Bonum Certa Men Certa

Personal Minddump: What Is the OpenDocument Foundation?

Some quick thoughts

The OpenDocument Foundation is in for a bit of a shock. I'm actually in good terms with them (or used to be), but I hope they'll get a good slap on the wrist for what they so selfishly did a few weeks ago.

Money divides communities and Microsoft knows how to use its money. We have seen that with Novell, which supported OOXML only after receiving a huge heap of cash from Microsoft.

Novell gets 'bribed'



On that same issue, I still wonder about the Foundation sometimes, but I am convinced there is no Microsoft connection. Other people whom I speak to suggest otherwise, but their arguments are poor and they completely neglect to take into account the principles of people at the OpenDocument Foundation where Microsoft's monopoly is generally loathed.

Sam Hiser is a good example of this and I've been reading his blog for quite some time. He has just published a pro-GNU/Linux article in the Financial Times. In his defense of the OpenDocument Foundation, he is now bragging about getting attention (see his blog if you wish). Buy why? Why is it worth betraying ODF just to fuel a publicity stunt? Why throw away their years of hard work just to divert attention?

”Does personal interest overcome the obligations?“They are serving Microsoft's interests, which Gary tells me is a sad side effect. What happened to the good of the community? Does personal interest overcome the obligations? Wasn't the Foundation supposed to be for the 'little people'? At the moment, the very opposite steps appear to be taken. They drive in reverse. CDF? I was patient enough and I even mentioned it at some stage. I had some blind trust and faith, but those who understand CDF say it's impractical, according to the latest article from Andy Updegrove. It's a route to nowhere. Andy has some harsh words for the media as well:

The most astonishing piece was written by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley. Early on in her article she stated that, "the ODF camp might unravel before Microsoft’s rival Office Open XML (OOXML) comes up for final international standardization vote early next year." All because Gary, Sam and Marbux have decided that ODF does not meet their needs. Astonishing indeed, given that there is no available evidence to support such a prediction.

[...]

Here's where things stand today:
  • The Foundation's former members are not supporting Gary, Sam and Marbux
  • No one has spoken up to support their view of CDF as an alternative
  • They are not working with the W3C at this time, and no one at W3C is working with CDF in the manner they are proposing
  • CDF is not an appropriate substitute for ODF
  • The CDF working group is not chartered to provide what Gary, Sam and Marbux want to try and accomplish, even assuming that what they want is technically possible
All of which takes us back to the question, What were Gary, Sam and Marbux thinking?


I trust Andy's assessment a great deal, but it's a good point to clarify that just as we haven't any association with the FSF (or any not-for-profit body for that matter), there's no connection at all to IBM, or Sun, or anybody else in industry. This is about freedom and fair competition, not market value. It's good that I've actually been reminded to state this in public.

To Andy, our stance would be rather odd. He works for the Linux Foundation, which has Novell as a Gold Sponsor. Generally, it's the same situation with IBM (notably Rob and Bob), which collaborates with Novell. Still, We're on Weir's blogroll (he added us by choice) and Andy lets the links (trackbacks) be. Bob actually linked to boycottnovell.com from his blog (again, by choice). I appreciate this, but again I stress that there's no connection at all. Shane and I are independent individuals.

Returning to the point at hand, the important part of the article is that where Andy cites a position of authority. Even CDF people say that CDF cannot replace ODF. It is simply not suitable. Meanwhile, ODF gets support from almost everyone (well, just about everyone except Microsoft).

”It's about time someone explained that the OpenDocument Foundation is not exactly what the name stands for or strives to represent.“It's about time someone explained that the OpenDocument Foundation is not exactly what the name stands for or strives to represent. Rob Wier did this a month ago, but now it's the CDF experts as well that give the Foundation the thumbs down. Mind you, I used to be a supporter of the Foundation before they began with the self-serving charade. I hope I haven't lost them as friends, but I just can't support their cause, which is a non-cause at the moment.

On the other side of the pond, OOXML is the format which associated with fraud and bribery. We have all the necessary facts to back and protect this accusation. There is no reason to feel shy about using words such as these ("fraud" and "bribery") when there's just so much evidence. Anything else would be a case of turning a blind eye to crime, or unethical manipulation at the very least.

If you wish to know what lies ahead for OOXML, then watch Bob Sutor's latest blog item.

Though I’ve written about this before, I continue to be amazed that there does not seem to be a single, unambiguous, and logically complete description of what will happen at the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) in Geneva at the end of February.


Will it be technical or political? What role will the money have? One thing is certainly true: the ISO has lost its way.

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