01.05.07

Open XML: Can a 6,000-page History Book Become a Standard?

Posted in Formats, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 3:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BoyCottNovell has taken special interest in Microsoft’s use of Novell to empower support for its so-called standard, Open XML. You may wish to read the following long writeup from Rob Weir. He calls Open XML a “DNA sequence”.

This is a running criticism I have of Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML). It has been narrowly crafted to accommodate a single vendor’s applications. Its extreme length (over 6,000 pages) stems from it having detailed every detail of MS Office in an inextensible, inflexible manner. This is not a specification; this is a DNA sequence. For example, take this part of the OOXML “Standard”:

2.15.3.6 autoSpaceLikeWord95 (Emulate Word 95 Full-Width Character Spacing)

This element specifies that applications shall emulate the behavior of a previously existing word processing application (Microsoft Word 95) when determining the spacing between full-width East Asian characters in a document’s content.

[...]

2.15.3.26 footnoteLayoutLikeWW8 (Emulate Word 6.x/95/97 Footnote Placement)

This element specifies that applications shall emulate the behavior of a previously existing word processing application (Microsoft Word 6.x/95/97) when determining the placement of the contents of footnotes relative to the page on which the footnote reference occurs. This emulation typically involves some and/or all of the footnote being inappropriately placed on the page following the footnote reference.

Other related critiques:

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3 Comments

  1. shane said,

    January 5, 2007 at 3:33 am

    Gravatar

    One of my favorite Open XML factoids:
    http://www.robweir.com/blog/2006/10/chernobyl-design-pattern.html

    But Intel is not Microsoft, so they don’t have quite the audacity to turn a bug into a standard, which is what Microsoft is attempting to do by declaring the the year 1900 should be treated as a leap year, in contradiction of the Gregorian Calendar which has been in use almost 500 years.

    By mandating the perpetuation of this bug, we’re asking for trouble. Date libraries in modern programming languages like C, C++, Java, Python, Ruby will all calculate dates correctly according to the Gregorian Calendar. So any interpretation of dates in OOXML files in these languages will be off by one day unless the author of the software adds their own workaround to their code to account for Excel’s bug. Certainly some will make the “correction” properly, at their own expense. But many will not, perhaps because they did not see it deep within the 6,000 page specification.

  2. r@dix said,

    January 5, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Gravatar

    “2.15.3.26 footnoteLayoutLikeWW8 (Emulate Word 6.x/95/97 Footnote Placement) ….
    This emulation typically involves some and/or all of the footnote being inappropriately placed on the page following the footnote reference.”

    Well, at least that one made me laugh :))
    It’s not a bug – it’s a feature. :)

  3. shane said,

    January 5, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s not a bug, it’s a STANDARD!

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