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Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:18 PM EDT

We've seen now reports from Italy and Portugal of what some are describing as a kind of ballot-stuffing on the part of Microsoft and supporters to get Ecma-376 approved as an ISO standard. Trust me when I tell you that you haven't heard the half of it yet. I feel safe in saying that you will never hear the phrase "fast tracking" again, without remembering what you are about to read.

As you know, it's been reported that both Sun and IBM were told there was no room for them to join the committee in Portugal and so they were not allowed to attend the July 16th meeting. A member of that committee, Rui Seabra, has now published his notes from the meeting and given me permission to reproduce them here for you. As you will see, he seems to have had some difficulty being heard; he confirms the Sun/IBM exclusion and shows that it doesn't seem to have any defensible basis; and when you read the technical discussion, I think you will be shocked.

The excuse for not letting them in, according to the notes, was that the room only could hold 20 people, and it was first come, first served. But when this was said, there were already more than 20 in the room. It eventually reached 25, so it seems clear there was room for Sun and IBM. There was an auditorium available they chose not to use. If these notes are accurate, and of course there are other reports confirming some of the details already, I think you will find it disturbing.

You will see in the notes one instance where Stephen McGibbon, identified as an expert for Microsoft on OOXML, for whom there *was* room at the meeting, claimed the following when the question was raised why not merge the two, ODF and Ecma-376, to have one unified ODF standard:

SM: ODF doesn't aim for backward compatibility, like OOXML does, with millions of exsting documents. Doesn't see any problem with co-existence. OASIS rejected Microsoft's proposals and expelled/excluded the Microsoft representative because the proposed changes would add backward compatibility to legacy documents.

It is simply not true, according to my sources, that Microsoft was ever expelled from any ODF meeting or denied an opportunity to submit anything to it. I want you to make a note of the fact that he claims it was a *Microsoft* representative that was excluded. I may swing back by to highlight that in another context someday.

Let me remind you that Microsoft put out a press release on May 18th saying that it had not voted against ODF, so it was free to express itself. To make such a claim now ... well, perhaps someone would like to substantiate this claim? Groklaw is here, if you can.

Microsoft is still free to merge with ODF, from all I know, and I think it's safe to say that the world would benefit if they did, because then there would be no need for these awkward and imperfect translators.

If ODF was made backward compatible with legacy Microsoft proprietary formats, then that would solve the interoperability issues once and for all. If one says that is impossible to achieve 100%, then it goes without saying that it is impossible for the translators too. That's just logic. And if it isn't 100%, it isn't an open standard to me. And in fact, McGibbon is quoted as saying this:

Since ODF is underspecified, Microsoft would need to make proprietary extensions.

Point blank. Perhaps you answer that translators can be written under NDA, but if that is the argument, then you are saying to me that Ecma-376 is really proprietary still, if the only way to interoperate is by means of NDA, and you are ensuring that 100% interoperability is impossible. Who will let us interoperate with the "proprietary extensions"? Can there be an open standard that must have proprietary extensions to work? And if Microsoft deliberately leaves ODF "underspecified" on purpose, what does that mean to you about Microsoft's interest in interoperability? What legal worries might we all have then? What about control issues? Wouldn't that provide Microsoft with every opportunity to control access and successful interoperability? They are free to do that, if they wish, but can you call that a standard? An open standard, to boot?

And what about the patents on future versions? That question was also raised, as per the notes, and the claim made that Larry Rosen "says it's the best patent promise there is" and that it was copied from Sun's. That is, I believe, hogwash. If you read this by Sun's Simon Phipps about the promise, I think you will have to agree with me that he at least thinks the Microsoft promise is at best questionable.

Is this how standards are normally approved? If so, can we fix it? If Ecma-376 gets "approved" by shoving it through and not allowing interested parties to speak or vote, that just isn't an open standard to me. Is it to you? Yoo hoo, Massachusetts. Are you watching?

Here are the notes. As you read them, ask yourself: if Ecma-376 can only be adopted as a standard like this, is it truly a standard? And observe the questions about openness that were raised at the meeting without satisfying answers being provided. If others on the committee took notes and wish to add them to this article or wish to respond, I am happy to oblige. I sent an email to Mr. McGibbon, to ask him for a response, but I haven't heard back from him by time to publish. But if I do hear anything, I'll add it to the article. The only changes I made were for Geeklog's HTML preferences and with permission any obvious spelling mistakes for English legibility. Note that his version is a wiki, with a request for input from others there, so for the most up-to-date version, you will want to check his page.

******************************

CT-173-Meeting-2007-07-16 By Rui Seabra

Contents

1. CT-173 meeting of 2007-07-16 By Rui Seabra
1. Intro
2. Participants
3. Notes

1. ITEM 1
2. ITEM 2
3. ITEM 3
4. ITEM 4
5. ITEM 5
6. ITEM 7

Intro

This document is in English because being in English may be of interest to ISO, many stakeholders and at least one participant of the meeting.

