03.05.08

Gemini version available ♊︎

Technical Flaws in OOXML and Technical Flaws in ISO (When Subjected to Sheer Abuse)

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Europe, GNU/Linux, IBM, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 1:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Uncomfortable Reality

The reaction — or clarification rather — in Tim Bray’s blog last night was interesting. He was not thrilled by what he called “cherry-picking” of words (e.g. "unadulterated bullsh*t"), so he prepended a copyrights-oriented disclaimer to his latest post which is fairly well-balanced.

“Harsh reality put bluntly can make the viewer (or listener, or reader) wish to look away; it doesn’t make any less real.”In his previous popular post he seems to have complained about me specifically and Sam Hiser made some similar accusations. Since when is it inappropriate to quote a person with link to the context? And since when is the highlighting of proven misconduct an iffy business that hurts one’s credibility?

Harsh reality put bluntly can make the viewer (or listener, or reader) wish to look away; it doesn’t make any less real. Some people continue to stare embarrassed at corruption, but one should truly be bold enough to face it because only this way it can be addressed. And no, we don’t live in a perfect world, but the least one can do is help improve it by identifying causes for harm and demanding change. The BRM was just as bad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] as was anticipated [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

In any event, shortly after the good announcement about Linux (not Ballnux, e.g. Novell) PCs arriving at Europe with ODF 'built in', IBMers proceed to discussing the technical deficiencies of OOXML, as opposed to the OOXML BRM and much of the OOXML-related misconduct.

OOXML Still Broken

Rob Weir posted a couple of good items that are worth keeping in mind. The first one makes another indirect approach toward the issue of legacy formats. As mentioned yesterday, binary Office format specifications render OOXML pretty much unnecessary, rationalising more than ever the need for Microsoft to embrace ODF and migrate its legacy in that unified direction. The company claims to have just done the same with IE8 and Web standards (promises, promises), so why not document formats?

Faithful representation of Microsoft Office 97-2008. I’ve learned it is rarely polite to ask a man what he means by “faithful”, but let me make an exception here. We have now the binary Office format specifications, not part of the standard, but posted by Microsoft. And we have OOXML specification. In what way does the OOXML “represent faithfully” the “existing corpus” of legacy documents?

Does OOXML tell you how to translate a binary document into OOXML? No. Does it tell you how to map the features of legacy documents in OOXML? No. Does it give an implementor any guidance whatsoever on how to “represent faithfully” legacy documents? No. So it is both odd and unsatisfactory that primary goal of the OOXML standard is so tenuously supported by its text.

Now, certainly, someone using the binary formats specifications, and using the OOXML specification, could string them together and attempt a translation, but the results will not be consistent or satisfactory. It is the Carolino Effect. Knowing the two endpoints is not the same as knowing how to correctly map between them. A faithful mapping requires knowledge not only of the two vocabularies, but also the interactions.

The second item from Weir alludes to the BRM, but only in the sense that it mentions a concern raised there (and unsurprisingly disregarded due to lack of time). It’s about macros, which Microsoft never liked talking about all that much. Microsoft hopes that nobody will spot and scrutinise for the weaknesses which only Microsoft has in mind, hoping to divert attention away from the parts most sensitive to unrebuttable criticism.

Finally, note that this lack of information on how to locate macros within a document makes it impossible for anyone to programmatically combine or divide OOXML documents which may contain macros. For example, imagine a 2-page spreadsheet, with a macro on sheet one only. How can it be split into two one-page documents, if there is no defined way to locate the script associated with page one? This is the type of automated composition and document manipulation that OOXML should be enabling. Similarly, how can one combine two single documents containing macros into one document, if there are no defined rules for locating and naming macros? Many basic types of applications,such as merging slide shows, etc., will break in the presence of macros.

The above topic was of interest to several NB’s in Geneva, but could not be discussed for lack of time at the BRM.

The Fast Track to the Wastebasket

Microsoft may have taken a wild gamble by choosing an inappropriate route to ISO-isation. As a result of this, under great pressure, Microsoft needed to resort to breaking the law (more on this in a moment). Here is Groklaw’s interpretation of Malaysia’s press release, which we mentioned yesterday.

Malaysia Standards Says Most of Their Technical Concerns Unresolved at BRM; Fast Track Inappropriate

They were there. And they contradict the stories being put out by those in charge and by Microsoft. They did *not* have the opportunity to have their concerns addressed totally. Malaysia voted to disapprove the undiscussed bulk dispositions, although they had earlier voted to approve some dispositions that were discussed.

When All Else Fails, Break the Law

The OOXML scandal in India — one which we covered here before [1, 2, 3] — is finally receiving some press coverage. While the 'mainstream press' turns somewhat of a blind eye, Linux.com does a story.

Microsoft is encouraging its business partners to promote its Office Open XML specification (OOXML) to the Indian Bureau of Standards (BIS) and Ministry of IT. This move has incensed supporters of the rival OpenDocument Format (ODF) who fear that the “soft” Indian state may not be able to stand up to Microsoft pressure tactics.

It is encouraging to see that all these known and proven incidents get documented. Hopefully, the EU is watching this carefully and taking it into account (or Microsoft's accounting).

“If you flee the rules, you will be caught. And it will cost you dearly.”

Neelie Kroes (about Microsoft), February 27th, 2008

Neelie Kroes

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 29/06/2022: Russians Moving to GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  2. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, June 28, 2022

    IRC logs for Tuesday, June 28, 2022



  3. [Meme] The Delegates' Munich Rally (June 29th 2022), Re-electing a Corrupt Dictator?

