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ODF Editor Says ODF Loses If OOXML Does

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the strange-bedfellow dept.

Microsoft 268

An anonymous reader writes "The editor of the Open Document Format standard has written a letter (PDF) that strongly supports recognizing Microsoft's OOXML file format as a standard, arguing that if it fails, ODF will suffer. 'As the editor of OpenDocument, I want to promote OpenDocument, extol its features, urge the widest use of it as possible, none of which is accomplished by the anti-OpenXML position in ISO,' Patrick Durusau wrote. 'The bottom line is that OpenDocument, among others, will lose if OpenXML loses... Passage of OpenXML in ISO is going to benefit OpenDocument as much as anyone else.'"

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3 questions... (4, Insightful)

aleph42 (1082389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866762)

Okay, I Am Not An Iso-standard Expert (IANAIE ?), but that must be the most counter-intuitive argumentation I've heard this month.

He invoques the need to have a formal definition of some features (formula definitions and legacy stuff) as benifiting ODF if OOXML pass, so this raises the questions:

1) Aren't these already included to some extend in what was submitted for iso acceptation?

2) Wasn't this specification part of what EU's justice were asking Microsoft anyways?

3) Is it that hard to reverse-ingeneer that kind of spec?

Asking in good faith, as I really hav no clue.

Re:3 questions... (5, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866798)

I'm not going to answer your questions. If you question Microsoft, you question America. If Microsoft loses then the terrorists have already won. Is that what you want?

Troll? Naaah. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22866852)

Why is this marked troll?

Should be like, +2 funny

Re:Troll? Naaah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867016)

>Why is this marked troll?
>Should be like, +2 funny

I Moderated it Insightful

Re:3 questions... (-1, Offtopic)

realkiwi (23584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867536)

America is not a country it is a continent get over it.

Re:3 questions... (4, Funny)

theonlyaether (1146549) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867602)

It's actually two, as long as we're nit-picking...

Re:3 questions... (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867656)

I think it may have been better to write that it's actually both rather than it's actually two.

Re:3 questions... (1)

wanderingknight (1103573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867758)

It's actually one. The distinction made between South and North America, mostly for sociological reasons, doesn't make it two.

Re:3 questions... (2, Informative)

theonlyaether (1146549) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867820)

Actually North and South America historically were considered one continent, but going by the tectonic plates and modern geology they are actually two separate land masses. Europe and Asia, on the other hand, are actually representative of the inverse. They are made distinct for sociological reasons, but share the same plate.

Re:3 questions... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867652)

But it's easier to say and we're "America" so we're arrogant enough to claim it!

Steven Colbert? (1)

jrminter (1123885) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867618)

Sounds like a typical Colbert report spoof.

Re:3 questions... (5, Insightful)

RR (64484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866826)

He invoques the need to have a formal definition of some features (formula definitions and legacy stuff) as benifiting ODF if OOXML pass, so this raises the questions:

1) Aren't these already included to some extend in what was submitted for iso acceptation?

No. His point seems to be that some features are not in ODF yet, so we might as well accept Microsoft's, and that way we have to support fewer different implementations of features. He's approaching this thing with a naivete that is stunning in an adult who has watched Microsoft's behavior with standards.

From the letter:

What happens if OpenDocument and OpenXML reach different definitions of those functions?

More importantly, what if ISO and Microsoft reach different definitions for the same OpenXML functions? After watching Java and Kerberos and CSS... We already have indications that Microsoft would ignore ISO on OOXML, too.

Re:3 questions... (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867392)

I have no doubt that OOXML has a lot more features than ODF does. However, I suspect that there are a lot of features that are Microsoft specific based on the rhetoric I've heard about OOXML tainting from that interest.

That said, would it make more sense to back out all the contested elements of the OOXML and approve a version of the specification that is complete within itself although many might consider it inadequate for the advanced feature sets of currently released software, Microsoft and ODF alike? At this way we have a document to put into use and start learning from and use those lessons to develop the next release of the document. Sounds to me like a release early & release often Agile approach. But it should work for Standard Documents as well.

Re:3 questions... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867414)

? After watching Java and Kerberos and CSS

Oh please, not the Kerberos thing again. Microsoft used the vendor specific fields for, shock horror, vendor specific data; it fully complied with RFC1964 and RFC1510 and interoped with MIT Kerberos versions 1.0.5, 1.0.6 and 1.1.1. The java debacle was not that they changed the underlying java spec (and it was in no way an ISO spec), but that they added their own namespaces which didn't stand out enough. CSS, well, that's just bloody poor implementation. Mozilla have been happy to ignore parts of CSS and go their own way too, text wrapping immediately springs to mind where the MS extensions were on the road to being rolled up into the spec, but Mozilla decided to implement their own, so now, come CSS 3 we have two different methods of doing the same thing.

At least someone is admitting that ODF is lacking in a number of key areas and isn't the magic bullet everyone wants it to be.

Re:3 questions... (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867518)

I completely agree with you, the Kerberos, Java and CSS arguments grate against my intellectual honesty sensors too.

That being said, I don't think people want ODF to be a magic bullet, and everyone knows that ODF is feature thin compared to OOXML. However, I think after decades of shifting vendor to vendor as corporate interests take turns in the gang-raping that has been the software industry for as long as I can remember, people have realised that open standards are better than extra features, provided that the basics are covered. That, to me sums up the ODF vs OOXML debate; format stability vs edge case features.

Re:3 questions... (5, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867426)

The last time that topic came up many people mentioned that Office 2007's xml files don't match the OOXML standard so this isn't just "what if".

Re:3 questions... (1)

asuffield (111848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867562)

More importantly, what if ISO and Microsoft reach different definitions for the same OpenXML functions?


The very fact that you are asking this question is a strong indicator that ISO's actions here are completely irrelevant - they serve only as marketing for Microsoft.

Re:3 questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867764)

Microsoft has said straight out that they will not be implementing the ISO standard. They just want OpenXML to be a standard so they can lie and say that Office implements an ISO standard when selling to government agencies.

Re:3 questions... (5, Interesting)

berzerke (319205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866876)

From the article:

"OpenDocument currently lacks formula definitions for spreadsheets," he wrote. "Many core financial functions in spreadsheets are undefined except for actual Excel output. That output varies by version and service pack of MS Office. What happens if OpenDocument and OpenXML reach different definitions of those functions?"

His big beef is the ODF standard needs to have some formula definitions added??? So add them to the standard! Somehow I think the actual formulas, at least the financial ones, are already defined in some other standard, maybe not an ISO standard, but a standard somewhere. I just can't believe CPA's make up their own formulas. (OK, honest CPA's.) And since these formula's are standard somewhere else already, then OpenXML should have the same formulas.

