OpenXML links to wrap up January ‘07

I had a few interesting articles I thought folks might be interested in:

Miguel de Icaza – The EU Prosecutors are Wrong

Miguel has an excellent write up drilling into the details around both ODF and OpenXML. Miguel explains how the legal team representing a collection of companies against Microsoft is “not only shooting themselves in the foot, they are shooting all of our collective open source feet.” He goes into a number of interesting areas of the specs, and seriously challenges the complaints that having everything fully documented in 6,000 pages is somehow a bad thing. I also liked his example of the work done to fully document the spreadsheet functions thanks in no small part to the help we received from Novell’s Jody Goldberg and Michael Meeks:

“The original submission to the ECMA TC45 working group did not have any of this information. Jody Goldberg and Michael Meeks that represented Novell at the TC45 requested the information and it eventually made it into the standards. I consider this a win, and I consider those 324 extra pages a win for everyone (almost half the size of the ODF standard).

Depending on how you count, ODF has 4 to 10 pages devoted to it. There is no way you could build a spreadsheet software based on this specification.

To build a spreadsheet program based on ODF you would have to resort to an existing implementation source code (, Gnumeric) or you would have to resort to Microsoft’s public documentation or ironically to the OOXML specification.”

“…considering that it is impossible to implement a spreadsheet program based on ODF, am convinced that the analysis done by those opposing OOXML is incredibly shallow, the burden is on them to prove that ODF is “enough” to implement from scratch alternative applications.”

Wikilobbying on the Colbert Report

I mentioned this yesterday, and was able to find a link to the content up on comedy central’s website:

What is “Contradiction” of an ISO Standard

Rick Jelliffe provides his view on what the contradictory period of the fast-track process is supposed to focus on. Remember that the ODF spec used the PAS process which doesn’t even allow for a contradictory period, it just goes straight into the technical review. We’re seeing a lot of folks trying to shape what “contradictory” means in order to suite their goals. I think Rick takes a great step in clearing things up:

I take a fairly strict view of “contradiction”. Anything else works against fairness of process.

A contradiction is where

  • One standard attempts to redefine another, or is a rival standard for exactly the same named thing but is different in some aspect. The precedent here is the contradictions alleged between two standards for UNIX-derived APIs that arrived at ISO by different routes ISO Linux API and ISO POSIX. The remedy is withdrawal and harmonization.
  • One standard disrupts another. The precedent for this is the IEEE 802 WAPI issue in which the claim was that the changes would make existing conforming implementations non-conforming. The remedy is withdrawal of the contradicting standard and future harmonization. (However, the WAPI issue does not seem to have been resolved; certainly the Chinese approach (compared to the UK body) is that procedural issues should not be used to block standards, in particular that obsoleting old standards for allowing a “contridiction” to block the progress of the standard if the issues have been raised before and not disposed of. But it does suggests that fairness is a more important criterion than contradiction, at the end of the day. Or, at least, that using procedural tactics to block something may not find much favour in the eyes of the ISO Secretariat and many ISO participants. )
  • One standard pretends to be another. The precedent for this at ISO are the UK objections to C++/CLI. The remedy for this is a simple name change, and other associated editorial changes.
  • One standard incorrectly uses another. For example, if a standard said it used ISO SGML but allowed that to be invalid for no intrinsic reason. (I have not found any precedent for this, but it seems the obvious case.)

What OpenXML Means to IBM and Lotus Notes

This article takes a look at the motivation behind IBM’s support ODF and aggressive opposition of OpenXML.

“With Lotus notes being posed to be the first major commercial application to support ODF, and OpenOffice being so heavily influenced by IBM, there is the chance to gain a pocket monopoly in Belgium. Moreover, with the incompatibilities between different ODF implementations tripping up late comers, IBM could theoretically control that market for years to come.”

Wouter van Vugt – Doug is Evil

Funny take on the whole Wikipedia issue, and a great picture of Doug Mahugh.

“It would be a great thing for me as a developer if this Open XML is in the hands of ISO, as this will provide me more security for the future, interoperability, and the possibility to make the apps my customers demand.”


Comments (6)

  1. Sean.McLellan says:

    Props to you Brian, it’s gotta be ironic taking so much flak for standardizing that which so many have asked to be standardized. Keep strong, my friend.

  2. Brian Jones has a great post with links to other views on the ODF wars. One post I very much liked reading

  3. Stephane Rodriguez says:


    All shills on the same page, that makes you feel better?

    Come on. There are experts in your audience. Who do you think you are fooling?

  4. Francis says:

    I had no idea people could get so worked up over standardization! 😀

    I look forward to when Brian and co. can get to working on the next version of the spec. They might be able to head off similar criticism in the future, as well as creating a less controversial specification, by setting up an unofficial public input mechanism (aside from TC45.) Rob Weir says he’s going to do something like that for ODF. It’d be great if we all could contribute to an OpenXML 1.1/2.0 wishlist wiki.

  5. hAl says:

    It seems the BSI has indicated that it seem contradictions in the OOXML fasttrack proces. That will mean a delay in the fasttrack proces untill JTC1 resolves the issue.

    Is there a chance that Ecma or a national body will propose some amendments if needed to overcome objections raised by the BSI if those objections are confirmed by JCT1 ???

  6. says:

    There are over 100 national bodies that provide input into the ISO standardization process. I’ve heard that there are a handful that plan on expressing concerns about Ecma 376. The next step will then be for Ecma TC45 to meet and decide how to best address the issues raised without compromising interoperability.