After being prompt by Jomar Silva (someone I do respect and is surprised he took the time to comment on my blog) to re-read Alex Brown post, I did and as you would had expected, I am picking up things that I miss the first time round.
First up. Alex Brown says that “I was personally very pleased to see National Bodies well-represented (the minutes are here)”. Counting the nation represented shows that there is only a few countries that attended. I don’t know how to evaluate this information but it does strike me as the norm for only a few nations to attend.
NOW, the criticism based on attendee list. Well-balanced list Mr Brown? Sorry, I do not think so. Only one company which actually produce office application, i.e. Microsoft. Novell don’t, neither do RedFlag. (They do contribute to OpenOffice.org, but they did not participate strong enough to qualify as writing it.) The rest are users. Therefore, you are vendor-lite. I do not think this is a good thing, because technical discussion cannot take place since they will require intimate knowledge of how an office application works.
And, as Mr Brown said
“…I’d now ideally like to see some more big vendors coming to the table so their views can be heard. Microsoft (of course) was; but where (for example) are Apple, Oracle and the other vendors who participated in Ecma TC 45 while OOXML was being drafted?”
Good question Mr Brown. Please permit me to add the British Library to the list of notable absentees. If you ask me, and I am sure you will agree, it is not surprising. They all achieved their aim: They want to be able to read older Microsoft binary file in a standard way. The best is to throw a carrot at Microsoft, i.e., help it get OOXML as ISO Standard. The bonus of the process is they can get access to the newer, XML format as well. Now that the aim is already achieved, there is no need to spend money to participate, especially in a credit crunch.
The non-participating Apple is particularly disappointing, as Apple’s iWork is really a refreshing take on how a office application works and I would love to see it use the experience to contribute to OOXML. And while I am attacking apple …. if Apple is serious about OOXML, it should at least provide OOXML output.
Second, at the risk of being accused of nitpicking, this is what Alex Brown said about “strict” and “transitional”
“Personally, I think the “strict” format is a new format”
As you will recall, the separation of “strict” and “transitional” is made between the final draft and the BRM. No wonder OOXML has so many defects that need fixing and the committee cannot fix it. If taking a year to define OOXML is bad enough, chunking out a “new” format in less than 6 months is even worse.
Third, and this is a BIG point, why is Microsoft trying to introduce features in “strict” format into “transition” format? As I understand it, “transition” format is suppose to help everyone move from existing Office XML schema, and old binary file to the newer “strict” format. By definition, it is not something under active development. It should be corrected for defect and in no way should new features added to it.
With this revealation, I cannot understand why Mr Brown is prepare to accept consider adding features to “transition” format while at the same time criticises ODF for having two conformance statement, i.e., “Conforming OpenDocument Document” conformance and “Conforming OpenDocument Extended Document” conformance. His criticism centered on the fact that there should only be one conformance statement, i.e., it is conforming or not. I can see the beauty and simplicity of having only one conformance statement. When I read it, the first thing that crossed my mind is OOXML itself has two conformance statements, i.e. “transition” and “strict”. However, I was prepare to give Mr Brown the benefit of doubt, after all, I can accept that “transition” format is not a conformance statement in the long run as it is simply a bridge from older formats to the new one. Unfortuantely, “transition” format is a conformance statment if one is developing the “transition” format, as Microsoft is proposing to do with the feature addition. Why? the number of documents covered by the “transition” format will increase, not decrease, as expected in a “transition” format. Moreover, it is going to cover documents that are yet to be created. This is a mockery of the term “transition”. The increased lifespan of the “transition” format means it qualify as a second conformance statement and why is Mr Brown OK with this, but not with ODF?