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RTF Vs. OOXML

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the already-extinguished dept.

Microsoft 141

Rob Weir has an interesting essay comparing the viciousness of RTF and OOXML: "The [document format standard] concerns of 2004 (or 1995 even) are very similar to the concerns of 2007... 'RTF is defined as whatever Word saves when you ask it to save as RTF.' This should sound familiar. OOXML is nothing more than the preferences of Microsoft Office. Whenever Word changes, OOXML will change. And if you are a user or competitor of Word, you will be the last one to hear about these changes. The coding of Office 14 a.k.a. Office 2009 is well underway. Beta releases are expected in early 2008. But are file format changes needed to accommodate the new features being discussed in Ecma? No. Are they being discussed in ISO? No. Are they being discussed anywhere publicly? No. By owning the 'standard' and developing it in secret, in an Ecma rubber-stamp process, Microsoft rigs the system so they can author an ISO standard with which they are effortlessly compatible, while at the same time ensuring that their products maintain an insurmountable head start in implementing these same standards. Is this how an open standard is developed?"

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141 comments

well, not effortlessly (4, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 6 years ago | (#21893970)

Up front disclaimer: This article has a tangible odor of troll, so don't blame me and the other posters for responding in kind (flamebait, troll, offtopic, etc.)

FTS:

By owning the 'standard' and developing it in secret, in an Ecma rubber-stamp process, Microsoft rigs the system so they can author an ISO standard with which they are effortlessly compatible

I wouldn't say this is entirely true (effortless) on Microsoft's part. Any user of any Microsoft product is well aware of how difficult it is to work in and out of various new vs. old formats. Yes, even Microsoft has a difficult time being compatible and interoperable with Microsoft (actually, I seem to have better luck overall with interoperability using OpenOffice...).

And, also FTS:

Is this how an open standard is developed?

Actually no, usually Microsoft takes an existing open standard (e.g., sockets), implements it poorly (winsock), and puts it everywhere (95,98, NT, XP, etc.) forcing the technical community to re-adopt the standard in Microsoft's cast.

Re:well, not effortlessly (4, Insightful)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894128)

Any user of any Microsoft product is well aware of how difficult it is to work in and out of various new vs. old formats.

You'd think that, wouldn't you? Actually, my experience is that users are blissfully ignorant about document incompatibilities caused by any software (not particular to Microsoft). Today, I received an email from a friend of mine asking how she could open a .rm file on her Apple. I was more surprised that some people still use that format. However, it was required listening (viewing?) for one of her courses.

In this case I fault the professor of that course, but how many times do you get people that say it's your fault when you can't open a document they said. After all, it works on their machines.

Re:well, not effortlessly (1)

elronxenu (117773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894270)

OpenCourseWare?

I tried to view a video from that just the other day and what they sent was a .rm file. Why can't they provide an mpeg or AVI encoding?

Re:well, not effortlessly (1, Offtopic)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894368)

AVI is a just as proprietary as rm if not more so.
With Helix you can have an FOSS program that can read rm files.
Yes Mpeg would be more open.

Re:well, not effortlessly (1, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894490)

In theory VC-1 is the "open" descendant of AVI. It is part of both the Blu-Ray and the HD DVD spec, and roughly equivalent to WMP9's file format. It's kind of interesting that no one talks about needing to read VC-1, while there are zillions of MP4 players and even quite a few AVI players.

Re:well, not effortlessly (2)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894800)

avi is a container format. It can contain pretty much anything, including Theora. For the moment, I recommend encoding in H264 and you can put it in an avi container. Not a problem at all.

Getting a decoder for that is pretty much painless...

Re:well, not effortlessly (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895094)

AVI is a just as proprietary as rm if not more so.
With Helix you can have an FOSS program that can read rm files.
Yes Mpeg would be more open.
A OGM or MKV container that uses Vorbis for audio streams and Theora for video would be considered a 100% open format. MPEG, Realmedia codecs and their containers, less so.

Re:well, not effortlessly (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894608)

I didn't ask what the context was. I had not much other choice than to point her to RealPlayer (which worked). I would have pointed her to Real Alternative, but I didn't know of such a program for Mac OS X. (VideoLAN seemed not to have a implementation yet either)

Re:well, not effortlessly (2, Interesting)

krazytekn0 (1069802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894846)

Becuase still, somehow our schools know next to nothing about the value of open standards. Microsoft word viewer is "required" by my college but it would be fairer to say that MS Office 07 is really what all the Profs are trying to "require". I turn in pdf's and at least one instructor asks for a word document every semester.

Re:well, not effortlessly (2, Interesting)

Inda (580031) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895662)

I know this isn't ask slashdot but couldn't she have just uploaded it to YouTube and got them to convert it?

Re:well, not effortlessly (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895848)

Frankly, that solution didn't even occur to me. Would it work? I don't know. Clever idea, nevertheless. Try it out if you have a .ra file lying around. I most certainly do not have one.

However, many people don't even know how youtube works either. An acquaintance of my wife tried to send a huge movie for New Years wishes by email. Not surprisingly it bounced and by accident she got me on the phone and I tried to explain that huge attachemts aren't a good idea and that she should just put it on youtube. I even was willing to walk her through the process by phone. She didn't want to.

Re:well, not effortlessly (5, Informative)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894202)

You know, if the only item I had to compare formats with was MS and applications trying to be MS, I might have come to your conclusion.

However, you should look to older and other standards. HTML - 4 versions and all of them work seamlessly together, although newer versions may not have the pizazz in older renderers. WordPerfect and WordStar, good examples of how file formats don't have to break backwards compatibility from what I recall.

As for winsock, that was a poor port of the BSD socket stack. Actually, it's a really poor port. Multicast still doesn't work, and if it did, an entire set of applications could occur with much lower traffic on the internet. (Think IPTV, IPRadio, and other streaming type applications)

Re:well, not effortlessly (3, Interesting)

Androne (656820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896194)

As for winsock, that was a poor port of the BSD socket stack. Actually, it's a really poor port. Multicast still doesn't work, and if it did, an entire set of applications could occur with much lower traffic on the internet. (Think IPTV, IPRadio, and other streaming type applications)
Multicast still wouldn't work since the vast majority (at least here in Canada) of ISPs filter multicast packets because they think they are the same as broadcast packets and thus increase network traffic, I know about this since I worked on a project that had used multicast data transmission for communication and it worked on the local area network (a win2k network) but not when we tried to do it over the internet.

