Hi Raffaele, I will try to answer the most relevant point, trying to be
as succinct as possible.
On 2/10/21 6:33 PM, Raffaele Mancuso wrote:
There have already been specific projects about interoperability,
funded by different entities. There is a team in Hungary working full
time for OOXML interoperability.
Can't the new people we hire support and work together with the team in
Of course, Gabor Kelemen and his colleagues would be extremely happy.
Although I fail to understand some points, for instance, how the fact
that a document saved by MSO can be shorter/longer somewhat implies that
the standard is being violated.
Short answer, yes. In the reality, Microsoft is using the most
sophisticated resources to manage OOXML, and because of this the issue
is terribly complex. For instance, they leverage the fact that users are
not consistent in their approach to software, to have this reflected in
the format (which is screwed up even more than it should).
Then what is the purpose of Part 4 of OOXML (ISO/IEC 29500-4:2016)?
It is titled "Transitional Features".
Is my understanding that, by and large, OOXML Transitional = OOXML
Strict + Transitional Features, correct?
No, Transitional features should have been deprecated since 2010. They
are the non standard features inherited from legacy formats.
By the way, the Italian law - if respected - prohibits the use of
OOXML by Public Administrations, as it does not respect many
No I don't think so, given that Italian judges and the Italian judiciary
system are using it
The Italian Ministry of Justice is distributing OOXML files in its
website <https://www.giustizia.it/giustizia/it/mg_1_29_22.page> (see at
the bottom "REGISTRO delle richieste di accesso")
The fact that they are using OOXML is only a demonstration that they
ignore the issue of interoperability. According to the currect version
of AgID guidelines for the implementation of the digital administration
code, a standard format must have several characteristics, which are not
met by OOXML (transparent development, versioning, consistent behaviour
across a software release).
By the way, OOXML is used by the majority of public administrations not
only in Italy, but worldwide. But his doesn't make OOXML a standard, or
an interoperable format. Microsoft has the largest lobby structure
worldwide, and it shows.
(1) I don't agree that the increase in file size by embedding fonts
would be a problem. Nowadays kids download 30 GB videogames over the
Sure, but LibreOffice is available in areas where connectivity is not
comparable with Italy (where connectivity is sub-optimal), and we must
consider that we are a global project, and as such we cannot forget our
members in those areas.
(2) Anyway, I am thinking at maintaining a git repository with
substitute fonts. I had a look at them, and most of them seems to be
released under a license that allows redistribution. It looks to me, for
what I was able to see, that collecting those substitutes fonts and use
mscorefonts for the (few) ones missing (like Wingdings) would provide a
very solid base for interoperability on the font front. It may be a good
base for a future LibreOffice official database of substitute fonts?
Absolutely yes. There is a large number of open source fonts, which can
be distributed without issues.
(3) I thought more generally at handling them better. The first time I
opened a document that used Calibri with LibreOffice, it was not at all
obvious to me that the font name being displayed in italics by
LibreOffice meant that the font was being substituted with another one.
Maybe when a document uses fonts that are missing on the system, we can
have LibreOffice displays a message box that shows which fonts are
missing and which ones are being used as substitutes?
Interesting idea. We could discuss it with developers.
I have downloaded the form to exercise GDPR rights from the Italian GDPR
which is distributed in .docx format (another counter-example to you
saying it's illegal).
I have opened it in LibreOffice Writer and here is the result:
The checkboxes are all messed up.
I have opened the same document, and the checkboxes are all at the right
place (PDF attached). And I have not even used my Linux PC where I have
configured font substitution, as Calibri would have been replaced by
Carlito. I have used my Linux laptop.
Tomorrow I will check with LibreOffice on Windows and macOS.
Of course, the fact that the document renders in a different way is an
issue. First of all, we should help Garante della Privacy in creating
interoperable documents (checkboxes should be anchored as characters
instead of being anchored to paragraphs).
But we need to acknowledge that maybe bugs could be handled better by
highly-paid programmers (with crowdfunded wages, or donations).
Bugs are already handled by professional developers, but of course the
highr the number of developers working on the bugs the higher the number
of bugs which can be solved.
1. Is our position that OOXML should and can be supported? Fine, then we
need to find a better way to support it
OOXML support is improving with every release. Please consider that 100%
support is impossible, not even MS Office handles all OOXML files in a
2. Is our position that the entire OOXML standard is a messed up
standard, and so it is okay for us to not support it fully? Fine as well.
This is impossible, because of the number of people using OOXML.
We have to remove "LO is compatible with Microsoft Word" from website.
This is also impossible, LibreOffice is compatible with the majority of
We also have to pull out LibreOffice from this WIkipedia page:
This is also impossible. By the way, Wikipedia page is managed by
volunteers and not by us.
Remove LibreOffice from the Transitional section and put Microsoft
Office on the Strict section with a note "you need to explicitly export
in Strict. It is the one of the last options".
LibreOffice supports both Transitional and Strict in the best possible
way, which will never be perfect (also because OOXML changes without
providing the necessary documentation).
Otherwise, how can we have a talk about interoperability, and states
that we should use ODF for interoperability?
The situation is not black & white, but has all the shades of all the
colours in between. For sure, is more political than technical, and we
must be active in every area. On one side, we have to support OOXML, on
the other side, we have to educate the world around us about switching
to ODF as a better format for interoperability.
How many softwares do we want a format to be supported by before deeming
the format as interoperable?
You can have one million software supporting a format, without the
format being interoperable at all. Interoperability is not about the
number of software supporting a format, is about the way the format
provides interoperability features.
Otherwise, how the discussion with the Italian GDPR authority about
having them distribute that form in .odt format would turn out?
"Dear authority, by making the form available only in .docx format you
are effectively preventing citizens who cannot afford a Microsoft Office
license to exercise their rights"
"What???? Use LibreOffice, their website says they are compatible with
Providing the document as ODT would make the document available forever,
independently from any software vendor. Providing it as DOCX makes the
document subject to Microsoft commercial strategies, even if it is
supported by 100 programs.
The difference is between an open and independent standard and a closed
and proprietary standard, between having the freedom to decide and being
controlled by a company.
I had a paragraph here whose point was basically to try collaborate with
Microsoft to better export from MSO to ODF.
Microsoft is already a member of the ODF Technical Committee, and has
contributed substantially to ODF 1.3. But this doesn't mean that their
ODF support will improve.
They are contributing technically, but the level of ODF support will be
decided by their marketing and sales people (supported by their legal
When you sit on top of a 25 billion dollar market, your strategy is not
going to be based on what should be done, but on what you have to do to
sell more (even if this means cheating organizations such as ISO, or
being nice on the surface and a shark below the surface.
Let's have a chat as soon as possible. I can give you some additional
background, to make it easier for you to jumpstart your crowdfunding
Italo Vignoli - LibreOffice Marketing & PR
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