Brian Jones had blogged that there is a new set of changes to the proposed OOXML standard. In terms of organization, the change is for the better, as the so-called “deprecated” items, such as VML, and so-called “Compatibility Settings” (AutoSpaceLikeWord95) to appendix.
Brian Jones implies that this makes the fact that those stuff are optional clearer. Another way of seeing it is that they are adopting the New Zealand’s suggestion of splitting the standard into two: One for the XML standard which is forward looking, and another for backward compatibility reason.
As for me, it reminds me of my PhD. The problem I have with my PhD is that to support it I need to put in a lot of figures representing the results. I am prepared to put in those figures because they also serve the function of documenting how good (or if I am honest, how bad) the reasults are. However, the external examiner will be unhappy to have to examine all these figures. The compromise? I put them in the appendix. It appears that by putting it in the appendix, I reduced the significance of those figure from “must be examined”, to “just have a look” for my examiners. Given this, I wonder whether appendix in ISO standardization has the same meaning.
It will not surprise you that as a OOXML objector, I am still not happy with this. Why does the first available standard contains “deprecated” items. With the standard definition of “deprecation”, there is simply nothing in the standard to deprecate. Issues such as VML and AutospaceLikeWin95 should not be there in the first place. Remember that this is NOT a documentation for the binary format, but a new XML format. If it were, then put those in the main body. This difference is important. It means there is a gap between the two format. It is Microsoft’s and others who wants to support conversion from binary to XML’s responsibility to bridge the gap in their application, not forcing everyone, including those who do not have interest in binary format support to implement it. Let’s face it, if VML or AutospaceLikeWin95 turn up, whether optional or not, your applications has to handle it.
Moreover, the modification looks more and more like very significant changes to the standard. Taking the PhD analogy, the amount of changes from the original proposal to DRM should only be equivalent to “Pass with correction”, this means some minor rewrite only. Taking a chapter out and put it elsewhere will results in “Fail, with recommendation to resubmit” at best, because the reorganization and rewrite can change the heart of the thesis significantly. “Fail (and don’t bother to resubmit)” is of course a possibility here. The way I see it is either of the “fail” route must be considered if the changes is huge.