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Author Topic: A closer look at ODF and MS-OOXML, one of the biggest issues of our time  (Read 3924 times)

zridling

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[via Bob Sutor]:

Sam Hiser has posted an excellent summary of the salient differences between the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft’s Office Open XML format. I strongly recommend everyone considering OOXML/OpenXML take a look at it before either supporting it as an ISO standard or adopting it directly.

This is an example of buyer beware. I’m not sure how much more strongly one can make the case that ODF is, well, open, and OOXML/OpenXML is, well, Microsoft’s personal and private XML specification for its product. As I’ve said multiple times, Microsoft has every right in the universe to have its own formats, but that is different from making private, proprietary formats into international standards that no one else will be able to implement in their entirety.

If you want insurance for the future that you will not be locked into the whims and technical decisions of a single vendor protecting its products and marketshare, go with ODF. If you are just fine with the avoidable loss of your freedoms to choose from a range of applications and are willing to commit to a single vendor, go with OOXML. That is the real choice here, and I think (I hope) most people understand that. If you are not paying heed to the deep technical and market control issues with OOXML, then you are trivializing what is really happening here.

Don’t, because you’ll pay for the consequences for a long, long time. Don’t, because there is a real open, international document standard called ODF already in place that is being actively developed by a global community of experts. Don’t, because we’re all smart enough to see through the FUD and the fluff to recognize the lock-in play in OOXML that just happens to be wrapped in a standards disguise.
________________________________________________
Meanwhile in related news, Microsoft Lobbies Legislatures to Kill ODF Bills
« Last Edit: June 07, 2007, 05:23:53 PM by zridling »

Darwin

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Thanks Zaine - your summary is interesting reading and the original posting very informative. I uninstalled Star Office 8 the day before yesterday... Maybe I should be rethinking that move!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

zridling

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The issue comes down to: do you want to pay a corporation to access your data? In the end it's that simple. Knowing the evils that corporations have spawned over the past century, they don't inspire my trust. But Darwin, the great thing about ODF is that it's only the format — you can use any word processor or office suite you like as long as it supports ODF, which to date, even Microsoft cannot do with any fidelity.

Darwin

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Yeah - food for thought. I uninstalled StarOffice, as noted, but it's only a couple of clicks away. Ironically, they releasd the latest update about three hours after I uninstalled it... Anyway, for now Office 2003 is fine for me and essential as Adabas isn't robust enough/doesn't integrate properly with ESRI ArcGIS which is a dealbreaker as long as I am working on my PhD (:wallbash:)...
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Lashiec

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Quote
As I’ve said multiple times, Microsoft has every right in the universe to have its own formats

Microsoft does not have absolutely ANY rights to have their own formats, unless they document them properly and with all the needed information for implementation available to third parties free of charge. In computers, de facto standards tend to be bigger than ISO standards, and Microsoft likes to make de facto standards (look at all the "old" Office formats). ISO standards are only important to governments and maybe big companies. For the regular user it's of no interest. After all, what are the ISO approved measures and date formats, and what is USA using (that's a true lock :))?

The issue is that individual users are not getting locked, most of them don't care about format interoperability or software migration. The only ones trapped in this vicious circle are companies, because they have to keep all their information accessible and, of course, users like us who chose the open solution.

This last part is important. My friends don't feel locked in by using Office, but I feel trapped when using OpenOffice. It's a very depressing state. I can access every file in multiple applications, but almost no one can access my files in his/her computer. This is always pissing me off, and I keep a copy of Office 2000 around just if I need it for some work for the university. Fortunately, you can always create a PDF of your work, but if you have to do a presentation, you're out of luck.

Microsoft is playing a very dangerous game here. Not only they're preventing companies from going to better? pastures, but is also keeping everyone from free interchange of information. Considering that computers are essentially based in this principle this day, they're getting out of fashion and directing themselves towards darker times with this attitude. And just for avoiding a theoretical loss of market share.

You suggest a solution: choose OpenOffice. You really know that this is not going to happen. I recommended everyone to try it, and after a week as much, they went back to Office. You can't blame them. Whatever people says, Office is still clearly (I'll get flamed...) superior to the OSS offering, and 2007 only makes this more evident (it's a very tasty piece of code).