Like I said it turned out the ISP was filtering multicast and several told us they had no intention of turning it on because it increased network load. We explained that the difference in broadcast and multicast and that multicast would effectively lighter it they wouldn't believe us. This was my experience here in Canada 5- 6 years ago.

I will admit this was 6 years ago and things could have changed but I doubt it, ISPs in Canada tend to stagnation at times, it works so leave it alone. To use multicast you had to use Winsock 2.2 if I recall correctly, and we did see a tremendous benefit the network load on our project was greatly reduced.

Re:well, not effortlessly (2, Interesting)

kanweg (771128) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894296)

"I wouldn't say this is entirely true (effortless) on Microsoft's part. Any user of any Microsoft product is well aware of how difficult it is to work in and out of various new vs. old formats. Yes, even Microsoft has a difficult time being compatible and interoperable with Microsoft"

The problem is mainly caused by trying to develop a convoluted standard to make it difficult to create a standard that is difficult for others to figure out AND then understand your own convoluted standard and how to make it compatible with your previous convoluted standard which others already deciphered for a major part.

Bert

Re:well, not effortlessly (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894436)

By owning the 'standard' and developing it in secret, in an Ecma rubber-stamp process, Microsoft rigs the system so they can author an ISO standard with which they are effortlessly compatible
I wouldn't say this is entirely true (effortless) on Microsoft's part. Any user of any Microsoft product is well aware of how difficult it is to work in and out of various new vs. old formats
I think the "accusation" of it being effortless for Microsoft was not in relation to backwards-compatibility, but rather that Microsoft's new products are effortlessly compatible with Microsoft's new standards, for the simple reason that they become the definition of the standard.

If, for instance, Office 2009 has several bugs with respect to how it renders OOXML, then these bugs will actually become part of the de facto OOXML standard. Anyone who wants to implement the "standard" will have to reproduce those bugs in order to appear to be "the same as MS Office." This is the same problem the Wine team has when re-implementing the Windows API: they actually have to deviate from the established API documentation and reproduce Windows bugs since Windows applications rely on these bugs.

If you let a "standard" (like OOXML) be tied to a specific implementation of the standard, then anyone who wants to re-implement the standard must make the tough choice between being true to the letter of the standard (as written) or the de facto standard as embodied in the dominant implementation. We saw with IE's buggy implementation of HTML the problems this can cause, and are only now pulling ourselves out of that particular mess.

The problem is that Microsoft can alter the OOXML "standard" to their heart's content simply by changing the way MS Office works in future versions. Documented or not, those changes will effortlessly become "the new standard" by virtue of their dominant market position.

Re: New File Formats (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894998)

Will the next version decide to save as ".doc9"?

Between the file format change and the GUI change it feels like entirely different App co-branded by MS.

Re:well, not effortlessly (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894542)

Up front disclaimer: This article has a tangible odor of troll, so don't blame me and
the other posters for responding in kind (flamebait, troll, offtopic,
etc.)

I wouldn't call it completely a troll. It's more like calling a spade a spade.

Open standards should be things that are discussed in open before they are finalized.

OOXML and RTF are documentation of the habits of an office suite. And habits can be broken.

Re:well, not effortlessly (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896760)

I didn't realise RTF was a Microsoft product.. for some reason I had considered it open just because I've seen it in most applications I've used. I recently told someone to use it when she got a new laptop that didnt have office on it, and needed to write an essay at short notice. Her teacher then added notes to it which didnt show up in Wordpad, but showed up when I opened the document in Word (which I then saved as HTML so that she could see the notes..!). Anyway, since I don't use any stuff like tracking document changes and that kind of crap, then I think RTF does the job for most documents... does graphics, tables, even lets you add in comments, yada yada.. personally I just use plain text in most files, but then I'm not some marketing droid who feels the need to make things look pretty..

Re:well, not effortlessly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894702)

Actually no, usually Microsoft takes an existing open standard (e.g., sockets), implements it poorly (winsock), and puts it everywhere (95,98, NT, XP, etc.) forcing the technical community to re-adopt the standard in Microsoft's cast.
Oh? What's wrong with Winsock? It had asynchronous sockets ahead of its time. What changes did it force on anyone else?

Re:well, not effortlessly (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895474)

See, for example, here [tangentsoft.net] . It was similar enough to bsd sockets that Microsoft could claim "compatibility", and sufficiently different that in practice you had to re-write all your code.

It's not the standard, stupids (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21895086)

This whole "document standards war" is, once again, a phyrric war started by FOSSies. Much like Browser War II, or The Kernel War, or the "TEH MIKKKR0$$$L0TH IS A TEH MONOPOLULISK!!!!" meme. It's just something the FOSSies do which accomplishes nothing, and Microsoft simply shrugs off the attack and continues making successful software.

The FOSSies need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and ask themselves why that is. Is it really Microsoft's fault that Teh Lunix only has a .63% market share? Really? Can you honestly say MS is somehow holding consumers at gunpoint to force Teh Lunix to have a user base which is below the statistical margin of error?

Or is the truth simply something the FOSSies would rather not believe, which is that consumers actually prefer Microsoft's products? I used to hate MS Office, but at my current job I had to actually do a bit of document support (I had only done nuts-and-bolts application support for MS Office in past jobs). But once I understood the 'logic' used in the application's design, I actually liked it. Sure, it's not amazingly easy to do stuff without that knowledge, but once you understand how the application does and doesn't work, it's really pretty good.

Now with Windows... most people want to be able to have a platform where they can just pick up whatever software they impulse buy, be it at Best Buy, or CostCo, or WalMart, or wherever. Most people don't care about what OS they use exactly, they just want it to work. But the FOSSies keep saying "oh well, you just run Teh Lunix, and spend a few hours getting the video to display, then a few hours getting networking to work, and a few hours manually changing config files so you can get WINE to work... and then you can replace Windows! Well you know what? An average user doesn't want to spend ten hours setting up Teh Lunix, and probably would have no idea ever where to start in the first place. But that's because they don't have an irrational hate of all things Microsoft fueling them to go to those lengths- they just take the path of least resistance, which is using Windows, because it just works. And they don't even have to spend 30 mintues installing it, but can if they want to... and it will just work when it's done.

Finally, there's the "Browser War II". Which is over... a web browser. Which is just a window you open to go to a web page. Excitement. Most computer users don't even understand what a browser is. They call it "the internet". So are you honestly expecting anyone to get fired up about using a browser which doesn't come with the OS? And more importantly... are you really trying to say a modern operating system should ship without a web browser?

