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OOXML: Five Month ISO Ballot Process Begins

As previously reported, the 5-month ISO fast-track balloting process has begun as of April 2, and will conclude September 2. Perhaps this is why Microsoft is trying so hard to generate support for OOXML lately.

GENEVA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The JTC 1 Secretariat informed Ecma International today that Office Open XML will move immediately to the next phase of the ISO/IEC’s review of the Ecma standard. The ISO/IEC Information Technology Task Force (ITTF) issued the 5-month DIS 29500 (Office Open XML) ballot on Monday, April 2, 2007; the ballot will close on Sept 2, 2007. This action came after the closure of the one-month “perceived contradiction” period, and after Ecma had provided a review of the National Body comments which had been received.


The best part of this press release is the document it links to, a 57 page pdf containing the ECMA responses to all those contradictions raised, including sections for commonly raised objections - Overlap in Scope with ODF, Intellectual Property Rights, and Undocumented Legacy Features.

2.1.4 OpenXML and ODF Can and Do Coexist As mentioned, Ecma is already aware of many products that will support both ODF and OpenXML: OpenOffice supports both ODF and OpenXML (due to Novell, which integrated the OpenXML support1), Sun is working on a new spreadsheet import filter for the Calc project,2 Corel announced support for both ODF and OpenXML in Wordperfect, the open-source Gnumeric project is implementing both ODF and OpenXML, and Microsoft implemented OpenXML in Microsoft Office 2007, provided free OpenXML updates for older versions of Office such as Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003 and sponsored an ODF Translator (and finalized a Word add-in January 2007) that enables all those versions of Office to read and write ODF files.

This shows that today, both formats can co-exist, that it is possible to install applications that implement the OpenXML and ODF specifications on the same computer system and to install software that translates in a bidirectional, useful way between the two in a way that meets users’ needs. This way, the issue of formats is of less concern to most users, as translators provide for effective interoperability between them. Translators exist between OpenXML and ODF, as well as between other formats.

As discussed above, OpenXML and ODF were designed to meet different user requirements, and therefore support different functionality. Additionally, users often translate documents in a way that stores only the information needed for the new purpose. For example, one might convert ODF or HTML to PDF to lock in a particular view of a document, suitable for printing or read-only distribution. This conversion intentionally loses the information needed for further editing of the document, or for the application of different style sheets.

The co-existence of these formats allows users to capture information in a manner ideally suited for each of a number of different purposes. Translators designed for different purposes allow for re-purposing of content through translation and storage of just the information of relevance to each purpose.


I haven't read through all of it yet, and I really hope and expect that some learned folks like Andy Updegrove, Rob Weir, or even our own frequent visitor Stephane Rodriguez will be able to shed more light on the subject.

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