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New York Decision On ODF Vs. OOXML Approaching

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the choose-wisely-young-jedi dept.

Software 160

christian.einfeldt writes "In August of 2007, the State of New York passed legislation requiring its CIO, Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, to gather information on the advantages and disadvantages of adopting either ODF or OOXML as a document standard, and to report her findings by 15 January 2008. As part of her duties under that legislation, the CIO issued a Request For Public Comment to get feedback on the topic. The deadline for that public comment is 28 December 2007 — so there is still time for the Slashdot crowd to be heard."

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160 comments

how to block (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21746880)

i figured out how to block myminicity from slashdot [myminicity.com]

Re:how to block (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747976)

Perhaps Slashdot should block you. We don't want to post you to post links to your game.

anybody? (3, Funny)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21746896)

Am I the only one surprised that this was actually posted here before the deadline?

Re:anybody? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21746920)

are you talking about this deadline?? [myminicity.com]

Re:anybody? (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747464)

No, the term for that is "flatline". Honestly, is anybody falling for this after the "I'm Feeling Lucky" Google goatse links?

Re:anybody? (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21746954)

Of course we're surprised. But don't let your surprise stop you objecting to "OOXMLWTF?"

Re:anybody? (1)

filbranden (1168407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747266)

Before the deadline, but after the announcement (...and to report her findings by 15 January 2007).

Re:anybody? (1)

rat10177sd (963462) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747674)

Where's the Doctor when you need him?

Re:anybody? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748034)

It was posted by kdawson. Every day he stays alive without accidentally wandering in front of a car or forgetting to breathe or something is a joy and a wonder to us. Oh wait, I don't see a sensational and incorrect headline, I don't see a lot of misspelled words in the summary, it can't be him. Panic! kdawson has become possessed by literate slashdot-invading space aliens! Run for the hills!

Well worth a chuckle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749290)

It's too bad Anonymous Coward has also become possessed by &*^%@*-ing link-posting lowlife spammers....

Someone should write a bot aimed against that game and post details here....

Write! (5, Interesting)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21746908)


If you don't do something as quick and simple as writing to ask for something, what right do you have to complain when you don't get it. If just a small fraction of the people here write in support of ODF, that will be a huge and impressive response.

There's enough complaining about OOXML et al on this site. Put your money where you mouth is.

Re:Write! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21746936)

ooxml on any site can lead to failure [myminicity.com]

Re:Write! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21746990)

You are a cocknosed asshatticus. Die in as many fires as you can possibly die in.

Re:Write! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747018)

can you please lite the first fire? [myminicity.com]

Re:Write! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747232)

what right do you have to complain when you don't get it

Let's see - the NY taxpayers are already paying this CIO's (probably hefty) salary, and she is supposed to recommend that which is best for her constituents.

From all the info I've seen regarding the matter, ODF and OOXML are two document standards. One was written by committee and has the support of multiple companies, organizations, and individuals. The other is written by a monopoly and has support of no one except MS and their paid shills.

The fact is there is absolutely no reason for a government body to go with MS's lock-in format considering the technical merits of both, and most especially the past behavior of MS. OOXML is a pseudo-standard, purposefully obfuscated to keep the MS monopoly gravy-train running smoothly.

If these government agencies can't start making no-brainer decisions in the interest of their constituents, perhaps it's time that these positions were simply abolished...

Re:Write! (0)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747480)

A little FUD can go a long way with the right people.

"locked in"? (0)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748972)

Frankly, if somebody told me that implementing to OOXML would lock me in to 90% of the world as opposed to being totally free within the 10% Open Office market share I'd rather spend my tax dollars on being accessable to the 90% overwhelmingly vast majority. And then at some point FOSS will implement a OOXML reader/writer anyway. What's the beef here?

In the spirit of open source, screw the MS Office suite. Take the open OOXML standard and write your own office suite.

Re:"locked in"? (2, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749424)

Thats the thing. You cannot make your own office suite.
The 'open' standard is incomplete in addition to being a complete mess.

Re:"locked in"? (3, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749528)

In the spirit of open source, screw the MS Office suite. Take the open OOXML standard and write your own office suite.
Since you've apparently not followed the saga, the purpose of the MOOXML "standard" is that you cannot reimplement it because it isn't fully specified (in addition to being a festering mess).

Only Microsoft has the blobs required to make MOOXML work. Only partial compatibility can be attained by other in the best of cases. OTOH ODF actually *is* an open format which is properly documented and which does evolve in the open.

On top of that, I'm not certain whether all of the Microsoft users can actually read/write MOOXML files. A large number haven't switched to the latest version of Office and don't seem to want to (or cannot if they're on Macs). In small structures I doubt they even know about the translator add ons for their version of Office (if it's even available for their version).

So be locked in to 100% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749542)

After all, you get MSOffice with the ODF converter (no lock) and use with the dozens of other players via ntive ODF support. And, since there's no technical or legal reason why they can't, MS could support ODF natively.

