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08.01.07

OOXML = Our Way or No Way; Spain Says “Adios, OOXML”

Posted in Europe, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 9:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An article from ZDNet Asia seems to be very damaging to the reputation (if any was ever earned) of OOXML. On the face of it, OOXML miserably fails to address the needs of non-Westerners. In fact, this is predictable because the format was never built upon other established (ISO) standards, unlike ODF.

Another standard that Microsoft does not support, is the RFC 3987 specification, which defines UTF-8 capable Internet addresses. Consequently, OOXML does not support the use of Chinese characters within a Web address.

Microsoft also did a bad job in creating a document format for the whole world, which is an important requirement for an ISO standard. Considerations for users in Israel and many Muslim countries were excluded in the specification of OOXML. For any locale, the function ‘Networkdays()’ will always return Saturday and Sunday as the weekend. However, this is wrong for Iraq, Algeria, Sudan, Bahrain, Qatar, Bangladesh, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Pakistan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. ODF handles this correctly.

There are many more examples why OOXML isn’t a suitable candidate for an ISO standard yet. From my point of view, Microsoft should stop, as soon as possible, bringing more redundancy into office document formats.

It would be much better if Microsoft takes the good ideas and technologies from OOXML, and tries to join an effort to unify ODF, UOF and OOXML. For those interested, the blog of IBM’s Robert Weir, is a good source to get informed about the issues of OOXML.

I hope China will not support OOXML in its ISO voting, but force Microsoft to consider talks for one harmonized office document standard for the whole world.

A detailed report which was published last week talks about accessibility issued in OOXML.

Regardless of the poor quality of OOXML, watch Microsoft shoving more of it into people’s desktops, even Macs.

A new beta of Microsoft’s Office Open XML File Format Converter for Mac adds PowerPoint support.

Being a LaTex person myself, I rarely get the chance to use ODF, but the following bit is worth mentioning (link from Bob Sutor’s blog).

ODF more complete than LaTex

LaTeX might be the bees knees for text, but ODF also supports spreadsheets and presentations (and a few other odds and ends). LaTeX doesn’t do me much good if I want to exchange a spreadsheet – vs a static representation of a spreadsheet – with somebody.

Another item worth mentioning is this document that is explaining what happened in Spain (Microsoft manipulation). This was written in Spanish, but automated translations might help here.

Fortunately, more news (in Spanish again) has just arrived from Spain and OOXML was apparently rejected.

[PJ: The following report says that the results are in from Spain, and the technical committee voted 4 to 3 against OOXML. That means that in September, Spain will vote Abstain, because the rules require a 2/3 majority. More info at NoOOXML.org and OpenXML.info. ]

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