maelorin: (free beer)

OOXML vs ODF: where next for interoperability?

Tim Anderson, at The Register

'a diversion from the real end game – the taking of the Internet'

Gary Edwards of the Open Document Foundation has a fascinating post on the important of Microsoft Office compatibility to the success of the ISO-approved Open Document formats.

It is in places a rare voice of sanity:

People continue to insist that if only Microsoft would implement ODF natively in MSOffice, we could all hop on down the yellow brick road, hand in hand, singing kumbaya to beat the band. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way. Wish it did.

Sure, Microsoft could implement ODF - but only with the addition of application specific extensions to the current ODF specification … Sun has already made it clear at the OASIS ODF TC that they are not going to compromise (or degrade) the new and innovative features and implementation model of OpenOffice just to be compatible with the existing 550 million MSOffice desktops.


The simple truth is that ODF was not designed to be compatible – interoperable with existing Microsoft documents, applications and processes. Nor was it designed for grand convergence. And as we found out in our five years participation at the OASIS ODF TC, there is an across the boards resistance to extending ODF to be compatible with Microsoft documents, applications and processes.

Summary: in Edwards’ opinion, there are technical and political reasons why seamless ODF interop cannot be baked into Microsoft Office. Therefore the Foundation is now working on interop with the W3C’s Compound Document Format, about which I know little.

Surprisingly, Edwards also says that ODF will fail in the market:

If we can't convert existing MS documents, applications and processes to ODF, then the market has no other choice but to transition to MS-OOXML.

Edwards is thoroughly spooked by the success of Sharepoint in conjunction with Exchange, and overstates his case:

If we can't neutralize and re purpose MSOffice, the future will belong to MS-OOXML and the MS Stack. Note the MS Stack noticeably replaces W3C Open Web technologies with Microsoft's own embraced “enhancements”. Starting with MS-OOXML/Smart Tags as a replacement for HTML-XHTML-RDF Metadata. HTML and the Open Web are the targets here. ODF is being used as a diversion from the real end game – the taking of the Internet.

I find this implausible. At the same time, I agree about the importance of interoperability with Microsoft Office.

I would also like clarification on what are the limitations of OOXML / ODF conversion. Here's a technique that does a reasonable job. Open OOXML in Microsoft Office, save to binary Office format. Open binary Office format in Open Office, save as ODF. The same works in reverse. Not perfect perhaps, but a whole lot better than the Microsoft-sponsored add-in that works through XSLT. Could this existing Open Office code be made into a Microsoft Office plug-in, and if so, what proportion of existing documents would not be satisfactorily converted?

Note that Sun's ODF converter seems to be exactly this, except that it does not yet work with Office 2007. It could presumably be used with Office 2003 and the OOXML add-in, to provide a way to convert OOXML to ODF in a single application. Some further notes on Sun’s converter here.

A freelance writer since 1992, Tim Anderson specialises in programming and Internet development topics. He is a contributor to lots of publications, including Register Developer. You can find his blog here.

i am still mulling over this article, and edward's blog post (this post has itself been sitting open in semagic over the weekend, and i'm still procrastinating :p)

document standards are the good. not just for interoperability, but for future access to the documents themselves. hands up anyone who's tried to read an old word document recently? or needed to? ... how did that go for you?

i'm thinking about interoperability, and data standards, from the perspective of identifier and biometric data that's currently being produced, stored and disseminated at a rapid pace at the moment because of the usa's joy for the wot [war on t'error].

data standards are important.
location: cis cwe
Mood:: 'thoughtful' thoughtful
maelorin: (never fails) PUBLIC POLICY INTELLIGENCE REPORT 04.06.2006

Ending the CSR Debate
Bart Mongoven

note: the text here came from an email from - which requires you to pay to access most of their content ... the mark-ups here are my own - i didn't see any point leaving in links that i couldn't use. [the text is in usa english. sorry.]

The debate over the moral responsibilities of corporations to society has taken on a more solid form with the release of the first draft of the standard known as ISO-26000. When finished, the standard -- drafted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) -- can be used by corporations to determine (and prove) that they are acting in a socially responsible manner. The standard will not be published until 2008, and the current draft reportedly is in a highly unfinished form, with many significant questions still to be answered. Nonetheless, the release of the draft marks a turning point in the long-running debate.

there is debate about whether "corporate social responsibility" even exists ... and what, if anything, it might actually mean.

the idea of an international standard for corporate social responsibility intrigues me greatly. (hence, i suppose, this post :)

trust is getting bandied about a bit now and then as an important - even crucial - factor in corporate success. at the very worst in the form of 'branding' [or as i put it recently, blanding]
Read more... )
Mood:: 'indescribable' indescribable
Music:: computer fan hum


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