Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Contradictory Nature of OOXML

"the Microsoft Office XML-based format specification, OOXML, is now in the adoption queue at ISO/IEC. That process takes six months, and has two steps. During the first one-month step, any member may submit 'contradictions,' which means aspects in which a proposed standard conflicts with already adopted ISO/IEC standards and Directives. Those contradictions must then be 'resolved' (which does not necessarily mean eliminated), and these resolutions are then presented back to the members to consider during the five-month voting stage that follows. A month isn't very long to do a line-by-line analysis of a 6,000-page spec, but experts in the national standards bodies around the world are doing just that. What they are finding includes the use of proprietary, hard-wired elements rather than incorporation of available ISO/IEC standards; additional Microsoft technology that must be emulated (but is not covered by the Microsoft patent pledge); elements that can't be implemented without Microsoft technical assistance; dependencies on Windows itself; mandatory bugs; and more. And then there's also the fact that OOXML heavily overlaps ODF — a platform-independent, already-adopted ISO/IEC. It promises to be an interesting battle." And an anonymous reader adds word of the release, after 10 months of development, of Docvert 3.0, an open-source web service that converts DOC files to Oasis OpenDocument 1.0 (download the source here).
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