From the Campaign for Document Freedom
Summary: A lump of news about OpenOffice.org, ODF adoption and events, and the usual resistance from Microsoft (through partners and ecosystem)
OpenOffice.org 3.2 is coming quite soon and Oracle is obliged to support it, which leads to responses like: “It was also good today to see a report on Oracle’s plans for OpenOffice.org. Sun Microsystems is OpenOffice.org’s founding and princip[al] sponsor, so the news that Sun was to be acquired by Oracle had set hearts fluttering in the open-source world.”
THE information technology (IT) industry in India is bitterly divided over the issue of technological standards to be adopted in e-governance processes. This problem stems from the fact that large, state-funded e-governance projects in the pipeline present the recession-hit IT sector with substantial business opportunities.
With the guidelines for setting these standards being finalised by the Department of Information Technology (DIT) under the National Policy on Open Standards for E-Governance, the debate on the nature of the standards – critical to the effective delivery of public e-services – is hotting up. Intense lobbying is on by those in favour of proprietary standards and by the Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement, which is against it.
When the draft policy was tabled at the meeting of the apex committee of standards for e-governance in June, the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) and the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT) pushed for two modifications to it: the replacement of open and free standards with royalty-based ones, and allowing multiple standards in the same technological domain.
The first draft of the policy unambiguously states that the open standard chosen must be royalty-free for its lifetime, but subsequent drafts allowed for RAND terms to be invoked in the absence of an existing open standard. This loophole, FOSS supporters fear, may allow powerful lobbies to hijack these standards in a non-transparent environment inside committee rooms.
If, as the proprietary camp wishes, open standards are redefined as RAND exclusively, a substantial portion of the taxpayers’ money will go towards royalties and software monopolies will be entrenched into this growing segment.
Leading Indian IT companies have supported proprietary software; this was evident from the debate on India’s vote at the International Standards Organisation (ISO) on the Open Document Format versus Microsoft’s OOXML controversy.
“OOXML controversy” is an understatement. Those OOXML corruptions cannot be forgotten, only downplayed by the press. A few days ago we wrote about the OOXML BRM convenor, who was exposed, by no means for the first time [1, 2, 3, 4]. There are some interesting new comments being posted in Silva’s blog where Microsoft partner Jesper Lund Stocholm defends the OOXML corruptions and also his friend, Alex Brown, as always (later pretending that he is neutral. That’s rich!). It’s not a question of taking/choosing sides between vendors; it’s a case of some people choosing corruption of the process over justice, usually for personal gain. Microsoft’s politicisation of the issue (pretending it’s IBM versus Microsoft) was debunked here many times before.
Here is AbiWord 2.8.1, which has just been released with ODF support, as well as several other examples of how pervasive ODF has become, being a standard that is open, free, and one that everybody can implement trivially.
Enter “Solr Cell” (a play on Solr Content Extraction Library, Solr CEL), a Solr 1.4 feature that uses the content-extraction capabilities of Apache Tika to parse common office document formats. With Solr Cell, you can fairly quickly set Solr up to ingest PDF, OpenDocument, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, RTF, ZIP, and other document formats. This is a welcome development indeed.
It was rather upsetting to find this possibility that Microsoft might do with XAML [1, 2] what it did with OOXML and is trying to do with XPS these days. David Coallier wrote: “Just proposed a controversial ODF vs OOXML discussion for the #mswds … and the possibility of opening XAML :D”
We’re fine with (X)HTML+SVG, thank you.
“It was rather upsetting to find this possibility that Microsoft might do with XAML what it did with OOXML and is trying to do with XPS these days.”On the more positive side, Rob Weir is “Working on a demo, showing how to bring ODF data on the web using the ODFDOM Toolkit to generate Atom and JSON,” later adding: “Just finished writing my ODF/Atom/JSON mashups presentation. I am giving 5 presentations in 5 days. Drinking from the firehose.”
Weir refers to the event called by abbreviation “OOoCon”, which is taking place right now (November 3, 2009 – November 6, 2009). The ODF plugfest in Orvieto took place around the weekend (November 2-3, 2009), but there are hardly any reports from it.
Over at Wikipedia, despite the ongoing dispute, hAl is not permanently banned for poisoning the ODF article, as well as other articles that he changes in favour of Microsoft using spin, e.g. adding OOXML promotional links groomed by the Microsoft ecosystem and doing so again when facing resistance. We gave many examples in the past [1, 2]. █
“The Norwegian [OOXML] affair was a scandal and we are still pursuing it.”