... Tweaking the Sidebar ...

I can't stand some things about the sidebar, and I must fix them now (template versions 0.04-0.05):

I need to be careful and not attempt too much of this all at once.   This is going to be one of those pages that I will probably update as I make progress.

Update 2008-08-20T23:54Z: A set of provisional changes are made with template version 0.04 with the idea of tweaking further after seeing the template at work.

Update 2008-08-21T01:07Z: The biggest change is to get rid of link underlining and use bold-face as well as an improved link color.  This and some minor layout adjustments are accomplished with template version 0.05.  I am going to let those sit there for a while until I see how to make the layout more pleasant still.

Update 2008-08-21T01:14Z: The changes work better if I save the new template to Blogger after previewing it.

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Agreement on Document Rendering

One problem for harmonization of document-format implementations in the case of ODF and OOXML is the degree to which those specifications may provide inadequate specification of how documents are to be presented in order for implementations to be adequately interoperable.  This situation arises between implementations of the same format as well as between different document formats.

Along with establishing clarity on how much agreement in presentation is required, there is the small matter of being able to somehow confirm that an application achieves whatever that level of conformance and interoperability is.

As I suggested in "Interoperable ODF: Finding Ground Truth," there are many difficulties to be conquered in advancing from the current state of affairs to where there is reliable determination that implementations are substitutable in a particular interoperability setting. 

We don't have good ways to even talk about the multiple, interlocking problems that lurk beneath the simple desire to have interchange of documents in standard formats "just work."

It would be helpful, for starters, to at least have a way to describe what a particular document-processing system does in rendering documents that it accepts.  A checklist on the handling of particular features of an electronic document is also useful in determining conformance and interoperability guidance and, perhaps, eventual mechanical verification criteria.

The XML Daily Newslink for 2008-08-18 reports on a contribution that may be useful in this regard, the "First Edition of ISO/IEC 24754: Minimum Requirements for Specifying Document Rendering Systems."  From the scope:

"This International Standard provides an abstract list of the features that a document rendering system may have, thus providing a frame of reference, against which the user and implementor can compare the  features of a document rendering system. However, this International Standard does not direct how each document rendering system should behave.

"This International Standard provides the minimum requirements to specify the features that a document rendering system which transforms formatting objects to rendering output. It may be used as a frame of reference, against which the user, implementer, or software agent may compare the features of a document rendering system.  According to these requirements, the user may express what he or she expects of a document rendering system, the implementer may describe the functionality and capability of the document rendering system that he or she implements, and the software agent may negotiate a minimum set of functionality and capability that are shared across different document rendering system implementations."

The Final Committee Draft (omitting the example in the informative appendix) is available as a 7-page, 74 kB PDF file

Beside the announcement, here's what attracted my attention:

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Interoperable ODF: Finding Ground Truth

Jesper Lund Stocholm has found his files from the Microsoft Document Interoperability Initiative ODF Workshop.  His post, "DII ODF Workshop - the good stuff", shares the nitty-gritty on-the-ground experience of transferring ODF documents from OpenOffice.org to Microsoft's pre-beta Office 2007 SP2 implementation and back again.  There's a download of eleven test files, each in two forms, along with PDFs of how they render.  There's an OpenOffice.org version of each document.  Then there's the Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 pre-beta ODF saving of the same document.  This is enough to discern how the the two applications handle application-specific features from other applications and express application-specific features of their own.

There are some great lessons becoming available with regard to interoperable use of document formats.  Here's what I see in terms of the Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org implementations of ODF:

I don't foresee the Harmony Principles alleviating this situation in any way.  At best, I expect it to help us appreciate the cost of interoperability and its improvement over time.

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... Steady as She Goes ...

After having the template tweaks to look at, I am making some more, leading to version 0.03:

I've started capturing pages that illustrate the state of the blog at each template revision.  These will be carried under the Blog Operations materials for reference. 

Although I intentionally refrain from republishing the whole site, older archive and post pages will be regenerated from time to time.  Page regeneration, always using the then-latest template, is usually because comments have been posted and sometimes because I provide additional information in an older post (such as links to related recent material).

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