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Gray Knowlton's blog on Microsoft Office

Got FUD? Here’s a guide for the perplexed

Got FUD? Here’s a guide for the perplexed

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I saw Bob Sutor's post last week titled "There is humor in the OOXML morass." This is where he calls out comments from Nick Tsilas as worthy of "a good laugh." I interpreted Bob's post as an attempt by IBM to deny that they are leading the charge against Open XML.

I like a good laugh too, so I had a look. I looked through the history of Rob Weir's blog, just to see what the chair of the OASIS Technical Committee is doing to drive the agenda for ODF, and to see if there was any sense of balance between the IBM Open XML agenda and the IBM ODF agenda. The only thing "funny" to me here is the revelation of the data behind the (Nick's) claim. So this blog is again an attempt to sort out what IBM is really saying / doing. Confusion reigns supreme.

I took somewhat of an informal look at Rob's blogging history, and it really does illustrate IBM's tactics on Open XML. I didn't use his tagging, I just read them and offered my own thoughts. It is quite clear that at least part of IBM is campaigning against Open XML. I'm not sure why Bob wants to hide from that.

By my count, Rob Weir has 134 blog posts in his archive.

94 of those posts have a central anti-Open XML and/or anti-Microsoft theme.
24 of the posts are about ODF and related technology, momentum, OASIS news, etc.
Many of the Open XML posts are anti-Open XML posts with significant ODF discussion
Others have a focus that is dedicated to PDF, gardening or other things.

Even in the best possible light, we have a 3:1 slant toward opposing Open XML instead of touting ODF. This anti-Open XML stream originates from the co-chair of the OASIS ODF Technical Committee? Seems like Rob's attention is somewhat diverted. Having read most of the posts, some contradictions are apparent.

Rob Weir on one side

Rob Weir on the other side 

Original Post

"Q: So, does IBM then oppose CDF in favor of ODF? (18 Nov 2007)

A: No. IBM supports both the development of ODF and CDF and has a leadership role in both working groups. These are two good standards for two different things."

Original Post

"That is the distortion you get if you look at a standards war through the narrow blinders of commercial interest. But if you look at the full market impact, the simple economics of it, it becomes a lot clearer. What brings greater efficiency, greater fidelity, greater innovation and lower costs? Having two incompatible document format standards? Or having a single harmonized document format standard? Fighting against economics is like fighting against gravity or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. You are going to lose in the end. The piemen of Erie, and their modern counterparts, are on the wrong side of economics, and history"

Original Post

"Those who control the exchange format, can control interoperability and turn it on or off like a water faucet to meet their business objectives."

Original Post

"I personally, as Co-Chair of the OASIS ODF TC, stand ready and willing to sponsor such a harmonization effort in OASIS. So let's start harmonization now, and avoid further divergence."

Original Post

"Again, in order to support OOXML fully, and provide support for all those legacy documents, we need to divine the behavior of exactly how Word 6.x "inappropriately" placed footnotes. The "Standard" is no help in telling us how to do this. In fact it recommends that we don't even try. However, Microsoft continues to claim that the benefit of OOXML and the reason why it deserves ISO approval is that it is the only format that is 100% backwards compatible with the billions of legacy documents. But how can this be true if the specification merely enumerates compatibility attributes like this without defining them ? Does the specification really specify what it claims to specify?"

Original Post

"…There are now and will continue to be multiple implementations of ODF and it is legitimate that they have application-defined features. These are stored as name/value pairs in a separate XML file in the ODF archive.

I can think of no argument against that. Obviously no interoperability is expected for these vendor specific features, which are for things like application settings like window sizes, zoom factors, print settings, etc. In any case, ODF merely provides a place for applications to store these settings. To blame ODF for any vendor misuse of this feature is like blaming the W3C and HTML for non-standard extensions in Internet Explorer."

I have more to do than criticize Rob Weir, so I'll have to stop here. Between the data and the examples, though, the problem is clear. I really view this IBM-centric position as self-defense against reality. It seems like if the chair of the ODF TC wanted to improve adoption of ODF, then the blog would reflect that.

I wonder if the paranoia here is because of the contrast represented in the uptake of the Compatibility Pack vs. the ODF Translator for Word? The current count is 20 Million for Open XML vs. under 237,000 for the ODF Translator… or perhaps this list: http://www.openxmlcommunity.org/applications.aspx, which is A LOT longer than this one: http://opendocument.xml.org/products. (It's also worth noting that nearly every product mentioned on the OpenDocument site also supports Open XML.)

Facts are facts here. If you strip away the adjectives and adverbs, we can have a discussion about reality, based on data. Step 1, however, is acknowledging that out sound-biting each other won't get us to a situation where we can achieve interoperability with document formats. Effort and cooperation are required. Productive discussion should come to the fore. It's hard to sustain a relevant dialog with the industry when the signals from its constituents are mixed up like this.