Participants

Initials (by order of participation):

MSD: Miguel Sales Dias, Microsoft, President of TC 173 "Lin guagem de Descrição de Documentos"

CR: Carlos Romero, ONS and TC member. ONS is II (Instituto de Informática), which has been a MS Proxy

GH: Gustavo Homem, Ângulo Sólido, Vogal

MV: Mário Valente, Director of ITIJ, ODF Alliance member, Vogal

MS: Marco Santos, Microsoft, substitute for MSD

RS: Rui Seabra, ANSOL, Vogal

JPM: José Miranda, MULTICERT (Portuguese certification authority), Vogal, not verified, invited as expert by ANSOL

FE: Fernando Espinhosa (not sure of name, surname is correct, I think), log OpenSource Consulting, proposed Vogal, not verified, invited as expert from ITIJ

MCM: Maria do Céu Mendonça, Primavera (MS business partner), Secretary (MS Proxy)

PQ: Pedro Quintas, Jurinfor (MS business partner), Vogal, MS Proxy

JM: Joaquim Machado, INE, Vogal

MJM: Mário J. Madeira, (Instituto de Informática da ?) Segurança Social MM: Mário Morgado, Caixa Mágica (Portuguese GNU/Linux distribution), Vogal

JN: João Neves, Intraneia, Vogal

SM: Stephen McGibbon, Microsoft, OOXML expert

FMS: Fernando Mira da Silva, CIIST, Instituto Superior Técnico, proposed Vogal, not verified, invited as expert from INE

PS: Pedro Seabra (no relation with me AFAICT) Via Tecla (MS business partner), MS Proxy

RB: Rui Barroso, ADRAL, Vogal, MS Proxy

MC: Manuel Cerqueira, ASSOFT (BSA alike), MS Proxy

Total Participants

Initials (by sitting order):

CR: Carlos Romero, ONS and TC member. ONS is II (Instituto de Informática), which has been a MS Proxy

MSD: Miguel Sales Dias, Microsoft, President of TC 173 "Lin guagem de Descrição de Documentos"

MCM: Maria do Céu Mendonça, Primavera (MS Business partner), Secretary (MS Proxy)

FMS: Fernando Mira da Silva, CIIST, Instituto Superior Técnico, proposed Vogal, not verified, invited as expert from INE

RB: Rui Barroso, ADRAL, Vogal, MS Proxy

RM: Rui Mendonça, jp sa couto

AC: Alexandre Correia, Safira (MS Gold Certified Partner) (MS Proxy)

HO: (I think) Henrique O'Neill (to be FIXED)

RC: R. Coelho, ASSOFT (BSA alike), MS Proxy

MC: Manuel Cerqueira, ASSOFT (BSA alike), MS Proxy

SM: Stephen McGibbon, Microsoft, OOXML expert

MS: Marcos Santos, Microsoft, substitute for MSD

PS: Pedro Seabra (no relation with me AFAICT) Via Tecla, MS Proxy

PQ: Pedro Quintas (not sure of the name), Jurinfor, Vogal, MS Proxy

JM: Joaquim Machado, INE, Vogal

MV: Mário Valente, Director of ITIJ, ODF Alliance member, Vogal

JN: João Neves, Intraneia, Vogal

GH: Gustavo Homem, Ângulo Sólido, Vogal

MM: Mário Morgado, Caixa Mágica (portuguese GNU/Linux distribution), Vogal

RS: Rui Seabra, ANSOL, Vogal

FE: Fernando Espinhosa (not sure of name, surname is correct, I think), LOG OpenSource Consulting, proposed Vogal, not verified, invited as expert from ITIJ

MJM: Mário J. Madeira, (Instituto de Informática da ?) Segurança Social

JA: Jorge Alves, ACIDI Fernando Baptista, ONS and TC member. ONS is II (Instituto de Informática), which has been a MS Proxy

JPM: José Miranda, MULTICERT (Portuguese certification authority), proposed Vogal, not verified, invited as expert by ANSOL

NOTES:

Rui Seabra: I'm not a particularly strong note writer, so some information may still be missing, please help make it complete.

ITEM 1


14:37 MSD: Opens meeting by starting with item 1, review and voting of the minute of the previous session. The minute was approved by consensus.

ITEM 2


14:41 MSD: Proceeds to item 2, informing the TC that ONN approved TC 173 "Lin guagem de Descrição de Documentos"

ITEM 3


14:43 MSD: Proceeds to item 3, new vogals, almost all were accepted.

CR: Provides official form for registration as member of TC.

MSD & CR: Propose new vogals fill the form while discussion proceeds to next item.

GH: Demands this item to be kept open for there are doubts about new members that beg the questions:

  1. Sun wasn't admitted entry for lack of space. Does ONN maintain this decision, and is it sensible?
  2. Is this "rule" sustainable when there is more than one person per entity in the room? Is this in conformity with the rules?

CR: States new entities weren't accepted because of

a) lack of space in the room (20 seating spots -- this isn't true, 24 people were seating at the beggining and there were still chairs in the room)

b) representativity had been achieved (this isn't true, eg universities, public administration, libraries, etc...), there were software companies, software associations, and even an individual.

The alternative would be to go to an auditorium where one wouldn't have the same conditions (an U disposition oriented towards the table with the ONS, and President and Secretary of TC).

GH: One shouldn't sacrifice representativity because more than one person per entity would be present. Considers the decision should be reviwed, demands this request be registered in the minutes.

CR: Repeats his justifications.

MV: States the TC should know who was admitted and who they represent so the TC can verify representativity.

MSD: States representativity is decided by ONN and ONS, so that can be postponed to the end of the day or another session.

MV & GH: Strongly oppose, representativity must be checked *before* decisions are made.

CR: States there are 8/9 from public adminstration, 7/8 from software companies....

MV: Interrupts, it's not just the number that matters, but who and which affiliations.

CR: (lists too fast for me to note down)

MV: Proposes the unknown element he couldn't identify should then be invited to leave the room.

MS: Identifies subject as being Stephen McGibbon, IIRC, an expert in OOXML

MV: Solicits that substitutes and expert leave the room, they occupy places that were best served for representativity.

CR: ONN/ONS has the responsability, and ONS assumes it.

MV: Asks what was the criterium for acceptance.

MSD: Proposes to discuss this at the end or at another meeting.