The problem with FOSSies is they don't care about choice, because if they did, they would stop complaining about the choices consumers are making every single day. What these Stallmanistas are really about is forcing their own choices onto consumers, since consumers don't care about FOSS or many other pieces of software. Opera can't even beat Firefox, but now they want to legislate Microsoft into distributing Opera? That's insane.

My advise to Teh FOSSies: stop worrying about what Microsoft is doing, and focus on what you guys are doing. Make software which people actually seek out and use. If you guys actually made Open Orifice into something desirable, maybe people would use it. Work on the UI design and functionality. If your software is SO good that it can ACTUALLY compete with MS Office... then worry about your standard.

But this strategy of trying to force your own standard onto Microsoft is really kind of a failure. You guys need to stop trying to make the tail wag the dog.

Re:It's not the standard, stupids (1)

kismet666 (653742) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895218)

Well put, I think its hypocritcal and unconstructive to try to undermine Microsoft through the courts, legislation, and standards bodies. All of these underhanded tactics will come back to haunt FOSS, IBM, and everyone else using them because new competitors will adopt the same tactics rather than creating something truly better than the leading technology. These are dangerous precedents that hinder inovation and creativity.

Re:It's not the standard, stupids (2, Informative)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896448)

I came here to ridicule the people who tagged this article "flamebait", who, in their delicate minds, confuse righteous anger and unabashed criticism with meaningless name-calling. The article is factual and its point is razor sharp. Since when are we worried about hurting Microsoft's self-esteem?

Now, my post and the above is more accurately accessed as "flamebait". His point is lost inside a wall of meandering text, which is really just a a vehicle for his ineffectual expression of contempt for "FOSSies". Here's some advice - don't hide like you're afraid of losing your precious karma, and don't be so stupidly wrong. If you want evidence of consumer choices and Microsoft's growing irrelevance, look at the list here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/pc/ [amazon.com]

Re:It's not the standard, stupids (1)

zish (174783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896500)

It's a lot less about 'FOSSies' mentality that you think.

It's not about forcing a standard onto Microsoft. It's more about having a standard with publicly available documentation that anyone can adopt or use. Having Microsoft (or any private entity for that matter) be the primary controller of a standard will definitely create a climate where Microsoft gets the upper hand. This is the entire reason that standards consortiums are created. I, personally, would have no issue if Microsoft were to create a standards consortium for it's OOXML, as long as other organizations could be directly involved as well. Anything less is definitely anti-competitive.

To me, it makes no sense to force a proprietary format, or an 'open standard' that is controlled by a single private organization on the general public. One could make the argument that the standard may be created without Microsoft's involvement. The unfortunate problem is that any standard created this way wouldn't be adopted. Make no mistake, Microsoft has the market share, and this is almost entirely due to the fact that many new computers come pre-installed with Windows/Office (This is also the reason that Vista will become the OS leader despite it's many shortcomings). All Microsoft has to do is not adopt the open standard, and push it's own formats.

Imagine, for instance, if you had to purchase wrenches and screwdrivers of different form-factors for each and every different car manufacturer. Or more appropriately, what if there was no HTML standard? Imagine having to purchase software (or an API/Protocol Stack) for each internet document server out there.

Re:It's not the standard, stupids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896910)

I mostly agree with what you've said, but using phrases like "Teh Lunix" or "M$" or "Micro$oft Winblows" or my favorite "Internet Exploder" work against your argument. When you use those terms you come off like a rabid teenager. The people who come in to the post disagreeing with you will be insulted, and the people who are undecided/in between will disregard you as a fanboy or idealogue. It alienates the people who could be swayed by your thoughts on the subject. I guess that would be ok if the only thing you wanted to do was to preach to the choir, but in a real discussion the point is to exchange ideas with people who have a different viewpoint than you. I wish it would just stop.

Also, it isn't even clever. Do the people who write "M$" every time they mention Microsoft really think they're being funny or witty by calling attention to the fact that Microsoft has a lot of money?

Re:well, not effortlessly (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895358)

Yes, even Microsoft has a difficult time being compatible and interoperable with Microsoft


And this is supposed to indicate the difficulty of adhering to principles of backward compatibility? Or the flaws of the design process used by Microsoft?

Re:well, not effortlessly (4, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896020)

That's really not the case.

In fact, look up how it went down for Word95 and Windows 98.
Word violated the api standards but was given the "approved" mark anyway.
Corel which followed the standards was much slower.

Microsoft cheats all the time. They are commensurate scammers.

Sometimes, it feels like the world is crazy because no one seems to recall things like
1) specifically checking if DR Dos was installed- and if so give a hard installation failure.
2) "Dos isn't done until Lotus won't run"
3) Doublestac
4) The entire "95" certification scandal.
5) The *numerous* partnerships where they robbed every bit of technology from the technology partner and then brought out a competing product.
6) The numerous times that they added a 50 to 60% functional but "free" version of something of a competitor's product to the operating system.

and so many more examples like this.

They are extremely competitive scammers. Which is okay if you own their stock. But not okay if you want to do something for the common good like standard.

Re:well, not effortlessly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896620)

Sometimes, it feels like the world is crazy because no one seems to recall things like 1) specifically checking if DR Dos was installed- and if so give a hard installation failure. 2) "Dos isn't done until Lotus won't run" 3) Doublestac 4) The entire "95" certification scandal. 5) The *numerous* partnerships where they robbed every bit of technology from the technology partner and then brought out a competing product. 6) The numerous times that they added a 50 to 60% functional but "free" version of something of a competitor's product to the operating system.
Can you provide links with more details on the first four?

Re:well, not effortlessly (2, Informative)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897214)

Dos isn't done...
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22dos+isn't+done+until+lotus%22&btnG=Search [google.com]

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=microsoft+stac+lawsuit&btnG=Search [google.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stac_Electronics [wikipedia.org]
Stac executives were outraged, as Microsoft had previously been in discussions with Stac to license its compression technology, and had discussions with Stac engineers and examined Stac's code as part of the due diligence process.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=%22microsoft+stole%22+technology+partners+stole+stac&spell=1 [google.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Microsoft [wikipedia.org]
Burst.com, which claims that Microsoft stole Burst's patented technology for delivering high speed streaming sound and video content on the internet.

Caldera, which accused Microsoft of having modified Windows 3.1 so that it would not run on DR DOS 6 although there was no technical reason for it not to work.[64] Some claim that Microsoft put encrypted code in five otherwise unrelated Microsoft programs in order to prevent the functioning of DR DOS in pre-releases (beta versions) of Windows 3.1.[65] Microsoft settled out-of-court for an undisclosed sum.