If you think MSOOXML is open, try making your own reader. If you must agree to terms or it opens you up to legal attacks then it isn't open. MSOOXML does this.

Re:Write! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747284)

The following are the minimal characteristics that a specification and its attendant documents must have in order to be considered an open standard:
        * The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organization, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties (consensus or majority decision etc.).
        * The standard has been published and the standard specification document is available either freely or at a nominal charge. It must be permissible to all to copy, distribute and use it for no fee or at a nominal fee.
        * The intellectual property - i.e. patents possibly present - of (parts of) the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis.
        * There are no constraints on the re-use of the standard.

These commonly accepted criteria are enough to ignore the whole OOXML vs ODF discussions as OOXML patent licesing conditions only fake compliance. No one trusts the OSP and the CNS from Microsoft. And openness of the ongoing ISO process is a running gag.

Don't get greedy, now. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748754)

The first one of your points doesn't matter as long as the final three are true and one more:

The standard must be completely specified. It must be able to be implemented with no other information not present in the standards documents.

Re:Write! (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747412)

Any suggestions for how to phrase it if you're not a New York resident?

This is a New York government function, they would be perfectly within their rights to throw away all input that isn't from New York residents. ...except of course for the "expert testimony" from Redmond, WA.

Re:Write! (3, Funny)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747904)

Any suggestions for how to phrase it if you're not a New York resident?

How about this?

Dear CIO;

I'm not from New York, but I'm on the Internet. The same Internet that thinks Ron Paul, lolcats, and "2 girls 1 cup" are great, so I obviously know more than anyone technical.

I don't know anything about your actual requirements, but you should pick ODF, because OOXML is from Microsoft. ODF 1.2 is in committee right now, and it will plug all those holes in ODF, like spreadsheet formulas not being specified, so don't let the fact that you can't do anything useful in the current version without lots of vendor-specific non-standard extensions bother you. Vote for Ron Paul!

Being Diplomatic (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21746914)

Please folks, if you're going to comment on this issue be polite and don't use form letters. Refer to government open standards, how OOXML isn't a stable standard and is ungoing massive changes at Ecma, that kind of thing.

Mostly though emphasis on the "polite" part. Imagine how persuasive someone can be when they're not a dick about it and when they just lay out some good clear arguments :)

Re:Being Diplomatic (5, Informative)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747086)

correct... another words use constructive criticism should you add input before the decision is made. List the pros and cons and be clear and to the point. Its kind of like a resume... If the employer sees many misspelled words, way to long, or with a font thats hard to read, etc will be ignored. If I was to write in with feedback I would put what I want in bullet points and have the text bold. Under that I will argue the pros and cons etc... I would follow the same form throughout my commenting. I find it to be the best way to get your point across. Forgive my horrible comment grammer but I just wanted to add my comment to the discussion. Getting back to History final exam prep along with the Spanish one... :-(

Advice on History final (4, Insightful)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747240)

"in other words" is not spelled "another words".
Grammar on a final examination is as important as grammar in a letter to your congresscritter.
May your professor mod up your exam score.

Re:Advice on History final (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747364)

the worlds best grammer checker [tinyurl.com]

Re:Being Diplomatic (1)

cwmaxson (1068504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749326)

If the employer sees many misspelled words, way to long...

Should be way too long.

Case in point.

Re:Being Diplomatic (4, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747974)

Refer to government open standards, how OOXML isn't a stable standard and is ungoing massive changes at Ecma

The problem with that is that ODF is also undergoing massive changes. The version currently working its way through standardization adds the OpenFormula spec to ODF, which is something like 25% of the size of ODF. That's a pretty massive change!

Re:Being Diplomatic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748086)

Well everything's moving and being developed but ODF has version 1.0 whereas OOXML doesn't yet. So perhaps refer to ODF 1.0 or the ISO 26300 (I think that's the right number)

Re:Being Diplomatic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749562)

be polite

Arrrgh too late, I already linked to both goatse guy and tubgirl while describing interoperability and ass-backwards compatibility in OOXML

When is.... (4, Insightful)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21746924)

When is a standard not a standard?

Perhaps... it's when the company who wrote it won't pass it over to standards bodies [slashdot.org] .

Perhaps we ought to have "varying" standards for road design... or we should have ever-changing standards for building construction.

Considering this is public documents are at stake, it is our history. It is no less important than safety.

Re:When is.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747442)

or we should have ever-changing standards for building construction.
Like we don't now? Standards change all the time due to problems, mistakes, unforeseen circumstances, etc. There are many good arguments against OOXML, but this is not one of them. A standard set in stone is soon irrelevant.

Re:When is.... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747958)

Perhaps we ought to have "varying" standards for road design... or we should have ever-changing standards for building construction.

