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   RE: XML and (K)Office

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  • From: David Megginson <david@megginson.com>
  • To: "XML Developers' List" <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 06:55:50 -0500 (EST)

Matthew Sergeant (EML) writes:


 > > Anyway, let's get this right -- I think that it's healthy for
 > > both Gnumeric and the KOffice Spreadsheet program both to exist,
 > > but there is no excuse for them to use entirely incompatible
 > > formats.  As a matter of fact, if we could convince KDE and Gnome
 > > to use compatible XML formats for lots of things (like interface
 > > construction), the media's predictions of a Linux fracture will
 > > be proven to be hot air.


 > Although I agree to an extent, if they have different feature sets
 > it's pretty unlikely that you're going to get an entirely perfect
 > agreement on a spreadsheet DTD.

I disagree *very* strongly -- with Namespaces, we can design a common
format for the 90% of functionality that the two spreadsheets actually
have in common (text cells, data cells, basic formulas, general
formatting information [font, alignment, colour, size], etc.)  and
then allow each to provide extended information
unambiguously-delimited through the use of separate namespaces.

The more material in the common spec, the better interoperability.
Linux needs to set an example here.

 > However, that's the beauty of XML. Writing a converter from one
 > format to another is trivial in the extreme, so it's not a huge
 > issue in my (humble) opinion.

For n XML-based formats, we need (n * (n - 1)) converters.  If there
are only two different XML-based spreadsheet formats, then we need
only two converters:

 a => b
 b => a

If there are three XML-based different formats, then we need six

 a => b
 a => c
 b => a
 b => c
 c => a
 c => b

If there are four different XML-based formats, then we need twelve

 a => b
 a => c
 a => d
 b => a
 b => c
 b => d
 c => a
 c => b
 c => d
 d => a
 d => b
 d => c

Add a couple more, and the problem definitely isn't easy by any
definition.  Ten different XML-based formats requires 90 converters,
and a change to only one of the formats will require changes to (2 *
(n - 1)), or 18 converters!

All the best,


David Megginson                 david@megginson.com

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