“I am rubber, you are glue…”

Rob Weir is apparently offended that someone would suggest that ODF is controlled by a single vendor, going so far as to accuse Burton Group of some influence over the Open XML ISO voting process. He says:

"Waiting until after February, after the DIS 29500 process concludes, to make corrections is unacceptable. Since your stated purpose in making this report public was to "advance the debate" in the current OOXML ISO process, withholding factual corrections until after that process concludes would imply that you and the Burton Group see no problems with knowingly persisting in influencing an ISO ballot with false information published under the Burton Group name. I don't believe that is the image that the Burton Group would want to project. So I urge that a correction is in order now."


This is feedback to three posts from the Burton Group that are responses to the ODF Alliance.


But as we see with Rob over and over again, he seems to be on both sides of the argument. Here's Rob throwing those same sticks and stones at ECMA TC-45.

"This should sound familiar. OOXML is nothing more than the preferences of Microsoft Office. Whenever Word changes, OOXML will change. And if you are a user or competitor of Word, you will be the last one to hear about these changes. ISO does not own OOXML. Ecma does not own OOXML. OOXML, in practice, is controlled and determined solely by the Office product teams at Microsoft. No one else matters." http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/12/those-who-forget-santayana.html

"So what Ecma is offering SC34 is nothing close to what was promised. Ecma is really seeking to transfer to SC34 the responsibility of spending the next 3 years fixing errors in OOXML 1.0, while future versions of OOXML ("technical revisions") are controlled by Microsoft, in Ecma, in a process without transparency, and as should now be obvious to all, without sufficient quality controls."

"First, Microsoft has managed to get JTC1 to clamp down on information. What was a transparent process is now mired in multiple levels of security leading to delay, denial of information to some NB participants and total opaqueness to the public."

These three (along with a lot of other) statements are of course inaccurate. So if we're recommending retracting things for the sake of accuracy, it might be appropriate to start here: http://www.robweir.com/.


Comments (4)

  1. GrayKnowlton says:

    Hi Dave, it’s probably worth asking your questions of the Burton group, I can’t speak for them.

    Why bother with ISO? — we believe that it is important to commit the format specs to an international standards body for maintenance and control. If the market desires open file formats (it does), then we will support the request.

  2. GrayKnowlton says:

    Hi Dave,

    The Fast Track process is certainly reasonable for standards like Open XML. The recent standardization of PDF 1.7 is a good example of how it works. PDF is a speification of several thousand pages that passed through with little fanfare.

    Regarding your suggestion of publishing the documentation to the web, I agree that this would be very effective. However, I don’t think the current standards community / climate would tolerate it. There’s a strong demand for us to be more open, and to give more of a voice to the standards community in defining the formats, so Ecma helps get there, as does ISO & Fast Track.

    Our intentions are good here. We are hoping to see the recognition for our motions toward openness and community building.

  3. Dave S. says:

    "It’s true that both formats are defined in XML, and that they can thus be extended, but we believe it’s important to note that OOXML is a more expansive model to start with, since extensions mean more complexity for application developers."

    That XML is extensible does not imply that formats defined using it are. Does the Burton Group understand the difference between a language and what is created based on it?

    "To summarize, we believe that “most vendors and enterprises will see [OOXML] as more useful than ODF” because: (1) millions of OOXML documents will be generated over time by Office 2007 and so it’s the path of least resistance…"

    FINALLY, a well-based opinion. Because MSO-XML is used more it will be more useful. It will be used more because "First, Microsoft Office 2007 defaults to saving documents in OOXML format, so given Microsoft Office’s dominance, the vast majority of documents that enterprises create over time will automatically end up as OOXML documents." *

    As that part is a done deal, then why all the angst over ODF and why even bother with ISO?

  4. Dave S. says:

    If the goal is for international standards controls, the why ECMA and the fast-track through ISO? Usually careful review is done to ensure a quality spec, not a rush to get approval. I’m reminded that Cain dealt with Abel (sp?) as he did due to a similar rush for approval.

    Any standard is subject to revision, so releasing the MS documentation to the public with free reproduction rights would have enabled a rapid uptake and then, in two years, the final version could come out of ISO, all approved and reviewed.

    I learned K&R C and then happily moved to ANSI C. There were some changes in the standardization process, but it seemed to go well. Favorite comment – "9 is no longer an octal digit."

    Too late now for deliberation. Sigh.

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