"But what if there are different standards for the same financial function?" you ask. Well, then have a flag to pick which one is used as part of the function call. If OpenXML doesn't do this then ODF can make claims that Excel is not suitable for financial calculations. Actually, from the comments above, I'd say that is already the case. "...output varies by version and service pack of MS Office." does not inspire confidence in me for one.

The author also seems to think having OpenXML as a standard will provide anyone and everyone the complete specs to the standard. From what I've read, this isn't the case so far, and I doubt MS is anxious for that to happen. Get it approved, yes, but describe it in enough detail that anyone else could fully implement it, no.

As it is, Microsoft will not commit to supporting the standard. According to Brian Jones, a Microsoft manager who has worked on OOXML for six years: "It's hard for Microsoft to commit to what comes out of Ecma [the European standards group that has already OK'd OOXML] in the coming years, because we don't know what direction they will take the formats. We'll of course stay active and propose changes based on where we want to go with Office 14. At the end of the day, though, the other Ecma members could decide to take the spec in a completely different direction. ... Since it's not guaranteed, it would be hard for us to make any sort of official statement." [techworld.com]

Re:3 questions... (4, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867454)

Also, from what I remember hearing (sorry no sources), is that the definition of various formulas in OpenXML are actually incorrect. I seem to recall that MS implemented them correctly, but didn't write them up correctly in the standard. Which shows yet another reason why OpenXML shouldn't be accepted, as MS can't even follow their own standard.

Don't fully understand his arguments (4, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866786)

He seems to hinge everything on the assumption that Microsoft is going to follow whatever version on OOXML is adopted, allowing ODF to be able to port those features. I think that's a huge assumption on his part.

Re:Don't fully understand his arguments (4, Informative)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867042)

I was a bit troubled by my inability to grasp the logic of the arguements put forward by this editor, and so I started Googling a bit to understand his background, etc. I am still going at this, but I cam across this link which others may find interesting: http://boycottnovell.com/2008/03/12/trips-to-microsoft-speculation/

Re:Don't fully understand his arguments (4, Informative)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867114)

Also of possible interest Patrick Durusau site:blogs.msdn.com [google.com]

Re:Don't fully understand his arguments (4, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867246)

I was a bit troubled by my inability to grasp the logic of the arguements put forward by this editor

Ahhhh young grasshopper, to understand his logic and arguments one must first understand the The Time Cube. [timecube.com]

-

Re:Don't fully understand his arguments (5, Insightful)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867266)

MS will follow the OOXML spec in the same way IE followed HTML. Documents will then be written with coding changes just to work around the rendering issues in Word, and all the other implementations of OOXML will appear broken no matter how closely they follow the spec. Hopefully there will be something similar to the ACID test for .docx rendering. I just wish there was for .odt too.

Link to Letter (PDF) (0, Redundant)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866800)

pdf of letter [durusau.net]

What kind of ODF editor is that then? (4, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866908)

Using PDF when he could have forced the entire world to install OOo to read it in ODF format.

 

Re:What kind of ODF editor is that then? (2)

dascritch (808772) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867232)

I don't remember any time where a paper document on microsoft.com was also accessible in PDF.
He didn't learn the lesson from... HIS... MASTERS ...

ahaha mind control

Re:Link to Letter (PDF) (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867024)

Umm... the same link is in the summary?

Okay, now I'm'a *hafta* RTFA... (4, Insightful)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866816)

... at least so I can find out what he's smokin' and get me some of that. I mean, whah??? If OOOXML is garbage, and not an open standard given the really big implementation holes, and not apparently implemented *anywhere* (nor, some might argue, implement*able*), why is it in anyone's interest to have it passed? Aside from Microsoft's, of course.

Confused,

Re:Okay, now I'm'a *hafta* RTFA... (0, Flamebait)

Liath (950770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866858)

can someone translate?

Re:Okay, now I'm'a *hafta* RTFA... (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866912)

can someone translate?
I ran it through Babel Fish a couple times, see if this helps:

... RK leases in such has way I EDGE finds out what he' S smokin to ' and GET ME some OF that. I mean, whah??? Does yew OOOXML is garbage, and emergency open At standard given the really big implementation of holes, and emergency apparently implemented * anywhere * (NOR, some might wire-drawer, implement*able *), why is it in anyone' S interest your cut it passed? Aside from Microsoft S, OF race. Confused,

Re:Okay, now I'm'a *hafta* RTFA... (1)

StarkRG (888216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867192)

Really though, why should even Microsoft care? They haven't cared about standards in the past, what's changed? If they put something out that they deem worthy to submit to a standards organization do you really think they'll just give it up if it's declined?

This is the company that makes an Office Suite that isn't compatible with older versions of itself. (Or different versions, as the case is with Mac Office)

Microsoft is mostly unpredictable. The only predictable things about them are a) they will do almost anything to make more money and retain their near-monopoly (and it has to be near-monopoly because if it was an actual monopoly it'd be broken up*) b) they will do whatever they want without regard to anyone else (including their own customers, who are, for the most part, locked in).

* yes, I know, MS has been declared a monopoly and nothing happened, but as long as they SEEM like they're not being entirely monopolistic not enough people will complain.

We failed already (3, Funny)

jsse (254124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866824)

when the letter has to be distributed in PDF.

Re:We failed already (5, Insightful)

ovideon (634144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867134)

Not necessarily. If anything, PDF is a great choice for distributing final copies of documents - it has exactly the right number of features, ts specs are published, and there are plenty of good tools (both open-source and commercial) for creating and reading it.

Acrobat, on the other hand, is a bloated pile of garbage.

Re:We failed already (4, Insightful)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867262)

...er, no, it means the author understands document file formats. The letter isn't meant for you or I to edit, and has a fixed layout, so PDF (being an open standard itself) is sensible.

Re:We failed already (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867666)

PDFs aren't designed to be non-editable (it's trivial to edit them). They're designed to be portable. The grandparents author (sort of) stands - if OOXML was a successful standard, they wouldn't need to output it as PDF to make sure everyone could read it. Of course, this whole issue is about whether OOXML should be a standard - it's only after that's been passed, and people have implemented that you will be able to tell categorically whether it was a failure or not.

Re:We failed already (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867722)

PDFs aren't designed to be non-editable (it's trivial to edit them)

Wow, congratulations on completely missing the point, idiot. For one thing, it's not "trivial" to edit PDFs unless you considerably restrict the kinds of edits you want to make. But the main point isn't "ZOMG we must not allow people to edit this, let's use PDF!!!!!1!", it's "there's no need to make this easy for other people to edit, so there's no need to use a format designed for easy editing".

