Rob Weir published three blog posts on Office 2007, Open XML and OpenDocumentFormat. Here is my summary of the three posts:
- Microsoft Office 2007 “Save File” dialog and its implication for OpenDocumentFormat
- OpenXML Translator (a Microsoft-supported ODF->OpenXML converter) Performance
- Potential Problems with OpenXML’s backward compatibility and “fidelity” requirment
The three documents are eye-openners. The first questions why “hardcore” ODF supporters need to capture “Save Event” in Office 2007 to hijack that event to save in ODF format as Microsoft’s Brian Jones says ODF supporters can do. Weir successfully demonstrated that all that is required, for Office 2007 to save in other arbitary formats is for Microsoft to open up the API for “Saving Document” function. At present, Microsoft only allows saving in the formats they choose. We know there are a lot of Clever Minds working on Office 2007 and we know any programmer who attends basic software architecture 101 class is likely to design “Save as Document” fucntion to select an agent from a pool of agents and delegate the actual saving to it. Hence, what Microsoft needs to do, is to permit new (third party) agents to be included into this pool. We know it before seeing Weirs’ UI tour. Weirs UI tour simply confirms it. It also confirms that in Office 2007 at least, saving to different format is permitted. [Aside, lets bid farewell to the argument that "Save As ODF" by default should not be allowed because it loses fidelity. Save as Text File by default, which is permitted, is a few order of magnitude worse] So why the need to hijack “Save Event”? May be some retooling of the “Save Document Function”, perhaps giving third parties OpenXML document to work with is necessary to protect MS Intellectual Property. However, Brian Jone’s suggestion to hijack “Save Event” suggested at least him, if not Microsoft” believe there is no IP put at risk.
Second document is an eye openner on the quality of ODF to OpenXML conversion from OpenXML Translator project that Microsoft effectively sponsored. While it is true that we lost fidelity when converting from one format to another, OpenXML Translator translation to OpenXML format did a worse job than OpenOffice.org’s translation to binary DOC format. It is really surprising that someone with access to the full specs of both ODF and OpenXML did worse that others who have to reverse engineer DOC format. While OpenOffice.org certainly have many years practice in converting to DOC format, one must consider the fact the development team behind OpenXML Translator has been working since Oct 2005 and they had been concentrating on converting only one format (ODF’s word processor format) to another (OpenXML word processor fomat) in one direction only. OpenXML Translator’s result reminds me of StarOffice’s results when it was first made opensource
Third documents throws out interesting things about OpenXML. First it note the difference between Microsoft’s claims for OpenXML and the mandate for the ECMA committee charged with turning OpenXML into a standard. Then, more importantly, it shows that there are IP hurdles for third parties wishing to maintain fidelity with Office 2007. This is a headache for the third parties and it is possible that even Microsoft cannot help them (It might not be their IP to give away).
Good work Weir!