CR: Clarifies that the criterium for acceptance was order of arrival of requests for participation as Vogal. Agrees (with himself) that 20 is a reasonable number of participants, and that this stands to reason.

RS: Demands that minutes record 24 people are currently present.

JPM: (enters the room as RS ends phrase, meaning 25 people present, now)

FE: He didn't receive any answer directly from ONS, but since MV had previously listed him as accepted, he came.

CR: If no answer was sent from ONS, then he wasn't accepted.

MV: Justifies that adherence procedure wasn't clear at the begginning, previously though all was OK and communicated acceptances. Then after the confusion was known, failed to warn everyone. As a compensation, nominates FE as expert for this meeting. Asks if the number of 20 people is fixed.

MC: Clarifies that companies weren't chosen by their size.

PQ: Alledges (because it's not in the minutes, can't be proven) that in the last meeting he asked Microsoft to bring an OOXML expert.

JPM: Didn't receive answer from ONS either.

CR: Is sorry for failing to reply to him.

RS: Invites JPM as an expert.

JM: Invites FMS as expert for INE.

RS: Demands that minutes record 25 people are currently present.

CR: Angrily states that only by delicacy they are not sending people away (not sure if he means substitutes and experts or if that was a veiled threat from ONS).

ITEM 4

15:00 - MSD: Proceeds to item 4, validation of the following items of the agenda: 5 discussion of OOXML 6 vote on OOXML 7 other subjects, next activities

MV: Asks for vote clarification: if one has to leave, can he delegate his vote? Also, since it's such an extensive subject, is it sensible to vote already? Proposes postponing vote to another session.

MSD: Vote by delegation is not excluded by CNQ directive, which is clear on the subject, one should have a substitute...

MV: Without substitute, can one delegate?

JM: Considers to be too premature to vote. Current doubt could be clarified later if vote was postponed.

GH: Agrees with postponing.

MJM: Also agrees that no conclusions should be taken this day.

MM: Agrees. Adds it would give the opportunity for new memebers to be proposed.

RS: States ANSOL has 6 questions that need answers, and almost 100 technical comments, even giving 1 minute for each of them would result in almost two hours for pne entity alone to state technical problems. Believes it isn't reasonable to vote today.

MSD: Proposes to postpone items 5 and 6 (discussion and vote) to another meeting.

JM: Proposes only item 6 (vote) should be postponed.

MSD: States items of discussion were approved on the previous meeting, and the decision was to have discussion and vote today.

JN: Has 78 pages of summary points that were evaluated in the USA, doesn't think it is sensible to vote today. Only knew he'd participate on the previous Wednesday.

MSD: Predicting no consensus, proposes vote: "Vote happens today?" Of the 18 present vogals 5 voted YES, 13 voted NO.

MJM: Restates need to clarify vote in case of sudden absence.

MSD: Directive is omiss, best strategy should be for MV to nominate a substitute, and come to the meeting with him.

MV: should nominate a substitute soon.

ITEM 5

MV: Reiterates three pillars for his opposition:

  • form: proposed by one entity alone
  • function: conflicts with ISO 26300, doesn't stand to reason to have more than one standard in a focused domain such as this.
  • content: doesn't consider correct that an XML format contains examples that don't validade as XML in circa 10% of the cases, shouldn't contain date and math errors

PQ: Claims to have studied OOXML hard since last meeting (June 26th), there was more than enough time to study OOXML since then. If ODF is an ISO standard than maybe at first there shouldn't be two standards, but OOXML is aimed at backward compatibility. So what if OOXML has some errors, ODF also had errors, namely with SVG and MathML, but TC shouldn't focus on details. Claims to have invited Microsoft to bring an expert in OOXML for finding 3 items of relevancy

(NOTE from Rui Seabra to readers: PQ claimed previously to have requested the expert's presence in the previous meeting, supposedly before his "study" time)

PQ: First, VML on section 15.2.17 (Fundamentals). Spec says it's a legacy format. Having found DrawingML specification, is VML a minimum requirement?

SM: VML is there because it's needed for millions of documents that use it.

PQ: Asks if MS Office 2007 can use VML.

SM: MS Office 2007 uses DrawingML, which is fully XML.

PQ: Page layout, why does the spec separate it in parts, does any of it depend on the OS?

SM: The spec splits page layout in two parts in order to handle independence of media display (print, screen, mobile phone, etc...), there is no dependency of registry information or anything like that.

PQ: What about autoSpaceLikeWord95, will MS Office 2007 use this in a new document?

SM: No. It will not.

PQ: Why isn't it in a separate part, then?

SM: It is an optional tag, only needed for backward compatibility. You can get an older version of Word and find out how it is done.

GH: States that there's nothing prohibiting new implementations from using those tags.

SM: Agrees, but implementors could just warn about that tag being present, asking the user what to do. OpenOffice also has similar problems, and you can only look at it to find out how it is done. Claims to be a requirement from Library of Congress and the British Library.

GH: This relies on information not easily available, which places Microsoft in a priviledged position, hurting fair competition. Microsoft hasn't been up to today a good member, historically.

SM: That's an emotional argument, Netscape had the tag BLINK. Since ODF is underspecified, Microsoft would need to make proprietary extensions.

GH: They don't have to be proprietary. Why are proprietary extensions the only alternative for extending ODF for Microsoft's legacy support?

SM: You can always check behavior with older applications. You can measure (makes an air drawing of a ruler) the spaces in Word95 and other behaviors.

FMS: Unlike the dismissal from the expert, IST believes the optional tags are a guarantee that they will be used. This kind of information only appears for two reasons, a problem that can't be solved, which is recognized by the standard, or because there is the intention to use it.