South Carolina doesn't give even highways a foundation - their roads are built on piles of sand, with maybe a little gravel crushed on top. Not even the three-layer roads of Macadam and nowhere near the five-layers of Telford. As for building construction, building codes change after disasters (rarely before, when it might have been useful) and aren't exactly impressive. Particle board and vinyl?!?! In hurricane-prone areas?!?! And where does the ground line go on a plug board, when most wall sockets support only two pins?

Seems to me that Microsoft's standards have one redeeming feature - they're comparable on IQ with all the other standards in use. True, that's not much... On the other hand, maybe if people are more willing to actually look at what they are agreeing to before they agree to it, we won't see such stupidity in such extraordinary proportions in future.

Re:When is.... (3, Interesting)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747986)

So when is Sun going to turn control of ODF over to a standards body? (There is a difference between letting a standards body approve a particular version, and turning control over).

There are zillions of things wrong with OOXML, so why do people keep picking things that are ALSO problems with ODF? It would be a lot more effective to pick those areas where ODF is actually different and better, and push those.

Re:When is.... (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748978)

---So when is Sun going to turn control of ODF over to a standards body?

They don't have to. The source is opened and what ODF is has been released to the community at large.

Anybody with the appropriate manpower can effectively freeze what ODF is.. just call it GAODF- government approved ODF.

Re:When is.... (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749130)

They don't have to. The source is opened and what ODF is has been released to the community at large

That's not quite correct. ODF is covered by Sun patents. They have made those patents available for free under a license that covers ODF 1.0, plus any future versions whose development Sun participates in past the point where OASIS would require a patent license. (You can find the complete text of the license at the OASIS web site if you want to see for yourself). So, future versions have to have Sun participation, and if Sun really doesn't like the way things are going, they can take their ball and go home and everyone else has to stop playing.

It's not clear to me how this can be called "open", at least in the sense we usually use the term around here. What if I want to base a new document format, for my internal use at work, on it? Can I? Nope. That would use Sun's patents, and not be covered by the ODF patent license. So, no freedom to modify for my own use (and, of course, no freedom to share modifications with others).

ODF and OOXML are both just calling themselves "open" because that buzzword is all the rage now, but until I can fork them if I don't like the direction Sun and Microsoft go, respectively, then they aren't open.

Re:When is.... (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749526)

Sun turned the control of ODF over to a standards body a long long time ago, before it was even a standard. This is what made it much easier to pass the ISO process than OOXML.

Re:When is.... (1)

bwbadger (706071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749566)

>So when is Sun going to turn control of ODF over to a standards body?

The ODF spec is managed by OASIS and approved by ISO. I understand that Sun had no more control than any other party on the OASIS committee.

c.f. http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/membership.php?wg_abbrev=office [oasis-open.org]

I'm a New York State resident and... (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21746930)

...I've just about given up on politicians in this state. Albany has not been able to pass an on time budget for...actually, I don't think I was even born the last time they passed an on time budget. Governor Pataki was a union-busting asshole, and Governor Spitzer has failed to fulfill his promise of restoring integrity to Albany. Hillary Clinton votes for one idiotic bill after another, and Chuck Schumer voted in favor of Mukasey (need I say more?).

Re:I'm a New York State resident and... (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747066)

Yeah, we have the most dysfunctional state legislature in the union. (http://www.amazon.com/Three-Men-Room-Betrayal-Statehouse/dp/1595580328 [amazon.com] )

My apartment is a few blocks from Joe Bruno's office and I stopped in to give him a piece of my mind, for all the good that will do.

That said, all you down state bastards need to do your part too. Us folks in the sticks can't do it alone. http://www.nysut.org/cps/rde/xchg/nysut/hs.xsl/contactelectedofficials.htm [nysut.org]

Re:I'm a New York State resident and... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747200)

Albany has not been able to pass... Governor Pataki was a union-busting asshole... Governor Spitzer has failed... Hillary Clinton votes for one idiotic bill... Chuck Schumer...

Which means now is definitely NOT the time to give up.

Re:I'm a New York State resident and... (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747594)

IIRC, California hasn't passed a budget on time for 20 years (I think).

not to be a pain, but (1)

Kalzus (86795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21746994)

would the gathering of requirements not work out better if the deadline were in 1 month from now, not 11 months before now?

Re:not to be a pain, but (1)

slomike1 (1125421) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747074)

It sounds like the backwards many things work in New York. Report the findings first (Jan 2007), then collect the data (Dec 2007).

Not even Windows users like OOXML (3, Interesting)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747008)

Not even Windows users like OOXML. Even the ones with Office 2007 usually save into .doc format. I don't see why we can't just go with plain old .doc. Sure it isn't as "open" as ODF, but OOo and Office can read them well enough (now if I got to make the plans, it would just be plain .txt, fast and easy to read, who needs formatting) to see what they are saying. But OOXML just plain isn't adopted anywhere, it lacks support for non Windows platforms and no one really knows what the "standard" actually is, and knowing MS's previous actions, they will soon "extend" OOXML to have "features" that will make the free/open source document readers have yet another thing to deal with. So why can't they go with .doc? Or better yet HTML? Even .txt would be better then OOXML, even though ODF is nice, Windows systems with Office need "plugins" to view them.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (4, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747056)

Which version of .doc?
They are fairly incompatable, and not even Office can open all of the versions correctly:
95, 2000, XP, 2003?
There is no "doc" standard, it is just the memory dump of the version of Office, which changes with each release, and that is the problem.