Spyglass, which licensed its browser to Microsoft in return for a percentage of each sale; Microsoft turned the browser into Internet Explorer and bundled it with Windows, giving it away to gain market share but effectively destroying any chance of Spyglass making money from the deal they had signed with Microsoft; Spyglass sued for deception and won a $8 million settlement.[67]

I can't find any mention of the Corel wordperfect vs Word95 thing any more. I guess 1995 was almost pre-internet. It was well known at the time tho.

lol words -1 troll for the fucking win (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894030)

I like to smack fat aspergers indians with ftying pans! I outsource their children to tokyo wheir they put drawing pins up their anuses and inject heroin and sarin gas into them!

Too much internet... (2, Funny)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894052)

It's official, I've been on the internet way too much. I saw "RTF Vs. OOXML" with just a quick glance and read it as some new, bizarre acronym like "ROFLCOPTOR".

Re:Too much internet... (0, Offtopic)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894312)

High on some illegal substance you might think:
Raid The Fucking Vorgon[s] Or Orangutan Xylophones Might Laugh!

Or when you go to start one of them high end raids and you see it it means:
Raiding The Fridge, Voices Off, Oreo Kisses My Lovely.

Slashdot browsing:
Really Taco, Fucking View Stories Or Old Xerces Maky Love

I had another one, but it was really cruel, began with Rape, the V was well related to that and it ended disturbingly.

Draft OpenISO.org "Problem Report" entry (4, Informative)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894058)

Is this how an open standard is developed?

No.

Here's a copy of the draft OpenISO.org [openiso.org] "Problem Report" entry for this issue:

Microsoft's attempt to essentially unilaterally dictate office document standards is an abuse of their dominant position

Problem description:

Normally standardization is conducted by means all interested parties participating in a discussion of the desired features, so that all interested parties have an essentially equal opportunity to develop products implementing the standard.

By contrast, OOXML is simply documentation of the document format that Microsoft's products already use, and there is no indication that Microsoft would intend to make the details about future versions of OOXML available to competitors before Microsoft is ready to release their own implementation of the new features for public beta testing.

Expected impact:

To the extent that OOXML is accepted as a standard, all of Microsoft's competitors will be encumbered with a permanent economic disadvantage.

Possible solution:

Reject all claims about OOXML in some way being a standard, and take legal action, on the basis of national and international competition law, against Microsoft as well as against Ecma and all other organizations which are guilty of aiding and abetting Microsoft's anticompetitive actions.

Re:Draft OpenISO.org "Problem Report" entry (2, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894386)

To be fair, ODF started out as a documentation of the 'StarOffice XML' format. And it still pretty much is, although changes were made late in the process to further ensure document portability and to improve multilingual support. OTOH, OOo will always follow the standard rather than define the standard. A standard isn't defined by one product, it is something that products follow.

I don't understand why this is so hard for people to understand.

Re:Draft OpenISO.org "Problem Report" entry (1)

jafoc (1151405) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894764)

To be fair, ODF started out as a documentation of the 'StarOffice XML' format.

True. And that is in fact a legitimate starting point for the process of developing a standard. Of course back when it was just the 'StarOffice XML' format, no-one insisted on pushing it down everyone's throat as an international standard. Rather, Sun got all interested parties together, and a real standard was developed by means of requesting and taking under consideration everyone's input on needed changes.

OOo will always follow the standard rather than define the standard. A standard isn't defined by one product, it is something that products follow.

Yes, exactly.

I don't understand why this is so hard for people to understand.

Effective propaganda: The "open" in OOXML's name together with the OOXML specification being called a "standard" by Ecma, etc. We all suffer from information overload and are not able to think though and reach the stage of true understanding regarding all issues. In the absence of any well-known credible and truly objective authorities on the issue, we should not be surprised by the effectiveness of Microsoft's propaganda.

Polar Oposites. M$ Must Be Destroyed. (1, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894934)

To be fair, ODF started out as a documentation of the 'StarOffice XML' format. And it still pretty much is

That would be fair if M$ Word were developed in public as free software. It's not, which is why RTF, DOC and now OOXML (aka MSXML) were not and will not ever be standards that other people can use. They never were and never will be fully documented. The MSXML saga is proof positive that M$ has no intentions of playing nice, is still at war with reasonable standards and will to commit any crime to win. If you want a change just use software, where everything really is documented.

The openness of the process is the key (4, Insightful)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895436)

To be fair, ODF started out as a documentation of the 'StarOffice XML' format. And it still pretty much is, although changes were made late in the process to further ensure document portability and to improve multilingual support.


But the key point is that the whole process was open.
The ODF standard was designed by an comitee (OASIS), where several of the various office suite maker collaborate.
The procedure has been openly documented and everyone was able to know what was being done.
The standard was available "in advance" of the products, not the other way around. The standard will be followed by the various maker as you said.

The critics made to microsoft in TFA are that Microsoft is designing the standard alone without consulting the concurrence or even letting them know what they are doing.
The next iteration of OOXML is probably going to be made available "afterward" : they're going to first build MSOffice 14 and then publish "What we've done new in MSOffice 2010" or some other king of list of modification they did (notice past tense) to the standart. As you say, it's the product which will define de standard.

Yes, in both case the standard are published.
Yes, in both case they started life as internal representation of specific softwares.

BUT, OOXML is still an internal representation of word, and is best defined as "whatever the next version of word spills when you hit "Save" ", if Office change, OOXML will change with nobody knowing it in advance and being able to take part into the process. Want to make cross-operating software ? Please wait until Microsoft takes their next product to the market and makes it mind about what they'll throw next into it. Too bad that this will introduce delays into your own product.

The "standard" is still a moving target, the only difference with reverse engineering is that nobody needs to decypher cryptic binary data but only read 1700 pages, appart from that it's the same "play catch up".

WHEREAS ODF has been beated into a standard by a body where different vendors/makers could give their opinion and everyone can be informed of potential modification of the standard as it's a public procedure.
Want to take part in the development of the next standard ? You can !
Want to write software compatible with it ? Just stick to what is published in the ISO standard no need to track a single specific vendor and it's proprietary product.

ODF may be a bad standard for some people but it's still an OPEN standard, as in "the procedure of the creation of this standard was open".
OOXML is just a "we let you read the text we print to document what we've thrown in Office 2010" closed standard.

I don't understand why this is so hard for people to understand.


Yup. I agree with you.
Must probably all the noise comming from Microsoft's marketing department "But see, our is a standard too : we publish the specs too !!!"