Re:We failed already (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867738)

I'm not saying PDF's can't be edited, just that they're generally understood to be the final document, rather than a work in progress. This is how Acroread, XPDF and Evince treat them. I think this is a useful distinction. If ODF or OOXML are successful and become truly portable, I still think it will be useful to have a different document format for a work-in-progress and the finished product. Maybe you disagree...

Re:We failed already (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867760)

No, I'd agree, but I'd say that it'd be better to have a security mechanism in place to guarantee that a document can't be edited, rather than just not publishing any editing tools - which is why PDF is not commonly edited. The file format is well known, and there is no built-in mechanism to protect the content - if you rely on a PDF to be tamper-proof, you'll probably get stung in the end.

Re:We failed already (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867826)

Yes, I was just wondering about security. As I currently use PDF, I guess it gives me two useful properties. First, I know that my editor/viewer of choice won't tweak anything (update dates fields, change page size, etc). Second, it gives a 'clean' copy without any edit history or suchlike. But I can imagine situations where it is useful to release a document that cannot easily be edited. Which leads to the question...how? Is it possible to produce a secure, uneditable, format that is also open? I could already publish hashes for a Word document, if I was so inclined, but I think we need something less crude, that does not require checking back at the original release source. Any ideas?

Ka Ching (4, Insightful)

Justabit (651314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866828)

Me thinks the bottom line he mentioned was under his own bank balance. Ive heard Microsoft has soft pillows in its bed.

Can't say that I understand him (4, Interesting)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866838)

The majority of publications are in defense on OOXML. As the editor, I would expect the majority of his publications to be about weakness in OpenDocument and how it can be improved. I am curious as to his opinion on how to competing document standards can coexist -- what's the point of OpenDocument if only 5% of people user it. And the other 95% use OOXML, in that case, OpenDocument is a total waste of time.

Rob Weir's response to Patrick's sudden flip flop (4, Interesting)

nyet (19118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866848)

Re:Rob Weir's response to Patrick's sudden flip fl (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22866922)

That post by Rob is particularly good, I recommend it.

In addition,

Patrick Durusau is one of several editors on ODF (in ODF 1.0 he was one of six editors) and in ODF 1.1 and the 1.2 drafts he's one of three and one of two respectively. So he's not the editor, he's an editor.

Patrick doesn't present technical arguments, he only presents political ones, and generally he seems to be of the opinion that it's better that Microsoft be involved in ISO than not (and this opinion overrides any issues of quality, or whether anyone else can implement OOXML). This is the idea that this way we get to have more of an impact on Microsoft.

In my opinion OOXML is an insincere involvement in the ISO process (as shown by minimum change during the fast-track, and poor documentation of OOXML) and I think it's naive to expect more in the future. So to me the political angle on this fails.

The technical angle on it fails completely [robweir.com] .

Well, I disagree. (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866856)

I do not support any "standard" that is bad enough that its own promoters have to buy votes to get it in.

Re:Well, I disagree. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867292)

What votes? What buying? I see nothing in TFA suggesting anything of the sort.

Re:Well, I disagree. (2, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867468)

You've obviously have had your head up your ass for a whole year to not know anything about Microsoft buying of ISO votes. I'm not going to bother wasting my time finding evidence for an AC, do some research next time before opening your flap.

Re:Well, I disagree. (1)

danskal (878841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867500)

It's true (but not surprising) that the article does not mention buying of votes. But you would have to have been living under a rock (a slashrock?) for the last year or so to not know about it.

Interesting angle on Durusau's behavior (4, Interesting)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866866)

From Fear! That should work! [openmalaysiablog.com] on the blog Open Malaysia, in reference to his first letter:

I thanked Mr Cheong, for bringing up this important letter from Mr Patrick Durusau. His case just highlights the strange situation we are in today. If you know the background history of Mr Durusau, you will understand why he may have to write a letter like this.

You see, Mr Durusau is the Editor of ODF, but more importantly he is also the Chair of the US Technical Committee V1, which is equivalent to Malaysia's TC4 here. What is interesting, is that because of this OOXML issue, his committee has been stacked. Now it's OK for them in the US to stack their committees because that's how their system works, so they grew from a committee of 7 members before OOXML to 26 members after it started. Fortunately, in Malaysia, ISC-G prevented this from happening at TC4.

[...]

So in essence, V1 has been taken over by Microsofties, and Mr Durusau is in a tight situation. If he were to be negative towards OOXML, his stacked V1 will retaliate and bar the progress of his normal work: work on ODF 1.2.

The best and most logical option for Mr Durusau is of course to "agree" with his captors 'demands, and hopefuly they would be merciful later on. So its a strange political play which he has to act out.

This is conjecture, obviously, but I find it plausible, FWIW, especially since there is now a follow-up.

Well, yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22866910)

...it's obvious that ODF loses if OOXML loses.

MS will use it's pawns in the various technical committes to crush any proposed beneficial changes to ODF, and probably push through some bad ones, so that ODF becomes increasingly marginalised.

Ah, if only there were [sarcasm] tags around that... :-(

Re:Well, yeah... (1)

loonycyborg (1262242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867078)

...it's obvious that ODF loses if OOXML loses.
That doesn't mean that if OOXML wins ODF wins.

From the Horse's mouth (5, Informative)

jeremiahbell (522050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867092)

Wanna know how much Microsoft has reformed this sort of thing?

[Microsoft Internal Document] I have mentioned before the "stacked panel". Panel discussions naturally favor alliances of relatively weak partners - our usual opposition. For example, an "unbiased" panel on OLE vs. OpenDoc would contain representatives of the backers of OLE (Microsoft) and the backers of OpenDoc (Apple, IBM, Novell, WordPerfect, OMG, etc.). Thus we find ourselves outnumbered in almost every "naturally occurring" panel debate.

A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select the panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can't expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only "independent ISVs" on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed - just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the "real world." Sounds marvelously independent doesn't it? In fact, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause. Thus, the "independent" panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you've got a major win on your hands.

