CyberTech Rambler

October 28, 2009

Well, what do you expects from OOXML?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:55 pm

The third part of Rob Weir’s farewell article on OOXML (part 1 and part 2 here) hit a raw nerve at GrokLaw. The argument is in four parts: (1) That Microsoft dominates the working group for OOXML, (2) changes against the consensus at the BRM are pushed through, (3) ISO’s rulse are abused again and (4) OOXML might be reformatted to suit MS Office, not the other way round..

To the third part my reply is “What do you expects?”. There are so many holes in the standard that should not be there. They should had been ironed out before the standard was approved. Unfortunately it is not done so we are now facing the real task of ironing this out. The standard ISO process for standard maintenance cannot cope with it. IF everyone is going to follow the rules to the letter, we cannot finish the task of polishing it up to standard in reasonable time. Therefore, one must push the rules to its limit. I do not like it, but what can we do? For the sake of getting the standard to something resembling the norm, I think I am prepare to accept that the rules had to be bend (or broken) for defects/issues that are not controversial.

This, however, does not mean I am prepare to accept changes that go against the consensus at the BRM (the second point). What the OOXML team promised and blogged about should be kept. They were part of the bargain. I will not accept changing things through the back door normally, so to speak. However, at times, if the consensus at the BRM is altered back to its orignal state, as long as it is reflection of the the current Microsoft documents, I will have to thow my hands up in the air and say while I do not like it, I am not going to oppose it, especially since the charter says it wants to stay true to the current OOXML document.

As to Microsoft dominating the process, if Rob Weir don’t like it, may be he should advise IBM to join it. (In case of any miscommunication, I am saying this in a tongue-in-cheek manner). Let’s see who is in the committee. Pro ODF people, who are the majority of people that has experience in office application? Never there. Apple? Missing in action since OOXML was approved as ISO standard. This is a shame actually. Looking at Apple’s work and  innovation in iWorks, they would have the expertise, experience and innovative ideas to share on the table should they choose to participate. British Library and Oracle? No where to be seen today and like Apple, I do not think they are interested in the continued evolution of OOXML as a standard. So who’s left? Mainly downstream vendors who wants to harness the Microsoft Office eco-system. No pun intended. What I am trying to say here is they do not have the expertise in Office applications and have to rely on others to supply the expertise. And who is there? Only Microsoft.

With only one vendor that creates office application, and that the vendor is a dominant player in the office application field, why should one be surprised that Microsoft is over-dominant in the process? Is there any point in passing, say with only Microsoft decenting, something that Microsoft do not want to do? With no competing implementation to arm-twist Microsoft, that is a stupid thing to do.

Over-dominance by one party leads to undesirable things, such as a standard is seen to be twisted to suit the dominant player. If I were the dominant player and already written the next generation of OOXML, I will of course try to push the standard into the way I like. After all, it is easier and cheaper to change the standard, compared to changing my program code.

If Rob Weir is correct, it will be interesting to find out, if we could, why Microsoft decided to put the brakes on XPS. I hope it is the result of ISO saying enough is enough, we bend over backwards over the abuse of our process (coz we are not prepared for your assault and although what you did is immoral and unethical, it is possible that it is “within the rules”) but we will have no more.


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