Re:Draft OpenISO.org "Problem Report" entry (1)

velen (1198819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895656)

Microsoft is the market leader in the office suite applications arena for a good reason. Their creativity cannot be stifled by a standards committee. However, this also means that they can't pretend to have an open standard as a file format when they aren't.

The only thing that needs to happen is to reject the idea of OOXML as a standard until Microsoft is able to demonstrate transparency and consistency across at least three or so releases of their office suite. PDF didn't become a standard overnight. It has matured over time. The same needs to happen with OOXML.

RTF Vs. OOXML (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894068)

I think I could beat OOXML, if I took a few weeks to train up with some old kung fu movies beforehand.

-- RTF

Re:RTF Vs. OOXML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894328)

Be sure to rent the boxing ring yourself and call them a bunch of names. Wallow in your ego-driven angst for a while.

You need a montage! (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895448)

You wouldn't even need a few weeks if you used a proper training montage. Those only take like five minutes.

Re:RTF Vs. OOXML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21897032)

Too bad you're not a Ruby on Rails coder.

Help organize problem reports on OOXML (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894112)

It's definitely important that those who agree that OOXML is not a good standard should help organize a list of problems that can be easily seen by the members of the upcoming ISO OOXML ballot meeting in February 2008 and all the Internet in general.

OpenISO.org [openiso.org] , an independent open organization much inspired by slashdot, is planning to include the issue of this post [openiso.org] in the problem report document produces in its OpenISO.org Review of OOXML. [openiso.org] OpenISO.org is asking for help [openiso.org] to organize the comments of your country in a wiki at http://f29500.openiso.org./ [f29500.openiso.org]

Please have a look at all the problem reports at http://f29500.openiso.org/ [openiso.org] and help to include more and organize the ones already included, even if only one or two. The more documented and organized the OOXML problems are for discussion in an easy accessible manner, the less likely it will be accepted as a standard.

ps: I'm not associated in any way with openiso.org, it just seems to be the right thing to do.

NNP vs. IHNRBS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894114)

No-Niggers Protocol vs. the I Hate Niggers Real Bad System, the TCP vs. UDP of our era.

The article talks about something else! (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894272)

The headline says "RTF vs OOXML" so one would think that the writer is outlining the weaknesses and strengths of the two. But the linked article appears to show how the RTF failed to solve interoperability problems or concerns in its time.

My suggestion: Get a better title for the slashdot piece. How about "OOXML will not work just like RTF failed."

Re:The article talks about something else! (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894380)

Not exactly. TFA is saying that RTF was the de facto "format of file exchange" between word processors like Word and Word Perfect; and that if OOXML becomes the new medium of exchange that we have another generation of Microsoft-format-change-whim to look forward to.

planet/population rescue vs. 'living' in the dark (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894302)

no contest, really.

if the 'options' do not suit you, consider just following the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn. anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile;

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

RIP George McDonald Fraser (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894332)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Flashman author George McDonald Fraser was found dead in his home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to historical fiction. Truly an English icon.

Acronyms in headlines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894372)

Seriously, I was hoping for an article about ROTFL vs. LOL or maybe OMG vs. RTFM
C'mon... basic journalism 101 says the headlines should be understandable by a third grader. You can put the acronyms into the body (summary), but good grief not in the headline.
I have a vague idea about what OOXML is, but not RTF

Re:Acronyms in headlines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894522)

please hand in your geek card at the exit. thanks.

Re:Acronyms in headlines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894972)

I have a vague idea about what OOXML is, but not RTF
This website is not meant for you. Go away.

Re:Acronyms in headlines? (3, Funny)

mcpkaaos (449561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896208)

I have a vague idea about what OOXML is, but not RTF

Imagine hell with more backslashes.

Standardize RTF first (0, Offtopic)

filbranden (1168407) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894396)

I think if Microsoft really wanted to promote interoperabillity they should standardize RTF first and then OOXML.

After all, RTF is here since Word '95 (and maybe even before), and as far as I can tell, it hasn't changed since. It's a stable format (which OOXML isn't at all). It's already supported by virtually all products on the market. It's text based, it's simple (contrary to the binary formats).

If Microsoft is really concerned about interoperabillity, they should have published the full specs of RTF and pushed for standardization a long time ago.

However, as they're pushing for the standardization of OOXML, an unstable format that even they don't implement, with dubious IP concerns, with unspecified features, I think that says a lot about what they're trying to accomplish, and interoperabillity it certainly isn't.

Re:Standardize RTF first (3, Interesting)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894964)

Microsoft's published RTF specs for a quite some time now -- the latest version of the spec is 1.9 and you can download it from Microsoft [microsoft.com] in your choice of binary .doc or MS-OOXML .docx, sorry no .rtf!

The spec is actually not bad, though the continued efforts to shoehorn in new features gets a little laughable. Here's an example of an RTF-reencoded XML tag from the spec:

{\*\xmlopen\xmlns0\xmlsdttpara{\xmlname Title}}}{\rtlch\fcs1 \af0 \ltrch\fcs0
\insrsid1978110 \hich\af0\dbch\af11\loch\f0 Atlas Shrugged}{\rtlch\fcs1 \af0
\ltrch\fcs0 \insrsid136785 {\*\xmlclose}}

As far as I know they've never tried to have RTF ratified by any standards body, but it's still very widely used. People have a lot of files named .doc around that are actually RTFs, and some word processors (AbiWord for one) actually use .doc-named RTFs as their "Word" format, since, having a spec, it's a lot easier to write than the binary .doc format. By design, old Word versions and non-Word software ignore any tags they don't understand, and I'd guess that most modern third-party RTF parsers and encoders are designed around the 2000 RTF spec (version 1.6) without all the new stuff.

Re:Standardize RTF first (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21895476)

It is important to remember that the whole point of TFA is that MS only publishes the documentation *after* they have implemented it, so there's no time for competition to come up with similar products in the same timeframe, MS is always ahead by definition. 'RTF is defined as whatever Word saves when you ask it to save as RTF.'

The documentation is available only in DOC or DOCX, why not in HTML or TXT or some international document standard like PDF or ODF?

