Glyn Moody has posted Open Science, Closed Source in which he takes John Wilbanks to task for collaborating with Microsoft and effectively perpetuating Microsoft’s stranglehold on word processing.
I agree with this analysis:
Working with Microsoft on open source plugins might seem innocent enough, but it’s really just entrenching Microsoft’s power yet further in the scientific community, weakening openness in general – which means, ultimately, undermining all the other excellent work of the Science Commons.
It would have been far better to work with OpenOffice.org to produce similar plugins, making the free office suite even more attractive, and thus giving scientists yet another reason to go truly open, with all the attendant benefits, rather than making do with a hobbled, faux-openness, as here.
The product (eg a document) of the code must be interoperable with open software. In our case this means Word must produce stuff that can be used in and round tripped with OpenOffice.org and with earlier versions, and Mac versions of Microsoft’s products. (This is not as simple as it could be when we have to deal with stuff like Sun refusing to implement import and preservation for data stored in Word fields as used by applications like EndNote.)
The NLM add-in is an odd one here, as on one level it does qualify in that it spits out XML, but the intent is to create Word-only authoring so that rules it out – not that we have been asked to work on that project other than to comment, I am merely using it as an example.
The code must be open source and as portable as possible. Of course if it is interface code it will only work with Microsoft’s toll-access software but at least others can read the code and re-implement elsewhere. If it’s not interface code then it must be written in a portable language and/or framework.