Office Shots for Confirmed ODF Interchange Fidelity
The new Officeshots.org service received a fair amount of attention at the recent ODF Interoperability Plugfest. Taking a page from the “test your site with all browsers” tools that are available, Office Shots will take an uploaded ODF document and show how it renders in different ODF-supporting products. To deal with the problem of confirming appearance of the document back to the submitter, the rendering by each application is captured in PDF.
This is a fledgling service, currently in limited beta. It is sponsored by the same Dutch organizations that sponsored the ODF Plugfest.
The power of the service is its user-relevant confirmation of the fidelity with which a document of interest is rendered by different ODF-supporting software/platform combinations. It is an easy way for evaluators to verify whether their important documents are rendered successfully in interchange among ODF products. It also allows the subjective determination of success to be left in the hands of the users who know what qualifies as acceptable fidelity in each particular case.
One of the most-difficult situations in interchange of documents is when the receiver is seeing something materially different than what the sender (1) had in mind and (2) expects has been communicated. For the parties to communicate about a suspected difficulty, they need to use a “channel” that differs from the one that has apparently failed. Screen shots serve that purpose. PDF is also valuable in the case where a PDF can be extracted that accurately-enough reflects what is intended and/or what is being seen.
Office Shots provide a way to proactively check, either because a problem is suspected with a local rendition or to ensure that a document and the choice of implementation-supported features is treated consistently by a variety of other implementations/platforms.
One can imagine that, over time, we could see Office Shots support links for troubleshooting specific discrepancies, finding practices for avoiding many of them, and easy reporting of problems to development teams.
Office Shots promises to provide a terrific reality-based approach to confirming the interoperability of ODF implementations as far as presentation fidelity is concerned. This is also a first-line check on confirming difficulties with round-trip inter-product fidelity preservation. (Of course, if the goal is solely presentation fidelity, PDF and other final-form formats may be preferable, especially when long-term preservation is also a consideration.)
I look forward to the impetus that Office Shots will provide to user recognition of practical ODF interoperability considerations. I also think it will provide important stimulus and confirmation for developers who want to improve the interoperable use of their ODF-supporting software.
Beside the Officeshots.org site, there are other discussions of the project and its potential:
- Glyn Moody: ODF and the Art of Interoperability. Open Enterprise (blog), ComputerworldUK, 2009-06-19.
- Sander Marechal: Easily testing ODF compatibility (odp, pdf). Presentation to the ODF Plugfest, 2009-06-15. [In this case, the PDF renders more poorly than the ODP on my computer. I assume the problem is in the production of the PDF via the ODP implementation, yet another Officeshots interoperability case.]
- Sander Marechal: Officeshots.org. Product submission, OpenDocumentXML.org, 2009-02-06.
ODF Interoperability at The Hague
It is sponsored by a neutral (ODF-supporting) organization. It is attended by major implementers of ODF-supporting products, including IBM, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems.
In short, all of the right people are in the same room, some for the first time, and I am so envious that I am not among them. There should be a great deal of creative tension.
I will be watching for materials and progress reports. There is already Doug Mahugh’s useful pre-event post on how Microsoft tested the ODF implementation in Office 2007 SP2 to ensure that it only produced standard-conforming documents and failed in ways that did not introduce security exploits against the Office System or documents of its users.
I have been meaning to post more about my involvement with ODF and how it is fueled by my interest in the harmonious level at which we can start and expand interoperability based around standard, open formats for office-productivity applications. I will do that separately. For now, I just want to register my excitement for the positive stage that participation at this meeting represents.
