[linux-elitists] Freeing document _formats_

Jeremy M. Dolan jmd@turbogeek.org
Mon Jul 10 13:04:12 PDT 2000

On Mon, 10 Jul 2000 15:48:27 +0000, Rick Moen wrote:
> I haven't gone very far with this, but I've been thinking that it's
> about time to launch an assault on proprietary file formats.  And no,

I think this is a great idea. I myself have wondered what format I
should use for some audio or video clips.

> I _personally_ would probably be badly unprepared to supply the content

Well, I'm not any more qualified, but heres my take... it might be
something to go on:

Any situations unformated text is needed, most situations you think
formated text is needed (ie, email): ASCII (really stress its
portability, small file size, and whatever else you can think of).

Situations where formated text really is needed: I dunno. AbiWord is
free, and open-able on win32 and unix. HTML is a freaking mess, but
its pretty universal (despite a lack of freespeech viewers/composers).
PS/PDF are a pain to view on some platforms, and I really hate the
'official' PDF reader. Docbook source converted to tons of formats is
obviously the most elite, but there arent any simple tools to do this
yet (AbiWord docbook export would be pretty sweet).

Spreadsheet: Another place where, since there was no formal standard,
it defaulted to MS Office. Gnumeric is a freely available, functional
speadsheet, but you cant onen its format on mac/win32. Most
spreadsheet apps support input and export to tab delimited,
unfortunatly this will lose any formating and formulas. Boy, lack of
standards sure makes it easy for microsoft to swoop in with its games.
Imagine if they controled the browsers from the begining. Instead of
html, web pages would be word docs... *shrudder*...

Audio short clips: I haven't a clue what should be used. Theres
20+ formats available (aiff, au, wav being the main contenders), the
pluses and minuses of each need to be analized.

Audio long clips: mp3, until ogg vorbis is a bit more proven. Though,
there are issued raised on patents covering the encoding process.

Video, static: open formats are sorely lacking here. MPEG, and the less
lossy formats (avi, fli, another one i forgot)... i think the
quicktime *format* is available fairly openly, codecs are the problem.

Video, streaming: well, your entirerly screwed here. Go install
realplayer on your 98 box. Just remember, a month later, you'll be
reinstalling 98 cause realplayer is garunteed to screw it to hell. I
think someone 

Static Image: PNG for lossless, Jpeg for lossy. Thank god we've got
one area covered.

Animated Image: While these are mostly inappropriate (Mozilla will
soon have a disable animation pref), they do have ligitimate uses in
proper places. The mozilla UI will use them for things like the
throbber. Plus, PNG wont be fully accepted as a GIF replacment until
it can replace all of its features. MNG will work here. Mozilla
supports it (It's been checked into the nightlies for a few weeks now,
and was enabled by default two days ago, though it may or may not be
working today/tomarrow/[any random day before the next milestone].

Thats all i can think off offhand. Excuse all the typos, im not in a
proofreading mood.


Jeremy M. Dolan <jmd@turbogeek.org>

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