You can get it all here http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20071023002351958 [groklaw.net]

Even at their worst, they are good (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867734)

One thing about MS. They have an absolutely crappy product, and some of the worst tech support going (the fact that they have to pull this crap attest to their products strength; none), BUT, their legal is awesome, as is their marketing. If you look at the above, they are thinking in terms of not only controlling, but also marketing it. Notice the last line of "get the press". Awesome. I hate to say it, but I view this as one of OSS's weakness. We need to do a better job of advertising OSS. I thought that IBM was doing some nice ads around 2000, but they seem to have stopped them. Perhaps, it is time for OSS companies to think of setting up a joint marketing campaign that benefits all of them. Afterall, that would be no different than the code. It is joint development, with differential marketing. But a joint marketing campaign designed to push OSS, and then mentions the items could make a dent. Perhaps a set of ads designed to push OSS app server or just OSS OS' (show off Linux, BSD, and even darwin).

ODF editor on OOXML (-1, Troll)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866870)

OpenDocument does not have a robust mapping to the current Microsoft format. That requires an
OpenXML that has completed the standards process. If OpenXML is unclear, it must be fixed in order
to create a robust mapping between the two.
Hah, I've been saying that for ages

http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=217540&cid=17678528 [slashdot.org]

It's pretty rich for people to complain that Microsoft used undocumented formats and then after they document the format complain that it contains cryptic legacy stuff. The cryptic legacy stuff is actually is actually their best trade secret, it's something that millions of third party documents rely on and only MS Office knows how to read.

And if you want something that allows you to convert a current MS Office document to it and convert back without loss of formatting, that something needs a way to store all the legacy attributes.

Re:ODF editor on OOXML (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866960)

It's pretty rich for people to complain that Microsoft used undocumented formats and then after they document the format complain that it contains cryptic legacy stuff.

Yeah, that's what we call "not documenting the format."

Oh, and yeah, great, they documented the format. But it is NOT something that should be accepted as a standard. BF is a documented programming language, but if you had to pick a standard language, would you pick BF, if there was, oh, any other alternative?

The cryptic legacy stuff is actually is actually their best trade secret, it's something that millions of third party documents rely on and only MS Office knows how to read.

What is so difficult about the two words "open" and "standard"? A proprietary trade secret is antithetical to that. Relying on proprietary trade secrets in a proposed "open standard" makes it neither.

And if you want something that allows you to convert a current MS Office document to it and convert back without loss of formatting, that something needs a way to store all the legacy attributes.

Which in no way mandates that these legacy attributes also be completely opaque to every implementation except one.

Oh, by the way, we have a way to store odd formatting, and maintain backwards translateability -- styles. Extend the style system to where it can support weird shit like adjusting the "justify" algorithm, and store a SpacingLikeWordPerfectForDos (or whatever) style, in the document, with some special flag to indicate how it translates back into legacy formats (like Word 95 binary .doc).

Except that, as you say, the cryptic legacy stuff is a trade secret. Which is why we really don't want it ratified as any kind of open standard, as it is, quite simply, not open.

I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. Either you've got trade secrets based on your file format, or you have an open standard. Not both.

Re:ODF editor on OOXML (0, Flamebait)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867328)

Oh, and yeah, great, they documented the format. But it is NOT something that should be accepted as a standard. BF is a documented programming language, but if you had to pick a standard language, would you pick BF, if there was, oh, any other alternative?
No one is forcing you to use it but the fact that you don't like doesn't mean it shouldn't be a standard.

What is so difficult about the two words "open" and "standard"? A proprietary trade secret is antithetical to that. Relying on proprietary trade secrets in a proposed "open standard" makes it neither.
They have documented it, so it is no longer a trade secret. Which is what people have asked them to do for ages with their office formats. New versions of Office support the new, documented standard. That standard allows round tripping back to Word 95, which they pretty much have to do. Round tripping drags in the legacy stuff.

Oh, by the way, we have a way to store odd formatting, and maintain backwards translateability -- styles. Extend the style system to where it can support weird shit like adjusting the "justify" algorithm, and store a SpacingLikeWordPerfectForDos (or whatever) style, in the document, with some special flag to indicate how it translates back into legacy formats (like Word 95 binary .doc).
That seems to be what OOXML is doing. It looks like it's an XML encoding for the Office binary formats to me, just like (as someone put it) 'SMB is a serialization of NT IO manager semantics on the wire'. The upside to them publishing a standard is that you get some idea of how this stuff works. If you were writing converters to and from some other format, that's kind of useful, even if it's hard to see what justifyLikeWordPerfect1980 or whatever does. But so what? Just keep the attribute associated with the paragraph and write it into the OOXML file when you save. Or peek at MS Office and see how it reacts to it.

The alternative is that you sabotage the standard and they have absolutely no incentive of documenting anything, which seems far worse.

And it's a free world. If you don't want to use it, install OpenOffice and use ODF. Hell there are loads of standards I can't stand and will never use. But if I ever want to interoperate with them it's good that information, no matter how incomplete is published. I'd much rather have a few probably unused corner cases I can't support, like justifyLikeWordPerfect1980 rather than a completely undocumented format which is the current case with MS Office.

Seriously nagging them for ages about publishing a spec and then complaining that it's full of MS Officeisms just seems pointless politicking to me, especially as 90% of users won't even understand why that's bad. And actually no matter what happens with the standard, I suspect that most people will stick with whatever version of Office is site licensed to their company, regardless of whether the standard is ISO approved or not.

Re:ODF editor on OOXML (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867514)

No one is forcing you to use it but the fact that you don't like doesn't mean it shouldn't be a standard.
This isn't about personal use it's about a standard that everyone uses internationally to share documents. You have no choice in the matter as people will send you these documents. Government will be forced to use an ISO standard as well as any companies that do business with a government.

A standard is open and implementable by everyone. This is impossible with Microsoft's current solution and we already have an ISO on documents that they could use. There's no need for another one just because Microsoft has not invented here syndrome.

Re:ODF editor on OOXML (3, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867350)

Either you've got trade secrets based on your file format, or you have an open standard. Not both.

Sure you can. It just costs extra to get it approved.
OOXML, the standard the best money can buy.

-

Re:ODF editor on OOXML (1)

dookiesan (600840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867402)

Is it incompetence or malice? Should we be laughing or waiting for a competitor to flush these turds into the Puget sound?

Re:ODF editor on OOXML (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867806)

Youre right, we should use Malbodge instead of Brainfuck.

Re:ODF editor on OOXML (3, Informative)

NotZed (19455) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867094)

OOXML doesn't have a specified mapping either.

see comment 3 [robweir.com] .

So this argument is rubbish. I suspect they will not ever supply a proper mapping, otherwise it would just be used by ODF, and make OOXML even more redundant than it already is.

Elephant? (1)

Woek (161635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866896)

I think what he means is that development of ODF will speed up because of development on OOXML, because they can use the specifications to extend ODF.