    The EPO's presidency is still being bought using bribes, so there’s no real democracy (auctions, not elections); The reference may be seen as offensive, but remember Benoît Battistelli‘s family ties to Nazism



  4. Most “Job Applicants to an Examiner Position at EPO Who Were Offered a Job Did Not Take it”

    One of many interesting comments left since Monday



  5. CNX Software or CNX Microsofter?

    Is the money worth it, CNX? You are putting off readers, very few of whom are likely to be using antique versions of Microsoft Office; better to focus on news, not spamfarming



  6. Links 28/06/2022: Vim 9.0 and vnlog 1.33

    Links for the day



  7. Steven Vaughan-Nichols: Mouthpiece for Jim Zemlin, Salaried by (or via) ZDNet

    In ZDNet, all the latest 5 “articles” about “Linux” are just spam/puff pieces for the Linux Foundation, a front group of monopolies and foes of the GPL. ZDNet’s Steven Vaughan-Nichols also defamed the person behind the GPL. Follow through to narratives.zdnet.com and find: “Through ZDNet Narratives, our advertising partners tell their comprehensive product and solutions stories” (so it’s not journalism but narratives for sale or coin-operated pundits who cover what the sponsors tell them to)



  8. Twitter: From 'Engagement' Bots to Fake Stats

    Just like in YouTube, where SPAMnil still engages in clickfraud (bots that fake the number of views), Twitter is clearly misleading everybody to give a false sense of importance



  9. New Video From the Free Software Foundation (FSF): “Escape to Freedom”

    "Escape to Freedom" is a new animated video from the Free Software Foundation (FSF), giving an introduction to the concepts behind software freedom: both what we gain by having it, and what rights are at stake.



  10. Links 28/06/2022: Mozilla Thunderbird 102 and EasyOS 4.2.2 Released

    Links for the day



  11. [Meme] EPO Bosses Sneer at Staff Unrest

    Another new EPO cartoon/meme



  12. [Meme] EPO Policies Decided Behind Closed Doors

    The EPO has not been run like a patent office/system for over a decade already; wealthy stakeholders from other continents just turned it into their monopoly-granting machine, operating in violation of its own charter for the sole goal of increasing cashflow, not advancing science or helping businesses



  13. Lots of Legal Action Against the EPO Impending

    The Local Staff Committee The Hague (LSCTH) gives a heads-up regarding a "tsunami of legal cases on the horizon" against Europe's second-largest institution, which operates in the dark with impunity (and thus frequently breaks the law and breaks promises)



  14. “Mobility Package” as Bribes in European Patent Office

    Published a few hours ago



  15. Links 28/06/2022: Plasma Mobile Gear 22.06 and KDE Plasma 5.25.2

    Links for the day



  16. Bastian Best is Still Wrong and Dishonest About Software Patents

    A quick rebuttal to abysmal arguments in favour of software patents, courtesy of people who neither code nor disclose a very obvious conflict of interest (they profit from promotion of such illegal patents, helped by crooked EPO presidencies that violate the European Patent Convention with impunity)



  17. IRC Proceedings: Monday, June 27, 2022

    IRC logs for Monday, June 27, 2022



  18. EPO Protest Tomorrow in Munich

    We urge all EPO workers based in Munich to attend tomorrow's protest; it's not a waste of time, it sends a strong and effective message



  19. Links 28/06/2022: Git 2.37.0 and GCC Rust Front-end

    Links for the day



  20. [Meme] Benoît Battistelli and António Campino Buying Elections Since 2010

    Ever wondered how criminals like Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos could seize and retain power at the EPO? They know exactly what they’re doing and there’s nothing stopping them…



  21. EPO Management Glorifies Illegal Agenda and Violations of the European Patent Convention (EPC) to Impress the Administrative Council

    As the meeting of the Administrative Council approaches the "Mafia" brings out the lies and makes a "happy face", helped by lobbyists and patent maximalists that pursue an illegal agenda and deliberate violations of the European Patent Convention



  22. Links 27/06/2022: GnuCash 4.11, digiKam 7.7.0, and Easy 4.2.1

    Links for the day



  23. The Importance of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press When It Comes to EPO Corruption

    Corruption such as bribery of the media (and academia) has long gone on at the EPO; it’s no wonder that bribes, in addition to threats, have muzzled almost every publisher that covers EPO corruption, but there are exceptions



  24. [Meme] It's Harder to Talk About Crimes When...

    Centralised media or centralised Internet remains a peril when it comes to freedom of expression; people in privileged positions typically decide who can and who cannot express an opinion (based on personal preferences, agenda, financial motives)



  25. [Meme] The World Wide Web Has Become Bloated and Slow

    The Web at 30+ is not what it was back in the 1990s; many people nowadays use tabs because ‘pages’ take far too long to load (in spite of tremendous bandwidth gains; part of the problem is RAM hoard and CPU hogs) and the original goal, a platform or a protocol for interconnected pages, has long been abandoned



  26. Gemini Graduating to First-Class Citizen

    Gemini links have become abundant enough that they justify having their own section in Daily Links instead of scattered around and blended with World Wide Web links



  27. Links 27/06/2022: New Curl and Okular Digital Signing

    Links for the day



  28. Links 27/06/2022: GNOME Design Rant

    Links for the day



  29. IRC Proceedings: Sunday, June 26, 2022

    IRC logs for Sunday, June 26, 2022



  30. Links 26/06/2022: Linux 5.19 RC4

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts