OOXML will fail miserably February 16, 2007
Or, at least it should. It will reveal a serious flaw in international standards if that thing succeeds. The basis for my argument is that everyone who opposes it are smart people with no other reason to do so other than the specification is an atrocity. I've literally spent the whole night reading objections to it (simply because advocates for it are few and far between, and also sound like complete morons to me). Here are some links.
Groklaw (which I'm reading more and more every day, written by someone who claims no knowledge of the technical side of the debate, and who seems to side only with the law [not a particular company... a non-biased view])
Rob Weir (an IBM guy who just seems really smart to me)
Miguel de Icaza (who makes no argument at all for OOXML based on how ridiculous the whole thing is)
John Carroll (a Microsoftie who is just blowing his employer... err... his employer's horn.)
This is where it gets interesting. Carroll, in a "blog" post , ignoring all the technical diarrhea that is the OOXML spec (ECMA 367), posts a link to an article by Miguel de Icaza (an open source guy working for Novell which recently inked a deal with Microsoft), about why the OOXML spec should become a standard. Carroll thinks he'll win over MS-haters / Open Source (OSS) advocates because he's posting an OSS person's view on the subject which happens to coincide with his view. So, I start commenting on that post about logical inconsistencies inside of that document, as well as technical concerns I have about OOXML in general, to discredit anything anybody has to say in support of OOXML. On a quest that began after I started posting, I continued reading (I started earlier in work, but had to go home) a document on Groklaw.net that contained all of the objections to OOXML becoming an ISO standard.
When I finished that document, I still needed more ammo. I searched the web, as I had promised to do in a comment on Carroll's post, for pro-OOXML arguments. I couldn't find any on a technical basis besides that it supports old .doc formats all the way back to Word 5 (for which a simple converter could be written to upgrade all docs to the new standard...). So I gave up searching. I did come across a few non-MS employee articles that were pro OOXML, but they well... read for yourself (which, like all Microsoft articles I've read, miss the point ENTIRELY on "CHOICE"). After that waste of time, I somehow wound up on Slashdot.org, reading the comments by those readers (largely anti-OOXML) the same MS letter to IBM that James O'Neill's thing mentions. One of them posted a link to a funny article by Rob Weir. So I immediately liked him. After reading that, I decided to read more of what he had to say. Which is when I came across THIS!! As you can tell, it completely rips Miguel de Icaza's argument a new %@#$hole!! Read the comments on that one too. Miguel is the first to comment, asking Rob if he had ever written any software for OpenOffice.org (the frontrunner on the implementation side of ODF (there are many), the competing standard (yes, already an ISO standard) to MS' OOXML), or if he's just an Armchair General. Later down the page, Rob responds with this comment, which basically says "I am qualified to make that statement, dumbass."
Here's where advocates for OOXML miss the point on CHOICE. When ODF people speak of choice, they speak about different applications being able to operate with each other (interoperate). Meaning, if I save a file using this program on this operating system, I can later open it with this other program on this other operating system. Right now there are a lot (OpenOffice, KOffice, StarOffice, Corel, Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and a few independent apps) that can read and write ODF. Alternative, right now, there is one program that can read and write OOXML, and it was released 1/30/07 (Microsoft Office 2007). Funny timing, by the way, as OOXML went into ISO "fast track" approval on 1/05/07. So they didn't even have a working application to display it. I digress. So there's a difference in opinion of what "choice" actually is. However, when the average user wants to save an image file from their digital camera, should their camera care what operating system they're using, or what photo editing application they have installed? Likewise, there are a few "standards" for image formats. JPEG is highly used for photos because it can contain more colors to the less-lossy (pixel quality wise) but less colors overall GIF format. It has been argued though that OOXML is duplicating much of the same functionality as ODF, whereas JPEG and GIF are very different in their purposes (GIF is much better for small images and transparency, and JPG for high quality compression of larger images... however, both might soon be deemed obsolete by PNG which covers transparency and a good, near-lossless compression algorithm). In the objections document posted earlier, the final note offers an alternative solution. That Microsoft extend the ODF format with any of their functionality that isn't covered in ODF. This is clearly a good solution, since the base functionality is in ODF, is implemented in many standards, and is a good building block. This is what anti-OOXML people would welcome with open arms. Not a year through standardization on a spec that took 12+ years to fully develop!! ODF took 4 years to ISO standardization. 1 year would be ridiculous.
Quality night of reading overall :) Next, there are these gems...
Here are some letters to INCITS (International Committee for Information Technology Standards)...
Some of these letters from the opposition are the same, but all of the letters FOR OOXML are sent as a "joint letter signed by these 20 members of this committee that has 'Microsoft' in the title". To get a joint letter signed, I'd walk around an office and say "Yo, sign this... it's to get free pizza every Friday." There are three letters attached (in the one from "George LaVenture - International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP)"), each from different offices, each signed by 15+ people (but I can't see the signatures for some reason). All of those letters are the same exact thing, and they make no merits on the technical side. Which is fine, I guess. There are many arguments that either would stand up on technical merits. Although, developing an application that uses OOXML would be an absolute nightmare. The spec is 6000+ pages long. The only argument on the Microsoft side that ODF can't claim (not legally anyway :P ) is that there are billions of documents in old formats that this "document format" can support. As I said, write a CONVERTER.
John Hardin's letter makes the claim that if OOXML were to pass as an ISO standard, the reputations of ISO and ANSI standards organizations would be severely damaged. And that "they will be seen as open to manipulation by sufficiently large companies." In no way do we want that to happen. That would be like the US Patent Office! We don't want that situation repeated in standards organizations.
Another post I read somewhere says that if OOXML passes through ISO standardization, it could be the most costly mistake EVER. (Ahh, found the link here)
It's funny that the only people pushing for it are MS people, MS advocates, and some politicians who are paid by Microsoft, whereas the ODF crowd is many many good companies and lots of brilliant people. It leads one (not me certainly) to the conclusion that people who support Microsoft in this area are complete morons, will never be writing the software to support OOXML, or that they're on MS' payroll (either as an employee or accepting donations through politics). Every Microsoft post I've read is a last ditch effort that practically concedes victory to ODF. Not to mention the lies that they tell themselves (e.g. For ISO adoption, 103 companies vote, only 19 opposed on the first round, so they tell themselves and their employees that "We're almost there!!", when, in fact, 16 of those 19 countries that opposed make up HALF of the vote that MATTERS in the final vote, 5 months away!! SUCKERS!!). Just keep telling yourselves that.
Anyway, this was kind of a review of all the reading I did tonight, with no real guiding purpose or goal. Ok, I had a guiding purpose, basically to vent about how bad OOXML is technically, and that's confirmed by no technical merits from anyone that supports it. And, likewise, to convince anyone who reads this to read all the articles and documents I link to, and to convince them of my opinion... like all opinion writers :P The whole thing's probably way too long and filled with typos, but luckily I can only see the last 8 lines I wrote :P I'm going to bed. It's the Wiikend!!!