What I don't understand is why he doesn't see the elephant in the room: OOXML would be a giant competitor as an ISO standard! How does he think OOXML and ODF are going to supported in MS Office? Equally?

Without OOXML as an ISO standard, ODF would be the preferred choice for exchangeable documents. With OOXML as an ISO standard, OOXML would be (for the average company/user).

I don't know about ODF (4, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866898)

But if OOXML passes, customers, small to medium businesses and even world's governments are going to suffer. It's impossible for a team of 10 developers to implement a 1000+ page specification in their product. And because of ambiguities in the same, citizens will not be able to understand laws or government budgets of their own land.

The only thing is, 500 pages of ODF spec may not be much better for small businesses. What we need is a specification with multiple levels of fallback for simplier generators and consumers. For example, one part of a document zip file can be plain text contained in the document, with reasonable efforts to convert document structure to a human and machine readable plain text representation. For producers, it will be valid to generate a document bundle with only the text file and nothing else.

Re:I don't know about ODF (1)

Jonner (189691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867002)

Wouldn't it make more sense to exploit the extensibility of XML and have multiple levels or modules of the spec like XHTML? Rather than having multiple representations of the same information in one package, allow implementations to ignore the parts of the document outside their scope.

Re:I don't know about ODF (2, Interesting)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867614)

Wouldn't it make more sense to exploit the extensibility of XML and have multiple levels or modules of the spec like XHTML?

Wouldn't it make more sense to just add new properties to CSS3 and just use XHTML?

I've never entirely understood the need for either format.

If we can specify every aspect of page layout with CSS3, then we can do everything with HTML that we can do with word processor docs. If we add page transition style definitions, we've got presentation docs covered. Add MathML and we have spreadsheets covered, and if we round that out with SVG, then charting is covered.

Isn't this more well-defined, simpler, and more accessible than either standard?

Answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867226)

BSD licensed source code implementing the standard.

You can then take the source and modify it to fit in your system.

MS could do the same, but won't, and BSD gives no patent license anyway.

Re:I don't know about ODF (1)

Ececheira (86172) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867678)

How plausable is it to think that anyone can fully implement the spec? Given that any file format is essentially a saved state of every feature the authoring program has and Office has over a million man-years of time put into it, why is it reasonable to expect a few people to fully implement it?

A partial implementation is different - just implement the features you need or use an SDK.

Wow (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866904)

Has the Amazing Kreskin confirmed this??

Despair (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22866958)

Technical issues aside. We all lose if we bow to corruption too.

I despair at the behaviour and apparent quality of technical expertise of some of my peers.

How this kind of thing works - Soft Bribery (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22866970)

I'm gonna repost this comment from another ooxml "sudden flipflop" story - I posted it too late to get any attention then but I still wanted it visible. AC for obvious reasons! Also please bear in mind that all numbers are just for example's sake, but the general point is all too accurate. Also bear in mind I have no "inside" information on Durusau at all, I am just trying to tell you some backstory on how these deals can go down, including one I have specific knowledge of.

-------

I want to tell you Slashdot people something about how this kind of thing works. I don't really know the name for it, but I call it "soft bribery". You might also call it "economic alignment" or whatever. Here's what happens.

A large, rich stakeholder wants a particular outcome - in this case, MS wants OOXML to be ratified. They have some adversaries - respected leaders of the OSS movement or ODF foundation, in this case. Note that there are always certain people with disproportionate voices - these people are really hurting them. How can they turn them around?

They can't outright bribe them. That's illegal and probably wouldn't work anyway - people would feel insulted. So what they need to do is ensure that the "thought leader"'s economic interest is aligned with their own.

We see this happen all the time - a previous strong advocate against something, in this case pro ODF and against OOXML, will suddenly get more concilatory. See Durusau's change of tone for an example. Now I don't know him, but I'm pretty sure here's what happened.

He would be in constant contact with the OOXML team in MS just as a matter of course. One day, though, they'll tell him to expect a call from a VP or higher - big guns. He's excited to be able to reach higher up in the company. Finally, they're taking him seriously. He might be talking to a billionaire!

He'll get the call. "Wow, we're really impressed with your work on this. My team is always telling me what a smart, together guy you are", says the VP or Partner or whatever. "I just wanted to tell you that we really appreciate the work you're doing and we can learn a lot from you. Say, when this is all over, if OOXML finally gets accepted - we'd love to get you in for some interoperability training and consulting, our staff could really use your insight. We pay pretty well, $500 an hour, and we estimate the contract would last for a year fulltime, but we're flexible with your current work - we just need you on call. What do you think?"

There you go. That's it. A year's worth at $500/hr is close enough to a million bucks, the guy's got a mortgage, game over. Of course MS wants it kept quiet or the deal's off - that's their "standard business practise", and the contract has an NDA clause.

Game over. I'm sure this is what happened to Durusau. I'm pretty sure it's what happened to Miguel. Unless you're independently wealthy, not many people can say no to a few hundred thousand in "consulting". Needless to say, he'll never step foot in any Microsoft building. Hell, maybe it's a lot less than a million - it was for someone I know.

I am going to be very vague here - sorry if you think I lose credibility, but I don't want to burn my friend. He was the CEO/CTO (same guy) at a small systems integrator in the educational sector "somewhere in Asia". A largish school deal was in the works, his company advised decision makers in favour of linux. A respected company, had a lot of sway with the local suits, it was looking like going their way. One day he gets a call to the cell phone - wow, one of the big guns!

"We really like the work you're doing. Say, it looks like this deal isn't going to go our way - but if it does, we'll need a partner to help us interoperate with the existing infrastructure - you installed a lot of it, so you're first in line and we'd like to book you in advance just to make sure we can get you. What are your rates? Well, we'd like to make sure we have you for at least six months and we actually pay a set rate in this area of $$$. Is that OK? We'll fax over our proposed contract right now, we're pretty eager to go ahead with this, so just to lock in our booking we'll deposit the first 25% of the contract as soon as you fax it back to us, is that good with you? Refundable if we don't get the deal of course. Commercial in confidence, naturally. Let us know ASAP, and good luck with the deal!"

The contract was over triple what the linux deal would have earned. He has a wife and kids - I'm not going to cast the first stone. They dropped their opposition, recommended the MS deal, and got paid a quarter of a million (equivalent) to do sweet fuck-all for 6 months. My friend feels like a sell-out, but his daughter's now in a better school.

I don't know how to stop this happening, but until it does, MS (or GM, or Exxon, or whoever) will win and win and win. Ask yourself how much your advocacy would sell for. Ask yourself how you'd explain to your wife that you were turning down enough money to send the kids to college because of your preferences for which software to use.