From a comment in TFA, there seems to be a hidden list of previous versions:

"A while back Brian Jones, a Microsoft Office project manager, claimed good interoperability pedigree for Office applications since they can read and write "standards such as RTF and CSV". I took him to task over that one because neither of these is a standard; they are standins for standards. CSV is extremely unstable across versions and languages of Excel, and as far as I can tell is undocumented except to Microsoft developers. RTF is simply a representation of every version of Word. I took the trouble a while ago to compile this list, since such a list does not exist online from Microsoft:

* March 1987: An article by Nancy Andrews of Microsoft.
* 1.0 1987: Word 3.0 for Macintosh
* 1.0 June 1992: Word for Windows v2
* 1.1 Unknown, unavailable
* 1.2 Unknown, unavailable
* 1.3 January 1994: Word v6
* 1.4 September 1995: Word v7 (Word 95)
* 1.5 April 1997: Word v8 (Word 97)
* 1.6 May 1999: Word v9 (Word 2000)
* 1.7 August 2001: Word v10 (Word 2002)
* 1.8 April 2004: Word v11 (Word 2003)
* 1.9 January 2007: Word v12 (Word 2007)

The worst part about this "standard" is the license: it is packed in a Windows-only executable package and is licensed for noncommercial use on Windows machines only.
# posted by Blogger Sean : Thu Dec 20, 04:33:00 PM EST

Re:Standardize RTF first (1)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895728)

The worst part about this "standard" is the license: it is packed in a Windows-only executable package and is licensed for noncommercial use on Windows machines only.
Not that I want to sing their praises, but at least with version 1.9 they've stopped the idiotic practice of wrapping the spec in an .exe download. I haven't been able to spot the noncommecial restriction anywhere, but I wouldn't be surprised. There's certainly nothing akin to the royalty-free license grant that we have in writing for ODF. [oasis-open.org]

Re:Standardize RTF first (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897504)

Yeah, I think the article is a little off base about RTF. It's not IP-encumbered. As you pointed out, you can download the spec from MS. There's a ton of OSS implementations. There are perl modules that read and write it. There's an O'Reilly book [oreilly.com] on it (free short version of it here [cpan.org] ).

Okay, so RTF changes when a new version of Word comes out. That means that, e.g., it shouldn't be used for archiving government documents, and it's not suitable as a universal format for people to collaborate on extremely complex documents using different software. It doesn't mean RTF is useless or evil. I write fiction, and RTF turns out to be a very useful lingua franca for magazines that accept electronic submissions. For a fiction manuscript, you don't need anything very fancy --- basically just the ability to underline, and put a header on each page. RTF works just fine for that, and I'm really, really glad that RTF is the de facto standard for this purpose, and not doc.

It's unfortunate that OOo's RTF support is so horrible. E.g., if you save a document from OOo in RTF format, open it, edit it again, and save it again, you lose the whole document. Yeesh!

Re:Standardize RTF first (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895118)

If Microsoft is really concerned about interoperabillity, they should have published the full specs of RTF and pushed for standardization a long time ago.

Ask and ye shall receive [microsoft.com] . It was released in 1999, so it even meets your "long time ago" requirement.

One of the more amusing lines of the specification;

Because of the way Microsoft word processors implement tables, and the table-driven approach of many Microsoft RTF readers, it is very easy to write tables in RTF that will crash Microsoft word processors when you try to read the RTF.
And of course, how much value there is in the specification for a format more than a decade obsolete, I'll leave as an exercise for the reader.

RTF What? (5, Funny)

Shinmizu (725298) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894412)

RTF? RTF what? What am I supposed to be reading to eliminate my ignorance of some set of operations?

Re:RTF What? (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895342)

The abbreviation's actually short for "Raze the F...er", since that's about the only thing you can do with the format.

Re:RTF What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21895392)

just RTF: Read The Fucking - it is some sort of existential observation porn exercise?

National Standards Bodies (4, Insightful)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894424)

While making a new standards body like OpenISO sounds like a good idea, I don't want to rain on that parade.

However, I think there is also a problem with the national standards bodies. They can vary from a formal technical committees answerable to democratically elected governments according to what their country needs, through to a ragtag bunch of nobodies who can dictate whatever they want according to their specific corporate interests. I think ISO needs to start with itself and standardise how national bodies work.

Also I think that if you are unhappy with the decision your national body made, then you need to either seek to get on it (or make a group that raises funds to get one of you on it), or setup a competing national standards organisation, get to work, and then try to replace the old one as ISO's National standards body for your country.

Re:National Standards Bodies (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894628)

> I think ISO needs to start with itself and standardise how national bodies work.

Wow, I think that might be the most insightful comment I've read on slashdot all year!

Wes

Office 2007 not even compliant (5, Interesting)

Bayesela (1151523) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894462)

On top of OOXML being developed in a closed environment, MS Office is not even using the proposed ECMA or ISO spec, they including all types of tie-ins. This article explains more: not even compliant [fanaticattack.com]

OOD has doomed us all to bad standards (1, Troll)

thogard (43403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894512)

Computers do Input, Output, Processing and Storage. Its been that way for more than a half centuy.
At some point people thought it would be cool if that wasn't the case and dreamed up lots of crud to put in text books sold to college students and they made lots of money but hasn't changed a thing.

It still doesn't fix the problem that a word processor has an internal model of what the user typed. Its job is to output that in a way that is consistent with what it's showing the user and what the user told it to do. Now for some odd reason a large group of people come along and say "we want magic" and expect the input/output and storage models to be disassociated. How is that supposed to work? Remapping input? More levels of indirection? It sill doesn't fix the core problem.

I'm sorry, I don't get your point. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894734)

There's more than one input and output.

The input and output on the screen and keyboard are part of the processing from the point of view of the storage.

The input and output of the file storage are part of the processing from the point of view of the user.

User - I/O - Processing - I/O - Storage

In addition there's a third I/O interface for printing, and a forth for online publishing.

There's no reason that the storage format needs to be tightly coupled to the display format. And, also, an editor doesn't have an internal model of "what the user typed", it has an internal model of a document and updates that according to the user's commands. In Word, that internal format doesn't even match what the user sees very well... there's no such thing as "nesting" or a "list" internally, for example, there's just a set of styles and rules about what paragraphs follow each other and lists are created and manipulated by dynamically updating the paragraph styles and next-paragraph rules.

If Word can manage to take this and generate nested lists on the screen and in HTML, and accept user's requests to change nesting depths and go through and update all the paragraph styles to match, there's no reason it can't do the same thing in its storage format.

Re:I'm sorry, I don't get your point. (2, Interesting)

thogard (43403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894902)

Output on different devices is what a word processor does. Other wise its "process" step wouldn't be anything at all. And the 1950's model doesn't consider "storage" part of the I/O model but modern sanity sort of would imply it unless its direct memory or object dump.

Words storage model is odd. It doesn't match the input model but is sort of based on the output model assuming line printers with loads of hacks to make it work with modern printers. As far as I know its been that way since I was using Word (for Unix on a 3b2) in 1987.

