Out of time?


I wanted to talk about some of the comments I wish we could have dealt with but we didn’t have enough time. We’ll need to follow up with the national body for more information, and deal with it in maintenance. Here’s the full list if you are interested (http://www.oasis-open.org/apps/group_public/download.php/18912/iso-comment-responses.odt), but I thought I’d highlight a few:


UK Comment #3 :


The text frequently uses terms borrowed from other standards but with narrower or in other ways altered meanings.


Response:


The information provided in the comment is not sufficient to provide a response to it. The TC may have further responses to this comment when it gets more detailed information.


UK Comment #9:


The ODF schema contains a number of features whose use appears to relate to specific implementation choices or be constrained by a specific implementation restrictions. Examples include features that are application-specific or which would only be available on specific operating platforms (such as DDE, OLE).


Response:


… while the OpenDocument schema supports the use of DDE, it does not require its support since the content of any such element is represented in the resulting instance.


Similarly, the OpenDocument schema does not require support for OLE objects, but does support their inclusion in an OpenDocument document, much as it supports the inclusion of any other binary object (not in XML).



Merely providing support for binary objects does not bind any implementor to support any particular binary objects or protocols for their use.


UK Comment #10:


Some properties whose values are measurements constrain the choice of units of measurement in ways that are implementation-dependent. While it is recognised that not all implementations will be able to support all choices of units of measurement, the format should be flexible enough to allow new implementations that do not impose the same constraints.


Response:


The TC intends to clarify which units of measurements should or may be supported by implementations in a future OpenDocument specification.


UK Comment #11:


Some properties whose values are measurements constrain the choice of units of measurement in ways that are implementation-dependent. While it is recognised that not all implementations will be able to support all choices of units of measurement, the format should be flexible enough to allow new implementations that do not impose the same constraints.


Response:


The TC intends to define all constrains on string values for measurements by patterns in a future OpenDocument specification.


UK Comment #11:


Some properties whose values are measurements constrain the choice of units of measurement in ways that are implementation-dependent. While it is recognised that not all implementations will be able to support all choices of units of measurement, the format should be flexible enough to allow new implementations that do not impose the same constraints.


Response:


The TC intends to define all constrains on string values for measurements by patterns in a future OpenDocument specification.


UK Comment #12:


Spatial frames of reference for page layout and object rotation are not clearly defined.


Response:


The information provided in the comment is not sufficient to provide a response to it. The TC may have further responses to this comment when it gets more detailed information.


UK Comment #13:


The rationale for mixing functionalities from different sources/namespaces (e.g. XSL-FO, SVG and CSS2) is not properly explained in each case.


Response:


The format specifies the different namespaces and how they are used. It is not an expository document making a case for one solution over another. As a standard it is stating the rule, not arguing for it.


Japan Comment #3:


Add the features of accessibility, if possible.


Response:


The TC acknowledges the comment by the Japanese National Body on accessibility issues. The OpenDocument TC’s Accessibility Subcommittee has reviewed the OpenDocument v1.0 specification, has identified 9 accessibility issues in OpenDocument v1.0, and proposes candidate solutions to them. With these changes, we believe that OpenDocument will meet or exceed the accessibility support provided in all other office file formats as well as that specified in the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0.


Due to structures on the revision process in OASIS and time constraints we were unable to add these features to the current version of OpenDocument submitted to ISO, but they shall be added to the next revision of OpenDocument. We appreciate the Japanese National Body correcting our oversight in this area.


China Comment #4:


ODF in W3C schema should be provided in addition to RelaxNG specification.


Response:


The OpenDocument schema is specified in Relax-NG, which is an ISO standard. The purpose of the schema is the validation of OpenDocument instances. Providing a W3C XSD schema would be possible, but since not all concepts that exist in Relax-NG also exist in W3C XSD and vice versa, the W3C XSD schema would not accept exactly the same set of documents as the Relax-NG schema. It therefore could not be used for validation purposes. Providing a W3C XSD schema for this reason seems not be reasonable.


China Comment #5:


The document structure should be described by means of hierarchical elements for better extensibility, whereas the current version uses too many attributes.


Response:


There are many factors that have influenced whether information is represented as an attribute or an element in OpenDocument. One major factor was whether the information is represented as element or as attribute in the standards OpenDocument is based on.


Because there are no major differences how elements and attributes are specified in Relax-NG, the OpenDocument TC is not aware of any advantages regarding extensibility that the use of elements has over the use of attributes.


China Comment #9:


Text table is hard to transform into other formats due to its faulty design.


Response:


The information provided in the comment is not sufficient to provide a response to it. The TC may have further responses to this comment when it gets more detailed information.