This is how it's done people.

Re:How this kind of thing works - Soft Bribery (1)

Builder (103701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867394)

Ouch - I'd like to think I'd be able to stick to my guns, but I KNOW I'd fall at that kind of talk.

It's even worse for people who have done the Right Thing(tm) in the past and watched others walk away with all the money to say no to something like this. If you've seen what you could have had if only you bent slightly, you'd also be tempted by something like this.

Fortunately for everyone, I'm unlikely to ever be in this position again, so I'll keep doing the Right Thing :D

Re:How this kind of thing works - Soft Bribery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867474)

Exactly. You can't even call it greed - these aren't rich people trying to get richer, they're normal guys who just want to take care of their families. I don't know how to solve it without some kind of regulated "office of the consumer advocate" or something.

My friend estimated his company earned over $1000 for every second he was on that phone call. I love linux as much as the next person but shit, I don't love it $1000/sec worth!

It's a failure of us as a community to rely so much on these highly visible individuals who do all the work but aren't provided sufficient income that they become susceptible to this kind of pressure. So often the absolute leading lights of the OSS community are working basically normal jobs, paying normal mortgages .. it's child's play for a big company to "take them out". Microsoft are in it at the BILLIONS level, it's an absolute no-brainer for them to tactically remove problematic opponents for a mere few hundred thou.

What can you do lah ...

Tenacious (3, Interesting)

rastilin (752802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866974)

His argument is too tenacious, I can't remember any historical situation which would bear out this line of thinking. Come to think of it, weren't there some MS guys calling themselves "The Open Document Foundation"? This is too strange to be legitimate.

It's important to keep in mind the reasons we oppose the OpenXML format..

* It'll let Microsoft extend the blight of their ".doc" format for years to come.
* As with doc, hard to reverse engineer, if it becomes a standard and gets widely used, especially in government, we'll be stuck implementing it in OSS apps while they change it to be different (Bourne out with .doc history and allegations from Windows file Sharing programmers)
* Binary blobs that could be anything, stuck into the code at Microsoft's request, obtainable only from Microsoft.

Lately there have been even better reasons.

* Allegations of corruption and mishandled votes.

In order to ensure the public good, we have to stand against that sort of thing. Being stuck reverse engineering a broken format is LESS of a problem than being in a situation where your votes get messed with. It wasn't a public vote I'll grant but it still matters. After the mess with the standard voting, they have to become an example to others.

While in the pro-camp, we have what?

* Better spreadsheet handling with Excel
* Legacy features of Microsoft formats

Handy sure, but it's not as if we can't transfer from .doc to .odf already and while "better" handling of excel files is good and all, it doesn't mention why this isn't a problem with OpenOffice. I'd bet it's the same as one of the reasons people hate the old format, because Excel does something strange.

Basically, the benefits aren't as important as stopping vote rigging or the problems of being blighted with Microsoft lock-in and binary blobs.

Re:Tenacious (0, Troll)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866988)

His argument is too tenacious,

Get yourself a dictionary!

Re:Tenacious (1)

rastilin (752802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867054)

My credibility is ruined FOREVER; the horror.....

4 possibilities (0, Troll)

ameyer17 (935373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866980)

1) This guy works for a company that sold its soul to Microsoft in exchange for a useless patent agreement 2) This guy got a large quantity of money from Microsoft in the recent past 3) This guy got a large quantity of crack from Microsoft in the recent past and consumed it 4) Going by the date in the letter (March 24) they released the letter 8 days early

Re:4 possibilities (1, Funny)

ameyer17 (935373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866984)

This time with proper formatting...
1) This guy works for a company that sold its soul to Microsoft in exchange for a useless patent agreement
2) This guy got a large quantity of money from Microsoft in the recent past
3) This guy got a large quantity of crack from Microsoft in the recent past and consumed it
4) Going by the date in the letter (March 24) they released the letter 8 days early
Remember, friends don't let friends post without using preview

Great Shades of Miguel! (3, Funny)

pdwalker (113292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866982)

Oh Miguel, you are such a kidder

Wait a minute! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22866992)

Isn't he like a week early for April Fools?

Re:Wait a minute! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867040)

Oh Shi+ the next Tuesday is the day to disconnect from the Web. Too much noise that they.

Can ISO de-recognise standards? (3, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#22866996)

Assuming this standard gets passed (God forbid!); and 6 months later we find it's business as usual with Microsoft hindering access to so-called standards, and not implementing the standards in their own products.... preventing interoperability etc. etc.

Can the ISO then meet again and de-recognise the DIS29500 standard?

If yes, what is the procedure for this process?

In other news... (5, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867004)

"Superman [wikipedia.org] , a prominent member of the Super Friends [wikipedia.org] group has written a letter that strongly supports The Legion of Doom [wikipedia.org] , arguing that if it fails, the forces of good will suffer. 'As head of the Super Friends, I want to promote truth, justice and the American way, none of which is accomplished by the anti-evil position' Superman wrote. 'The bottom line is that the Super Friends, among others, will lose if The Legion of Doom loses... Evil prevailing is going to benefit the Super Friends as much as anyone else.'"

I don't see it. (4, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867006)

First, literally, I don't see TFA. I see TFBE -- The Fine Blog Entry -- which quotes the letter, but doesn't link to it.

But I'll work with what I have:

OpenDocument currently lacks formula definitions for spreadsheets.... Many core financial functions in spreadsheets are undefined except for actual Excel output. That output varies by version and service pack of MS Office. What happens if OpenDocument and OpenXML reach different definitions of those functions?

Then OpenDocument is the correct, standard definition, and OpenXML will be even further from standardization.

The fact that Excel output varies by version and service pack, and is sometimes downright wrong, is all the more reason to ignore it. Approximate it, maybe, to make porting easier. Write a compatibility layer, even. But don't push through an entire second document spec, which is so deeply flawed in so many ways, just to make us match one particular iteration of Excel output.

Oh, and Excel output varies by version and service pack. WTF makes this tool think Microsoft will even try to adhere to a standard, even if it's their own?

In addition, ODF doesn't yet support "legacy features of Microsoft formats," he added. "That will be easier with a formal definition of those features."

It certainly would, wouldn't it?

Except for the fact that the OOXML spec doesn't include them. In all its six thousand fucking pages, not one mention of how, exactly, to implement LineSpacingLikeWord95. And what's he proposing -- delay OOXML until this can be included in the spec, and thus make it, what, twelve thousand pages? Or push it through in the faith (hah!) that Microsoft will add it to the next version of OOXML?

