On Monday 26 April 2004 14:02, Ernest Prabhakar wrote:
> On Apr 26, 2004, at 9:59 AM, Ihab A.B. Awad wrote:
> > Actually, with all due respect to FSF India's opinion -- which is
> > pretty much what I would expect from FSF anywhere -- I claim the
> > US tax agencies' policy fails an even weaker standard: that of 
> > the availability of more than one source for the software required
> > to use the format.
> That isn't quite true.
> For example, Apple's Quartz technology is an alternative implementation
> of the PDF standard, ...

I agree (and I use OS X at work and love it, btw), but the specific technology 
of which I speak was the ability to freely edit a PDF *form* the way you 
would expect: open, edit, save, reopen, re-edit, and re-save.

That said, I did find one 3rd-party product, "Cute PDF Filler", which is a 
(reasonable) $29 purchase. I haven't tried it, since it runs on Windows and 
I'm booted to Linux right now. But note that CutePDF Plus, the original 
version of this software, only became available in April 2003. PDF forms were 
being used by US tax agencies for a long time by then.

> Rather than focus on trying to insist on an alternative to PDF - is
> there a viable one? - I would think it more effective to encourage the
> development of alternative software for using it.

I agree whole-heartedly. Industry initiative does not equal evil, imho. Thus I 
encourage the use of Java, even though it's controlled by Sun. I'm in no way 
slamming PDF or its widespread use.

> Perhaps what you are really saying - which might be at least slightly
> relevant to this list - is that you only want governments to use
> document formats that are supported by open source implementations.  Is
> that your point?

My apologies regarding relevance. It is probably somewhat tangential to this 
list ... but, I hope, only a bit.

Yes, in the sense that your statement is a logical conclusion of my point. 
Given the (arguably reasonable) reluctance of the US government to meddle 
with private industry, I claim that the tax agencies should use a format for 
which a proper editor is either --

  a. Not single-sourced; or

  b. Open source.

(If they were willing to meddle, they could sponsor an implementation of the 
needed functionality -- which, logically, would be open source, since it 
would be government developed software with no national security ties. Or 
they could create an industry consortium to ensure competition in the field.)

This is not too different from the standard practice for buying screws, toilet 
seats and truck tires.



Ihab A.B. Awad
Snr Scientific Programmer, Dept of Genetics
Stanford University

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