I propose another solution: Microsoft employees, if you're hearing me, STOP THE CRAP. Yeah, you hear me right. You lost many hours of work just to create a dysfunctional format that is no much better than the previous one. Turn the back on your employers. Implement ODF as a default in the next Service Pack. Make the free readers capable of viewing ODF as well. Microsoft is going to win ultimately, because you have the best solution right now. Locking people this way like it's the Middle Ages is wrong. You make software that works and that's IMHO the thing that is keeping everyone with Microsoft. Look at all the Vista bashing, and all the "OMG! I'm going to Linux!" "Holy crap, I'm buying a Mac!". Right now the only one trying to make the switch is Zaine (BTW, I'll be witnessing the experience with attention).

Also, a plea to Sun Microsystems and the OpenOffice community: for the love of God, fix the application to load like Office does: fast and lean. Please. Oh, and in the meantime, it'll be a good solution 'til Microsoft delivers the Service Pack (because you're going to do that ;)) to make a multi platform reader for ODF. Promote it like hell. And ODF will win in the end.

In these days, when more and more devices are working with each other, open and well designed formats are mandatory for a better experience. Instead of ruling like software dictators, do your best to make use of good, interoperable and already designed (if there are any) formats, and focus yourself instead of good software design. People will stay with you and you'll get a clean conscience by allowing everyone to quickly adapt to different software without hassle, and ensuring that anyone can access the information with independence of the application they're using. Don't pay attention to analysts, greedy executives and lawyers. They're only in the for the money. OK, everyone is in for the money, but you get the picture.

Uhm, the last paragraph looks as it was written by the fella who began this thread... Well, long rant as always. At least I expect it to be of some interest :)

Ehtyar

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Re: A closer look at ODF and MS-OOXML, one of the biggest issues of our time
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2007, 05:04:46 PM »
For those of us who don't wish to see MSOOXML as an ISO standard (see link below for reasons) here is the official petition to have it stopped. The final decision is set for February 2008.



Ehtyar.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2007, 05:06:39 PM by Ehtyar »

f0dder

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Re: A closer look at ODF and MS-OOXML, one of the biggest issues of our time
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2007, 06:20:10 PM »
I'm not too keen on either of the two formats, but OOXML is clearly evil, and the way MS have been pushing it and trying to fasttrack it through ISO is nasty. Shame on them.

I still find myself running Office2000 though, because even on my not-so-shabby machine, OpenOffice is a drag to load. Even second-time runs when executables, DLLs, etc. are all cached. And the museum I do admin'ing for can't move away from MS Office either, because "everybody else" are using MSO, and (because of closed fileformats) OO can't read everything properly.

It's a big royal mess. I hope MS will ultimately dump OOXML and use either it's old .doc format or ODF as primary document format. But that's a dream, and we all know it won't happen, and that ISO will eventually accept OOXML as a standard. You know how it goes: "god money, I'll do anything for you..."
- carpe noctem

Lashiec

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Re: A closer look at ODF and MS-OOXML, one of the biggest issues of our time
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2007, 11:53:53 AM »
The plot thickens, and a challenger appears. On a first look, it may not be that bad, as being designed by the W3C would mean that every browser in the future would support it (as portrayed in the article, Opera developers are already tinkering with the idea), saving one of the major hurdles IMO that ODF (and OOXML, but this one has enough problems of its own) has in the nonexistence of lightweight freeware readers. No, OpenOffice browser plugin doesn't count as a viewer, it's too heavy for a browser.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2007, 12:45:44 PM by Lashiec »

zridling

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Re: A closer look at ODF and MS-OOXML, one of the biggest issues of our time
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2007, 10:39:07 PM »
Not really, Lashiec. First, ODF is controlled by the OASIS, which is the OpenDocument Alliance; The OpenDocument "Foundation" was just three guys in a garage with a website. They spent much of their ODF time ragging on other members. CDF is instead a framework for a variety of open documents, built around the ideas of mobility and portability. CDF takes the emphasis (of code dependency) off the platform and off the app and places it on the format itself, something neither MS-OOXML nor ODF currently do.

Here's the problem. In the last sixty days, over a dozen new applications have implemented ODF into their code, many as the native file format. Beyond its ISO certification, the ODF has undergone three revisions. It takes OpenOffice alone 2-3 years to code those changes throughout the software, meaning applications — any app that deploys ODF — will always be running behind the spec. Meanwhile changes are submitted to ISO to update the specification and there's nothing to test them on.

CDF is in fact a good idea. But it does not replace ODF, rather it puts ODF within a family of other open formats under the W3C umbrella.