SM: Take it to JTC1, they can drop those tags if they see it like a big issue.

FMS: It is partially satisfying answer since at least there is also JTC1, but it is not clear that one can work with JTC1 to solve the issues. IST strongly objects such tags.

MSD: Proposes that a speaking list is used, so things go more fluid. Next in line PS, then JM, then JN, then GH, then RS, then ?3?, then JPM.

PS: Feels difficulties arise from emotional arguments, asks for more moderation.

JM: Points out that a speaking list prevents unencumbered discussion. People may remember important things for the topic at hand that might be lost.

JN: Congratulates Microsoft for the effort, for returning to the 80's when there were published specifications of Microsoft software. His experience with standards tell him to worry about things like COMMON USAGE, where you need a spec that allows implementation. Is strange that a specification requires reverse engineering of old software which might not even be available in the market any longer. Thinking these tags are not problematic because they are not required is irresponsible. There are also other failures, namely in the respect for ISO standards.

SM: You're from FSF, right? (probably advised by the Microsoft guy at his side, MS)

JN: Refuses [denies], states representation of his own company, Intraneia, which has support issues due to lack of respect from standard from Microsoft. Expresses worries about MS patent promise.

SM: Claims Larry Rosen says it's the best patent promise there is.

JN: What about the "clarification"? It says it's only for the "required" parts that are described in detail.

SM: The required parts of optional parts are also covered.

GH: Points out that it's not just Microsoft's software that is referenced, but also other software. There's no patent promise for those. Assuming that all additional information is available in some form, one need to consider the time to obtain it, as well. States it's the common problem of information that is not in a specification, it can put "Time to Market" at stake, giving the opportunity for the dominant player to offer the solution faster and at a lower price when he's competing. Points out that the patent promise can't be an ever-changing document (last updated on the 9th of July), but it needs to be, according to ISO regulations, referenced in the beginning of the specification and safely stored at ISO offices.

RS: Reminds TC that Microsoft claimed the optional tags are a requisite from Library of Congress, of British Library. This means that for all practical purposes, this renders the tags mandatory if you want to do business with entities such as these, so argument of "being optional" shouldn't be taken in account. Asks how many in the TC work with Dots per Inch, different types of fonts, different screen resolutions... The mere idea that one can go back to an older version of software and measure behavior is absurd, a simple fluctuation of the aforementioned parameters creates different measures. It was mentioned by the expert that OpenOffice has similar problems, that you also need to measure older versions. This is a misleading argument, since Microsoft Office is fundamentally different from OpenOffice, in that Microsoft Office can't be measured. In lack of a specification, the only other way to properly analyze software is by studying at its source code, which is impossible for Microsoft Office. It's only possible in special circumstances, but then you can't implement what you learned in a competing office suite, which renders this possiblity into an impossibility from the point of Free Software. OpenOffice, however, uses the GNU GPL, the most used Free Software license, which gives you the right to study the software, and provides source code availability.

16:43 - MSD: Calls for a break, since the scheduled break is 15 minutes overdue.

DURING BREAK:

SM talks to RS - Asks why RS is against a format that can be implemented with Free Software. RS answers that it is a closed standard when it depends in practice of hidden information. He asks for one example, answer is autoSpaceLikeWord95. The problem with tags like these is easy to disappear, all Microsoft needs to do is to add to spec: it is done like this ... just that.

BACK FROM THE BREAK:

MSD: Speaking list is now: MJM, JM, JPM, SM

MJM: Is OOXML proposed by only one company, namely Microsoft?

SM: Refuses [denies], it's proposed by ECMA, with lots of companies, only IBM voted against. Claims Novell is a competitor and is implementing OOXML.

MJM: Asks what the advantages are, from the user point of view?

SM: A whole new range of apps, you can save directly to on-line services, etc...

JPM: One other worry from the point of view of businesses is the dematerialization of documents. In Portugual, whoever deals with Electronic Receipts needs to store them from 10 years, which has high costs for companies. Does OOXML help in reducing these costs for AP and companies, and does it allow them to take advantage of this? Still has no answer for this. Also, OOXML uses proprietary hash algorithms, which is also a problem, since they can't be proved safe.

JM: In order to get a full implementation, one needs the Covenant not to Sue. Has it been analyzed in light of Portuguese law?

SM: No need to sign it.

JM: Why is it there, then?

SM: The Covenant and the OSP are there because of Microsoft's defensive patents. Microsoft basically copied SUN's promise.

JM: Proposes that TC requests a juridic [legal] evaluation of these promises.

MSD: Agree that a juridic evaluation should be requested.

PQ: ECMA holds copyrights and patents over the specification, but the promises don't cover future implementations.

JN: The promises are critical since ECAM [ECMA?] dosn't cover future implementations.

SM: Points out that there are no proprietary hashes, that OOXML uses SHA-1, SA-256, etc... Points out that optional tags are optional, so there shouldn't be an issue.

RS: If it's not an issue then it has no place in the specification. However, SM said it was a requisite issue from the Library of Congress and the British Library. How can smaller entities like us consider it isn't an issue if it is a big issue for them?

PQ: Points out that not proposing OOXML because there is another standard is a weak reason since OOXML is much more complete.

JN: OOXML doesn't respect ISO standards like countries and languages. If a new language is added, two standards would have to be reviewed. It's not the only example, there are many simiar to this, like colors or mathematic formulas. Question to Stephen: Why not extend ODF?

SM: ODF doesn't aim for backward compatibility, like OOXML does, with millions of exsting documents. Doesn't see any problem with co-existence. OASIS rejected Microsoft's proposals and expelled/excluded the Microsoft representative because the proposed changes would add backward compatibility to legacy documents.

