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Comment Re:X(HT)ML+CSS? (Score 5, Informative) 269

Read: roductionToTheFormatInternals matODFVsMSXML

And let me know if you still think the ODF is merely a 'memory dump in angle brackets'. Maybe they could have reused a good chunk of CSS, but that would also require another type of basic parser in implementations. I imagine you've heard of expat, but can you name a standard CSS parser library? I can't, and once upon a time, I had CVS checkin privs on mozilla. Looks simple enough, but ask a web developer if they've ever heard of any major browser having CSS parser bugs.

And it looks like ODF's style definitions could maybe be generously described as CSS in XML, too. Regardless, I think you could make a pretty compelling argument that the layout needs that have historically driven CSS are a little different than a word processor's needs.

Back when I worked on Abiword, the native format was very similar to XHTML/CSS. Some arbitrary element renamings -- I believe our equivalent to the span tag was a single letter. The XML->XHTML conversion could probably have been handled by a simple sed script.

For styling, we reused as much CSS as possible. I learned about a lot of nifty stuff in CSS3 back then. I hope I get to use some of that stuff in browsers some day. But we were well on our way to the first draft of a hypothetical CSS3 Wordprocessor Module, too.

The OOXML format does strike me as a brain dead C struct to XML encoder, however. And I know the doc format pretty well, having written some non-trivial bits of wvware and the Abiword importer based on it. We actually once got a post on the mailing list from someone looking for technical details on the doc format, and they had been forwarded to us by someone on the Word team at Microsoft. They had their time-tested, battle-worn libraries, but we apparently understood the actual bytes better than anyone still in Redmond willing to help a customer.

But we all knew that the eventual Microsoft XML format was going to be silly. Actually, it's better than I expected. I had considered the occasional base64 encoded binary data structure wrapped in data tag to be a very real possibility.

In my mind, the most astonishing thing is that they just arbitrarily reimplemented -- and generally very badly -- dozens of standards, including many ISO ones. I believe they have several novel timestamp definitions, in addition to ISO's.

I'm pretty shocked anyone is even pretending OOXML is being seriously considered as a standard. I think some people in Redmond had an April Fools' joke get out of hand. If this gets standardized, I expect the next anti-trust case is going to reveal internal Microsoft emails with text such as "holy shit, ISO just accepted our format!"

PS: I don't even read slashdot that often anymore, and I very rarely post. The few times I do, I generally don't even bother to login. But it would seem that several years of random hobbyist open-source contributions have made me quite likely one of the top few dozen or so domain experts on the planet regarding your specific post. I thought that was kind of amusing myself. I don't know if anyone actually cares, but my name is Justin Bradford, and I imagine google retains sufficient evidence of what I claim.

Submission + - Merck to Halt Lobbying for Vaccine for Girls

theodp writes: "Reacting to a furor from some parents, advocacy groups and public health experts, Merck said yesterday that it would stop lobbying state legislatures to require the use of its new cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, which acts against strains of the sexually-transmitted human papilloma virus. The $400 3-shot regimen was approved by the FDA in June. Later that month, a federal advisory panel recommended that females 11-26 years old be vaccinated. The governor of Texas has already signed an executive order making its use mandatory for schoolgirls."

New Technology Could Lead To 3D Printers 62

nomoreself writes "PhysicsWeb reports that a team of scientists in Jerusalem has come up with a method for creating self-assembling 3-dimensional models from a single sheet of paper. The 'chemical origami' is created by etching a pattern of monomer onto the paper and then heating it. The chemical's reaction to the heat causes bends of varying degree in the paper, molding the sheet into the patterned model. A professor in the US with no apparent ties to the study says in the article that the technique could be used to create self-assembling prototypes, or even a printer that prints 3D objects."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Conservapedia

An anonymous reader writes: Claiming to be "A conservative encyclopedia you can trust", the makers of Conservapedia seek to create "a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American" and proudly point to their quarter-million hits, and almost fifteen thousand page edits since going online. Online spoof in the key of Colbert, or serious outlet for those dis-satisfied with politically correct bias in Wikipedia?

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