Re: [dev] Will OOo version 3 preserve backwards file compatibility with OOo 2 ?

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Re: [dev] Will OOo version 3 preserve backwards file compatibility with OOo 2 ?

David Wilson-7
On Tuesday 27 June 2006 6:22 pm, Kay Ramme - Sun Germany - Hamburg wrote:
> Hi David,
>
> David Wilson wrote:
> > Can anyone advise us as whether OOo version 3 will preserve backwards
> > file compatibility with OOo 2 ?
>
snip
>
> Does that mean, that you need the file format to become incompatible?

No.
> I
> thought that support for bibliographic extensions would be optional only.
>

In terms of the file format they would be. Older versions of Writer would just
ignore the extensions. The question is how much backwards compatibility do we
need to build in.

In the current version of Writer every  time  you insert a Bibliography
Entry / Citation the full set of bibliographic data (author,  publisher etc.)
is stored with each Entry, and no link is made with the source of the entry.
The only way to correct a Bibliography Entry is to find each one and edit its
data, or correct the database and reinsert the relevant Bibliography Entries.

In the improved file format the Bibliographic data is stored only once and
each Bibliography Entry / Citation contains a link to that data. So
correction becomes easier.  Links can be maintained to the originating
source, such as the database, then a Update command could refresh the
bibliographic data form its source.

(all this explained at
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Bibliographic_Project's_Developer_Page 
http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Writer_enhancements_for_OOBib
 and related pages )

So our question is - do we still have to  maintain all the original
Bibliography Entry structures in the save file along with the new structures
so the older versions of OpenOffice can still access the some of
Bibliographic data content?  (The new data model is richer, so not all the
data can be converted to the older structures.) A flow chart of this approach
is at  http://bibliographic.openoffice.org/backwards.png . In this scenario
the newer Bib-enhanced versions of Writer would not display the older
citation and bib-table structures but only the new ones. But would continue
to maintain both, as far as was possible.

A simpler option to implement would be  partial backwards compatibility - that
the older version of Writer would just see the visible text of the
Bibliography Entries but not the underlying data.  

Apart from the underlying data issues, we have the question of handling how
the Bibliography Entries appear on the page. If we present theses in the old
style bibliographic fields, and the user does selects the command
Tools->Update-'All Fields' the nicely formatted Bibliography Entries are all
lost had we have the old style ones regenerated. For example

Our footnote citation

34. Thomas M. Charles-Edwards,"Honour and status in Some Irish and Welsh Prose
Tales.", Eriu, xxxvi, 1978. pages 298-305

becomes

34. [Charles-Edwards-78]

or

34. [23]

(In fact if this footnote was inserted into a Bibliography Entry field the
correct italic formatting of the Journal name 'Eriu' would be lost because
fields do not support formatted text.)

If we keep the Bibliography Entries as text we prevent that loss, and can have
correct formatting, but at the cost of limiting the users access to the
underlying data.

Achieving backwards compatibility of Bibliographic Table structures, is more
complex. I would think the first priority for backwards compatibility is that
the user of the older version of Writer sees the very well formatted
Bibliography Table generated by the enhanced version of Writer. In that case
we could present the Table in a, perhaps protected, text area.

If we have provided the underlying bibliographic data the user then has the
option to make changes to the document, delete the Bibliography Table, and
Insert a new Bibliography Table, using the older, that is the current,
bibliographic formatting mechanism. However, we do not see any way in which  
we could transfer the table style definitions from the new to the old  
structures, the mechanisms being so different. The user would get the default
Bibliography Table style as is now the case.

So these are the trade offs we are considering. Any advice would be welcome.

regards

David


-------------------
David N. Wilson
Co-Project Lead for the Bibliographic
OpenOffice Project
http://bibliographic.openoffice.org

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