Proprietary slide decks at FOSS events? A missed opportunity

Paris Open Source Summit is the “first European free & open source event”, but speakers were requested to send their slide decks in the proprietary PPTX format for non specified technical issues related to the visualization or the streaming of slide contents.

Unfortunately, choosing a pseudo-standard proprietary document format instead of the open & standard ODF 1.2 and PDF 1.5 represents a missed opportunity for Paris Open Source Summit, for several reasons:

1. Speakers had to use a proprietary operating system such as Windows or macOS and a proprietary software such as Microsoft Office, which should be deprecated at FOSS events, to create a native PPTX slide deck. So, instead of educating proprietary OS users about open standards such as ODF, the event may have forced FOSS users to switch to proprietary office suites.

2. Transparent sharing of slide deck contents – which should be a priority for all FOSS events – will be impossible, as the format of PPTX slide decks is changing periodically, and might become difficult or impossible to access even when using future releases of the proprietary software used to create them. So, contents of the first European free & open source event could be lost forever.

3. Technical equipments for events, such as slide projectors or streaming services, get the necessary data from video and sound boards, and not from applications. At least, this is how they works since 1982, when I used for the first time an IBM PC with a Barco projector for Atlas Copco Italia Sanremo Convention. So, technical issues – which have been used as an explanation for the choice of the proprietary slide deck format – do not exist, and the event lost the opportunity of educating their conference equipment suppliers about working with different technologies, including FOSS.

I hope that this will remain an isolated episode, because FOSS events should be an example of best practice and not the other way round, as was the case with the Paris Open Source Summit 2019.

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