[clug] weird tender requirements

Paul Wayper paul.wayper at anu.edu.au
Fri Oct 27 00:46:22 GMT 2006

Andrew Smith wrote:
> After having been on the losing end of receiving numerous electronic
> job applications, I think their motivations aren't anti-open, rather
> just getting the job done.  You'd be amazed how many people seem to
> believe the often-PC-bundled free MSWorks suite is an acceptable tool
> for producing shared documents.
Which is why I gave Dell a hard time when they rang to check if they
could sell me any extra stuff - er, I mean, check that my order was
completely to my satisfaction.  I asked them to remove MS Works.  They
said they couldn't, but "don't worry, it comes for free anyway".  I
replied that OpenOffice was also free, and was actually a complete
office suite compatible with everything, where Works isn't compatible.

I totally appreciate that they want to specify how to supply a document
so they can read it.  Otherwise, sure enough there'd be someone
submitting tenders on 5.25" floppies in Word Perfect 4.2 format.  But I
think we can do our bit to educate them that "open, readable format"
doesn't mean "proprietary application format". 

Part of the problem here is that PDF is not that "open, readable format"
that we're looking for.  For Windows users who have MS Office, to write
a PDF takes special software that doesn't come with Office.  I know that
there are free PDF writers out there, but for these people that's an
extra piece of software that they have to track down, evaluate, install
and use.  And, with the wranglings between Microsoft and Adobe over
Office Vista (or whatever it's called) exporting to PDF, this is not
likely to change any time soon.  Maybe we take it for granted that,
because OpenOffice can write PDFs natively, everyone can.

It's a conundrum: the only really good semi-open format for documents
that are (nominally) read-only is not writable by the major office
suite, whose native format is proprietary and closed-source.

Have fun,


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