MSD: Points out that only 4 minutes remain for this agenda item.

MCM: Reminds that since item 6 (vote) won't happen, one can add some more time.

MSD: Grants 5 extra minutes.

FMS: As an objection based on principle, existing 2 standards is not a serious issue since standards evolve, but there wasn't a discussion about this yet. As a teacher, thinks that TC should only evaluate the current OOXML proposal and not future unknown versions. Comments may be added as requisites that must be resolved in the final version. The opinion decided from the TC must be conditional to future changes, instead of hoping they will be done.

GH: Optional tags must be solved. If there are times when they are mandatory, that must be clarified. Between having two standards, where one fails to fulfill the objectives, or one single standard that does it well but less complete, better the later than the earlier situation. The experience with HTML, ACPI and other standards lead to the conclusion that something more objective and concrete is preferable.

JM: Still hasn't understood why ODF wasn't extended.

MJM: Why not improve what already exists? We're opening the doors to the risk of creating a multiplicity of standards, which isn't an advantage. It's good that OOXML is backward-compatible with Microsoft softwae, but what about the rest?

RS: Jests that one can always create a third standard.

MSD: Starts closing item 5. Refuses to let RS speak, who was asking for permission to speak for some time.

RS: States that a louder voice can be used if necessary to be heard.

MSD: Postpones intervention of RS for end of item 7.

ITEM 7

(remember that item 6, the vote, was postponed)

RB: Atacks RS claiming lack of respect. Recommends ONS to only accept at most 20 elements in TC

MC: Supports RB. Claims its associates are the main stakeholders.

MJM: But user interests are not being taken in account, just the commercial interests of some of the companies here present.

MC: The specification may have some problems, but we don't need to throw it all away, corrections can be inserted.

PS: Supports RB. Agrees that a juridical analysis must be done. Proposes that a definition of the National Interest should be created, since TC is there to discuss taking into consideration the national interest. Proposes to create this definition at the next meeting.

JM: Doesn't oppose the number of 20. Points out that he opposes the nature of the current 20 elements -- it has too many commercial interests and too little from other important players like universities, libraries, and other public administration.

FMS: IST won't make an opinion over the members of TC. Points out that ASSOFT members are irrelevant towards this subject, since they're too small with the exception of Microsoft who is already represented. Points out that if an expert had to come, then it's because this is a fake standard, and not easy to understand by independent parties. Hopes TC will better represent citizens and the state of Portugal, way beyond the commercial interests of the present companies.

MSD: States that TC has representativity, ignores request from RS to speak, after insisting refers to after the vote.

RS: Declares this is the second time the President tries to cut his expression, won't allow it a second time. Rejects the so-called representativity, since important members of society aren't present, like libraries, universities, and other public administration entities.

GH: Asks whether this vote is valid.

CR: Declares that the directive is omiss. States that the constitution of the TC is not closed to new vogals, but that mobility should be achieved by swapping entities, like the two entities that are not present if they don't justify their absence.

MSD: VOTE: maintain only 20 elements? YES 9, NO 7

MSD: Proposes 31st of July as next meeting date, on the same place.

CR: Agrees. (there is a consensus on this date)

MSD: Proposes the agenda items are:

  1. discussion of OOXML
  2. vote on OOXML

JN: Proposes that the President collect the list of possible votes and their explanation, for the next meeting.

MSD: Agrees. Tries to close item 7. Gives permission to talk to RS on item 5, as "promised", after RS insists.

RS: About item 5, which is now about to speak out-of-context, has to add that the coexistence of two standard does not usually add choice. Cites example of European and US power plugs, which are incompatible, although both of them are standards. If one doesn't take care, or even know about this issue, he will suddenly view his "choice" reduced from ONE to ZERO forms of powering his laptop. Declares that either Microsoft should work to extend ODF, or implement OOXML in a way that it fully includes ODF.

PQ: Considers the presence of the expert was important, and invites him back, if possible, for the next meeting.

SM: Agrees.

MSD: Those who don't have substitutes should nominate at least one until the next meeting. Closes this meeting.


  


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Corrections Thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:31 PM EDT
Did I spell corrections right?


---
"You interact with a computer differently when you can trust it to be reliable."
--from a blog comment, 2007-07

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Do not actually answer the question
Authored by: Nick_UK on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:33 PM EDT
"PQ: Page layout, why does the spec separate it in partes,
does any of it depend on the OS?
SM: The spec splits page layout in two parts in order to
handle independence of media display (print, screen,
mobile phone, etc...), there is no dependency of registry
information or anything like that.
PQ: What about autoSpaceLikeWord95, will MS Office 2007
use this in a new document?
SM: No. It will not.
PQ: Why isn't it in a separate part, then?
SM: It is an optional tag, only needed for backward
compatibility. You can get an older version of Word and
find out how it is done."



Really does make your blood boil how legistors just cannot
get MS to actually answer the question.

If this was a Pub discussion in the UK, the guy would have
got a punch on the nose for that.

Nick

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OT Here, please
Authored by: overshoot on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:42 PM EDT
If you've got URLs, please post them as clicky links (instructions in red at the
bottom)

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Underspecified?
Authored by: tknarr on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:44 PM EDT

My take on MS's claims about ODF are that it's only "underspecified" in that it doesn't provide a way to implement MS's features in exactly the same way MS does. Not that they can't be implemented, but that they'd have to be done differently.

The infamous format-as-Word95 tag is an example. MS claims that ODF can't support that. No, ODF can't in fact support a single tag that says "format as Word95 would". But ODF can quite nicely support formatting a document as Word95 would. All you have to do is have a specification for how Word95 formats a document, and then use the formatting tags in ODF to format the document according to that specification. Microsoft takes that option off the table, accepting only "Do what we do exactly the way we do it.", and then complains that there's no options left on the table.

