From: Dom Lachowicz (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Sep 03 2003 - 14:10:06 EDT
> Not you. We.
> Can we stop Microsoft? Of course not.
> Do we want to try? Of course we're unable.
> Are we going to be hurt by their announced changes?
> Certainly so.
Possibly. If such changes exist. Perhaps we'll be
"inconvenienced" rather than hurt. I honestly don't
know what the future will hold. But I draw a
distinction between the possibilities. You don't.
> Is this anti-competitive?
> Certainly so.
> Should we put a bag over our heads?
> Certainly not.
I never advocated that. I'm advocating dealing with
the technical problem when the technical problem
actually exists - and it doesn't yet, unless you've
got specs that I'm unaware of. As such, this is
currently a political problem, and I don't want this
political problem discussed on my mailing list,
especially under a "nyah-nyah I told you so" attitude.
No one disbelieved that it could happen. What "it" is
exactly still remains to be seen, though...
> > Any discussion on this topic in an AbiWord context
> > thus moot and pointless.
> It's as moot as no user using AbiWord since he most
> likely won't be able
> to read documents send by his familiars, fellow
> employees or bosses.
As a political discussion, it *is* moot. This isn't a
political list, nor should it become one. As a
technical discussion, there's really nothing to
discuss beyond mere speculation. As such, that point
is currently moot. When we're faced with a real
problem, as opposed to speculation about a potential
problem, then we can deal with it.
That said, if you had said:
"Please write to your congresspersons and explain your
fear of MSFT and its anti-competitive practices. I
don't want to see this happen." it would've been ok.
You didn't say that.
> Only Adobe's extensions to PDF are proprietary,
> being the rest
Adobe controls the spec. It owns the copyright on the
reference manuals. In the PDF world, the defacto
standard is "whatever Acrobat will or won't read." It
is the yardstick. Adobe controls the dominant
implementation. It controls the format. It's as
proprietary as anything else MSFT produces. PDF just
happens to be documented in a book or three also
published by Adobe Press. It's hardly a W3 or OASIS
standard... Is Adobe the lesser of 2 evils? Maybe. Is
there a better alternative still? Undoubtedly
(OpenOffice, Abi, LaTeX, ...).
> Besides, there's much more pdf generating Free
> Software than Adobe's,
> which will only produce pdf's that can be viewed by
> Free Software as
The spec is still "non-free." And the only PDF editing
tool that barely resembles a word processor (Acrobat)
Sure you can turn LaTeX or ABW to PDF. Let's advocate
sending those formats instead, as they preserve
editability and readability, and are relatively
portable formats with Free implementations.
The existence of free PDF generators and readers is
nice. They're still writing to a non-Free standard.
They _still_ don't fit the niche that a DOC does, even
though there is some small amount of overlap.
> Now, are those specs public? Where?
They used to be on MSDN, and were done by MSFT Press.
They can't "revoke" their documentation and specs.
They can, however, make them irrelevant. I think that
they'd like to revoke the docs, but the fact is that
they did produce a SPEC/Documentation and made it
freely available to the world.
> Did you even read the text?
> Many GNU users who receive Word documents try to
> find ways to handle
> them. You can manage to find the somewhat obfuscated
> ASCII text in
> the file by skimming through it. Free software today
> can read some
> Word documents, but not all--the format is secret
> and has not been
> entirely decoded. Even worse, Microsoft can change
> it at any time.
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ^^^
MSFT can change it, though not quite on the whim that
this suggests. However, I didn't discount that part.
Just the part where he seriously slapped wv, wv2,
antiword, catdoc, OpenOffice, AbiWord, Koffice, et.
al. in the face. Or perhaps you missed the
implications that we were lousy products. Also, the
format isn't really secret. I say this from some large
measure of experience, as RMS speaks from none.
> Yes and no. Plain text can be used to write .tex
Plaintext is an extremely poor substitute for complex
documents at preserving both presentation and
semantics. Unix makes no distinction between binary
and text files. DOCs are also just "plain text." LaTeX
is (arguably) easier for you to read, though.
Plaintext means "unformatted text. no markup
language." That's why HTML, TEX, ABW, etc... have
their own extensions, file formats, mime-types, etc...
If what this author meant was "send it in some
human-readable format, such as HTML, LaTeX, or ABW",
then the author failed miserably.
> > "Why did you choose to send me 876,377 bytes in
> > recent message when the content is only 27,133
> > - Uh, because there were tables, frames, columns,
> > images, and an embedded spreadsheet in the
> > Duh.
> Don't you think the reader who proposed that message
> knows that?
> He probably had a way to get read that document and
> convert it to a more
> suitable format, thus hugely reducing the content.
Yes. Because PDF is so much more compressed than
DOC... Anyone who would blindly make that above
statement knows less than nil about PDF or DOC, other
than he/she doesn't like DOC...
DOC is surprisingly un-bloated in many respects. Much
of its internals revolve around applying small binary
diffs to "default" structures. But I suppose you knew
Sure, OLE adds a somewhat sizable wrapper around it.
But so does most any container format (OOo's JAR,
TAR.GZ, AR, ...). Using a compound document format
here is a good idea, believe it or not.
> I've found some word docs to greatly reduce in size
> when converted to
> AbiWord's current format without loss of information
> other than some
> format changes and oddities.
If they were advocating the ABW format, I might
partially agree with that. But they aren't. And as
soon as you start inserting some images (which we then
base64 encode), our size easily passes the equivalent
DOC's. Not to mention the verbosity that XML produces,
plus our Piece Table doesn't prune out most redunant
properties (bug 437). So, no, it really isn't just
that simple Sc0tt.
> There must be a reason for my experience to differ
> your theory.
Look at the wv or wv2 source code. Its highest version
is "WORD8" aka Word97. Now feed it a document created
by Office XP. Gee, it "just works." There are small
changes at worst. It's not a theory, it's a fact.
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