I've included my swag at the Rob Weir posts.

Rob Weir Post

Anti OOXML 

ODF focus 

Anti ISO 

Anti PDF 

Other

The Case for Harmonization 

X 

       

What every engineer knows 

X 

       

Comedy tonight! 

X 

       

The Standards Trolls 

X 

       

You are Here

X 

 

X 

   

The Piemen of Erie 

X 

       

Legacy format FUD 

X 

       

Those who forget Santayana... 

X 

       

A Lick Back in Time (stamps) 

       

X 

The Right and Lawful Rood 

   

X 

   

Bait and Switch 

X 

       

662 resolutions, but only if you can find them 

X 

       

The Myth Of OOXML Adoption

X 

       

PDF, The Waste Land, and Monica's Blue Dress 

X 

   

X 

 

Document Format FUD: A Guide for the Perplexed 

 

X 

     

ODF enters the Semantic Web 

 

X 

     

Cracks in the Foundation 

 

X 

     

The biggest media launch of all time? 

       

X 

OpenOffice.org Conference 2007

 

X 

     

Office 2007's Confusion Mode 

X 

       

How to Hack ISO 

X 

 

X 

   

Pseudorandom Thoughts 

X 

       

The OOXML BRM 

X 

       

Disenfranchisement 

X 

       

Defective by Design 

X 

       

Is it safe? 

X 

       

The dog that didn't bark 

X 

       

The to the power of hype

X 

       

The most recognized tune of all time 

       

X 

Two Feet, No Feathers 

X 

       

An Invitation: ODF Interoperability Workshop 

 

X 

     

One Year and One Hundred Posts Later... 

       

X 

My comments on the ETRM 4.0 draft 

X 

       

Competition Optional 

X 

       

Stranger than Fiction 

X 

       

The Cookbook 

X 

       

OOXML Fails to Gain Approval in US 

X 

       

The Formula for Failure 

X 

       

A File Format Timeline 

X 

X 

     

The Value of Choice 

X 

       

No Representation Without Specification 

X 

       

Hemidemisemiquavers 

X 

       

Documents for the Long Term

X 

   

X 

 

The Legend of the Rat Farmer 

X 

X 

     

Interoperability by Design 

X 

X 

     

The Funnel and the Wedge 

X 

       

So where are all the OOXML documents? 

X 

       

Math markup marked down 

X 

       

Sometimes I need to remind myself 

X 

       

The Case for a Single Document Format: Part III 

X 

       

The first harvest of the season 

       

X 

The ODF Validation Service 

 

X 

     

The Case for a Single Document Format: Part II 

X 

       

Cannibalism 

X 

   

X 

 

Pruning Raspberries 

       

X 

ODF Freely Available 

 

X 

     

The Case for a Single Document Format: Part I 

X 

       

Fast Track. Wrong Direction. 

X 

       

Document Migrations 

 

X 

     

Compatibility According to Humpty Dumpty 

X 

       

OASIS Symposium and OpenDocument Workshop 

 

X 

     

Essential and Accidental in Standards 

X 

       

Standards and Enablement 

X 

       

The Anatomy of Interoperability 

X 

       

Washing Machines are not Lamps 

X 

       

The Word Ends on May 1st, 2010 

       

X 

How Standards Bring Consumers Choice 

X 

       

Once More unto the Breach 

X 

       

Here today, gone tomorrow 

X 

       

Merely a flesh wound? 

X 

       

A Barleywine 

       

X 

Declaring Bankruptcy 

X 

X 

     

Introducing ODF 1.1 

 

X 

     

More Matter with Less Art 

X 

       

Defining Deviancy Down 

X 

       

Microsoft on Standards 

X 

       

Adobe to Standardize PDF 

     

X 

X 

A Review of the Wikipedia Article on ODF

 

X 

     

Crocodile Tears 

X 

       

Linus's Law Applied to Standards Review 

X 

       

Document Format Punditry 

X 

       

The Parable of the Solipsistic Standard 

X 

       

Opportunity Knocks 

X 

       

Amusing but Confusing 

X 

       

The Vast Blue-Wing Conspiracy

X 

       

A Foolish Inconsistency 

X 

X 

     

Calling Captain Kirk 

X 

       

Guillaume Portes Redux 

X 

       

Surviving the Slashdot Effect 

       

X 

The Formats of Excel 2007 

X 

       

Broken Windows and the Ghost of Keynes 

X 

       

How to hire Guillaume Portes 

X 

       

A Brief History of Open

X 

       

And then there were three... 

 

X 

     

Got ODF? 