TXT would indeed be better, if only because it isn't going to change in the future.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (3, Insightful)

Sodki (621717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747356)

TXT would indeed be better, if only because it isn't going to change in the future.

What kind of TXT? ANSI? Unicode? UTF-16? Big endian? Little endian? etc, etc.. I know, my examples are probably wrong, but the point isn't.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747386)

I think UTF-8 and UTF-16 specify the endian-ness, but you do have to choose an encoding for the "text" document, you are very much correct there.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749534)

UTF-8 has no "endianness" being only 8bit. UTF-16 is required to start with a BOM character that determines which endian is used.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747838)

TXT would indeed be better, if only because it isn't going to change in the future.

Notepad in Windows XP forces you to chose between 3 different text formats (with useless names), and there really are many, many more.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (3, Insightful)

Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747130)

I know the parent is probably going to get modded into oblivion, but they made an interesting point that will probably be missed. Why do we need to store all the information in a fully formatted document. I know that good ol' A4...or American Letter standard will persist for a long time, but surely if it's just the information we need to retain there would be a better way of storing it without all the formatting cruft thrown in that makes it hard to decipher if you don't have a massive spec to write a loader from.

Afterall everyone here is mainly worried about retaining the information in a format that is readable by future generations right? right!?

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747336)

I agree with you but have you considered OOXML and the other side [myminicity.com]

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (2, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747460)

That is a good point... Just look at the floppy disks, there is lots of them yet readers are hard to find for non 3.5 sized ones. The same could happen to OOXML and other propriatary formats.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748010)

Except that floppy disks require unique hardware to read them. I'm against OOXML, but soft formats would not suffer in the same manner as floppies.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (2, Informative)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748360)

ODF at its heart is a zipped folder of unicode formated text files. In 10 years when nobody cares you can still fire up a perl parser and run thru the files in a standard fashion to pick out your data. OOXML doesn't ever guarantee you will get by with anything less than a full office suite.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748226)

"...but surely if it's just the information we need to retain there would be a better way of storing it without all the formatting cruft thrown in..."
So you want to convince everybody to save two copies of their documents, one in, say, .doc and the other in .txt?
Good luck with that.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749540)

"... surely if it's just the information we need to retain there would be a better way of storing it without all the formatting cruft thrown in ... "

But in many cases documents are not so easily read, or even understood, without "formatting". If they were we wouldn't bother using it, would we? How legal documents are laid out, and therefore how they're read, is highly specified for a start.

And in truth the distinction between "content" and "presentation", while a useful one and one ignored on the web for too long, can be dubious to say the least. That makes the characterization of the way the way the "information" is presented as "formatting" -- let alone "cruft" -- questionable.

Besides, how would I store diagrams and charts in plaintext? As ASCII art?

It might be a reasonable precaution for me to store important documents as text _as well_ but that's about as far as I think one could reasonably go. Plaintext isn't anything other than suboptimal for all but the most basic needs. Heck, I'd far rather anyone sent me a PDF than a text document.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748116)

You're missing the point entirely. OOo can read .doc files without plugins because the formats were reverse engineered and are included as part of the OOo install. It's far from perfect however, because there's still a lot of missing puzzle pieces that haven't been figured out; but the fact of the matter is, MS Office is such a juggernaut that if OOo couldn't read .doc files, OOo would be long dead by now.

Here's the rub; ODF is open, but even though Microsoft doesn't have to go through the trouble of reverse engineering it, they continue to refuse to include the capability to read and write ODF out of the box. I even believe they've claimed that it isn't possible, even though the existence of those plugins you mentioned show them to be the liars they are.

If MS can't ram their closed "standard" through and the world continues on the current open standards trend, they will be forced to include it if they want to continue selling to a large majority of governments, public institutions and end users. And by doing that they will FINALLY give users a real choice.... hmmmm I can pay $600 for MS Office to create ODF files or $0 for Open Office to write ODF files.... hmmmm.... I wonder which one I can fit into my ever tightening budget.

As a side note: I just spent many many hours writing an EETT Education Technology Plan for a school district using OOo on my Linux laptop and then in the 11th hour was told that it had to be submitted in .doc format. I can tell you right now, I probably spent as many hours fixing the formatting and other issues that came up as a result if the conversion from OOo to .doc as I did writing the damned thing and it still wasn't 1/2 as pretty or 1/4 as functional. Not to mention the fact that it was damned inconvenient that I had to borrow a system to finish it or that my only other choice if I wasn't able to borrow that system would have been to buy and install both MS Windows and MS Office.

