This is my (in)activity log. You might like to visit my employer
Novell which is an amazing company, and also
Dell who in days of yore provided me with a
free laptop for Gnome development / conferences.
Also if you have the time to read this sort of stuff you could enlighten
yourself by going to Unraveling Wittgenstein's net or if
you are feeling objectionable perhaps here.
Stuff Michael Meeks is doing
Lie in, slugged with the babes, while J. shopped. Lunch.
Bert popped over for tea and help getting into his house. Out to
the heath with H. N. and E. for some sledging fun down the footpath
(the only smooth piece to pick up real speed on) - much excitement
for a while, followed by cold-feet induced misery and return home.
Interested to see Groklaw's take
on Novell's work on interoperability.
My personal conclusion: an interesting article (for me at least) on
the Windows and OS/2 background. However, making Free Software interoperate
with proprietary products is not per-se evil. Though it brings some risks
it brings enormous benefits to our customers and users. Our
on formats is unchanged with ODF as our default file format, and
abstaining on the OOXML standardisation issue.
- Firstly Groklaw are once again doing a good job at
pointing people at things of interest, and having this sort of
discussion in the open can only be good. Clearly having a first
draft of history to hand is useful, though naturally I'd like to
point out some of the more drafty pieces.
- The context seems to be of a transcription of a
from a trial, which outlines Microsoft's response to IBM's ultimately
un-successful assault on Windows via OS/2, one part of which appares to
be to break compatibility and/or interoperability between Windows and OS/2.
This is then transposed to a concern, that Microsoft today wants to create
incompatibility in the Office domain, and exploit it to their advantage.
Of course, those that don't learn from history are doomed
to repeat it, and caution is useful, however - the Novell association
is via a published agreement
whereby Microsoft helps to fund the development of improved interoperability
between the Free Software desktop world, and Microsoft Office - which
at least on the face of it appears to be the opposite of creating
Why would they do that ? and is Novell per-se evil for writing
this software ? In part, it is true that having a second implementation
of OOXML is helpful to improve the standard, and make it more acceptable.
Given their need for that, I prefer a Free Software second implementation
(available to all under the LGPLv3) instead of a proprietary alternative.
Novell has different needs: to serve its customers, who have real
interoperability requirements which this work helps to meet.
Another, interesting charge is that this creates private
interoperability between only Novell and Microsoft's Office suites at
everyone else' expense. Indeed by reading the repeated mention of things
like "Novell OpenOffice productivity suite" you could easily be annoyed
into that conclusion.
Of course, this is not the case. Since we cannot promise
something that other people deliver - it is necessary to phrase
everything in terms of an abstract Novell Office product; obviously.
However, all of our code is publicly available to others under the
LGPLv3. Furthermore, there is no private or
special information we have on the standard or implementation beyond
what is published and public.
There is also concern about implementing Microsoft's extensions
to OOXML which are published
and covered by the OSP
(a hard requirement for us to touch them).
This extension mechanism attempts to provide a forward and backwards
compatible way of serializing both an extended version of a feature, and
a compatible fall-back version. The alternative is fairly clear -
breaking forward compatibility and/or dropping data on the floor. Implementing
this, unarguably, makes a Free Office suite's interop. seem better, for
all the cases where a feature is not supported, and the extended object not
edited. Presumably that lets us compete more effectively, until such
time as the last feature gaps can be closed. For feature gaps in the
reverse direction using the same extension mechanism can potentially
let MS Office users edit parts of an OOXML document, without destroying
ODF specific features embedded in the document. It is not clear to me that
the alternatives - loosing data, or permanantly freezing the feature set
are better for anyone.
There are a few amusing pieces - of the Pope-is-Roman-Catholic
variety: that Microsoft wants partners to show up to and participate in
related standards forums for example. Emphatically, Novell's presence does
not imply uneqivocal support for any standard, and we give our candid
opinion, and demos of Free Software in those situations. Finally, there is
the historic chestnut about bing.com returning no hits for openoffice; which appears
to have been related to a robots.txt configuration issue on openoffice.org,
rather than some hideous, partisan, product specific censorship attempt.
Papers committee IRC meeting for GUADEC/Akademy 2011, Lydia
over in the evening.
In case it's not painfully obvious: the reflections reflected here are my
own; mine, all mine ! and don't reflect the views of Novell, The
Lithuanian Gov't or Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's also important to
realise that I'm not in on the Swedish Conspiracy.
Occasionally people ask for formal photos for conferences,
Michael Meeks (email@example.com)