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Author Topic: Don’t save in Office 2007's MS-OOXML format!  (Read 2214 times)

zridling

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Don’t save in Office 2007's MS-OOXML format!
« on: January 26, 2008, 09:54:04 PM »
Bob Sutor warns against saving in Microsoft's Office 2007 already dead MS-OOXML format, now that Microsoft will not be supporting it in the future:

Saving your documents in OOXML format right now is probably about the riskiest thing you can do if you are concerned with long term interoperability. First, the “official” ECMA OOXML that was submitted to ISO is not what Microsoft implements in Office 2007. So unless your application reverse-engineered Office 2007’s support, you’ve got interoperability problems right there.... Second, the ECMA spec is over 6000 pages long, there were thousands of comments, and thousands of pages of proposed resolutions to those comments. And that’s just from Microsoft. Others will go to the BRM with different proposals, and further ideas may come up there. Not everything may be addressed at the BRM.... Nobody has the vaguest idea what OOXML will look like in February or even whether it will be in any sort of stable condition by the end of March. Major features may be deprecated. Completely different solutions may be proposed. And at the end, the whole thing may be rejected, just as it was done in September.... So that OOXML format that you are saving files in right now is dead and will be replaced, unless Microsoft decides it won’t bother implementing what comes out of the ISO process. Indeed, if the ballot finally fails, I’m not sure what Microsoft will do with all the suggested comments.

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And by "suggested comments" that means problems with MS-OOXML. For now, it's better to save in Microsoft's binary .doc format or the already ISO-certified OpenDocument format (ODF), although Microsoft makes it extremely cumbersome, and once you open the documents in one of the 20+ word processors or spreadsheets that use ODF, it's often garbled or oddly leaves entire portions out. Rob Weir has more on how Microsoft is guaranteeing that MS-OOXML will never be able to be faithfully (or fully) implemented by another company or group. Andy Updegrove casts the struggle in an even larger light:

What is happening between the proponents of ODF and OOXML is only a skirmish in a bigger battle that involves a fundamental reordering of  forces, ideologies, stakeholders, and economics at the interface of  society and information technology.... Today, open source software is challenging proprietary models, hundreds of millions of people in emerging societies are choosing their first computer platforms from a range of alternatives, major vendors are converting from product to service strategies, and software as a service is finally coming into its own — to mention only a few of the many forces that are transforming the realities that ruled the IT marketplace for decades. When the dust settles, the alignments and identities of the Great Powers of the IT world will be as different as were the Great Powers of the world at the end of the First World War.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2008, 05:23:57 AM by zridling »

lanux128

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Re: Don’t save in Office 2007's MS-OOXML format!
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2008, 10:16:29 PM »
due to compatibility reasons, i still save my files in Word 2003 version (.doc format). didn't thought the new format would be this problematic.

jgpaiva

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Re: Don’t save in Office 2007's MS-OOXML format!
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2008, 08:14:16 AM »
It's good to know about this!

Honestly, i think MS would never leave backwards compatibility, though. Thus, if you're using MS's office, and will be using office in the future, you're always safe.

The comment about not being able to open it with any other word processor in the future is valid, though...

I think the "save in .doc" solution also isn't perfect: very often i save stuff in .doc and it looks completelly different in OO (and vice-versa). And as they mention, saving with ODF isn't a solution either because the same thing happens.

Lashiec

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Re: Don’t save in Office 2007's MS-OOXML format!
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2008, 09:14:22 AM »
Hmmm, the first link is wrong, I don't think Bob Sutor writes in DC's forum yet :D

This warning comes a little too late, doesn't it? Judging from the recent economic results of Microsoft, one would say they're preaching in the desert. At least, there seems to be a ray of hope, and as a last resort, we can always rely on HTML and PDF.

For now, and after all the battles between the different formats and the proposers, we're still in the beginning, we didn't move, not even an inch. The situation is exactly the same as it were with old Microsoft binary formats, they work everywhere, but you get the best results with the app that works with them natively (note that even the same document in the same version of Microsoft Office looked different between computers).

ODF and OOXML have the same problem, they work everywhere, but the layout always bork somehow. Difference? OOXML is winning by a long shot, not only because Office 2007 has a larger installed base (no discussion there, it's a better app), but also because at least Microsoft provides viewers for their formats, while Sun... provides nothing! (OK, you can use Universal Viewer with a plugin as a viewer, but it's not nearly the same). One would expect enterprises to install plugins for ODF in Office, but what about individual users? How many are aware that even ODF exists? This battle is exactly as the one in HD formats: lots of money burned, lots of discussion, but nobody is paying attention.

Call me when it's over, for now I'll use the only real interoperable format: PDF. After all, even HTML breaks depending of the browser, and that's a defined standard...

lanux128

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Re: Don’t save in Office 2007's MS-OOXML format!
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2008, 07:17:37 PM »
for the curious ones, here is the link: http://www.sutor.com...te/blog-open/?p=2031

also check out this comment by "Queen Elizabeth" here.
Quote from: website
You’re blowing this out of proportion. Microsoft has and continues to do a good job of supporting the myriad revisions of its formats. For instance, not only does Word 2007 read all versions of the DOC format, from 1.0 (circa 1990) onwards, but it also supports Word 2003’s now-unused WordprocessingML and even the OOXML produced by its betas! Similar capabilities hold for the other components of the Office suite. In addition, Microsoft has made batch conversion tools available for OOXML. They’ll likely update those tools once the BRM has passed. That means IT administrators will be able to migrate all OOXML documents that have been created in the relatively short period since the release of Office 2007 (approximately one year) to the new standard in one fell swoop.

And even if the currently implemented form of OOXML is moribund, what are DOC/XLS/PPT? They’re downright DEAD!

zridling

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Re: Don’t save in Office 2007's MS-OOXML format!
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2008, 05:41:46 AM »
Thanks Lashiec and lanux, I changed the link for Bob Sutor.

Lashiec, you make some good points, but you're still thinking of software as a product, and formats and their users as marketers. ODF is the format, not the software, and Sun doesn't control it, OASIS does. For example, the point that is suggested by Andy Updegrove in the quote above is that we need document formats that support exchange. MS-OOXML is interoperable between two users with Microsoft Office 2007, and that seems a rather narrow view of interoperability. Bob Sutor is also pointing out that a documents saved in MS-OOXML will probably not conform to ISO MS-OOXML, so if you use MS-OOXML, you will have to address a format change IF MS does eventually adopt ISO MS-OOXML. Bob writes:

...standards change over time, but we’re talking about a potentially very radical, wholesale change to OOXML while it is still in the standards process compared to what Microsoft has implemented in its Office product. My advice still holds: wait and see what happens and use the binary formats today if you want to use a Microsoft format. This is not v.1 of a standard to a v.2 situation. Since there are several alternatives to saving in OOXML form today (and I just discussed one of yours), the risk level is just too high, I would say, to suggest people save in format that is already deprecated.

My personal fear is that Microsoft has no intention whatsoever of adhering to this MSOOXML format. They’ll ensure that their implementations of it are slightly different (or "incomplete") relative to the specification. And they’ll claim "it’s really hard to implement a spec with so many ambiguities!" as they have been doing all along with the W3C web specs and IE6 and 7 (I’m watching IE8 with interest). ODF is fine with me because it's free from monopolies, however, I've learned the hard way to protect myself by saving just about everything in plain text, which is why a good text editor is far more important to me than which office suite I use.