China Comment 10:


Representation of graphics and chart is imperfect, e.g., the incompact chart description in spreadsheet.


Response:


The information provided in the comment is not sufficient to provide a response to it. The TC may have further responses to this comment when it gets more detailed information.


China Comment 11


Field representation is inexplicit and incomplete.


Response:


The information provided in the comment is not sufficient to provide a response to it. The TC may have further responses to this comment when it gets more detailed information.


China Comment 12


Some values adopted are not described clearly in the standard document, e.g., some string and enumerate values.


Response:


The information provided in the comment is not sufficient to provide a response to it. The TC may have further responses to this comment when it gets more detailed information.


China Comment 13


International markup. i.e., multilingual and localized tags should be supported.


Response:


The information provided in the comment is not sufficient to provide a response to it. The TC may have further responses to this comment when it gets more detailed information.


China Comment 14


Function related to Chinese processing should be enhanced, e.g., to support binding lines and diagonally divided table cells.


Response:


OpenDocument supports diagonal border lines. They are described in section 15.11.8


The information provided in the comment regarding binding lines is not sufficient to provide a response to it. The TC may have further responses to this comment when it gets more detailed information.

Comments (28)

  1. Rob Brown says:

    Hmm, I’m confused. Did Jesper Lund Stocholm have any involvement in the drafting of this post? 😉

  2. Wouter Schut says:

    this is so confusing…my head hurts. Why the confusing name for Open XML? Moox was cool enough right? Why not call it POX, People Office XML, power to the people…so to speak. 😉

  3. Stefan Wenig says:

    What’s this? _You_ did not have enough time to answer the comments to _ODF_ ??

  4. Mike Brown says:

    Standard Microsoft practice when discussing OOXML: don’t discuss OOXML itself, but instead discuss ODF or IBM (or both if you want maximum brownie points).

    Nice try, Brian.  But ODF is already an ISO standard.  The matter at hand is the standardisation of OOXML.

    Cheers,

    – Mike

  5. Christopher says:

    Oh come on Brian, this post is beyond pathetic.

    What about the circa 900 (nine hundred!) comments that were not even discussed at the OOXML BRM before being waved through by default?

    Wouldn’t you (and the proposed OOXML standard) be better off by spending your time discussing those instead of producing snide commentary about 38 comments on the ODF ISO standard?

    To make matters worse, it seems that there are still many dozens more issues with OOXML that weren’t even addressed by the BRM.

    If *you* didn’t have enough time to deal with ODF-related comments, how do you think *the rest of the world* feels about having much less time to review and discuss the supposed OOXML specification?

  6. Jake says:

    Well, I don’t even know that to say after reading this. I’m confused.

    Perhaps the best thing I can do is to give a free tip to all readers:

    http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2008/03/how_many_defects_remain_answer.html#c3002822

    There, the ISO SQL Editor shares some of his experiences gained from the hard work during past the 20 _YEARS_ spent with SQL standard.

  7. Cmdr Flibberty Jibbitz says:

    This post serves to illustrate that ODF did get a free pass when it came to the quality of the standard.

    There is a double-standard applied to ODF and OOXML.  This double-standard is justified on variations of "We are good, MS is evil".

    Had Microsoft been the submitter of ODF, we would see the commissars up in arms about these unanswered issues.

    But what we have today is OOXML, a standard that started pretty with a very thorough specification, that was improved through the ISO process.   And a raging mob lead by a mix of half-truths, financial interests trying to use every device to stop a standard because it was created by Microsoft.

    On the other hand, ODF, now an ISO standard is incomplete, with plenty of open issues and inconsistencies, yet, heralded as the pinnacle of openness.

    Orwellian in so many ways.

  8. Francis says:

    Mike: There seem to have been two recurring themes in the arguments against DIS 29500: first, that it is unnecessary, as ODF fulfills the same function; and second, that it is a relatively poor standard (in comparison, both implicit and explicit, with ODF.)

    I can’t see how Brian can rebut these points if he’s gagged on the matter of ODF. Rob Weir sure has spoken volumes on DIS 29500 and ODF, often in the same mouthful, dissing the former in express favor of the latter. Why should Brian have to abide by a different set of rules than everybody else?

    I also do not believe that the fact that ODF is already a standard should immunize it against criticism or comparison. Standardization should not be a first-come-first-serve process.

