RCT: Repaired Change-Tracking
ODF 1.2 Extension Profile


nfoWorks tools for
document interoperability 

nfoWorks > rct> Repaired Change-Tracking (provisional cover)

1. Publication

Tracked Changes: Navigating the Document-Format Anti-Pattern
Dennis E. Hamilton
DChanges '14 Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on (Document) Changes: modeling, detection, storage and visualization, 2014.  (1,669,326 byte Final Submission cached PDF)

doi> 10.1145/2723147.2723153
presented at the DChanges 2014 Workshop
Abstract. Editing of word-processing documents at the presentation level, with visible tracking of changes, operates at a different level of abstraction and granularity than the recorded form in common document-file formats.  The consequent mismatches along with other limitations of standards for document-file formats present an anti-pattern that impedes reliable inter-product exchange of change-tracked documents.  Analysis of the situation for ODF change-tracking reveals simple extensions and definitions that supplement the current specification without introducing any conflicts.  Patterns of systematic testing for conformant document files, compliant processing, and verifiable interoperability are identified as essential prerequisites to dependable improvement of change-tracking in collaborative settings.

  1. Introduction
  2. The Situation
    2.1 Terminology: manifest equivalence
    2.2 User context: manipulated manifestation
    2.3 Focus of document format standards
    2.4 Unspecified interoperability
    2.5 Interpretation under-specification
    2.6 The document format anti-pattern
  3. ODF Tracked-Change Features
    3.1 ODF change-tracking foundation
    3.2 Tracked-deletion representation
    3.3 Cross-cutting markup effects
    3.4 Atomicity failures and copy conflicts
  4. Repairing ODF Change-Tracking
    4.1 Profile specification
    4.2 Test assertions and test suites
    4.3 RCT manifest fidelity
    4.4 RCT compliance assessment
    4.5 RCT interchange confirmation
    4.6 RCT change-tracking confirmation
    4.7 Example: works-for-me-not
    4.8 RCT extension technique
  5. Conclusions
  6. Acknowledgment
  7. References

2. Fundamental Principles

The principles behind Repaired Change-Tracking (RCT) are not limited to change-tracking and apply whether or not change-tracking is relied upon.  Namely,

In the absence of an envelope within which document fidelity is preserved in collaborative interchange of word-processing document files, employment of tracked-changes in those document files is meaningless to the same degree that interoperability is meaningless.  

The key principle, described in the publication, is that the achievement and preservation of document fidelity is a consequence of engineered alignment between software operation and the human-perceived document.  This is termed manifestation fidelity.

Manifestation fidelity is an empirical notion. It is about the perceived document:  what the user sees, understands, and experiences themselves manipulating.  It is not about document files the coding and formats of which are incomprehensible to the community of intended users.

To have engineered an alignment between how a document-file format is interpreted by software and the manifest document, there must be some form of testing by which manifest fidelity can be inspected for and confirmed.  This testing is necessarily empirical.  It can be specified.

A prerequisite to interoperable change-tracking is confirmation of manifestation-preserving interchange as part of collaborative interchange, including after edits.. 

3. RCT Approach

The RCT specification is produced as a hypertext on the web.

RCT extensions are technical additions to the document files that signal the producer's honoring of RCT principles. There will be an RCT profile specification that identifies the extensions and how the compliant production of them invites verification by empirical assessment.

At the foundation of the assessment process are document files and empirically-repeatable tests by which manifestation-preservation is confirmable for processors that produce and  consume such files. 

RCT has levels of manifestation-fidelity preservation that are amenable to independent, empirical assessment.  For the interchange interoperability level, document files produced under the requisite conditions carry the producer's declaration that an RCT profile holds and an RCT-aware consuming processor can rely on that. 

Although tracked changes are expressed entirely in terms of changes to the document file, not any manifestation, there is confidence that the changes can be manifest properly wherever the RCT profiled interoperability and change-tracking conditions are satisfied.

4. Work in Progress

This is the early entry point to the work on development of the RCT profile scheme.

 Supporting analysis and exploratory work is captured on-line.  Precursor material can found and viewed in additional areas of the nfoWorks site.

  • RCT ODF 1.2 Change-Tracking Repair Development
    This is the hub for materials captured as part of analysis and development of the RCT extension profile.
  • RCT Profile Organization
    with master outline and cross-referencing between the evolving specification hypertext and development of separate content elements.
  • The ODF Interoperability Assessment Helix
    project applies the testing methodology and RCT principles for profiling interoperability of existing implementations.  Introduction of basic RCT extensions will be atop the identified envelopes of existing products, supplementing the basic compliance and conformance provisions of the International Standards for OpenDocument Format.
  • The DocInteroperability Bootstrap Project
    on GitHub, provides experimentation and accumulation of tests and materials required to achieve the ODF Interoperability Assessment Helix.
  • nfoNotes Catalog
    listing mini-notebook hypertexts produced for nfoWorks.   Ones listed as about ODF, RCT, or BSO may be useful.
  • devNotes Catalog
    mainly listing developer-oriented technical material, there is related development content here, such as definitions of namespaces and production of test cases, along with development of the profile content.


visits to popular nfoWorks pages

Locations of visitors to nfoWorks

Construction Structure (Hard Hat Area)
Creative Commons License You are navigating nfoWorks.
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

0.0.8 2020-02-12 15:44 -0800