That's ~$600-700 that MS doesn't deserve, but would've gotten because the person/agency I had to submit the document to had bought in to their monopoly and is now trying to squeak every penny they can out of it by forcing others to use it.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748176)

I don't see why we can't just go with plain old .doc. Sure it isn't as "open" as ODF, but OOo and Office can read them well enough (now if I got to make the plans, it would just be plain .txt, fast and easy to read, who needs formatting) to see what they are saying.

There are too many, different versions of .doc and no, the majority of programs cannot read and write them "well enough" now. Anyone who's ever managed an archive of documents has probably run into .doc files that cannot be opened by any currently available version of Word. One of the things ODF is solving is the security to know in another 5 years you'll still be able to open your files. The .doc format mess does not provide that security.

So why can't they go with .doc?

If the reasons I mentioned above are not enough, it is anti-competitive. It is too burdensome for vendors bidding on writing a new application they want to sell to government contractors to have to reverse engineer a closed format or series of formats and there is no way to be sure it will work in a given instance.

Or better yet HTML?

HTML does not handle all the use cases of office documents smoothly and is a pretty terrible format for exchanging documents since in many cases you'd be exchanging entire directories of files instead of a single file since all the resources in HTML are stored by reference.

...even though ODF is nice, Windows systems with Office need "plugins" to view them.

And this is one of the very things adoption of ODF as a standard in large government agencies will change. MS can only hold out so long on making ODF use with MS Office difficult. When they start losing enough sales because their product is not doing what customers want, they'll change it. I'd also note that when the government provides a spec and take bids from vendors, when one vendor tells them "no" and sys they'll have to make do with something that does not meet the spec, then tries to lobby government officials in order to change the spec to one that is inferior for their customer and will cost more in the long run, well maybe it is time to rethink doing business with that vendor at all.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748310)

HTML does not handle all the use cases of office documents smoothly and is a pretty terrible format for exchanging documents since in many cases you'd be exchanging entire directories of files instead of a single file since all the resources in HTML are stored by reference.

I wholeheartedly agree that HTML isn't really the optimal format for document exchange, and your first point (that it doesn't handle all the necessary use cases) is quite valid. However, the latter point is not necessarily a big problem. Everybody and their dog has an implementation of zip by now, so something as trivial as a zip file with an index.html file and a resources/ directory with all the needed external stuff would be a pretty open and portable way to address the issue. Also, refer to the Apple implementation of .app, .wdgt and probably a few more "rich folder formats" (just made that name up), which work quite well for application storage, for another potential approach.

Re:Not even Windows users like OOXML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21749066)

That's how you know you're getting old: When your fist thought on '*.txt' is not 'plain text' but rather 'MS Word 5 or 4'.

Fuck document formats. XHTML and SVG work fine. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747068)

Fuck all these document formats. XHTML, CSS, PNG, SVG and PDF work just fine for displaying virtually any sort of data.

XHTML is the container. It allows for textual documentation to be represented, and allows for other data representations to be embedded within that container. Its native support for tables makes it usable even as a spreadsheet (which can be powered by JavaScript).

CSS allows for very complex document layout and stylings to specified with ease and conciseness.

SVG can represent nearly all vector-based pictorials, including many forms of graphs. Bar charts are easily represented with rectangles, and a pie chart is easily represented as a collection of filled arcs. SVG's scalability allows for these charts to be resized really easily.

PNG images can be used for all other images that aren't best represented using SVG.

PDF is the perfect format for bundling all of those other resources together in a medium that displays on almost any system.

Best of all, those are all open standards, with free implementations available for almost every operating system and platform. There's just no need for this ODF and OOXML bullshit.

Re:Fuck document formats. XHTML and SVG work fine. (2, Funny)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747210)

Except that no one would want to use a JavaScript-powered spreadsheet for anything more advanced that a few simple arithmetic formulas. But sure, as an interchange format it would probably work. Everyone can get their hands on a free standards-compliant browser.

Re:Fuck document formats. XHTML and SVG work fine. (1)

Ghaoth (1196241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747432)

XHTML is a standard. CSS is a standard. PNG is a standard, ODF is a standard. etc. The issue here is that public documents need to be written in an open and globally agreed upon standard, not a proprietary one owned by one or more companies that can revoke or change the standard without consultation and agreement.

Re:Fuck document formats. XHTML and SVG work fine. (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747434)

In case you didn't know, ODF is basically just what you mentioned. If you rename your ODF file to .zip, you can open it and see all those files inside. It doesn't use XHTML, but it does use XML to store the document text and structure. It stores all the style information in another XML document, and it stores all the pictures in a folder called Pictures. All this is wrapped up in a little zip file.

Re:Fuck document formats. XHTML and SVG work fine. (1)

doktor-hladnjak (650513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748384)

Interestingly, this is pretty much what OOXML does too--directories containing XML for text/structure and binary files for images, movies, etc. zipped up and renamed docx/xlsx/pptx.

