Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Text of Rob Weir's OOXML Presentation

Rob Weir's OOXML Presentation was included in the Standards Australia hosted forum on the proposed Draft International Standard ISO/IEC 29500, "Information technology - Office Open XML file format", 9 August 2007 in Sydney. I provided some excerpts and was asked to include the slide presentation. The presentation "Some Thoughts Concerning DIS 29500 “OOXML" by Rob Weir, IBM, has similar content to his Blog. So rather than clog up the web with another slide show, I have just provided the text, without the graphics (available from his blog):
Some Thoughts Concerning DIS 29500 "OOXML"

Rob Weir

(c) 2007 IBM Corporation

What is a Standard?

"[A] document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context

NOTE Standards should be based on the consolidated results of science, technology and experience, and aimed at the promotion of optimum community benefits."

-- ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004, Definition 3.2

FastTrack V Ecma's "value"

OOXML: a rushed standard

The technical case against DIS 29500 / OOXML

OOXML does not satisfy the criteria commonly used to define standards :

Standards should be repeatable, optimal/best practices and interoperable
Ref. ISO, British Standards Institute, ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives

1. NOT Precise, Repeatable, Common

"Compatibility Settings" of WordProcessingML, such as "autoSpaceLikeWord95", do not provide for repeatable practices. Many other properties are undefined.

2. NOT aspirational and a consolidation of best practices

Very little use of the consolidated best practices of the industry such as XForms, Xlink, SMIL and MathML

3. NOT Interoperable and Portable

Heavily tied to Microsoft Office applications and Windows, to the detriment of interoperability and portability. Example: clipboard only supports Microsoft formats, such as EMF, and WMF. Supports Internet Explorer, but not Firefox, Opera or Safari.

4. LACKS Cultural and Linguistic Adaptability

Example: NETWORKDAYS() defines a weekend in a way that will be improper in most parts of the Middle East.

  • Vote "No, with comments," which is the JTC1-prescribed way of indicating "conditional approval" (JTC1 Directives, Section 9.8)
  • Recommend that OOXML be resubmitted as normal working item in JTC1/SC34: V Split into a multi part standard: WordProcessingML, SpreadsheetML, DrawingML, Office Open Math Markup, VML, etc. V Have each part progress independently, at its own speed, within normal ISO processing stages V Encourage participation from OASIS to identify opportunities for harmonization with existing ISO 26300 "ODF"
  • OOXML, as the default format in MS Office, is important. But as a standard it is full of inconsistencies, omissions, inaccuracies and errors. No standard is perfect, but OOXML, in its current state, does even not meet the minimum requirements.

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