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Australian Whole-of-Government Common Operating Environment Policy and OOXML - AGIMO boots OpenOffice but Libre Office reboots OpenOffice?

By Rick Jelliffe
January 28, 2011

Two big stories this week: AGIMO's COE and LibreOffice. AGIMO is the Australian Government Information Management Office. They are the ones who set policies such as requiring govt web page meet the W3C's WCAG 2.0 guidelines for accessibility, or that...

ODF and OOXML Translation: Working Draft 2 of ISO technical report out - Scorecard of translatability

By Rick Jelliffe
June 28, 2010

The gnomes of ISO (err, ISO/IEC JTC1 SC34 WG5) have released the ">second draft of their Technical Report comparing ODF and OOXML (PDF). It is up to 126 pages now, and much more fleshed out than the first draft. One...

Europe to force all 'significant market players' to provide information necessary for interoperability?

By Rick Jelliffe
June 12, 2010

Three news items caught my interest this week. all slightly related: Dr. Neelie Kroes has made a significant speech How to get more interoperability in Europe on practical steps on interoperability and standards. She presents this as building on the...

A Sketch on Modeling Dialects of XML File Formats

By Rick Jelliffe
April 20, 2010

Here is a thought experiment, which is a model of OOXML and its dialects. I could have chosen ODF or HTML. When we talk about OOXML sometimes we mean one if its formal specifications, sometimes we mean a particular package format, sometimes we mean what an application can generate or consume. This allows a tremendous amount of loose and futile talk about it.

Justifying Standards by Net Benefit - The shift from 'market requirements' to 'market failure'

By Rick Jelliffe
April 12, 2010

Standards Australia has released their Net Benefit Guide (PDF). Net Benefit is one of the criteria they use for evaluating potential standards and standards projects. (Standards Australia is not a regulator, and its standards do not have force of law,...

How Schematron could open up management of ODF and OOXML flavours - And be a registry for product ideosyncracies and workarounds

By Rick Jelliffe
April 7, 2010

Everyone will never catch up, and models of interoperability based entirely on the promise that sooner or later everyone will catch up will just lead to disappointment. So I wonder if it would be useful to have some kind of Open Source Schematron schema where we could collect tests and diagnostics for the various flavours.

Alex Brown: Microsoft fails the Standards Test

By Rick Jelliffe
April 1, 2010

UK XML expert and key player in the SC34 standards committee at ISO, Dr Alex Brown, has written (the day before April Fool's Day) a strongly worded blog Microsoft fails the Standards Test. If his concerns that the new version...

Grids and Tortoise Shells: Influences on CJK Typesetting - Plus: Can Standards Lead?

By Rick Jelliffe
March 28, 2010

In this blog, I want to suggest two great influences on CJK typesetting which can be understood as principles or generators of many CJK graphical idioms: the first influence is rather mechanical: that having square ideographs has consequences that tends to generate certain kinds of designs and ways of expressing those designs; the second influence is cultural and graphical: the influence of mystical diagrams associated with Taoism.

What should happen with OOXML/ODF after the i4i patent?

By Rick Jelliffe
March 24, 2010

Alex Brown has a recently blogged on Document Format Standards and Patents. Some points of interest: Alex expects the customXML feature should be taken out of the new OOXML Strict (the dialect of OOXML which represent what National Bodies actually...

The other OOOXML/ODF fight - How to ballot. Which ODF? Which OOXML?

By Rick Jelliffe
February 27, 2010

The noisy and very visible fight over the standardization of OOXML at ISO took attention away from what could have been a bigger fight in which the ODF/OOXML antagonists (and me) were on the same side, and the other side...

Microsoft's OOXML Extensions for Office 2010

By Rick Jelliffe
February 18, 2010

Microsoft has pages out now which detail the extensions to OOXML they are using in Office 2010.

Microsoft loses appeal on Custom XML - What else would be affected? Some XForms? Some XSLT? Some Schematron?

By Rick Jelliffe
December 23, 2009

Microsoft has lost its appeal on the Custom XML feature in Word 2007! To prevent confusion, the removal only applies to one feature in Word 200x that no-one would be using casually on homemade or general office documents. I wrote...

Rikipedia: stuff deleted from Wikipedia - Ken Krechmer on OOXML Standardization - Both ODF and OOXML only support flexibility, but adaptability is better?

By Rick Jelliffe
September 1, 2009

I found that that an interesting section Ken Krechemer had contributed to the Wikipedia article on the Standardization of OOXML had been deleted for being an editorial. Anyway, I hope Ken doesn't mind me taking the liberty of reprinting it here.

Experiments with numbering and horizontal rule in AbiWord - Grumpy old guy thinks word processing was better 15 years ago

By Rick Jelliffe
September 1, 2009

One thing it demonstrates, I think, is the fallacy that presentation-driven user interfaces are easier to use or implement than structured document editors: and they look like becoming adequate for interchange only with great difficulty. Show me the tags!

Key Fraunhofer study released on ODF and OOXML

By Rick Jelliffe
August 21, 2009

It says "It may be concluded that many of the functionalities, especially those found in simpler documents, can be translated between the standards, while the translation of other functionalities can prove complex or even impossible." I say "The lack of support for plurality almost guarantees acrimony, and winners and losers."