Re:Fuck document formats. XHTML and SVG work fine. (2, Insightful)

cafelatte (99544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747492)

Ask yourself this question: "Which format would be acceptable by a book publisher?" Books have table of contents, footnotes and indexes. Depending on the typeface size and page width, the footnotes can vary on which page they're on the bottom of. The file formats you mentioned doesn't accommodate this requirement. But you make a good point, those formats should be used more often.

Re:Fuck document formats. XHTML and SVG work fine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747648)

Then use LaTeX or groff. Problem solved, paco.

Re:Fuck document formats. XHTML and SVG work fine. (2, Interesting)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748674)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but there are several issues with the idea you posted.

PDF is a great format for publication, but crap for information exchange. You need some sort of "work format" to do the heavy lifting for you before you can commit the document to its published .pdf form. Regarding that "work format", I'll assume that by "XHTML" you actually meant "XML", since the latter is a general purpose mark-up language, and the former a domain-specific application of the latter, and this whole discussion is overkill if you really meant XHTML, since that is simply not enough for a functional office application format.

XML might have many virtues, but it has one major flaw: It's not a standard. It's a meta-standard. You need a DTD to turn XML into a usable standard to work on -- like XHTML. Guess what, exactly, ODF and OOXML are? Yip, they're at their core just DTDs for specific applications of XML. Funny you should mention SVG for vector graphics: It's just yet another DTD for XML. Effectively, your statement that XML is the solution is in direct contradiction with later saying that OOXML and ODF are unnecessary.

The idea of "powering a spreadsheet with JavaScript" kind of implies that you're going to embed the actual calculation logic in the spreadsheet, rather than just having a formula language. Nice and light -- or perhaps not. As far as I can see, the only other way to read that statement (which is more or less equivalent in performance) is that you're suggesting writing the calculator core (the one single part of the application you'd really really want to write in highly optimized C) in JavaScript, which is really not that good an idea either.

CSS might be quite powerful for the web, but for book formatting I'll stick to TeX, thank you very much. That's just an example of a particular application where CSS is underwhelming compared to the alternatives. I'm not much of a fan of writing a gazillion different standards for slightly different application uses, but using CSS as the baseline layout description language for your whole office document format is a hardcore case of shoehorning.

Finally, and just to nitpick, PNG is really underwhelming for photography and similar image types, where JPEG is far better.

I'm going to send them.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747080)

...about a hundred emails linking to myminicity.com praising OOXML.

Re:I'm going to send them.... (1)

tehniobium (1042240) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747212)

That would be stupid. I don't think "myminicity" are the people who are causing this...its just a friggn user on that page who is spamming the links...to improve his own "city" (i googled it, just to prevent giving him the bonus hit)

If you have something to say...write an email. Otherwise don't...it might count the opposite direction of what you thought it would.

Re:I'm going to send them.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747452)

Why don't you come and post your concerns on my city bulletin [myminicity.com]

Re:I'm going to send them.... (2, Insightful)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747580)

Perhaps because I don't want to encourage a douchebag to work for nothing for a bunch of dataminers?

Re:I'm going to send them.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748294)

You can't get there if you don't have javascript enabled. It's more harmless for those of us using NoScript than any goatse link.

And invent time travel (5, Funny)

kseise (1012927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747084)

Was she required to invent a time machine to meet that deadline? ""In August of 2007, the State of New York passed legislation requiring its CIO, Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, to gather information on the advantages and disadvantages of adopting either ODF or OOXML as a document standard, and to report her findings by 15 January 2007. "

Re:And invent time travel (1)

lord sibn (649162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749448)

Well, if so, then it should come as some consolation to her that no matter how long the job takes her, it can still always be done on time. They should have set the deadline even earlier!

The only thing I want to know.... (1)

leet (1202001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747390)

is when Microsoft is going to stop the shennannigans and start playing ball with the rest of the world.

Can someone tell me when the last time they tried to compete on innovation rather than vendor lock-in?

Can someone make the argument that OOXML is all about document protection for the consumer and not about keeping everyone else on the run?

Can someone tell me that Vista was supposed to make everything better for the USER?

Can someone tell me why I need DRM in my life?

Can someone tell me that C# is open and not proprietary? It only runs on one platform, theirs? How is that better than writing natively? The UI is only for IE with .NET? Why would I want Silverlight over Flash?

Can someone tell me why they took scripting out of the OS?

Can someone explain to me why Steve Ballmer still has a job?

Can someone tell me if they are offering ANYTHING I want? As a user? As a developer?

Can anyone explain what I'm missing here?

I'm sick and tired of them making it unnecessarily difficult to do anything with computers. I know they are a business charged with profitability but is it too much to ask them to solve my problems with real solutions?

Is it too much too ask them to sell me something without a truckload of baggage?

I guess maybe it is.

Re:The only thing I want to know.... (2, Interesting)

ls -la (937805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747564)

is when Microsoft is going to stop the shennannigans and start playing ball with the rest of the world.
When they stop making money off of shenanigans. Innovation takes time and money, it's cheaper to copy other people.

Can someone tell me when the last time they tried to compete on innovation rather than vendor lock-in?
I'm pretty sure that was before I was born.

Can someone make the argument that OOXML is all about document protection for the consumer and not about keeping everyone else on the run?
Probably, but I doubt it would be a very compelling argument.

Can someone tell me that Vista was supposed to make everything better for the USER?
Well, it's supposedly more secure...

Can someone tell me why I need DRM in my life?
I'm sorry, it's not your life. Read the EULA on the last piece of music you heard: "We, the RIAA own your soul. By listening to any music in any form, you agree to this binding contract."

Can someone tell me that C# is open and not proprietary? It only runs on one platform, theirs? How is that better than writing natively? The UI is only for IE with .NET? Why would I want Silverlight over Flash?
Does Microsoft even pretend C# is open? If so, is it covered by any patents (that Java and C don't have prior art on)? And actually, I believe C# runs on all microsoft OSs without recompiling, something they couldn't do without .NET. And I haven't actually seen silverlight, but I haven't heard an argument (convincing or not) to use it.

Can someone tell me why they took scripting out of the OS?
Security, likely.

Can someone explain to me why Steve Ballmer still has a job?
See #1: They're still making money.

Can someone tell me if they are offering ANYTHING I want? As a user? As a developer?
Probably not, but that's why you're using Linux, right?
Actually, they do have DirectX, and with it a lot of games.

Can anyone explain what I'm missing here?
As long as MS is still making a profit, they'll keep doing what they're doing.

I'm sick and tired of them making it unnecessarily difficult to do anything with computers. I know they are a business charged with profitability but is it too much to ask them to solve my problems with real solutions?
Yep. Money is their only motivation.

Is it too much too ask them to sell me something without a truckload of baggage?

I guess maybe it is.
Guess you answered your own question there.

Re:The only thing I want to know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747624)

Most business in the United States use Microsoft Office as their main productivity tool. For them, it is the most cost effective solution, even though it costs alot of money. This is due to the software's own usefulness.

Also, learning asp.net/c# is the best decision I ever made. asp.net/c# allows relative novices to develop scaleable sytems quickly and easily. The ability ot develop scaleable systems quickly and easily is highly coveted.

Personally I wish the OSS software camp all the luck in the world. Nobody likes Microsoft's vendor lockin bullshit, especially people that use it alot. We just put up with it because their software is still often the best thing available.(excluding Vista)

Re:The only thing I want to know.... (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747942)

I can't see an argument for Windows (any version) being more useful than another OS except that more people use it and more people write software for it.

Re:The only thing I want to know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748496)

I can't see an argument for Windows (any version) being more useful than another OS except that more people use it and more people write software for it.

You perfectly summed up why the masses will continue to use it. That's pretty much all the general public needs from an OS.

That's pretty much all I want in an OS now, too. The old college days of compiling drivers and configuring X were fun & all, but c'mon.

Re:The only thing I want to know.... (1)

th3rmite (938737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748342)

Can someone tell me that C# is open and not proprietary? It only runs on one platform, theirs? How is that better than writing natively?

I'm no MS fan but check this link Mono [mono-project.com]

Re:The only thing I want to know.... (1)

ekhben (628371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748484)

*cracks knuckles* Ok!

  1. is when Microsoft is going to stop the shennannigans and start playing ball with the rest of the world.
    When it's no longer profitable to play shenanigans. Which has two fewer 'n's in it, by the way... Firefox has an auto spell checker built right in these days, y'know.
  2. Can someone tell me when the last time they tried to compete on innovation rather than vendor lock-in?
    The XBOX line of products, off the top of my head.
  3. Can someone make the argument that OOXML is all about document protection for the consumer and not about keeping everyone else on the run?
    I'm sure someone could make the argument, but it'd be horse shit.
  4. Can someone tell me that Vista was supposed to make everything better for the USER?
    You're mistaking Microsoft's users for Microsoft's customers. MS sold Vista to media producers.
  5. Can someone tell me why I need DRM in my life?
    Want to watch recent release movies?
  6. Can someone tell me that C# is open and not proprietary? It only runs on one platform, theirs? How is that better than writing natively? The UI is only for IE with .NET? Why would I want Silverlight over Flash?
    Hmm, lots of questions! C# is open. The CLR is open. Microsoft's extensions for Win32 are proprietary. I've built and run C# code on Mac OS X and Linux. It's not better than writing natively, of course, but it looks better on paper, just like Java. I don't know, what UI? You would want Silverlight over Flash because it's got more accessible developer tools. I couldn't say why you'd want Flash over almost any other solution, though.
  7. Can someone tell me why they took scripting out of the OS?
    Microsoft's OSes have had scripting since the days of DOS. They're called batch files. They're pretty limited compared to a UNIX shell, I'll grant you, but they exist.
  8. Can someone explain to me why Steve Ballmer still has a job?
    Microsoft is still making money hand over fist and showing no signs of slowing.
  9. Can someone tell me if they are offering ANYTHING I want? As a user? As a developer?
    No-one but you can answer that.
  10. Can anyone explain what I'm missing here?
    Ten years' life experience and the healthy dose of pragmatism that will lend you.
  11. I'm sick and tired of them making it unnecessarily difficult to do anything with computers. I know they are a business charged with profitability but is it too much to ask them to solve my problems with real solutions?
    Alas, yes, you're a minority market with low profitability margins.
  12. Is it too much too ask them to sell me something without a truckload of baggage?
    They can't charge you through the roof for simple solutions.
  13. I guess maybe it is.
    Yeah. Oh well.

