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Friday, February 08, 2008


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Stephane Rodriguez

Point 1

"OOXML is much more expressive than ODF."

Does shared formulas and other optimization artefacts brought from the dark ages of the 8086 days is the expressiveness you are talking about? XML was never meant to be a binary stream!

As for graphics, when you will be done supporting DrawingML three years from now, and start spending two more years every little dirt of VML, only to find your way through the redundancies, perhaps you can start thinking of rendering graphics.

"Microsoft made the changes – since relaxed – to improve security, it’s difficult to find fault with Microsoft’s goals in that context"

If security trumps compatibility, the only logical step for Microsoft is to block the ability to open a .xls spreadsheet...for security reasons. New Excel vulnerabilities are discovered every month.

And, since a number of binary blobs from .xls files are brought to .xlsx files as is, one might want to wonder if .xlsx spreadsheets should be blocked as well.

Point 2

"Implying that the custom XML extensions Microsoft developed in conjunction with Ecma International are unimportant"

You can't add your own XML within existing XML parts. It simply corrupts the file. What you can do is add independent parts that Microsoft calls "Custom XML", whose implementation is in fact partial at best. In Excel and Powerpoint, Microsoft hasn't designed a way to bind the data to that internal Custom XML part. Your only recourse is to use Word.

There goes your ability to update stocks thanks to "Custom XML".

"OOXML is much broader in scope"

To the point you can insert/reshuffle any MIME payload in the file. Does not this contradict the security concerns that were mentioned in Point 1 ?

"Detailed spreadsheet formulas"

What you call detailed spreadsheet formulas is Excel's user online help. Applications supporting ODS spreadsheets have a user online help too, why don't you mention it for the sake of fairness?

Point 3

"OOXML is more ecosystem- and application-oriented than ODF"

Definitely not. Word defines its own world (styles, formatting, layout logic, formulas, ...), at odds with Excel, which defines its own world (styles, formatting, layout logic, formulas, ...), at odds with Powerpoint.

An ecosystem would share most of the Office elements, leaving a small part to specifics. Oddly enough, that is what ODF does.

The only part of Office documents that Microsoft tried to share in their ECMA proposal is the drawing parts, and they failed miserably. They now have to make 1000+ pages of VML deprecated. In a 1.0 proposal, that's unheard of.

In case, by ecosystem, Burton Group means "development platform", suffice to say that there is no 64-bit edition of Office 2007, and that important parts of Office 2007 haven't been developed for a number of years (such as VBA), making it impossible to adapt to today's and future needs.

Point 4

"Given that experience, buttressed by blog postings that highlight that such name jockeying is not an isolated instance"

Especially when "Open XML" implies that XML is closed, or at least closer to Microsoft's proposal.

The game in "Open Office" versus "Office Open" terms just illustrates how both scared and jealous Microsoft is of anything open, as in open source. (It also shows they understand dirty SEO tricks somewhat.)

Point 5

"OOXML debate by storing documents in the cloud."

OOXML is not about storing documents. On servers, it's supposed to be actively part of business processes with parts stitched and dynamically mixed according to needs. There is only one problem, what Microsoft Office application instances do at run-time when you edit the files just isn't there anymore if you do this by hand (with your own program), which kills the integrity of documents. Microsoft understands this very well, that's why their media blitz is all about "more compatible than everything else".

Point 6

"The word simplistic often means beyond simple, as in way too simple."

Does this imply that OpenOffice Write (the equivalent of Microsoft Word) is just some kind of Notepad application, and that it cannot save .doc documents back and forth without substantial loss?

If that's not what you mean, that sure sounds like it is.

For the record, OpenOffice Write/Calc/Impress work very well with .doc/.xls/.ppt documents.

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