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RE: MS Word and XML (seriously OT now, but having too much fun to quit)

It might be bigger help if Layout-tools developers gave better consideration
to conversion issues. Importing basically formatted Word documents to Quark
and ID is a nightmare (people in the real world use tables, footnotes etc.,
Unicode, truetype fonts). Word to Quark conversion would be no problem if
nobody used footnotes, and if people stopped using special characters, or
different platforms. Importing Word to Quark/ID is not the same thing as
importing RTF. Where is this documented from Frame/Quark. Where do the
creators of the software help? Than: If you are in one of these formats you
really are in binary land, because even if you can reexport to many formats,
putting a Q/ID file together again (main text boxes, footnote boxes,
graphics links) into one file is a manual task, or you need a sophisticated
setup + production ingeneers. These docs are lost as legacy documents,
especially as in real world workflows they are the correct(ed)/proofread
files. Frame behaves better in this field, but it should not be called a XML
utility (tried to reexport Greek?). So a big issue is that you have to
recommend in many situations people to use Word even for layout etc., to
avoid legacy problems. It's easy today and well documented how to go from
Word to Latex, Quark (tags: http://www.Editorium.com ), to Frame and even to
valid XML, but how do you get back to a format used by users in companies or
public services? Even more sophisticated tools, expensive workflows etc.,
for which nobody could pay, even if people knew about it.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Combs [mailto:richard.combs@voyanttech.com]
Sent: mardi 29 avril 2003 00:46
To: Framers List; framers@omsys.com
Subject: RE: MS Word and XML (seriously OT now, but having too much fun
to quit)

Larry Kollar wrote: 

<snipped here and there> ...I fail to see how my desire to protect
> the long-term viability of that content in any way makes
> me a socialist. (If you defend Microsoft, does that mean
> you're astroturfing? Not necessarily.)

If you argue that proprietary file formats are hazardous to your
content, are you a socialist? Not necessarily. Perhaps you're merely
misled by socialists. ;-)

> I don't have a problem with FrameMaker's binary format,
> since I can ... export content ... and ... easily migrate...
> I have that option with Word only if I buy the
> top-end versions (for how much more $$$?).

There are umpteen ways to get from Word's binary format (current or
past) to something else (proprietary or non-proprietary), and MS itself
provides some of the better ones. I dearly love FM (and far prefer it to
MSWord), but I wish its import and export filters were half as robust
and extensive as Word's. 
> I think Dan pretty much covered the difficulties of
> importing Word into just about anything non-Microsoft.
> (Anyone reading this list for any length of time has
> read more than one horror story about importing a Word
> file into FrameMaker.)

Nonsense. Those "horror stories" mainly document user ignorance and/or
the poor quality of FM's import filters -- a problem that's gotten
better recently. I don't have Corel WordPerfect here at work, but the
version I have at home has no problems opening Word binary files.
Neither do a number of other applications, including OpenOffice.
Generally, however, Word's _export_ filter, if one is available to suit
your need, is better than the destination application's import filter
(see below). 

> > Somewhere at home, I have a bunch of 5-1/4 inch floppies
> > containing WordPerfect 5.1 files ...
> Granted, but you're talking about Word Perfect now, NOT
> Microsoft Word. Try doing that with a floppy containing
> Word documents from 12 years ago. 

Well, Word 2000 will directly open Word 2.0 docs; I don't recall how far
back Corel WP's filters will let me go. Don't know about WordPro; I've
avoided all Lotus products since an unpleasant period of being forced to
use Notes. ;-)

I really hated Word until 6.0, so really old Word docs aren't personally
relevant. :-) 

<snip> WP never made a State Secret out of their
> file format, which Microsoft turned against them (you
> can *import* WP files into Word, but just try *exporting*
> from Word to WP). 

Utterly false. If Word's file formats have been such a "State Secret,"
then howizit that a multitude of other apps, as I noted earlier, have
Word import filters? Some (e.g., FM) haven't always gotten it right, but
others have -- so whose fault is that? 

Furthermore, Word itself supports export to a number of "competing" file
formats, current and past. Not only will Word 2000 save a file in WP 5.x
format, but it provides extensive help in understanding what features
are supported and how pgf, char, and document formatting translates. In
Word 2000's help index, look up "WordPerfect" and then select "Convert
between Word and WordPerfect." 

Compare that with with the user assistance your typical open source tool
provides: "To see what this does, read the source code, dummy. If you
don't like it, modify the code and recompile." ;-)

> So what's so wrong about wanting to avoid any kind of
> vendor lock-in?

Nothing, if you have a legitimate reason for being concerned and not
just a visceral dislike for MS and/or all capitalists. ;-) 

But, the *best* way to avoid vendor lock-in is *precisely* to use the
market-leading tools. Because they're ubiquitous, their current and
future competitors (proprietary or open source) are compelled for
competitive reasons to support migration from them! If your docs are in
Word or WordPerfect, you have nothing to worry about; if you've stuck
with Volkswriter or XyWrite all these years, well... then you may have a
problem. :-)


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT voyanttechDOTcom
rgcombs AT freeDASHmarketDOTnet

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