Re:The only thing I want to know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748796)

Can someone tell me when the last time they tried to compete on innovation rather than vendor lock-in?
The XBOX line of products, off the top of my head.
I always got the impression that video game systems won and lost based on games you can play on them rather than on the characteristics of the system.

About the whole issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747394)

Microsoft "Standard" is crap, real crap, why? i just tried to generate a spreadsheet in excel from C# for a customer, it *don't work* i tried to open in Excel 2003 and it don't work(only read-only workbook(crap), only in certain versions of the product), in the end the only solution was generate the xls with Interop. This is the way microsoft works, upgrade to Excel 2007!. The ODF standard is the way to go, i don't know about the final outcome of the standarization process, but... try to show your bosses why develop using ODF!, develop translators from ODF to Excel 2007 via Microsoft Office API's!, the final outcome is not which standard is approved by ISO, is which standard you use for everyday work.

Cleveland in the dark (1)

Takichi (1053302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747508)

I think someone should notify Cleveland [cleveland.oh.us] that Melodie is the CIO of New York now.

And thus spake the pedant (1)

gone_bush (578354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747560)

report her findings by 15 January 2007
Jeeves, break-out the Time Machine

Re:And thus spake the pedant (3, Funny)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747766)

She has OS 10.5, so no worries.

Group submissions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21747646)

I think that slashdot.org people should submit their response as a group. It may be viewed as a bit biased, but slashdot is still a well known forum. The S/D admins will be viewed as they know a thing or two.

I also suggest that some work be put into few of the submissions, i.e. doing the work of the her. That's what your counterpart M$ will be doing. There is a saying (in medicine) that if you know the literature well you can defend almost any case (or decision). Placing the right arguments for this case would make a huge difference.

Oh, Come Now (5, Funny)

Vengance Daemon (946173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747688)

Think about it: New York, politics, Microsoft's money, the need for an objective decision. It is just so cute that everyone on Slashdot is discussing this seriously and talking about sending comments in; I wish I had a camera.

Re:Oh, Come Now (4, Funny)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747784)

Try the "Print Screen" key.

New York, who cares what they think! (1)

link5280 (1141253) | more than 6 years ago | (#21747992)

Who cares what CIO Mayberry-Stewart decides? Standards are decided by international committees and not by individual states within a country. The future of OOXML and it becoming a standard rests with the ISO. Even then the ISO has published many standards that just sit on the shelf and are never implemented by anyone. Standardization doesn't equal adoption!

You do (4, Insightful)

Titoxd (1116095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748422)

You answered your own question. Standardization does not equal adoption, but the State of New York is asking its CIO which format it should adopt. PDF became popular and a de-facto standard before ISO 32000 was approved, so it is important to note that a government is asking for public comment about which format to implement, regardless of ISO status.

pdf (1)

osssmkatz (734824) | more than 6 years ago | (#21748138)

anything you print can be made into a pdf with all the formatting exactly retained from the original. I also like RTF.. remember that? Word actually saves into it, rather well, although MS uses curly quotes to screw other competitors' translators up.. I got the idea for PDF because Sun Microsystems has new server software that will convert several formats into PDF, including I assume word and wordperfect.

--Sam

The date is wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748476)

If you actually RTFA, the report is due on January 15, 2008, not 2007.

Slashdot editors, can you please fix this already?

Holy crap - read the survey (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21748874)

Has anyone actually read this survey?

It sounds like these folks have done their homework.

Check out Part 2.

I know I am going to write (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749064)

Dear New York,

I would like it realy realy much if you would use Microsoft one, because that would help my cause much better. As we have a history together, I am sure you will do this.

O. B. Laden

Then IF they select for Microsoft you can suddenly 'produce' the email/letter and those who choose for Microsoft will be send to Guantanamo and be an example for the rest of the USofA.

Who actually uses it already? (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21749316)

I realize the truly open standard isn't widely adopted, either, but at least you can point to a couple northern European provinces which are taking it seriously.

I mean, is there anyone so masochistic that they have actually already adopted OOXML?
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