CyberTech Rambler

April 16, 2010

OOXML Strict standard is DEAD

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:31 pm

OK, may be a bit too melodramatic. The correct phrase is ‘OOXML Strict standard is _irrelevant_’. However, frankly, I do not see the difference.

Why is it irrelevent? Full support, i.e., read/write is not going to be with us anytime soon. This is confirmed by Dough Mahugh, in response to Alex Brown’s criticism. TheRegister’s report put Microsoft’s Office release as every three years, and since we have yet to see Office 2010, this means the earliest we see full is 2014. That is after giving Microsoft the benefit of delivering Office 15 ahead of schedule. [The code name 15 suggests to me the intented release year might be 2015].

At that time, OOXML strict standard, as enshrined in the 2008 standard, is for all intent and purposes, irrelevant. Movement in document formats will make it obsolete by then and thus, nobody will want to work with that standard any more. It is very possible, in a couple of years, we start seeing videos routinely being embedded in digital documents. Me, for example, had been joking with PhD students that since they now create the thesis using a computer, they should think about embedding videos describing what they had done, instead of spending countless paragraphs describing what happened.

I know a standard is in trouble when McHugh tried to pull in irrelevant stuff in the response. For example, he claims to give us a peek into Microsoft’s roadmap for Office. This is an attempt to sweeten us up before giving us the bad news. News flash! Nobody cares what Office’s road map is… and quite a number of people can see through the artificial sweetener that is the bogus ‘privileged’ peek.

As for supporting Strict Format in read-only, that does not cut the mustard. Part of the purpose of having a documented format is to permit bi-directional data exchange. A lot of open source software can read but not write OOXML. I dislike and disagree with this step. Therefore you should not be surprised that I do not think read-only support is good enough for MSOffice either.

I am very unhappy about this outcome. This, however, has nothing to do with my dislike of OOXML. Rather, I see so much wasted effort to create the strict standard which nobody will be using. Not only did ISO wasted time and effort, so do people in Microsoft who worked on separating the conjoined twins what was the rejected draft standard. Worse, it raised false hope for third parties developers of OOXML who are hoping to be able to use the ‘strict’ format to simplify their work.

In summary, it is a disgusting (but not unexpected) outcome.



  1. @Rambler

    I’m not sure it’s quite right to call it “dead”. MS are promising to support it at least by the next version of Office; and regardless of what happens then, right now “read only” support (however complicated a concept that is) is an interesting aspect of MS Office 2010 — it means third-party developers producing documents to be consumed by MS Office 2010 can ignore the Transitional features of the standard as contained in Part 4 of ISO/IEC 29500:2008. That’s 1,465 pages fewer to worry about … not to be sniffed at!

    – Alex.

    Comment by Alex Brown — April 20, 2010 @ 11:56 am | Reply

    • The headline was there to attract traffic… It works as it ensnared a big fish known as A. Brown!

      Read support is great. A lot of things can be done with only read support. I use a lot of read only converter, e.g. DICOM->XXX converter in my work. Moreover, when both read/write converters for other converters are available, I find that we are more likely to use the read converter. Read only support however, does mean that the holy grail of closing the loop between two applications is not possible.

      Without write support for the strict version, it means MSOffice in the same league as etc when it comes to OOXML (Strict) Support, i.e., not interoperate, but a trap to force you to use a different document format, and I don’t like it.

      Comment by ctrambler — April 21, 2010 @ 9:47 am | Reply

  2. Microsroft Office is still the best program when it comes to spreadsheet and word processing~*’

    Comment by Network Switch : — October 29, 2010 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  3. That’s really ultrageous, Microsoft take around 8 years to fully support its own OOXML Strict standard. OpenOffice in exemple supports ODF 1.2 even before it was fully accepted by Oasis members.

    Now, what I really wanted to know is the quality of Office2010’s outputed ODF 1.1 files, for documents with complex features, regarding interoperability. Is OpenOffice and other editors able to open, edit and save complex ODF documents created by Office2010? Is Office2010 able to open, edit and save complex ODF documents created by other editors?

    I’ve made a personal test, using an old doc template I use, which has TOC and a list of very good styles. When I open this doc document in OpenOffice, TOC is lost and some styles doesn’t work, but when I opened it in Office2010 and saved it as ODT, OpenOffice started to recognize the TOC and all styles… This means that Office2010 is the best doc-odt conversor so far and I’m very satisfied with the result, but I still want more tests with more features involved so that I can trust Office2010’s interoperability.

    I also tested the refered odt document in Oracle’s ODF validator ( and it’s almost 100% valid.

    Do you know of any article with a deep review of Office2010 handling and converting ODF documents, preferably tested in many other editors? 😀

    Comment by Hikari — January 22, 2011 @ 2:59 pm | Reply

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