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Unlocking the Wordhord

I have a backlog of shorter items that I’ve accumulated in recent weeks that I’d like to share with you. I hope you find something here interesting.

First, congratulations to OpenOffice.org and KOffice, who both recently announced new releases. In my mind the notable features include an improved extensions framework in OpenOffice 2.04 and leading MathML conformance scores and command-line (UI-less) scripting for KOffice 1.6. Combined with the recent release of Firefox 2.0, it feels like Christmas has come early this year!

I get the feeling that there are more good things to come. Eike Rathke blogs about order of magnitude performance improvements in load time for large spreadsheets, a fix targeted for OpenOffice.org 2.1.

Some emerging technology at Adobe, a project codenamed “Mars”, which appears to be a reformulation of PDF, based on open standards such as SVG, PNG, JPG, JPG2000, OpenType, XPath and XML, all sitting in a Zip container file. There is a voice in my head saying, “This is important”. For example, could we have a single container file that included both ODF editable content as well as Mars/PDF for high-fidelity presentation? That way you can hand a document to someone and they can either view/edit it in a full heavy-weight editor, or get a fast high-fidelity read-only rendering. Both modes of use from the same file. To make this, and other cool things happen, Mars and ODF will want to synch-up on things like packaging, manifests and metadata. Adobe, call me ;-)

Two new ODF whitepapers to note. J. David Eisenberg looks at ODF and XForms and how they work together in OpenOffice.org, using a wrestling club application form as an example. Of course, source code is included. “Opportunities for innovation with OpenDocument Format XML” is the title of a new IBM whitepaper also just posted.

A couple weeks ago I participated in a roundtable discussion on ODF at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School, held by the TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue forum. You’ve probably already read Jame’s Love’s post on it on The Huffington Post. If not, take a look. Since I tend to spend my days with two kinds of people, the technical and the very technical, it was good to get out and hear a different perspective on the issues.

A familiar face at the Berkman Center was Sam Hiser, who has a new post, at once both visceral and witty, called “Pretending Interoperability”.

Finally, in order to increase the signal-to-noise ratio in this blog, I’ve instituted a new comment policy. Those comments which are outside of the prescribed bounds will not be published.

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