Consider, also, that there is a right way to do this: Styles. Extend the style system to support this quirky behavior. Support quirky behavior in an abstract way. Then, put the actual definition of LineSpacingLikeWord95 in the document itself, as a style. Translating back is easy, too -- just look for styles flagged that way, or just styles that happen to match the original format's quirk.

It would take some work, sure. But it would be pushing the work back to Microsoft and Office, not to ISO and any potential other implementations. And it would mean we don't have to carry this legacy crap with the format forever -- eventually, there will be no more Word95 documents, and no implementation will have to care that LineSpacingLikeWord95 corresponds to an actual way of saving a Word95 .doc -- just that it should look a particular way.

no "co-evolution" (4, Insightful)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867008)

If we had a co-evolutionary environment, one where the proponents of OpenXML and OpenDocument,
their respective organizations, national bodies and others interested groups could meet to discuss the
future of those proposals, the future revisions of both would likely be quite different.


It's an office format, not nuclear fusion reactor design. ODF is already the better format, and there's nothing that ODF can learn from OOXML. Whatever expertise might flow from other standards into ODF already does because ODF (unlike OOXML) builds on existing standards.

But there's another reason why ODF won't benefit: OOXML "standardization" is just a trophy to Microsoft, a check-list item for buyers who want a standardized, open document format. Microsoft is going to keep adding proprietary extensions as they see fit, without bothering going through standardization or documenting them.

(The guy also grossly misuses the term "co-evolution", but let's not dwell on that.)

That may be true, but... (5, Insightful)

jhdevos (56359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867010)

It might even be true that OOXML as an ISO standard would be beneficial to ODF. However, there are the following problems:
* There are some serious technical issues with the current proposal that have to be resolved
* There are some very serious problems with the way the process has evolved
* There is no guarantee that Microsoft will follow their own standards -- since, if there are big changes to the standard, it would require them to change their current file format.
The first two problems indicate that, perhaps, the fast-track-to-ISO was not a good idea for this standard, and that some more time and work is required before the standard is approved, no matter how beneficial an eventual approval would be for anyone.

Affordable losses? (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867100)

I can see what he says - we will probably lose some advantages when OOXML fails; or rather, there are some things we won't get as easy access to. So the question is, I think: if we will be no worse off than now, will we have lost anything, really? I don't think we will have less opportunities than we already have, and the future seems to be going our way, as far as I can see. Microsoft are slowly, but sure, it seems, getting their come-uppance, and open source is going to benefit.

I have a hard time feeling much sympathy for Microsoft's predicament, really. They have been the big, bad bully for a long time, and in all that time they had no second thought about squashing anybody who remotely looked like competition; now they are beginning to feel the squeeze, thanks to FOSS, EU and countries who are beginning to realise that they could spend their money better on other things than feeding Microsoft. Maybe, once they have been cut down to size, if they seriously change their ways like IBM, maybe then we can begin to look at them in another light.

oh dear. (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867146)

In some ways competition is good. I would not quite support OOXML, but maybe not actively despise it, if it was on a level playing field.

That is - if the votes were free and fair and based purely on technical merit I would have no problem with OOXML at all. In the spirit of free competition let the best format win to the benefit of all.

But the vote ARE NOT fair. Clearly and demonstrably so, see the past history on this subject. There is the stench of political and commercial interference in decisions that really do need to be taken on unbiased technical grounds. Mr. Durusou is clearly caught between a rock and hard place here - see the posts about the MS interference above - and something has to give, unfortunately that something appears to be his integrity and reputation* (*thats my narrow minded viewpoint based on TFA and others).

Bottom line, I don't think anybody will give this much thought apart from MS who will attempt to spin this six ways from sunday.

.DOC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867174)

The alternative is that we all stick to .doc. You decide.

I still don't get it... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867180)

...with the semi-arguments put forward by my learned colleagues in the /. crowd, I still am at a loss to grasp the concept of the success or failure of one, proprietery file format directly affecting the success or failure(!?) of one which has not only been accepted as an ISO standard, but also one which is openly and fully documented and licenced for all to use for its intended purpose with little or no restriction?

Someone care to explain that to me in words of one syllable?

Hmmm. Man attends conference in Seattle first. (2, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867290)

I don't know this fellow, but I do note one thing from Rob Weir's blog referenced upthread - that the sudden change of heart came about after a Mr. Durusau attended a conference in Seattle.

Now, Seattle and Redmond are fairly close, geographically speaking. I wonder if Mr. Durusau received some sort of persuasion from a company based in Redmond. I think we should be told.

If OOXML wins then ODF loses (3, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867324)

I do not see how OOXML becoming a standard is a good thing for ODF. Microsoft is pushing for OOXML because they don't want to support ODF.

If OOXML became an ISO standard the chances of ODF support in MS Office is zero. I'm sure Microsoft will act all conciliatory once they get their standard but they will never offer more than token support for ODF. If they produce anything at all I expect it will be some broken tools that conveniently convert ODF to OOXML but botch OOXML to ODF conversion.

How anyone can think that OOXML standardization is a good thing just boggles the mind. It will either kill ODF or marginalize it so much that it doesn't matter any more.

Mystery Men and PDF (2, Funny)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867336)

It's mystery men all over!
What's the point of a superhero if there is no evil overlord?

One should point out that a significant majority of documentation out there is already final and should be non-editable.
PDF is already the defacto standard for this. So presently, OO can easily produce a PDF of a document which can be read by almost anyone. Any MS doc could be converted to PDF by proprietary software. So PDF is the common document format.

It's only when a document has to be edited by a number of collaborators, using different WP and OS that some kind of standard is required. Again, for the most part, the edited document is finalised and can be made into a PDF.

Now practically, typesetting machines can read a text document that is pre-tagged, so it understands font face, size, chapter number, paragraphs, quotes etc etc - and this is all done in plain text. No mystery here at all.
The battle between ODF and docx is the battle between MS and the rest of the world.
ODF should win, simply because it is monopolistic to force anyone to purchase software to view and edit what amounts to be public domain texts.

Has an "incentive" been offered you think? (2, Interesting)

rubenerd (998797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867348)

When I lived in Malaysia last year (very nice, warm people with a really dodgy government), whenever a major project is stalled or changes direction, or when a prominant politican flips on a seemingly heartfelt poisition overnight (happens more regularly that you think) we all nod our heads and know that he probably got a new Porsche.

Why can't I shake the feeling that this guy has been bought off? Heck, Microsoft has shown it's willing to pay off Swedish votors for OOXML and a slew of other shady dealings.