Simplistic conversion from word proccessor formats to plain text is unsafe - OOXML, ODF, HTML

By Rick Jelliffe
August 17, 2009

There are a number of ways in which text can be introduced, changed or disappeared, though each format will have a different mix of possibilities.

Mircrosoft and the two XML patents #2 - More on the I4i patent for Word's custom XML

By Rick Jelliffe
August 13, 2009

Here is a better overview of the i4i patent.

Microsoft and the two XML patents

By Rick Jelliffe
August 12, 2009

Microsoft has been in the news in the last month in relation to two patents, one it received and one it has been ordered to pay $200 million in damages for infringing. I've been looking through both, and the patents seem to bear little resembles to their reports.

Should OOXML be a national standard? - Strict OOXML: probably not; Transitional OOXML: surely not?

By Rick Jelliffe
August 11, 2009

There is no inconsistency in ajudging that a particular technology would be usefully written up as an international standard but yet not appropriate for a national standard.

Microsoft's proposed resolution to EU on competition

By Rick Jelliffe
July 28, 2009

I like the clearer and more objectively verifiable commitments.

Documents as miniature websites? - Plus: Legislation needed to protect and promote FOSS

By Rick Jelliffe
July 22, 2009

The most likely future for documents and their formats, is that each document will start to look/act/be implemented more and more like a tiny, self-contained website. There is a flip-side: as documents become more like tiny websites, the desktop application will become more become more like a browser with an internal web-server.

Survival of the fit-for-purposest

By Rick Jelliffe
June 25, 2009

At first I was afraid, I was petrified

The conspiracy to save OOXML from being so crappy

By Rick Jelliffe
June 19, 2009

According to my balance principle, I would say that SC34 WG1 needs more participation from (non-MS) vendors to get a good balance: it is currently tipped in favour of users/governments/standards bodies.

Groklaw is on-message

By Rick Jelliffe
June 14, 2009

Waiting on this wintery Sydney day for my flatmate's Chinese roast pork knuckle with bamboo to cook, I thought I'd check up on a suspicion that had formed in my mind: had Growlaw ever published anything on OOXML/ODF recently that was not just Big Blue's message of the week?

Supporting degradation: towards a workable Open Packaging standard

By Rick Jelliffe
June 1, 2009

I think we are missing, or have now arrived at the stage where we need, a way to declare relationships between different namespaces in standard XML documents. This needs to be part of a broadly-based open packaging standard.

The limits of standards in OOXML and ODF office suites

The limits of standards in OOXML and ODF office suites
By Andy Oram
May 20, 2009

Nobody expected Microsoft to make its proprietary OOXML format really work with products that support ODF. But an office suite has to hook into a huge number of outside pieces in its environment. We're just going to have to live with a fuzz factor.

Where everyone knows your name: ODF 1.1 formula support in Office SP2

By Rick Jelliffe
May 8, 2009

Aslightly interesting standards aspect to the ODF 1.1 interoperability problems that MS Office SP2 is caught up in. To my mind either the problem is in the short term only and intrinsic to the ODF feature, or the problem does not lie with Microsoft for making their choice, nor with other implementers for making their choices, but with the ratty choice of markup used for this feature in ODF 1.n itself.

SmartArt and OpenOffice.oo

By Rick Jelliffe
May 6, 2009

I was happy to see Thorsten Behrens' blog entry SmartArt Import and More. Thorsten works on the graphics engine for OpenOffice's presentation application Impress.

The big fish swallow the little fish: Adobe's FXG and MicroSoft's OOXML

By Rick Jelliffe
May 6, 2009

Adobe's FXG seems to be to PSD what OOXML is to .DOC: a re-factoring of a middle-aged binary format in XML with a focus on fidelity rather than elegance. My working model is that we need to think of the de-proprietarization of market-dominating technologies in the intensely pragmatic model of a sequence of bigger fish swallowing smaller fish: a sequence of consolidation of dialects, modularization of parts, then adoption into pluralistic frameworks and Adaptability Standards, allowing user selection of winning mini-technologies. Each stage of which will take at least a major software release cycle.

Blue Sun? What an IBM acquisition of Sun means for software

By Kurt Cagle
March 24, 2009

However, Sun's software side of the acquisition ledger, especially by IBM, has been rather oddly overlooked, given that it will likely have major implications for software development and cloud computing for years. Sun's software holdings cover five primary areas - Java, Solaris, mySQL, Open Office, and Sun's recently acquired QLayer cloud infrastructure. Understanding how IBM could potentially ramp up (or destroy) each of these gives some interesting insight into the real value of IBM's potential software acquisitions.

Master Blaster

By Rick Jelliffe
March 20, 2009

Peter Sefton has had a great series of blog entries in which he has managed to blast almost everyone in the office document space:

Document security and macros

By Rick Jelliffe
February 26, 2009

One of the big selling points of descriptive markup is that it is safe. If you use a binary format (or a macro-enabled file) you can have a security problems. I think ODF needs to take a leaf out of OOXML's book here, and at least adopt the convention where the normal extensions must be opened by conforming applications with macro- and script- and event- disabled. Security is so important, that it should be part of ODF 1.2 rather than a next-generation ODF issue.