 

X 

     

A notable achievement 

X 

       

How to Write a Standard (If you Must) 

X 

       

The worm in the apple 

X 

       

Some short notes 

 

X 

     

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts 

X 

       

Happy Thanksgiving

       

X 

Genesis 11:5-9 

X 

       

Two simple questions 

X 

       

Unlocking the Wordhord 

 

X 

     

Ass-backwards Compatibility 

X 

       

The Chernobyl Design Pattern 

X 

       

Why is OOXML Slow? 

X 

       

The Celerity of Verbosity 

X 

       

A bit about the bit with the bits

X 

X 

     

When language goes on holiday 

X 

       

A Leap Back 

X 

       

Lingua franca, lingua exposita 

 

X 

     

In Dublin's Fair City 

 

X 

     

Nothing is certain but death and ... 

X 

X 

     

ODF: Twenty Patterns of Use 

 

X 

     

Proposal for an Open Document Developers Kit (ODDK)

 

X 

     

Fruits of the Season 

       

X 

Lyon Summary 

 

X 

     

The OOXML Compatibility Pack 

X 

       

A quick look at the 0.2 ODF Add-in for Word 

 

X 

     

Happy Labor Day 

       

X 

A Tale of Two Formats 

X 

       

The 96.97 percent problem 

       

X 

Four Shorts 

X 

X 

     

A Demo: Mathematica, MathML and ODF 

 

X 

     

Math You Can't Use 

X 

       

Follow the Leader 

X 

       

Throwing stones at people in glass houses 

X 

       

Add-in finitum 

X 

X 

     

Cum mortuis in lingua mortua 

X 

       

Site Updates 

       

X 

A game of Zendo 

X 

       

Lost in Translation

 

X 

     

Traduttore, Traditore 

 

X 

     
Comments
  • PingBack from http://claim-blog.freedombloghost.info/?p=11250

  • Thanks for the link Gray.  It is always good to hear from a fan.  Did you just figure out that I oppose OOXML?  

    As for ODF promotion, I'm trying hard to steer ODF-related content to the ODF Adoption TC's site at http://opendocument.xml.org or to the ODF Alliance rather than my personal blog.  It's a community thing.  Outside of Microsoft, no one really reads my blog anyways.

  • This just in... Rob Weir opposes Open XML... Not news really. I was just surprised to see the difference between what you and Bob are saying.

    I noted the OpenDocument.xml.org page, it is very similar in kind to http://www.openxmlcommunity.org, both are great places to gauge the amount of activity underway 'in the wild' with the two formats.

  • Re:  OXML Policy Positions

    Hi Gray - I'm the Microsoft employee referenced in Bob's blog. If your readers want to find out more about Microsoft’s OXML policy positions please go to http://www.microsoft.com/office/openxmlpolicy or http://www.openxmlcommunity.org/

    At the end of the day this is and should continue to be all about choice and empowering users.  Choice to pick the best standard that meets their needs.  People should really question any entity that is advocating anything that would limit their choice and ultimately competition and innovation.

    http://star-techcentral.com/tech/story.asp?file=/2008/1/31/itfeature/20157380&sec=itfeature

    Regards,

    Nicos Tsilas

  • Rob Weir said:

    "Outside of Microsoft, no one really reads my blog anyways".

    I think you are wrong about your audience. I'm not employed by Microsoft and I read your blog frequently to try to find some interesting information about ODF. The problem is that I can  only find "information" about OOXML. I even tried to ask you some questions about Lotus Symphony, ODF and interoperability but it seems like my questions got lost in cyberspace. Or did you by any chance delete them?

  • I was a bit surprised to see the news recently that Open Forum Europe is working with some large US-based

  • Given my remarks about the current chair of the OASIS ODF TC , I thought I'd round out my ODF related

  • ¿Os imagináis que OpenXML fuera tremendamente eficaz? ¿Os imagináis que cualquiera pudiera tener la capacidad

  • Rob Weir is apparently offended that someone would suggest that ODF is controlled by a single vendor,

  • How long did it take you to write this post?  I'm impressed!

  • Heh, Viralta, it took me about 15 minutes of actual writing time, most posts don't take much more than that; the linking and fact-checking can consume a few cycles though. The reading, of couse, takes a bit, especially when the material is as confused as this. The reading part took me about 2 years.

  • How does Rob's pointing out that a feature clearly required to accurately format the output for a document should be defined in a format standard negate his position that saving the last view or print settings for a specific application need not be?

  • Patrick Durusau has picked up on a thread that I regard as somewhat important (and underplayed) in the

  • Despite your claim to contrary "I have more to do than criticize Rob Weir" you obviously haven't got anything better to do!  So who payed you to do this?

    20 minutes of my life wasted.

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