RE: Article: Document or else

Subject: RE: Article: Document or else
From: "Johnson, Tom" <TJohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com>
To: "Katie Kearns" <katie -dot- kearns -at- gmail -dot- com>, "List,Techwriter" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2006 14:44:01 -0400

One of the rubs comes when you have to buy a particular product because someone else is locked into a proprietary format and you want to do work for them.

Can you imagine if cellular companies each had a different protocol and you had to carry a Verizon cell phone to talk to your friends with Verizon phones and a different "Sprint phone" to talk to your friends subscribing to Sprint? Or worse, since you brought cars into the debate, what if your automobile required a certain brand of gasoline? I'm sure you wouldn't mind hunting down a Shell gas station every time you need gas.

The idea is portability and exchangeability and interchangeability. Proprietary formats limit all three of those concepts. On the other hand, commonality and open formats foster efficiency. Microsoft, and Frame, want to stick with their proprietary formats to keep people locked into using their product so they can hold onto whatever market share they "own". They're only interested in what's best for them, not best for the most people. Instead, they should be trying to maintain their market share through superior products, but they appear to have a hard time doing that. I find it amazing that a bunch of people can pool their donated time and resources to build a product that offers almost the same performance as the one built by a multi-gazillion dollar company.

By the way, automotive companies do standardize. Nuts still have six sides and a T-10 Torx bit works on every T-10 Torx screw. Microsoft is using a format where you have to buy Microsoft tools to work on it. Lots of people manufacture Torx screwdrivers.

Tom Johnson
Technical Writer
tjohnson -at- starcutter -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+tjohnson=starcutter -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+tjohnson=starcutter -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com]On
Katie Kearns wrote:

That's ridiculous. If people didn't like it, they shouldn't use it. No
company should be compelled to engineer their product a certain way just
because some regulatory agency thinks it should. (I mean, if there's no
health impact, etc -- I am a fan of making sure product won't outright kill
people. But no one was ever killed by a file format.)

Why don't we legislate that cars have to use metric measurements because
it's annoying to find the right kind of tools? Or that car manufacturers
have to stop using Torx bolts, because I don't feel like buying a set of
torx wrenches? Maybe it's the best thing for the job, and they didn't want
to do it another way.

Sorry. Apparently I needed a good rant this morning.


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