An outline proposal

Alex Brown alexb at
Tue Oct 19 22:41:12 CEST 2010

Bob, all,

> Agreed.  What is actually in the zipfile is:
> [local file header 1]
>     [file data 1]
>     [data descriptor 1]
>     .
>     .
>     .
>     [local file header n]
>     [file data n]
>     [data descriptor n]
>     [archive decryption header]
>     [archive extra data record]
>     [central directory]
>     [zip64 end of central directory record]
>     [zip64 end of central directory locator]
>     [end of central directory record]
> from

I like this - a mention of some concrete technical features!

While no doubt IPR discussion will need to take place, I do think there's a danger of us getting ahead of ourselves and talking about patents etc. before we are even clear what technology it is that may or may not be patented. Obviously there is a danger of "chicken and egg" here with some believing we should not think about IPR till the technology is clearly scoped, and others thinking we should simply avoid discussing any technologies which even might have an unpalatable IPR context.

To break this deadlock, and because we are primarily technologists and not lawyers, I am going to propose that we proceed (as Rob suggests) by enumerating the features of "Zip" which are up for consideration - i.e. define technically what we are talking about. That will help to make any onward considerations of IPR much more meaningful, since we will be able to consider the IPR of *particular* concrete technical features.

Alongside that there still seem to me to be some other questions we need to think about from the start: 

- are we talking about a "new" format or something compatible with archives already out there? (I think there is a strong consensus on this, but best to check)

- are we thinking of a maxi-Zip (i.e. in-line with everything that's done in, say, the latest PKWare appnote), or a mini-Zip (something that meets the immediate needs of the standards close to us) - or both?

- what, practically speaking, is the state of "zip" implementation among the users we serve? what feature set does support? what about the .Net libraries? and Info-Zip? and so on.

My impression is that whatever we conclude in our report, National Bodies are expecting to see some solid research behind our conclusions. I'm going to suggest we start that solid researching ... and I'm going to be looking for volunteers :-)

- Alex.

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