Unfortunately, pinning MS down on issues like this is something that takes a long-drawn-out process of getting them to say exactly what aspects of their features an ODF document can't express. It's not something you can get across in a 30-second sound bite a manager can comprehend.

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Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:47 PM EDT
Please note that meanwhile some corrections have been made on the notes, namely
the person identified with ?1? has already been given a name :)

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And what about future versions?
Authored by: overshoot on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:49 PM EDT
There's a draft up now of the proposed maintenance for DIS-29500

Surprise, surprise. The same ECMA committee that has a charter to do as MS instructs will also continue to control the IS, should it issue (spit!)

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Vogal
Authored by: Wardo on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:56 PM EDT
Ok, I'm pretty sure it's a Portugese word that wasn't translated for some
reason, and I expect that it means "voter" or someone with voting
rights on the comittee.

Any confirmation would be appreciated.

Wardo

---
caveat lector...
Wardo = new user(lawyer = FALSE,badTypist = TRUE,badSpeller = TRUE);

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Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: rsi on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:56 PM EDT
As you know, it's been reported that both Sun and IBM were told there was no room for them to join the committee in Portugal and so they were not allowed to attend the July 16th meeting.

I have to wonder if this exclusion is considered illegal under Portuguese law? If so, could any action be taken against M$ for this blatant attempt to stack the deck? In how many other countries is M$ pulling these tricks?

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Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: eggplant37 on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:57 PM EDT
I read as far as the initial quarrel over how many people were in the room
before I became too disgusted with it to continue. If MS is going to be allowed
to stuff conferences to decide which standard is going to be approved, why
doesn't IBM and Sun get busy doing the same thing? Or how about equal
representation? Invite the IBM and Sun people in and toss out all but a small
number of MS proxies and direct representatives. I think that idea would be much
more fair dealing and get everyone's opinion heard, not just that of MS and it's
shills.

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Newspick: Bloomberg: EU probes MSOffice
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 05:59 PM EDT
"The commission asked whether users of the rival operating
"system Linux have problems using Microsoft Office"

Umm, ask a silly question, get a silly answer?

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P.J. - Please explain
Authored by: R.A.G. on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 06:17 PM EDT
because I don't seem to be getting it.
If ODF was made backward compatible with legacy Microsoft proprietary formats, then that would solve the interoperability issues once and for all. If one says that is impossible to achieve 100%, then it goes without saying that it is impossible for the translators too. That's just logic. And if it isn't 100%, it isn't an open standard to me.
I keep reading this requirement for ODF to be COMPATABLE with legacy formats. Every time I see it all I can smell is Red Herring.

ODF is a NEW document format. It does not need to be COMPATABLE with the old formats, it needs to be CAPABLE of STORING the same content, with the associated formatting, as the original application used , in a manner that lets it reproduce that content and formatting.

My understanding of the OOXML format is that it stores the legacy document information in the same manner it was originally stored and includes notations to "use the same rules to display this as the original application did" without defining what those rules are. That is the main flaw in OOXML. It is NOT a NEW standard it is a set of new clothes dressing up the old formats. Since it does not explain these "rules" it is not "OPEN" and definitely can not be reimplemented based on the standards' documentation.

The problem I see is not that ODF can not store that information, (and I have to concede the possiblity) but that the applications that store ODF formattedfiles can not properly read /interpret the legacy files. This is not a deficiency in direct ODF. It is a perfect example of why ODF is need going forward ,so that this issue wil become less and less as time goes on.

Please feel free to enlighten me on my mis-interpretation of your statement. I enjoy reading your presentation of the issues as you usually not only clarify my understanding but continually bring out the underlying issues that I would fail to see because of my lck of understanding.

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I found the following exchange interesting
Authored by: red floyd on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 06:19 PM EDT
?1?: Is OOXML proposed by only one company, namely Microsoft?

SM: Refuses, it's proposed by ECMA, with lots of companies, only IBM voted against. Claims Novell is a competitor and is implementing OOXML.

I wonder if we are seeing one of the deeper reasons behind the MS/Novell/Linspire/Xandros deals? That is, for the <strike>format-lockin</strike> MS-OOXML approval, to be able to claim it's not a "single-vendor standard".

---
I am not merely a "consumer" or a "taxpayer". I am a *CITIZEN* of the United States of America.

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Six months later
Authored by: overshoot on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 06:29 PM EDT
Reading the INCITS V1 mail archives, it becomes very clear that six months from now V1 will be back down to its original 6-7 members. I'm sure that all of the other "packed" NBs will too.

I wonder how that embarrassing development will be covered? Will the proceedings of V1 be open to challenge, since one of the requirements for membership is supposed to be the willingness to continue to do the work of the Committee?

Were I associated with the ISO Secretariat, I'd be seriously concerned over the long-term consequences of this kind of flagrant abuse of the system. Imagine a flood of RFQs coming in asking for quotes on the price of an International Standard ...

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Portuguese Players?
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 06:35 PM EDT
I had lot of trouble understanding who these individuals are representing. I
hope its just not be being dense again.

---
Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

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I don't understand this bit.
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 06:42 PM EDT
If one says that is impossible to achieve 100%, then it goes without saying that it is impossible for the translators too. That's just logic. And if it isn't 100%, it isn't an open standard to me.
What about an Open Standard requires it to be 100% translatable? That is one if Microsoft's stated goals for OOXML and they probably haven't achieved it. They haven't ever done in in past versions of Office. If they did, it might or might not be an Open Standard and other similar Open Standards like ODF might or might not be able to achieve the same thing.