No real technical barriers...

By Rick Jelliffe
February 23, 2009

I enjoyed this quote in Charles Babcock's 'Why Windows must go Open Source'

Safe Plurality: Can it be done using OOXML's Markup Compatibility and Extensions mechanism

By Rick Jelliffe
February 13, 2009

The particular issue that MCE address is this: what is an application supposed to do when it finds some markup it wasn't programmed to accept? This could be extension elements in some foreign namespace, but it could also be some elements from a known namespace: the case when a document was made against a newer version of the standard than the application.

Conformance classes should mirror stakeholder usage clusters

By Rick Jelliffe
February 4, 2009

It seems that both ODF and OOXML have reached the stage where the killer bee of conformance is buzzwording itself around the ears of the various committees. ... So what do I mean by a stakeholder usage cluster? From the vendor/developer side, you have needs for different levels of development effort. From the user side, you have needs for reliable interchange at different levels of complexity

OOXML and Nicotine

By Rick Jelliffe
January 23, 2009

Is Microsoft evil in the way that Big Tobacco is evil? That is the flavour of some comments I have been reading recently: X works for Microsoft therefore that is enough to discredit their opinion on moral grounds alone. But software does not give you cancer.

ISO standard 'office' formats overpromise compatability?

By Rick Jelliffe
November 22, 2008

A friend in the industry who works with ODF gave me a heads-up about a new Gartner report, available on Microsoft's site which he describes as "delusional". Of the three pages, I pretty much agree with their first and third pages. Towards the middle it gets a little, err, nutty to me.

Fake real-time blog from JTC1 Meeting, Nara, Japan

By Rick Jelliffe
November 21, 2008

ISO/IEC JTC1 (the international standards body that looks after Information Technology standards) has just published two documents from its recent meetings in Nara, Japan. Along with the publication of IS29500 today, these represent a kind of line being drawn underneath the OOXML episode. JTC1 also addresses the "one standard" issue but needs to go further on reform of accelerated processes like the contentious "fast-track" submission.

OOXML standards finally published and available free!

By Rick Jelliffe
November 21, 2008

I am delighted to see that the free site for ISO publicly available standards finally has the OOXML standards available:

Fake real-time blog from Document Interoperability Initiative 2 at Redmond

By Rick Jelliffe
October 29, 2008

Can Microsoft's idea of "document archetypes" and "interoperable templates" be ramped up to provide a fresh new approach to both better document interoperability and better descriptive markup?

Trying to figure out where Open Formula fits in

By Rick Jelliffe
October 24, 2008

OpenFormula actually defines an exchange formula language which has explicit delimiters, but also allows (and partly defines) application-specific user interface languages, which allows spaces and other delimiters. An ODF spreadsheet that used IS29500 syntax when saved, even if it didn't follow full Open Formula, would not be conforming.

Is ODF the new RTF or the new .DOC? Can it be both? Do we need either?

By Rick Jelliffe
October 22, 2008

Is ODF the new RTF or the new .DOC? Can it be both? I suggest that perhaps the looming challenge for document standards is not in deciding or developing perfect formats, but in integrating the packaged world of documents with the fragmented world of web resources. ...First, a potted history of the document format landscape over last 25 years...

Ken Krechmer's Adaptability Standards

By Rick Jelliffe
October 10, 2008

I think Ken Krechmer's Adaptive Standards pre-suppose the kind of frameworking and support for modularity and plurality that I have been banging on about for the last decade. An interesting recent quote from him.

How many mavericks does it take to change a lyspære?

By Rick Jelliffe
October 7, 2008

Thirteen members of the Norwegian standards body's technical committee walked out recently... If we take these 13, and subtract people who either work for competitors of Microsoft or affiliated with the NUUG/FOSS industry/community, we get...1 person (the esteemed Steve Pepper) by my count...

The state of the art?

By Rick Jelliffe
September 12, 2008

The problem is that the bottom line for document interoperability is not the format, but the feature match of the applications. The only way ever to get reliable, bottom-line interchange (enough fidelity that no semantics are lost, with graceful degradation) is by restricting feature use.

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, the CONSEGI Declaration, and the Brazilian suppression

By Rick Jelliffe
September 11, 2008

I think that underneath the IT bigwigs' comments is the ghost of Plan A: an avoidance of responsibility by procurement or policy makers by invoking the authority of ISO as the reason why a standard should be adopted as a strategy to disentangle from Microsoft and go open source. However, since that was a dodgy proposition to start with (i.e. the invocation, not the disentangling), withdrawing it actually withdraws nothing.

The Education of Gary Edwards

By Rick Jelliffe
September 8, 2008

One of the more interesting characters in the recent standards battles has been Gary Edwards: he was a member of the original ODF TC in 2002 which oversaw the creation of ODF 1.0 in 2005, but gradually became more concerned about large vendor dominance of the ODF TC frustrating what he saw as critical improvements in the area of interoperability.

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