  9. Anonymous Coward says:

    Ah, what a pleasure it is to see how people are working together to get things right:

    http://www.openmalaysiablog.com/2008/03/doug-mahugh-rea.html

  10. Anonymous Coward says:

    That link from OpenMalasya is very interesting, specially if you follow all the links, like this one:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/dmahugh/archive/2008/03/20/an-open-standards-meeting-in-malaysia.aspx

    It raises fascinating questions, as for example, why did the group in Malaysia not discuss the actual issues that they had submitted to ISO, but instead decided to focus on other topics?   This seems like someone was trying to move the goalposts.

    Why did Malaysia vote "disapprove" to the editorial changes that they had requested when ECMA did the editorial change?

    Wait, who am I kidding?   Its not even worth pondering these questions, we all know that this has nothing to do with the technical quality of OOXML or the resolutions from the BRM.   This is all a political fight by those that want to block Microsoft, not with better software, not by competing, and not by innovating, but by passing legislation that mandates ISO standards, and then blocking MS from standardizing OOXML.

    I have been contributing to open source projects for years, and this path is just disgraceful.

  11. Dave S says:

    UK Comments #10, #11, (second)#11 look very much the same.

    Many of the others ask for addtional features. Some also are senseless – "Text table is hard to transform into other formats due to its faulty design." Any chance of elaboration?

    @Cmdr Flibberty Jibbitz. Too bad MS-Office, and therefore MSO-XML, has been grossly incomplete for almost twenty years.

    In Excel, add a cell of 10 months to a cell containing 5 miles and see if an error is reported.

    No?

    Then where -is- units awareness in Excel? It’s a huge oversight.

    As ODF has the same problem, there’s no reason to approve a second standard with the same defect.

  12. nksingh says:

    @AC:

    I have a great deal of respect for contributors to Open Source Software since they freely give their knowledge to the world in a way that Microsoft or IBM or Google cannot for fear of losing business.  

    Unfortunately there are a lot of people who do not contribute much to improve the quality and quantity of OSS, but instead choose to "contribute" by tearing down anything that is not OSS.  These people are quite prevalent on the anti-OpenXML side and IBM is quite happy to give them a platform as ‘independent voices,’  since it is convenient for the time being.  

    The ISO can’t keep these "contributors" out of their process because they really are independent (and ‘because I don’t like them’ is not a particularly good reason, just like ‘because I don’t like Microsoft’ is a bad reason to reject OpenXML).  Perhaps ISO could in the future be more clear about valid and invalid reasons to vote ‘No’ on a draft standard, and ignore or censure NBs who vote ‘No’ without cause.  The worst that can happen from this approach is that some standards will get accepted and not subsequently used due to incompleteness or irrelevance.  

    Perhaps some ODF people are afraid their format will suffer from this fate.  That doesn’t have to be the case, however, if that format is actually maintained and improved.

  13. Another Anonymous says:

    Guys, if you are setting up schemes it’d nice to have some facts alongside your claims. Now that you mentioned Malaysia, please let me give you an example of hard evidence: a phony business card made by a Microsoft employee!

    http://www.edbrill.com/ebrill/edbrill.nsf/dx/open-malaysia-blog-the-elephant-in-the-room-with-a-calling-card.?opendocument&comments

    Maybe others are doing the same, I don’t know, but if you claim something like that, please provide even some evidence.

    Thanks.

  14. Dave S. says:

    @nksingh – Anyone tearing down Oracle? Sun? HP?, Intel? SAP? Adobe? Be honest – there are few people "tearing down anything that is not OSS."

    A valid reason to oppose a standard is when the ratification of that standard may give equal legal footing to a company that has a clear history, up to the present day, of ignoring and subverting standards to further entrench its monopoly position.

    Had Microsoft so wished, it could have published MSO-XML and given everyone the exact benefit MS has claimed for its rush job on ECMA and ISO. A few years wait would then ferret out the trouble spots, just as it has in most other areas of standardization.

    Besides, even Brian Jones enjoys talking about ODF. There is hardly any mention of MSO-XML aka OOXML, beyond pleading for yes votes.

  15. Anonymous Coward says:

    Rules are changing delay around the world, this time in Poland:

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080322203811784

    Strange things are happening.

  16. jones206@hotmail.com says:

    Dave S,

    I’ve had over 300 blog posts, and only 90 of them mention ODF in any way. Most of those posts are around things like the ODF translator and other tools. I’ve rarely discussed ODF, but given that it’s the primary argument folks are using against the adoption of Open XML as an ISO standard I think it’s free to bring up at least in terms of comparison. If you disagree, then feel free to not read my blog any more… I won’t be offended.

    Anonymous folks,

    An IBM employee based in Germany wrote the official contradiction document for another country and noone even batted an eye. Doug went to Malaysia to have an open discussion on the technical details around Open XML. He’s a well known Microsoft employee who blogs openly, it’s not like he was going to try to mask who he was.