[Update 2009-06-16-18:56Z There are little odds and ends available from the ODF Plugfest so far, and I will compile some links here for safe-keeping. I am sure there will be additional blog posts and reports by more attendees after they have had some time for reflection]
- ODF Plugfest Workshop Site
- ODF Plugtest Wiki
- Twitter: #odfplugfest hash-tag
- Day I Schedule and Program
- 2009-06-15-12:01Z Doug Mahugh, “Live Action Photo”
- 2009-06-15-13:25Z Doug Mahugh, “Free-Form Discussion”
- 2009-06-15-15:54Z Doug Mahugh, “Soothing Twang”
- Day II Schedule and Program (with links to presentations)
- 2009-06-16-08:30Z Fabrice Mous Slides on Slideshare
- Favorite note (via Floschie [during Rob Weir’s presentation?]), “Other possible work: Standardize OpenFormula at OASIS before !ODF 1.2 to improve current situation”
- 2009-06-16-11:45Z Doug Mahugh, “Working through Interop Scenarios”
- 2009-06-16-12:45Z Doug Mahugh, “Reporting Live”
- 2009-06-16-13:14Z Florian Schießl, Floschi’s Blog: “ODF plugfest version 1.0 released”
- 2009-06-16-13:19Z Twitter Interview with Microsoft’s Hans Bos (Dutch)
- 2009-06-16-14:57Z Doug Mahugh, “Panel Discussion”
- Favorite quote (via Floschie), ‘Peter Amstein (Microsoft): "Should be possible to define [by users] minimum featuresets in documents for interoperability"’
[Update 2009-06-17-17:11Z with a few more straggling in]
- 2009-06-17-06:09Z Doug Mahugh, Office Interoperability blog: ODF Plugfest, The Hague
- 2009-06-16 Doug Mahugh Flickr Photostream from The Hague (browse left)
[Update 2009-06-18-17:51Z as other posts show up]
- 2009-06-17 ODF Alliance Press Release: New ODF Interoperability Initiative Launched At Dutch Government Workshop (PDF download) [via Fabrice via Wouter]
- 2009-06-18 NOiV Announcement: Improving Interoperability ODF in Office Applications (English; Dutch here) [via Fabrice]
- 2009-06-17 Fabrice Mous, blog: El Ombligo del Mundo (De Navel van de Wereld) (Dutch)
[Update 2009-06-23-14:55Z with some stragglers]
- 2009-06-19 Carol Geyer: ODF Plugfest at The Hague. (news item) OpenDocument.xml.org
- 2009-06-23 NL: Minister calls on software developers to fix ODF interoperability. (news item) OSOR.eu Open Source Observatory and Repository (via Alex Brown).
- 2009-06-23 Rob Weir: ODF TC timeline. (blog post) An Antic Disposition. A version of Rob’s presentation at the ODF Plugfest.
- 2009-06-23 Rob Weir - From ODF pre-1.2 to ODF 1.2 (video). (news item) Boycott Novell. I recommend this video for the brief timeline and standards lifecycle review that Rob talks through. I particularly recommend the last part on participation and all of the ways that interoperability can be developed and strengthened for ODF.
[Update 2009-06-24-18:55Z and one more interesting appraisal]
- 2009-06-23 Sven Langkamp: ODF Plugfest. (blog post) Sven’s Blog. Useful perspective regarding participation by KOffice, an independent implementation of the ODF specification.
[Update 2009-06-27-21:40Z and the hits keep on coming …]
- 2009-06-26 Rob Weir: ODF Plugfest. (blog post) An Antic Disposition. An essay on the origin and value of plugfests and a thesis on what interoperability is desired and what the prerequisites are. Bonus: A great image from the event.
- 2009-06-27 Roy Schestowitz: Lunch with Microsoft to Talk About ODF, Which it is Attacking. (blog post) Boycott Novell. For balance, an advocacy view based on always seeing what you are looking for and using repetition of your own claims as evidence. A reality-check calibration: Citation of this blog squib as the expression of a Free Software Foundation “position.”
[Update 2009-07-01-15:25Z wrapping up, with anything more on plugfests in future posts]
- 2009-07-01 Roberto Galoppini: An ODF Plugfest a Day Take the Doctor Away. (blog post) Commercial Open Source Software (via Rob Weir). Interesting use of tags. There are many useful links to other posts and articles on the Plugfest and related ODF and open-source topics.
- 2009-06-22 Roberto Galoppini: ODF Interoperability: Rough Consensus and Running Code (blog post). Commercial Open Source Software.
- 2009-06-19 Jos Poortvliet: KOffice Developers At The First ODF Plugfest. (article) KDE.news. More on KOffice team experience at the plugfest. (via Roberto Galoppini)
- 2009-06-12 Roman Korchagin: Aspose.Words participates in the ODF Plugfest Interoperability Workshop. (blog post) ASPOSE web site. (via Roberto Galoppini)