Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Common Myths About Open XML

I came across this post , OpenXML: Microsoft gets it right, will India too? from Abhishek, where he talks of why India should reconsider its stand on OpenXML and I too agree with the views expressed.

India had decided to vote against, when it was put forward for ratification as a ISO standard in Sept 2007 . I hope India will get it right this time and will reconsider the stand on OpenXML.

As you know, Ecma Office Open XML ("Open XML") is an international, open standard for word-processing documents, presentations, and spreadsheets that can be freely implemented by multiple applications on multiple platforms. Open XML is currently in the process of obtaining ratification as a global standard with the ISO (International Standards Organization).

As part of the ISO/IEC standardization process Open XML has moved through a contradictions phase, a ballot phase, and is now in the ballot resolution phase. The ISO/IEC has scheduled a ballot resolution meeting on February 25th-29th, 2008 in Geneva, to discuss comments received during the ballot phase and proposed dispositions from Ecma International.

As of now, MS has provided solutions to all 3,522 comments that were raised on the specification by various national bodies. So India has time to study the specifications and solutions provided till Feb.25 before the ballot resolution meeting in Geneva. Hope to see India reconsidering its stand and supporting Open XML.

Here are some common myths about Open XML being dispelled, here I am putting them briefly, please check the respective links for details:

Myth 1: There should only be one document standard

No single file format can meet all the needs of governments, enterprises, and consumers today. Customers should have the ability to choose what format best meets their needs. Innovation and competition is best served by letting the marketplace determine the winner among competing standards. The idea that the first standard to make it through ISO should somehow be declared the winner is a bad precedent for future standards development and for competition and innovation in general.

Myth 2: The Office Open XML specification is flawed because it was developed in isolation

Ecma Office Open XML was developed over the course of a year at Ecma International with input via Ecma's Technical Committee 45 (TC45), which included information technology companies (Apple, Intel, Novell, Microsoft, NextPage, Toshiba), reputable government institutions that archive documents (The British Library, the U.S. Library of Congress) and power users of information technology (BP, Statoil, Barclays Capital, Essilor). While Microsoft made a significant contribution to the development of Ecma 376, the initial draft received considerable development and enhancement through the work of Ecma TC45, resulting in the specification growing from 2,000 to 6,000 pages, which constitutes the current Ecma standard.

Why didn't Microsoft simply work with the original ODF people to help build their specification?

There are at least four good reasons why this was not a valid option:
1.ODF started out and was largely completed as an XML format specifically supporting OpenOffice with a tight scope around that product.
2.It was not until 2005 that the ODF specification was offered up as a general XML office document format and consequently renamed to ODF.
3.No opportunity existed for Microsoft to actually participate in this full process given both the original scope and the six months between the re-naming of the spec to ODF and its subsequent approval by OASIS as a standard.
4.The scope of the ODF specification never included even the basic requirements that Microsoft required to support a fully open format and nor did the OASIS technical committee want to include these requirements. They include:
-Spreadsheet formulas
-Tables in presentations
-Accessibility features
-Custom-defined schema support
-Custom metadata

Myth 3: Governments around the world are adopting ODF and rejecting Office Open XML

Recent events in the United States, Denmark, and Switzerland demonstrate that governments are increasingly declining to pass new legislation that would give a "preference" or mandate a specific file format and are instead allowing the marketplace to pick the best format or formats.

Myth 4: Open XML has Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Issues

Opponents of Open XML have manufactured supposed intellectual property rights "issues" where none exists, ignoring the fact that ISO/IEC has already approved Microsoft's proposed licensing terms and refusing to acknowledge that Microsoft worked with and obtained the approval of key open source community voices in formulating its licensing approach. Additionally, these critics are conveniently forgetting that Sun Microsystems' IP covenant is nearly identical to the approach taken by Microsoft.

These are some of the myths dispelled which will help to understand Open XML better.

For more details please refer to : http://www.openxmlcommunity.org/

What are the benefits of Open XML Formats?

Ecma Office Open XML File Formats overview

1 comment:

Vishal Gupta said...

Excellent info. I have also posted about Open XML here: