06.28.08

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ODF ‘Conquers’ the Web; OOXML Abuses Revisited

Posted in ISO, KDE, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 3:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open document standard breeds open networks

Things are looking very good. It was only a few days that we wrote about ODF's relevance to the World Wide Web. The developers from Sun Microsystems appear to have been doing some interesting stuff which involves Web embedment and ‘Wikification’ of ODF. Have a look.

While demoing the ODF Wiki to OpenOffice.org and Sun Folks (and by the way, I happily demo it to everybody stumbling into my office :-), I recognized different reactions of people, there were the ones who obviously use Wikis in their daily work and who immediately understood what I wanted to show, namely the possibility of an ODF based Wiki with rich editing capabilities (including graphics, formulas etc.), than there were the ones who seemed to be disappointed, as I just recombined already available stuff, and finally the ones, whose first thought was about how I did implement this. So, this posting is just for the people curious about how it works :-)

For implementing the prototype of an ODF Wiki I used off-the-shelf components only, I have to admit, that I only tried it on Linux and OpenSolaris … Windows just seemed too far away ;-)

This seems like steady and encouraging progress that third-party developers and ISVs are likely to embrace. As a matter of fact, the new ODF mailing list, OIIC, has been exceptionally busy since it was launched, which is a good sign indeed.

Tim Bray has been a critic of the ISO process that had been broken apart by Microsoft’s OOXML. On one occasions he called the BRM process "complete, utter, unadulterated bullsh*t" and later he described the ISO process as "brutal and corrupt". It turns out that his ISO familiarity and credentials are likely to be high. He writes:

I got to watch John work in the context of the recent OOXML process, including the BRM in Geneva, where he was one of the most effective operators. He knows ISO process and politics comprehensively.

Speaking of ISO politics, Bob Sutor, IBM’s VP of standards, has significant experience with this process, for sure. His remark on ISO’s latest denial speaks volumes. About the Reuters placement article he wrote: “Worth reading, if only to understand attitude and whether they “get” the problem.”

So, he too acknowledges that there is a problem there (in Reuters, in ISO, or both). It’s only a consensus that ISO and Microsoft are unwilling to share and accept. It’s their reputation that’s harmed enormously.

It is actually via Bob Sutor that the following new report about ODF in KWord came to our attention. For context, see [1, 2, 3, 4].

It’s a good time for ODF. Microsoft too has recently said that “ODF ha[d] clearly won.” Savour the reality.

___
[1] NLnet Gives KOffice a New Logo and Sponsors ODF development

The Dutch NLnet foundation aims to financially support organisations and people that contribute to an open information society. Some time ago they decided to help KOffice in two exciting ways: to sponsor the design of a new logo for KOffice, with matching logo designs for all KOffice applications, and to sponsor Girish Ramakrishnan to improve the ODF support in KWord 2.0. The KOffice team is deeply grateful to NLnet for this support!

[2] KOffice 2.0 Alpha 7 Released

This release is the first to see some results of the OpenDocument Format testsuite being imported into KOffice. The testsuite exists from a lot of little documents that each show one feature in ODF. Automated testing of loading those documents will allow developers to keep on working on the code without fear of breaking the already working code. This is known as regression testing.

In this release already 23 tests are added into KOffice and the results are visible in much better loading of text documents in KWord. KWord is also one of the target applications for 2.0, and NLNet has sponsored a developer working on that application.

[3] Closing Day at the Release Event

Alexander from OpenOffice talked about some of the possibilities of OpenDocument including dedicated C libraries to process the format which could be shared between apps. KOffice developers discussed plans for an OpenDocument API in kdelibs to make use of the format available throughout KDE.

[4] Key KOffice Developers Talk About KOffice 2 and Open Standards

KOffice standardises on OpenDocument. Free Software and open standards are a perfect match and the way to move forward for a society to ensure vendor-independent access to its data. We’re actively participating in the OASIS since it matches our value, and we believe that one strong standard is in the best interest of our users.

KOffice Logo

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10 Comments

  1. Tomas de Torquemada said,

    June 28, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Gravatar

    “So, he too acknowledges that there is a problem there”

    All Bob really acknowledges is that the way that ISO is working does not suit his requirements for IBM, he has been pretty open about that for a while.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 29, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Gravatar

    Tomas, see this from the day before. ISO is actually disregarding the complaints of its own people. It’s sweeping under the rug lots of known manipulations. A braver ISO would acknowledge the problem and work to correct them rather than deny.

