05.21.07

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Absurdity in Pictures — What on Earth Has Novell Just Committed Itself To?

Posted in Europe, Formats, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 6:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some things need to be seen in order for their complexity to be realised. OOXML is one such thing. Have a look at the picture in the following new Web page. Here is some text which accompanies it:

Can you imagine better way to spend 4 hours of your Friday afternoon time than discussing OOXML problems with non-techies from Microsoft?

[...]

I have read approx. 200 pages of the specification and I decided to stop, because it is dangerous. The ideas presented in various parts of the specification (like two ways to represent the date – one of them representing dates between 1900 and 20000 and another one to represent dates between 1904 and 20000 where the second one is a complete subset of the first one!) are dangerous to the mental health of the reader. The innovative method of storing the language code (e.g. the decimal integer 58380 into two digit hexadecimal number) is also worth a world-wide patent…

I simply can’t believe that developers and or TC45 members from Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, The British Library, Essilor, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, Toshiba, and the United States Library of Congress actually read the final document. I can’t believe it. If I ever write such document, I surely won’t sign it by my name. Why?

Imagine implementing, testing, and optimising this incomplete set of specifications, which is being ‘extended’. Novell has actually given Microsoft some backing by agreeing to do this (the impossible mission, but someone must pretend it’s pursueable, right?).

To make matters worse, Microsoft continues to snub an ISO standard. ODF is a standard which Novell defended before it negotiated with Microsoft. Mind you, Microsoft has no intentions to support ODF, yet it seems to expect Novell to implement what can never be implemented. According to this new item:

As the friction between ODF and OXML continues to bubble, Nick McGrath, Microsoft’s director of platform strategy, has gone on record dismissing ODF as a potential solution for Microsoft, even as the company backs ODF for ANSI accreditation.

As it stands, Novell continues to give its support to monopoly abuse and wastes its resources trying to achieve something which it never will. Is the company being manipulated as means of promoting something which almost no nation desires, let alone is willing to accept? Time and time again, when it comes to protocols and formats, Novell passively nods on behalf of and in support of its new ally.

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6 Comments

  1. Stephen Holmes said,

    May 21, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Gravatar

    But Novell supporting OOXML (or whatever it’s called) makes OpenOffice.org code more interoperable and MSs lack of support for ODF makes it less interoperable. As OOXML is a public spec now, is there any fear of patent nonsense in the format space (although MS claim a number of yet-to-be-seen-or-proven Office patent infringements)?

    Is the real beef here just based on the fact that it’s Novell supporting a Microsoft format rather than the solution in and of itself?

  2. shane said,

    May 21, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Gravatar

    There are, indeed, concerns regarding Microsoft’s covenant in regards to OOXML.

    In short, Microsoft promises not to sue you for using the Microsoft Office Open XML formats in your software. But this promise only applies to patents Microsoft may have in the explicit parts of the Microsoft Office Open XML specification and which are described in detail there. It would not cover those parts essential to implementation which are merely referenced in the specification and lying outside the specification. See the language, “only the required portions of the…specification”, emphasized below.

    [The terms "Covered Specification" and "Covered Implementation" are inconveniently not defined in the License or the Open Specification Promise. Microsoft has listed all the different standards specifications that are covered by its Open Specification Promise here. These specifications listed are specifications covered by the Open Specification Promise -- each one is a "Covered Specification". For a 3rd-party who uses a covered specification and implements the work in their own software, that software is a "Covered Implementation" if it adheres to Microsoft's strict rules of what can be safely implemented...and there's the rub.]

    We know of a great deal of Microsoft technology which does in fact contain patents and which lies outside the specification which would need to be implemented by such a 3rd-party for the formats to work. The Microsoft Office Open XML formats are therefore dependent upon a host of patented Microsoft technology.

  3. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    May 22, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Gravatar

    Ironically enough, 6000 pages is only a sample of what one needs to support editing, rendering, printing, saving in full-fidelity. The true specs is the actual code and is more like 600000 pages worth of specs.

    Implementing the binary formats in full fidelity was never achieved by someone out there. Never. It’s akin to rewriting Office on your own, basically 10 years of work.

    And if someone did, he would be sued by Microsoft for implementing stuff that Microsoft licensed to others.

    In the meantime, Microsoft ships a couple new versions with plenty more undocumented coordinate systems and dirty hexa tricks. It’s “Fire and motion”.

    Disclaimer : I sell the most advanced Excel 2007 file generator to date. No wonder I know a thing or two about all what’s missing in the public specs.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 22, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Gravatar

    600,000 pages would be prone to error, no? I wonder how many inaccuracies exist in the pile of 6,000 pages. I doubt these anomalies will ever be spotted anyway.

    600,000 pages…

    Think about the innocent trees. Or a pile of DVDs…

  5. Stephane Rodriguez said,

    May 22, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Gravatar

    There are many typos, that’s for sure.

    But again, most importantly there is all this is missing :
    - when an attribute is defined as a string, with no explanation on the internal coding of the string (aka hexa tricks, despite the fact that good XML design is supposed to avoid that in the first place)
    - how elements combine together to make something that works. A long alphabetic list of elements does not say anything about that. That’s for one to reverse engineer. Years of work here.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    May 23, 2007 at 12:00 am

    Gravatar

    Here is another set of photos:

    http://www.openmalaysiablog.com/2007/05/putting_6039_pa.html

    Feel the presence. OOXML is a man in the room.

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