WTF? (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894820)

> Now for some odd reason a large group of people come along and say "we want magic" and expect the input/output and storage models to be disassociated. How is that supposed to work?

So you saying that standards can not possibly work? That people want "magic?"

Hate to break it to you, but standards already work. Consider ASCII. Also ODF is already incorporated in several word processors.

Of course input/output and storage models can be disassociated, it's done all of the time.

Re:WTF? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895080)

Standards don't work universally. Thats why there are so many of them. ASCII worked so well in the early days. And then there are the hacks.

ODF only works for a majority of documents but most people involved with that standard can create something that is legal but won't render the same way on many platforms. You can repeat that for HTML, PDF, GIF, JPG etc.

With a word process you can store either the input, output, memory or processing. Word Perfect up to 5.1 stored input (with hacks for specific printers). TeX stores a reflection of the internal processing model. PDF stores the output model. Word stores its storage model.

Re:WTF? (1)

huge (52607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895964)

Hate to break it to you, but standards already work. Consider ASCII.
Indeed, consider ASCII. Let's not forget ASCII "extensions" like CP437, CP850, Windows-1252 and others. Some of them are more compatible than others. And let's not get into other encodings like EBCDIC, which are still more common than most people think.

Standard part of ASCII only defines 95 printable characters and 33 control characters. That said, it has provided good foundation for others to embrace-and-extend.

raise cain then (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895338)

we need a document format that is both simple and open so that documents can easily be exchanged

clearly this CANNOT be trusted to a corporation; it has to be owned publicly.

HTML might be used, but while HTML is fine for browser documents it lacks some features needed for print format.

PDF is the exact opposite, it prints perfect but browses poorly and requires specialized compilers to build documents.

and so at least for now there is still a place for something like .rtf

but we need an open standard for .rtf and we need a certification test so that vendor products can be evaluated and given a pass/fail grade

Re:raise cain then (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895412)

so that documents can easily be exchanged


Remember: we need to exchange across time as well as between vendors' systems

I see this as the role of .RTF .rtf should be a sort of frozen format: unchanging from vendor to vendor and from year to year

Some tools get it right (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895460)

Just not Word.

Ask anyone in publishing or anyone who writes for a living what tool they use and there's little chance that they're going to tout the advantages of Word. Word is borked in so many ways, from a writer's point of view, that it's hard to know where the start when cataloging the problems. You can begin with the broken tokening used in lists, move to the Master Documents "feature" and finish up with the fact that what's displayed on the screen not only differs depending on which computer you're viewing it on, but it isn't even the same as what's printed. (Trust me, you never EVER want to have to try and fiddle page breaking in Word, where the breaks shown on screen are seemingly unrelated to the way the pages break when output to the printer.

A "real" writing tool either completely divorces the content and presentation (a la TeX) or presents on-screen an EXACT representation of what will be printed (for example, FrameMaker). Word tries to do the second, but fails. Miserably.

Re:OOD has doomed us all to bad standards (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21895586)

Dude, read up on typesetting. I can write a TeX [or LaTeX] document using syntax that is decades old, and it will render the way I want on any platform that has the open source freely available tools installed.

The fact that Office [and OO.o] are worthless for consistent looking documents doesn't mean that computers as a whole can't do the job. Just use better tools.

Office suites are meant for quick and flashy documents [e.g. clipart havens]. Typesetting tools are meant for consistent reproducible professional documents.

Re:OOD has doomed us all to bad standards (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896564)

I have TeX documents from 1985 that still render the same way. LaTeX documents from then do not always render the same way they used to.

Re:OOD has doomed us all to bad standards (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896604)

It still doesn't fix the problem that a word processor has an internal model of what the user typed. Its job is to output that in a way that is consistent with what it's showing the user and what the user told it to do.
That would be nice. But it would be even better if the word processor generated the same output each time the user entered the same thing. Or, at leat give the user a heads up that this is going to change. Microsoft doesn't meet this simple requirement.

The days of PCs being stand-alone boxes sitting on peoples desks are long gone. That output you speak of needs to go somewhere else as the input of another process. In order to do that, the input and output schemas need to be the same across both space (between systems) and time (not change unilaterally).

What computers do very well is to perform repetitive tasks consistently. For an up front investment into encoding a process, savings can be realized for each subsequent repetition. If we have to keep revisiting this initial encoding, the savings is diminished.

Reference Apps are nice in the Real World. (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894540)

I have worked on industry standards before. Writing spec is just half the battle. You then have the problem with implementation. Every company will implement it in slightly different ways. You would be surprised on how many ways there are to read a spec! Then you get in a yelling match over who is actually doing it correctly.
When you have a reference application to test with then you have less yelling.

comma delimited data (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894994)

comma delimited data, for example

as i noted in the other post we need ISO and ANSI to write the spec and set up the acceptance test

how many foos i have falling over commas and or quotes that are enclosed within quoted text -- or who cannot write a number properly

AGGRAVATING! these foos need to get a big fat F on their report card and join Hillary in re-hab

Re:Reference Apps are nice in the Real World. (1)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895712)

The problem usually is that spec is not complite. I admit that it is very hard if not impossible to think all alternatives. That is why the system must be as public as possible.

And I agree that it is a good idea to implement a reference implementation for the spec.

Re:Reference Apps are nice in the Real World. (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896846)

The problem usually is that spec is not complite. I admit that it is very hard if not impossible to think all alternatives. That is why the system must be as public as possible.

And I agree that it is a good idea to implement a reference implementation for the spec.
Beyond completeness, there is also legibility. For anyone who has worked in telecommunications, the CCITT (now called something else) docs were absolutely horrible to read. At the time discovering the RFCs was real a breath of fresh air. They were sooo much clearer.
They both had the same problem of sometimes not covering all cases but at least it was easy to parse most RFCs.

A lot of the ISO docs I've seen (admittedly I haven't seen many) were also quite horrible to read.

So IMO if you want a clean implementation, write a clean documentation instead of a twisting mess of little paragraphs (with grues).

Re:Reference Apps are nice in the Real World. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21897252)

I agree but you wouldn't believe how people interpret specs!
An example was when a type of document data was made "optional" in the spec I was working on. One of the vendors programs locked up if the data file had that data in it! They thought that optional they didn't need to handle it at all instead of just ignoreing it or not using it their export.
Yes it was stupid on their part but without any reference program it become he said she said.