---
Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

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Covenants
Authored by: webmink on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 06:44 PM EDT

Since I wrote the blog entry you point to commenting on Microsoft's covenant, I note that they have edited the page to remove the covenant-not-to-sue and they now are using only the later Open Specification Promise - my blog comments do not apply directly to that document, just to the previous CNS.

As you point out, Stephen McGibbon believes Microsoft's covenant is just a copy of Sun's covenant over ODF. But it's not. Yes, there's a lot that was informed by Sun's covenant, and I'm amused that they now consider that a strength (initially it was not mentioned). But as I point out in a later blog, it is still flawed in three important ways. It does not in my opinion provide the degree of protection that Free software developers are entitled to expect. In particular, it relies on "essential claims" language rather than just declaring implementations free from patent litigation.

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What I would love to see...
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 06:57 PM EDT

Is a representative of the European Commission sent to each of the meetings in order to observe the proceedings. I wonder if MS would continue to be so obvious of their activities.

Considering how they flaunt the law, they probably feel "invincible" and would pretty much ignore the representative as harmless.

RAS

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MicroSoft Daemon: fortuitous initials
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 07:33 PM EDT
Participants

Initials (by order of participation):

MSD: Miguel Sales Dias, Microsoft, President of TC 173 "Lin guagem de
Descrição de Documentos"


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Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 08:13 PM EDT
"MSD: VOTE: maintain only 20 elements[CT members]? YES 9, NO 7"

How can this people ban new members ???!! this is a brand-new comission, recently formed, they must be accepting new members not baning them, if they really want to achieve consensus .

Look how different was the conformance of Brazilian technical committee: http://samadeu.blogspot.com/2007/05/alerta-abnt -est-prestes-aprovar-padro.html#comment-440229003915044641

And another question: how could they vote the 31/07 ??!! have they reviewed the +6000 pages they are about to vote?? do they know that another NBs have been reviewing the technical merits of DIS 29500 OOXML since March/2007?

This Portugal CT is a joke.

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You a redski...???
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 09:23 PM EDT
SM: You're from FSF, right?

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VML is not just "legacy"
Authored by: finchtwo on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 09:28 PM EDT
"PQ: First, VML on section 15.2.17 (Fundamentals). Spec says it's a legacy format. Having found DrawingML specification, is VML a minimum requirement?

SM: VML is there because it's needed for millions of documents that use it.

PQ: Asks if MS Office 2007 can use VML."

Link

Right there, it simply states:

"All background information in a WordprocessingML document is stored using the Vector Markup Language (VML) syntax. The single exception to this is the background color, which is stored natively in WordprocessingML using the bgColor attribute."

If you use plain colours on your documents then you can simply use WordProcessingML. Otherwise, if you want fancy gradiated backgrounds, you use VML. There is nothing wrong with VML, EXCEPT THAT IT IS DEPRECATED IN MSOOXML!

To which a Mr Stephane Rodriguez replied Jeffrey: "It seems it's you [Jeffrey] who are distording the facts, or the specs is simply wrong. If you think VML is deprecate, then please follow those steps :

create a new Excel 2007 spreadsheet ;
right-click on a cell and choose "Insert comment" ;
type a comment ;
save the spreadsheet ;
close it.
Now unzip it.
What do you see? A nice VML part.

There you go with your deprecate part."

"To answer your question about SpreadsheetML VML, it's referenced in section 6.4 (page 4920), and is pretty much a copy/paste of section 8.6.2 that you have reprinted above.

But in fact, there is no specs-wide list of where VML appears, especially in NEW files. For instance, VML is also used if you insert a new OLE object.

There is a reason why Microsoft does not document this stuff. They would have to give the documentation of OLE, which in turn would show clearly as in water that this stuff is platform-dependent : Windows.

That Microsoft goes as far as not even listing where VML is used, is also probably because it brings back a taboo subject. Which I'll address right now.

Back in 1998, Mr Gates and his crownies had bet on WYSIWYG HTML. That's how they convinced themselves that they had finally taken the internet train. Of course, when Windows 98 shipped, it was with Internet Explorer bundled with the operating system. So with that in hands, Microsoft planned to make sure that this OS + browser coupling would never end. To that end, they made sure the Office team would create a dependency on it. Office already had created a dependency on Windows (binary formats, OLE, ...) but apparently making a productivity app depend on an OS was not enough for them, they chose to also make sure that Office would become a recruitment tool for Internet Explorer, and vice versa.

Hence, one of the BillG's memo whose copy you'll find here : http://antitrust.slated.org/www.iowaconsumercase.org/011607/2000/PX02991.pdf

As amazing as it reads by itself, with BillG making it very clear that Office implementing open standards was a mistake and that it would cause the death of Windows (i.e. the dependency as mentioned above), he mentions what we might want to call a new trojan horse, using Internet Explorer to view Office documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) with only a web browser. In other words the WYSIWYG HTML thing.

How does this memo relate to the discussion about VML? Well, it's very simple, in the entire history of the Office product group, only once did they work with the Internet Explorer team. And that was to implant what is now known as the VML library. The VML library is surfaced as a proprietary markup whose semantics is not documented and is a direct XML serialization of the shared drawing library in Office, internally known as MSO (codename Escher).

So the use of VML inside Internet Explorer was the trojan horse which would ensure that Office documents shared on the web would only render on Windows. There is no VML implementation out there other than Internet Explorer's. And again, there is Microsoft IP in it, so that's probably a reason why.

