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ITD Statement on ETRM v4.0 Public Review Comments
Henry Dormitzer and Bethann Pepoli, ITD Statement
The U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts Information Technology Division (ITD) announced a Final Version 4.0 release of the Enterprise Technical Reference Model (ETRM), effective of August 1, 2007. Both Ecma-376 Office Open XML and OASIS OpenDocument Format for Office Applications (Open Document) are named as "Open Formats" within this model, along with plain text and HTML. The Commonwealth defines 'open formats' as specifications for data file formats that are based on an underlying open standard, developed by an open community, affirmed and maintained by a standards body and are fully documented and publicly available. From the published statement: "The Commonwealth continues on its path toward open, XML-based document formats without reflecting a vendor or commercial bias in ETRM v4.0. Many of the comments we received identify concerns regarding the Open XML specification. We believe that these concerns, as with those regarding ODF, are appropriately handled through the standards setting process, and we expect both standards to evolve and improve. Moreover, we believe that the impact of any legitimate concerns raised about either standard is outweighed substantially by the benefits of moving toward open, XML-based document format standards. Therefore, we will be moving forward to include both ODF and Open XML as acceptable document formats. All comments received are posted on this web site. Massachusetts is the first state to adopt a policy encouraging open, XML-based document formats. The Commonwealth has set the stage for a new and innovative way to ensure state government operates most efficiently and effectively for its citizens. The ETRM articulates a vision of a Service Oriented Architecture where information can be shared, re-used and re-purposed based on XML technologies. Document formats play a part in this vision by serving as containers for the information rather than being the end goal. The availability of open, standardized XML document formats without vendor bias will move us further along in realizing this vision."
See also: the 2007-07-03 news story
Sun Plug-in Brings ODF Support to Microsoft Office
Tiffany Maleshefski, eWEEK Software Review
Sun's ODF plug-in can play an important role in broadening interoperability between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office. Sun Microsystems' ODF Plug-in for Microsoft Office won't usher in an era of universal document interoperability, but eWEEK Labs believes it is the best option currently available for adding Open Document Format support to Office's massive installed base. The plug-in, which Sun debuted on July 4, 2007 in the form of a freely downloadable 30MB installation package, enables users to read, edit and save ODF-formatted word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation documents using the 2000, XP, and 2003 versions of Microsoft Office. In contrast to the Microsoft-sponsored translator, which was developed from scratch and uses XSLT, a language for transforming XML documents into other XML documents, Sun's plug-in is backed by proven document conversion code from OpenOffice.org. However, file conversion with Sun's ODF plug-in works differently than in OpenOffice.org, as the plug-in's import and export filters work with Office's built-in text converter to get the job done, yielding slightly different results than when I used OpenOffice.org's converter alone. Overall, I found file conversion in Word, Excel and PowerPoint to be on par with the document conversion in OpenOffice.org, but, as with OpenOffice.org, conversion isn't perfect. To test the Sun converter, I used an ODF-formatted word processor, spreadsheet and presentation document, opened each file in Office 2003 using the Sun ODF plug-in, made a small modification to each file, and then saved the modified documents in both ODF and Microsoft Office formats. I then printed out the original document; the modified, ODF-formatted document; and the modified, Office-formatted document for comparison. Ideally, all three would end up looking the same, save for the small modifications I'd made. As it turned out, conversion anomalies surfaced in both my test documents, but those anomalies were different in the ODF- and Office-formatted documents.
See also: the download
Microformats in Google Maps
Gregor Rothfuss and Kevin Marks, Google Team Blog
"If you have spent any time in certain corners of the web, you will have heard of Microformats: Clever uses of HTML that add machine-readability to everyday web pages while preserving human-readability. Microformats allow tools to make more sense of your web pages, while not changing the visual appearance for visitors to your site one whit. Today we're happy to announce that we are adding support for the hCard microformat to Google Maps results. [hCard is a simple, open, distributed format for representing people, companies, organizations, and places, using a 1:1 representation of vCard (RFC 2426) properties and values in semantic XHTML. hCard is one of several open microformat standards suitable for embedding in (X)HTML, Atom, RSS, and arbitrary XML.] Why should you care about some invisible changes to our HTML? By marking up our results with the hCard microformat, your browser can easily recognize the address and contact information in the page, and help you transfer it to an addressbook or phone more easily. Firefox users can install the Operator or Tails extension; IE or Safari users can use one of [the supplied] bookmarklets. Using Microformats in your Maps API application: You can get the benefits of microformats for your own maps applications if you change your HTML to contain the necessary hcard classes. In the simple example [here provided], we've changed the infowindow to contain an hCard formatted address...
See also: the Microformats.org web site
Microsoft Releases Mac-Friendly Tools for Vista, Office 2007
Paul McDougall, InformationWeek
Microsoft has released trial versions of software designed to make life easier for Mac enthusiasts that also use Microsoft products. The file converter software lets users of the Mac version of Microsoft Office open files created in Microsoft's new Office Open XML format (native to the Windows-only Office 2007). The 'Microsoft Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 0.2' software offers a number of enhancements over existing converters, Microsoft said. Among them: improved conversion of Word documents that contain XML content, inline graphics, and hyperlinked graphics. It also adds support for opening PowerPoint files stored in Office 2007's .pptx PowerPoint format, and PowerPoint shows stored in the .ppsx format. The converter is aimed at users of Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac and Microsoft Office v. X for Mac, Microsoft said. The company warns that the software is a beta release and "might be unable to convert all the data in Office Open XML files." The second file available for download is a beta version of a connectivity utility that lets Mac users access files on Windows XP Professional-based PCs and PCs running the Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate versions of Windows Vista. It will also connect Mac computers to machines running Windows Server 2003.
See also: the converter
Where to Get ISO Standards on the Internet Free
Rick Jelliffe, O'Reilly Articles
ISO/IEC standards can be purchased from ISO and usually from your local national body. The lack of free online availability has effectively made ISO standard irrelevant to the (home/hacker section of the) Open Source community. However, many important ISO standards can be located and downloaded for free legally if you know where to look. The first source is ISO itself. Where an ISO standard is based on a pre-existing external specification that is itself freely available, (a 'Publicly Available Specification' in ISO-speak), the committee managing the standardizing process can ask ISO to make it available on the Publicly Available Standards webpage. This typically is used for standards that come in from an external boutique standards body, but can come from companies (e.g., MS C#) or even from individuals, as was the case with standardizing Schematron. These standards do have some encumbrances: you have a single user license and you may only retain one printed copy. This is perfectly adequate for a single open source developer or student. The ISO list contains the standards for programming languages (FORTRAN, C, BNF, ECMAScript, C#, CLI, Eiffel, Ada profile), graphics (CGM), networking and data interchange (OSI, X.25, parts of EDI, phone systems, the basis of Unicode), data formats (ASN.1, parts of MPEG, .iso CD format, JPEG2000, ODF), hardware (data cartriges, optical disks) some of current and some of historical interest, and many standards establishing common vocabularies and on conformance testing. Most important for XML people, it has the growing list ISO DSDL schemas languages (RELAX NG, Schematron, etc)...
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