There were a few interesting articles I saw this week that I wanted to point people at.
"… if government locks in winners and losers, manufacturers will focus on courting government, rather than innovating. The recent technology policy debate in Massachusetts offers a case in point. In September 2005, after lobbying by IBM, Sun Microsystems and others, the state's Information Technology Division (ITD) announced that all government agencies must convert to computer systems that use OpenDocument file formats, an alternative to the Microsoft Office formats."
I thought that was a really interesting read. There aren't a lot of articles looking at the issue from this side. Let's allow people to choose the formats they want. I'm not sure anyone is opposed to choice. I don't know about you guys, but (like I said in the blog title) I'm looking forward to more discussion around the technologies instead of the policies.
"…we will be setting the precedence for a future where instead of fighting for market share with features, we will instead be fighting with favors to politicians, lobbyists, and/or any other source of so called advantage we think we can possibly gain through the legal channels, spending all of our development resources on these same mentioned channels, instead of putting that money into the development of the products themselves.
Whether anyone on the ODF side is willing to admit it or not, this isn't about document formats."
I'm hoping that with communities popping up like OpenXMLDeveloper.org, we'll start to see more and more folks talking about the technologies themselves and the awesome stuff you can do with XML. I want the discussions to be more around building solutions and innovating on top of these formats. I want to hear from folks about what they want to do with the formats. What kind of solutions are people building? Let's start sharing these ideas.
"But when I asked Sun's engineers point blank if they had verified my numbers, they stated that they do not dispute the numbers and immediately proceeded to explain why it was slower than Microsoft's format. The reason Sun explained was that Sun has to use the open standards OASIS compressed XML format while Microsoft used its own proprietary binary file format which was essentially a very efficient memory dump that didn't require a lot of CPU cycles to process (approximately 95 times more cycles based on my tests). But then I pointed out that even when I tested Microsoft Office with its own 2003 XML format plus the time it took to compress the data, it was still approximately 5 times faster than OpenOffice.org. Sun's engineers explained that this was due to the fact that ODF took longer to process than Microsoft's XML format. At this point in the conversation, they've managed to convince me that the OpenDocument format was 5 to 100 times less efficient."
From our point of view, the move to XML formats was actually a scary one since the old binary formats for Excel were so damned fast. That's why we had to look really closely at every aspect of the SpreadsheetML design to see where we could make the load times faster. As I've said before, most end users don't care about XML, they just care about their files working. It was up to us to make sure that we can give the developers out there XML without having a negative impact on the end user.
I'm not sure if it's good blog policy to post on a Friday afternoon. Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you're doing something fun, and aren't stuck reading my blog (at least until Monday)!