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Faux Pas -- web publication in proprietary formats at

2005-11-03 20:23:46

As of 
Wed Nov  2 22:47:14 PST 2005
the "Restaurant Guide" in
points to

This information is provided in Microsoft
PowerPoint, a vendor-specific proprietary format.
This is the only format in which this information
is available on the IETF website.

It is wildly inappropriate for IETF to be using a
proprietary format on its web page.

For years we have been fighting this.  Attached
below is the form letter that I send back each
time I receive a Microsoft Word document. The same
concept applies to Microsoft's PowerPoint.

This is particularly bad for an entity that claims
to be a standards organization. Fix it quick.

---Subject: I Prefer Not to Receive Informaton in Proprietary Formats

This is an automatic message: 

You sent the document in Microsoft Word format, a secret
proprietary format, so it is hard for me to read. If you
send me plain text, HTML, or PDF, then I will read it.

Please recognize that this note is not about what you
may have wished to communicate in that document. You
have made the implicit assumption that I would be able
to easily read the document in that format. That
assumption is a mistake.

Distributing documents in Word format is bad for you and
for others. Receiving Word attachments is bad for you
because they can carry viruses (see Sending
Word attachments is bad for you, because a Word document
normally includes hidden information about the author,
enabling those in the know to pry into the author's
activities (maybe yours). Text that you think you
deleted may still be embarrassingly present. See for
more info.

But above all, sending people Word documents puts
pressure on them to use Microsoft software and helps to
deny them any other choice. In effect, you become a
buttress of the Microsoft monopoly. This pressure is a
major obstacle to the broader adoption of free
software. Would you please reconsider the use of Word
format for communication with other people?

To convert the file to HTML using Word is simple. Open
the document, click on File, then Save As, and in the
Save As Type strip box at the bottom of the box, choose
HTML Document or Web Page. Then choose Save. You can
then attach the new HTML document instead of your Word
document. Note that Word changes in inconsistent
ways--if you see slightly different menu item names,
please try them.

To convert to plain text is almost the same--instead of
HTML Document, choose Text Only or Text Document as the
Save As Type.

Your computer may also have a program to convert to pdf
format. Select File => Print. Scroll through available
printers and select the pdf converter. Click on the
Print button and enter a name for the pdf file when



PS: For further reasons why .doc should not be the
format of choice when exchanging information
electronically, I invite you to read
It may be long, but it certainly exposes the compromises
both you, as the sender, and I, as the receiver, are
making by exchanging Microsoft Word documents.

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