."
  • by BCMcI ( 838317 )
    If California passes this resolution I can see two outcomes. 1 The state recognizes that ODF has to be used and scraps Office and loads OpenOffice or StarOffice. Big win for the citizens of California big loss for Microsoft. 2 The state recognizes that ODF has to be used and because older versions of Office won't work with ODF they purchase Vista and Office 2007 for all state agencies. Huge loss for the citizens of California huge win for Microsoft. Guess which is more likely?
    • by gauauu ( 649169 )
      I'm not convinced that would be a huge loss for California. If MS were to properly support open formats, then would they still be considered "evil"? I think it's worth the money to go to a open and compatible system, even if the vendor with the best implementation happens to be microsoft.

      Note that the key word here is "properly support". I'm not sure that will happen.
  • The absolute unfortunate truth in this case is that it will not matter what requirements the state of California sets forth, because in the end it serves not the people but the income of the government.

    You see, in California, we have this precedence of hiring under-motivate, under-educated, people into roles to fulfill status-quo on the premise of serving equality.

    This results in a rule that I call "Factor 4" where by you can take the initial cost of any related project, service or resource requisition, and
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      your an idiot, thousands of projects get done on or below budget.

      In fact, government agencies are often less wastefull then corporate projects.

      Yes, some things go over budget, and when that happens the media jumps on it, and they should.
      But it is the exception, otherwise it wouldn't be in the news.

       
  • This should bring in some big bucks for certain projects [sourceforge.net] at least...

  • What is needed is an ODF compatible version of WordStar.

    The idea that at an enterprise level there are multiple vendors (real vendors, not distributors) of a word processor and spreadsheet program is a joke. There are perhaps three, and the two I know of are OpenOffice/StarOffice and Microsoft. And there are huge questions about the enterprise viability of OpenOffice that have yet to be answered.

    Also, the level of complexity for ODF is such that it is unlikely that every implementation is going to render

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