    Thanks for the Groklaw links too. It’s great to pointers to such non-bias coverage… 🙂

    -Brian

  17. Anon says:

    Brian,

    Let’s not forget that Yoon Kit – a Malaysian – wrote the comments submitted to ISO by *Kenya*!

    It looks very inappropriate, and Yoon Kit should provide an explanation.

  18. Rob Brown says:

    Yoon Kit has already explained the Kenya issue, see http://notes2self.net/archive/2007/06/22/quot-there-is-no-reason-to-be-browbeaten-into-thinking-that-there-should-only-be-one-document-format-quot.aspx

    Now, whether you believe his explanation is up to you.

  19. Rob,

    No – I didn’t have anything to do with this blog post … but it’s nice to see Brian having learned from "the master".

    :o)

  20. Dave S. says:

    @Brian. How ironic. You post excusing your position on ODF and -ta dah- another ODF post.

    OK – Get technical – What exactly is the reason for the significantly sub-optimum compression used in Office 2007 WRT docx? It leaves 10-20% on the table vs WinZip.

  21. nksingh says:

    @Dave S.

    People don’t bash Sun and Adobe?  I see plenty of bashing of both of those companies, Sun in particular.  In Sun’s case, it is mostly about their daring to release their open source software software in some license other than the blessed GPL.  

    But yes, most people bash Microsoft to be honest.  Where’s the fun in bashing the bit players?  Brian’s blog may not be the most appropriate place to discuss this, but I strongly disagree with your statement that Microsoft actively or intentionally subverts standards.  Many times, Microsoft’s products predate the official standards and the standards are later formed by the players that lost out in the marketplace.  This is the way I view the W3C committees, for instance.  Other times, like with Kerberos, Microsoft uses perfectly legitimate vendor extension fields and layers on higher-level protocols above the base standards to make a compelling product.  I don’t see how differentiating yourself through more complete products and better capabilities is anticompetitive or subversive.

  22. Mike Brown says:

    @nksingh,

    I can’t believe that you’re citing the Kerberos incident in this discussion!  It’s a text book example of Microsoft’s "embrace, extend and extinguish" attitude towards international standards!  (With friends like these, Brian, you’ll never need enemies!)

    For those that don’t know, in the late nineties Microsoft tried to extend the Kerberos Web security protocol via secret, proprietary extensions, so ensuring that any "standard" implementation of Kerberos could not authenticate with Microsoft servers.  You had to buy Microsoft’s own Kerberos server to do that.  Microsoft only divulged how those proprietary extensions worked the day before it had its arse hauled into court in late 2000.  The timing was purely coincidental, of course.

    All sounds a bit familiar today, doesn’t it?  Read all about it at:

    http://www.networkworld.com/news/2000/0511kerberos.html

    Cheers,

    – Mike

  23. Anon says:

    @Rob Brown

    "Yoon Kit has already explained the Kenya issue"

    No, he hasn´t. When confronted he simply said "I don´t know how it happened". Hardly an explanation in my book.

    Beyond agressively lobbying a foreign NB, Yoon Kit went beyond any moral standards and wrote himself the actual comments! This is a serious issue that requires more than a lame "I don´t know" excuse.

  24. Izak says:

    OOXML support only one platform and CPU arch now!

    ODF support many platform anad many CPU arch (Sparc, PowerPC, x86, x86_64 ….)

    All big internet search engine is power to POSIX OS, and for posix OS is only limited support.

    No non windows desktop is impossible open OOXML without comandline beta convert program.

    M$ is noncredit corporation for any standard, all standards crumple in history.

  25. Cmdr Flibberty Jibbitz says:

    Izak,

    Your eloquence has won me over.

  26. I try to keep the discussion on this blog primarily focused on the area I care most about, the technology

  27. Dave S. says:

    @nksingh – So, no attempted hijack of Java? You know, where MS added numerous extensions that worked only on MS OSs, knowing that the entire point of Java was lack of OS dependence.

    Tweaks in their web-page generators that only their own browser rendered as expected?

    Submitting false evidence to a federal court to support their contention that IE was so integral to the OS that they could not be separated.

    An internal MS memo asking why key functions for IE, not used by any OS component, were scattered amongst numerous OS DLLs when it only complicated the support process.

    I just did two searches – "sun is evil" and "microsoft is evil" Guess which one refers to a company and includes dedicated websites to same. There is an ‘Evil" website that lists Adobe, but IE is listed there as being even more evil.

  28. Dave S. says:

    @Anon – You insult Kenyans by suggesting they lack the capacity to decide what is best for them.

    @Izak – What you mean is clear.