I still want to see what happens if MS Bunkers. (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867432)

The funny thing is, I'm interested in what happens if MS loses.

I can see MS Going... "You know, it doesn't really matter if you make us an ISO standard or not, we are entrenched in 90% of your infrastructure. Good luck replacing that infrastructure. It will be over out dead bodies ODF is supported by MS-Office, and you are about to find some very unfriendly code in the next service pack that breaks Linux Dual Boot loaders, Breaks existing ODF Plugins, and adds a DRM Key to all documents opened."

VCock (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867512)

Thes3 early will not work. And bunch of gay negros 3 simple steps! Disturbing. If you To yet another it a break, if more grandiose

It makes sense... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22867528)

Finally someone with some sense. Instead of being part of the torch wielding crazy mob against MS, he at least has thought ahead.

If OOXML doesn't get ISO, Ms is prolly still going to go ahead and use it in its products - which make up 90% of the office suite using crowd anyway. Does any of the normal users care about the ISO definition. They will continue to use Office products - Word, Excel, PowerPoint and share successfully with each other.

However, when some of us who use "other" products like OpenOffice etc. try to open these files, it wont be able to. and Ms won't be inclined nor interested in supporting or even divulging the details of its format anymore since it got rejected as an ISO std. So when you can't open an Office file, the people who send you the file are gonna say that _your_ office suite sucks - not theirs, since they will be able to open not just Office formats but ODF formats as well.

Who loses if M$OOXML loses? (5, Interesting)

TropicalCoder (898500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22867748)

From the thread on Groklaw [groklaw.net]

I reproduce here the response from grokker59 [groklaw.net] and below Ron Weir's [groklaw.net] response.

Authored by: grokker59 on Tuesday, March 25 2008 @ 08:27 AM EDT

Item 1: If DIS29500 is not approved, *national bodies* will loose a forum to work on DIS29500 - circular reasoning. If DIS29500 is not approved, NBs won't *NEED* a forum to work on DIS29500 !

Item 2: Microsoft-only vendors may lose contracts because Microsoft failed to get "their" format approved. Circular reasoning. By not standardizing on a proprietary, lock-in document format, those companies that only sell proprietary lock-in document software no longer have a guarantee of continuing sales to locked-in customers. They might need to support an additional product or two to continue getting contract awards.

Item 3: If OOXML is disapproved, then ODF loses because it has no ISO-based formula definitions to insure compatibility between ODF and the complete lack of formula documentation in OOXML ? How is this a comparison and why do I care whether ODF shares formulas with OpenXML ? Microsoft's Office 2007 does not use OpenXML. Neither are Excel formulas documented in OOXML to the extent that translation can take place. What's important is that ODF interoperate to the greatest extent possible with Office 2007 and future versions - not that it interoperate with a format that Microsoft has already abandoned and/or never implemented.

Item 4: OOXML/OpenXML does not define legacy features, nor does OOXML/OpenXML provide a mapping for legacy features. Furthermore, all legacy features were moved to 'deprecated' status in the BRM, so there is no requirement to support them in either OOXML or ODF. OpenOffice already supports MS legacy features better than MS products, so I fail to see the gain of supporting DIS29500 to provide something that ODF products (OpenOffice.org) already does better than MS products.

Item 5: "ODF has no ISO-based definition of the current MS format for mapping purposes." Since MS products do not implement DIS29500, this is is a non-issue. MS has already stated they do not feel bound to support future DIS29500 versions in future products, so ODF MSOffice mappings are never going to be ISO-based. Nor should we expect MS to open their file format protocols in future versions.

There is *certainly* no reason to expect that MS will "offer a seat at the table" to any public organization during the planning/implementation of their next version of MSOffice since they've already stated that they do not feel bound by DIS29500 or its successors in ISO.


...and the response from the one and only Rob Weir in the same thread


Another view from the ODF TC

Authored by: rcweir on Tuesday, March 25 2008 @ 06:38 PM EDT

As Co-Chair of the ODF TC, let me say that Mr. Durusau's views in no way represent the position of OASIS or the ODF TC.

Of course, he is entitled to his personal views, and so am I.

Patrick makes 5 assertions in his latest letter, and these are easily rebutted:

1) National bodies lose an open and international forum for further work on DIS 29500.

*Is Patrick implying that Ecma is not open and international? That would be a good thing to to know in those places where Microsoft is currently pushing for adoption of OOXML, arguing that it is an open standard.

One does not approve a standard in ISO in order to be more open. Openness should be there from the beginning. Patrick's argument appears to be "Let's give OOXML the highest level of approval and then it will be a better standard". But ISO standardization is not done with sacramental oils. There is not transmutation. OOXML does not become a good standard because it is approved. A standard is approved because it is good.

2) Microsoft based third-party vendors may be excluded from contracts because Microsoft has no ISO approved format.

*Microsoft could always add support for ODF to their product. Then they would be supporting an ISO standard. Similarly, I assume they are now seriously thinking of adding Blu-ray support to the XBox now that HD DVD failed. We should not be propping up Microsoft and giving them a free ticket to ISO because of their bad business decision in ignoring ODF and delaying their own standardization activities. The market rewards those who guess right, and punishes those that guess wrong. Microsoft was on the wrong side of open standards. We should not be looking to avoid the natural outcome of that.

3) ODF has no ISO-based formula definitions to insure compatibility between OpenDocument and OpenXML.

*And OOXML has no ISO-based formula definitions either, because OOXML has not been approved by ISO!

4) ODF has no ISO-based definition of MS legacy features for an ODF extension.

*And OOXML has no ISO-based definition of MS legacy features either, because OOXML has not been approved by ISO!

5) ODF has no ISO-based definition of the current MS format for mapping purposes

*And OOXML has no ISO-based definition of the current MS format either, because OOXML has not been approved by ISO!

These last three points by Patrick are rather poor. The fact that portions of the Ecma-376 specification are interesting as technical disclosures of proprietary Microsoft Office interfaces does not automatically recommend the entire 6,045 page specification for approval as an ISO standard. If the ODF TC desires any information on these three topics, we already have access to this material via the Ecma-376 text and the Ecma's Disposition of Comments report, both of which will exist regardless of whether DIS 29500 is approved.

In no way whatsoever is ODF hurt, harmed or even annoyed by the imminent demise of Microsoft's ill-conceived reckless experiment in ISO.

...the point is that if ODF adds these items based purely on Ecma-376, and then ODF 1.2 is approved by ISO, then ODF has ISO-approved definitions.

That is how his argument fails. There is absolutely no loss to ODF if OOXML fails.

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