This is what I call a healthy and civilized debate unlike much of the garbage and FUD being released by the blogosphere and press. If you aren’t aware, Burton Group recently released a document outlining the business implications of ODF vs. OpenXML
Although I agreed with the technical merits of the document, I personally expressed reservations on the quality of the write-up internally within Microsoft UK as the paper received more attention. I personally thought the paper’s structure and analysis was collegiate at best during my first read. As Burton released a response to the criticism today, I decided to reread the paper and follow it by the ODF Alliance rebuttal before reading Burton’s response to ODF Alliance.
To those close to this format debate from a technical vantage, I can only say kudos to Burton Group for releasing a very professional response to ODF Alliance that argues both the technical and business merits. It is clear that Burton was likely caught off guard by the level of animosity their report would generate coupled with the fact that the report was trying to be a technical assessment in addition to a high-level overview — something I would’ve never done with this topic. I am happy that Burton takes their online reputation seriously and is confident enough to debate the issue with a level of technical civility.
For what it’s worth I think the ODF response is actually written more carefully than Burton’s original document, however, the issues discussed by them are orders of magnitude more minuscule in importance compared to the comprehensive solution that OpenXML was designed to resolve. One only has to look at point #10 in their response to understand that they are being disingenuous at best. I’ll be clear. ODF 1.0 DOES NOT allow for full fidelity recreation of Microsoft’s legacy file formats, for that matter, neither does ODF 1.1 or ODF 1.2. The key word is “fidelity,” it may look similar, it may be able to manipulate aspects of the document, but there will be functionality loss when doing anything more complex than basic word processing. This is why projects like the ODF Translator are so important. The people working on that project know exactly the complexities of trying to resolve two formats that have been designed with completely different goals.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the quality of the arguments.
*This post of the 2008 ODF/OpenXML Debates has been brought to you by my bad McDonald’s dinner that won’t let me fall asleep and the Letter ‘H.’