  3. Tomas de Torquemada said,

    June 29, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Gravatar

    They are not ISO’s “own” people… they’re representitvies of National Standards Bodies, ISO is allowed to disagree with them, especially when the vast majority of NBs voted in favor of IS929500.

    On the face of it, what you appear to call a manipulation is just an NB who decided not to bow to the pressure that was unduly brought by IBM, Sun and members of the OSS community.

    I guess if they won’t do as they’re told then you have to label them corrupt?

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 29, 2008 at 1:20 am

    Gravatar

    The people whom I was referring to are both Convenor (the one who fled and that who succeeded him). They are not, as you put it, representatives of National Standards Bodies. Let me repeat this to make the point clear:

    The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”

    Martin Bryan
    Former Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1 [OOXML]

  5. Tomas de Torquemada said,

    June 29, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Gravatar

    Martin was never a convenor of SC34, he was the global chair. Following him was Professor Sam Oh of Korea who I don’t think has ever spoken out against ISO or the IS29500 process.

    As the sec general of ISO said this week, a lot of the rubbish written on the internet about ISO today is based upon a poor understanding of the facts.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 29, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Gravatar

    Tomas, I quoted from http://www.jtc1sc34.org/repository/0940.htm

    Martin Bryan
    Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1

    There are more examples such as this one about Ken Holman:

    http://www.gcn.com/blogs/tech/45556.html

    ‘Ken Holman, who this week steps down from the role as the international secretary of the ISO subcommittee responsible for the Standard Generalized Markup Language(SGML), gave a briefing on ISO and related matters during the conference’s lightening round sessions Tuesday night.

    […]

    ‘Now there is talk of making a fourth working group to handle office documents formats. While now they are usually handled by WG 1 or WG 2, the volume of work required of ODF and OOXML is threatening to overwhelm the members of those groups.

    ‘“Is there going to be a WG 4? Stay tuned,” Holman said.’

    Also see:

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/?p=1777
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20071206131310362
    http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-30107/martin-bryan:we-are-getting-standardization-by-corporation

    How easy it is to accuse critics of being ignorant. That exactly what we wrote yesterday. It’s a convenient strategy.

  7. Tomas de Torquemada said,

    June 29, 2008 at 3:41 am

    Gravatar

    You are right, I confused him with Ken Holman. Reading Martin’s quote though I’m not sure why you label it as a comment on OOXML only, it is clear that ODF is in his sights as well.

    Read it again, carefully, if you’re unclear on that comment.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    June 29, 2008 at 3:47 am

    Gravatar

    Tomas, that’s a fair point. Bear in mind, however, that I take a lot of remarks from many different directions into account.

    If you want a comprehensive list of testimonies, I would gladly look into it and post a series of accusations that are presented in a tidy fashion. I hardly make accusations here; not as much as I repeat ones from the likes of Tim Bray, South Africa’s NB, IEEE seniors, and even ministers. Denying that there was opposition to ISO and Microsoft is a case of rewriting history — and that’s just dangerous.

  9. Tomas de Torquemada said,

    June 29, 2008 at 4:09 am

    Gravatar

    I am not for a minute claiming that there was no opposition to OOXML, that would be insane on my part.

    It is clear that there was opposition, but you frequently fail to consider where it comes from – anything from the OSS community, IBM, or Sun Microsystems has limited value in that context as far as many are concerned – there are vested interests there that you seem to discount as you make your arguements.

    NBs who voted YES for OOXML are discounted as corrupt, ISO officials you discount as if they don’t understand their own business etc.

  10. Dark Phoenix said,

    July 19, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Gravatar

    “NBs who voted YES for OOXML are discounted as corrupt”

    It’s somewhat hard to say a NB hasn’t been corrupted when they are either loaded with Microsoft partners, using loopholes to avoid having to vote NO, and other such tricks to help OOXML along. I have no doubt that there were NB’s who seriously thought OOXML would help them, but I seriously doubt they all wanted to vote the way they did. There were too many oddities with procedure going on here to say that someone didn’t want this to go through, badly.

    You say that IBM and Sun are pushing as hard as Microsoft; I say I didn’t hear about IBM and Sun partners suddenly joining NB’s at the last minute anywhere, and considering the mainstream press has a hard-on for Microsoft, if that would have happened we would have heard about it, guaranteed.

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