ODMA starts from the premise that desktop applications are file-oriented rather than object-oriented and must be managed in a way that is similar to how data is stored in a database. The users need a way to access files that are made from multiple applications (e.g., a MS Word document that contains an Excel spreadsheet and a graphic image within the file) no matter what platform or environment they are working with. Client-side compound-document architectures, such as PDF, HTML and the Windows OLE standard, need to manage the data on the server side. Complex data objects must be linked, embedded, cross-referenced, searched, queried, distributed, and made secure, -- as well as viewed, edited, and printed, just as objects in a DBMS.
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