IS ODF 1.1 FOREVER? Maybe in Internet terms.

Dennis E. Hamilton dennis.hamilton at
Sat Mar 27 01:34:33 CET 2010

One more afterthought from the SC34 WG6 session #2 in Stockholm.

There was some discussion about how soon after (or before, I suppose, for
those who feel lucky) ratification of an OASIS ODF 1.2 Standard that major
implementations of ODF 1.2 would appear on the scene.  I am concerned that
this is not the relevant distinction.

 1. I don't think that products will cease their support for ODF 1.0/1.1
when they are updated (or created anew) to embrace ODF 1.2.  It would be
very unusual, maybe even career-limiting, for a major product to do that.

 2. I suspect that products capable of consuming ODF 1.0/1.1 will also have
means to continue producing ODF 1.0/1.1-compliant documents, at least at
user option and in support of the common principle of "leaving with the one
who brought you."  It is desirable, for a number of practical
interoperability and adoption-seeking self-interest reasons, to be able to
produce a modified document in the same document format in which it was

 3. It will also be relatively easy for products whose support of ODF
1.0/1.1 provisions is upward/backward compatible in ODF 1.2 to accept and
produce those same provisions in documents identified as being in ODF 1.2

  3.1 This may change the level of conformance since Conformance Targets are
defined differently than for ODF 1.1, especially for Conforming OpenDocument
Spreadsheet Documents, but the ODF 1.2 Extended Conforming Document class,
as currently defined, appears sufficient to accommodate these early
transition opportunities.

  3.2 I don't know to what extend an OASIS interoperability demonstration
sufficient for PAS submission will require demonstrated interoperable
implementation of ODF 1.2-exclusive features.  That is not important to this
point, which is that transition among software support for ODF 1.2 and
earlier formats can begin easily and can persist over a long period of time
after appearance of ODF 1.2 as an OASIS Standard and as a JTC1 International
Standard in some guise.

 4. THE KEY POINT.  Finally, documents produced in conformance to ODF
1.0/1.1 (i.e., IS 26300 as amended) will continue to exist and be important
for an extended period of time.  

  4.1 There are circumstances where the upgrading of such documents is
uneconomical and even inappropriate.  Examples include when documents are
safeguarded in extensive non-rewritable archives, when they are digitally
signed by some means, and when they constitute legal records of some form.
All of these cases and others will also apply to the future preservation of
documents that are uniquely ODF 1.2 complaint.  

  4.2 Since the promotion of OpenDocument Format in civil administration and
citizen affairs is a key factor of ODF appeal, it would be rather a breach
of faith to somehow abdicate the recognition of these documents as under a
supported International Standard that is appealed to for those purposes. 

 - Dennis

PS: OASIS claims a trademark in OpenDocument and ODF so I suspect it is safe
to use these shortened forms of Open Document Format without difficulty as
identifiers when referring to the relevant OASIS specifications.

PPS: I don't know that programming language practices and the obsolescence
over time of running software provides much insight into this situation.
However, I do note that the Visual C++ 2005 Express edition software that I
use continues to support ANSI C and I can set a persistent option to check
that my programs are limited to that version of C Language, one that was
established in 1989/1990.  Cf.
<>.  No, I
haven't checked Visual C++ 2010 Express edition.  Will I be embarrassed?

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