ISO or ANSI (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894670)

we must have ISO or ANSI write the standard and set up compliance tests for RTF and without input from Ms because Ms needs to take a good licking for their nasty behavior

Re:ISO or ANSI (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21894996)

So .doc and an XML walk into a bar, they scoped out the scene... they saw a hot RTF and OOXML by themselves. .doc walks over to the OOXML and says... ASL? OOXML was like.. "WTF? Get away from me... As... If"

It's open once published (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#21894858)

There are two kinds of vendor standards -- the one in which the vendor publishes what they've done, and the other in which the vendor publishes what they will do. This article contends it's the first. Is OOXML the first or the second? We'll see.

One other type (1)

Tony (765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895054)

And the one that Microsoft typically uses: the standard which is never published.

MS-Office has been called a "standard" for so long, people believe it. And they conflate a "standard" piece of software with a document "standard."

In any kind of engineering, there is only one true standard-- that which is agreed-upon by the manufacturers and/or engineers themselves. Bridge architects will never use a non-standard size bolt, nor a non-standard metal. Why? Because the weld strength is too important. Because the dielectric interaction of different metals and alloys results in a weaker bridge. Because lives depend on it.

Corporations who push their own format as a "standard" harm the industry. If they never publish their formats, or publish a bowdlerized version of their standard (MS-Office 2007 doesn't even conform to the OOXML specification as published), they are selling their customers a trojan horse.

Re:It's open once published (2, Insightful)

jopsen (885607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895366)

the one in which the vendor publishes what they've done,
This type of document is not a standard it called a documentation. OOXML is not a standard it's a documentation of MS office's default format...
You can also find a documentation of HTML on MSDN, this is not a standard either it's a documentation of the HTML implementation in Internet Explorer.

and the other in which the vendor publishes what they will do
This type of document is usually called a standard. While it's true that ODF started as a documentation of StarOffice XML, it's worth noting that ODF went through a long standardization process and have been changed by many parties. Including Microsoft!

Well... (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895096)

Having been involved in two standards bodies, those bodies found enormous benefit to having reference implementations being built at the same time the standards were being developed. It certainly helps drive out issues during the standardization process that would otherwise/sometimes make the standard unusable.

Granted, what Microsoft is doing may not be a 'reference implementation' but still... there are benefits to doing *some* implementation in parallel with standardization.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896440)

Granted, what Microsoft is doing may not be a 'reference implementation' but still... there are benefits to doing *some* implementation in parallel with standardization.

There is no benefit in what Microsoft is doing. Microsoft does the *sole* implementation of its internal *documentation* of its secret next version of OOXML, and call that a "standard". And because of that, when MS decides to publish its documentation after releasing its next version of Word, it will be months/years ahead of the competition. And this documentation will not even be a standard, because it will not have been discussed by the interested parties or made available to them beforehand being published!!! It's only a documentation of past developments made by Microsoft. This document is only a "standard" _because_ Microsoft is the *only one* to implement it (since they gave no chance to anyone else to implement too and point out the issues). And because of that, Microsoft has the power to destroy the competition trying to follow its internal documentation.

There would be benefits only if Microsoft was discussing the next version of OOXML in public in a public standards body (which is not the case), so that any competing products could implement the standard at the same time and help drive out issues. Only now there would be *some* implementation worth the name in parallel with *standardization*. The standard is a standard because every interested party agreed that the standard should be followed since there is not outstanding issue to any of them.

As TFA puts: "Looking at this long history of standards abuse by Microsoft, in the file format arena and elsewhere, I'm drawn to take a broader view of this controversy. It is not really a battle between ODF and OOXML. It isn't even really a battle between OOXML and ISO. It is, in the end, a battle between having document standards and not having them. Microsoft is trying to dumb down the concept of standards and interoperability to a point where these concepts are meaningless and ineffective. This is not because they want to support standards more easily in their products. No, it is because they do not want standards at all.

Remember, standards bring interoperability, the ability to try out new tools and techniques, the ability to migrate, the ability to chose among alternatives, the ability even to run non-Microsoft products. If standards are meaningless and ineffective, then the incumbent' vendor lock-in will win every time. At that point, isn't it convenient for them to have a monopoly in operating systems and productivity applications? This, in my opinion, is the essence of Novell's 2004 complaint, Opera's present complaint, and the ongoing file format debate. Microsoft's monopoly power and the resulting network effects have lead to a relationship with standards where they win by winning, by drawing, or even by cheating so much that they discredit the system."

Because of that, as someone involved in standard bodies, I believe it is extremely important to point out to everyone else in those bodies these tactics used by Microsoft to rig the standardization processes.

RTF & XML's late nite out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21895108)

So .doc and an XML walk into a bar, they scoped out the scene... they saw a hot RTF and OOXML by themselves. .doc walks over to the RTF and says... ASL? and RTF was like.. "WTF? Get away from me... As... If"

not just competitors, but users (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895156)

I wish that MS would come up with some format that was standard, easily implemented, and provided some level of predictability. It would mean that I might start using their office products again. The problem is that every version has radical changes in design, and even similar versions can cause problems. Then then there is the issue of the formats holding active content, so MS then limits what can be done with the files. It is way to limiting. I suppose that if I just wrote memos, or had a spreadsheet I needed to work on everyday, or needed to fool people with a presentation, MS OOXML would be fine. But I need to have reliably get access to stuff a from a couple years ago, work on any machine I happen to find, and put book chapters together. With RTF, ODF and TeX I can always download and install what I need within 10 minutes. I had a case the other day where a file was brought in using the latest format, and the only way to deal with it was to upgrade the license for hundreds of dollars. If OOXML was open, I would at least be able to download something that would allow some level of functionality.

But given the MS of embrace and extend, I must resign myself to a world in which MS products are just too unreliable to use for real work of any significant magnitude. I know that RTF is not sufficient to make the fancy memos people like, but it does seem to work.

RTFM 'against' OOXML (1)

nautsch (1186995) | more than 6 years ago | (#21895802)

Re:RTFM 'against' OOXML (0, Redundant)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21896950)

That was thoroughly torn apart last time it was posted here. One example of a fatal problem with it: the author edits the XML of a spreadsheet and breaks it, and then tries to blame this on OOXML. News flash: the exact same problem happens with ODF, and with every other XML format in the world when you edit it so as to make it no longer follow the schema for whatever type of document it is. Make the by-hand edit actually following the spec, and it works fine.

If OOXML is so bad, how come opponents have to resort to purposefully corrupting files, and other underhanded tricks, to argue against it? Why can't they stick to non-FUD arguments?

Bobby Weir? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21896280)

ratdog!
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