That was the days of Office 2000, XP, 2003 and 2007. In Office 2007, the Office team wanted to move to another markup language for their graphics layer. Not because of all a sudden, they wanted to remove a dependency on the OS and Internet Explorer, it's because they wanted to add new features and create yet another dependency. In Office 2007, DrawingML is used to describe a couple of 3D effects such as bevel and so on. The semantics and actual layout algorithms are not documented at all. They are extensively used in the new chart drawing engine for instance. And, as a result, since the old chart drawing engine, and the old shared MSO are gone with it, it means that opening an existing file that contains a chart will be rendered differently in Office 2007 than in older Office versions. For instance, if you create an Excel 2000 file with a chart, and open that file in Excel 2007, you'll see something different. So much for "100% backwards compatibility"...

Last but not least, since the Office team could not, or did not want to, make a full move to DrawingML in Office 2007, there are bits of VML all over the place, be it in NEW Word 2007 files, NEW Excel 2007 files and NEW Powerpoint 2007 files. This comes in contradiction with the specs proposed for ISO standard, and in practice this also puts a great barrier to entry : it requires a consuming application to support VML if said application wants to render it. Of course, said application in some cases may simply ignore the VML parts, but then if your application is supposed to render for example an Excel spreadsheet containing a comment on it, and ignores VML, then customers will see it as a bug! and it turns a black eye to a non-Microsoft application in favor of Microsoft Office applications. This technique is nothing other than lock-in. They are making sure the barrier to entry is very high for applications willing to be rich consumers of those files, and in practice it means Office itself is always better than anybody else. Again, this contradicts the specs. An international standard is supposed to provide fair and equal footing to everyone implementing it.

So the Office team at Microsoft could not manage to get rid of VML. It is possible, unless they intentionally use it as a lock-in tool, that next version of Office, codenamed Office 14, will be the first one to have an Office-wide DrawingML implementation. Until then, Office 2007 is at odds with the specs that Microsoft is pushing and as a result, it is not a reference implementation of the specs! In other words, since there cannot be a non-Microsoft implementation of the specs (it will take at least ten years for a company starting now, and it will never achieve 100% fidelity since many things are missing in the specs), it follows that there is simply NO reference implementation out there! Quite amazing...

One only hopes that, in the meantime Microsoft won't change their mind again, and that they not only will keep VML for the foreseeable future, but also will create a new dependency to a Windows-only API. The new graphics .NET 3.0 based API called Windows Presentation Foundation comes to mind, obviously...

We'll see.

Stephane Rodriguez

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Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 09:54 PM EDT
reposting with translation at the end...

"MSD: VOTE: maintain only 20 elements[CT members]? YES 9, NO 7"

How can this people ban new members ???!! this is a brand-new comission, recently formed, they must be accepting new members not baning them, if they really want to achieve consensus .

Look how different was the conformance of Brazilian technical committee: [0]

And another question: how could they vote the 31/07 ??!! have they reviewed the +6000 pages they are about to vote?? do they know that another NBs have been reviewing the technical merits of DIS 29500 OOXML since March/2007?

This Portugal CT is a joke.

[0] translated with babelfish from http://samadeu.blogspot.com/2007/05/alerta-abnt -est-prestes-aprovar-padro.html#comment-440229003915044641:

POSITION Of the ABNT [Brazil ISO NB] ON the NORMALIZATION And OPEN XML:

The ABNT is recognized for the Brazilian Government as only National Forum of Normalization is the representative of Brazil in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and is signatory of the Code of Good Practical of Normalization of the World trade organization.

The Brazilian Norms, in accordance with international principles of the normalization, must: .to be lined up with International Normas (ISO/IEC); .to be of voluntary elaboration and use; to be elaborated with representation and parity of the interested people; .to be determined for consensus, leading in consideration only aspects technician; to take care of to a real necessity; .to present an acceptable solution; continuously to be brought up to date.

In relation to the proposal of one future International Norm ISO/IEC on the format Open XML, the following activities they had been developed:

  • during the year of 2006, the ABNT carried through a series of meetings, searching to sensetize the society for the necessity of active participation in the normalization in Technology of the Information;
  • in these meetings, the necessity of active participation in the Committee Joint Technician of the ISO and the IEC, ISO/IEC JTC1 - Information Technology was salient, so that the norms elaborated there took in account the Brazilian interests and could be adopted as Brazilian Norms. For in such a way, the ABNT would create a structure that it reflected of ISO/IEC JTC1 ("mirror")
  • in 30 of October of 2006, a meeting in the office of the ABNT occurred, in São Paulo, when the creation of the "mirror" of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 - Document was determined description and processing languages. For this meeting they had been invited about 170 representative entidades/empresas of the sector, with the attendance of representatives of National Assespro, BR Office, Celepar, Cenpra, Close-woven part of a fishing net, Fenainfo, IBM, IPT, ITS, Microsoft, Ministry of the Education, Ministry of the Planning, Serpro, Sucesu Nacional and Sun. The list of guests of this meeting, with insertion of new entidades/empresas, was used as base for the following meetings
  • in December of 2006, European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) considered that ISO/IEC JTC1 analyzed a relative document to Open XML, so that the same came if to become an International Norm
  • in 5 of January of 2007, the ISO circulated between its members the related document so that they were presented, in the stated period of 30 days, possible contradictory in relation to other norms ISO/IEC
  • in 26 of January of 2007, meeting of the ABNT/CB-21/SC-34 occurred 1ª, in the office of Rio De Janeiro of the ABNT, with the participation of Abeb, Abes, Abinee, National Assespro, House of representatives, Comptia, Fundap, IBM, IPT, Microsoft, Proderj, Senac-Rio de Janeiro, Serpro, Sucesu-Rio de Janeiro and Unesp. In this meeting he was determined, for consensus, that the ABNT would not have to emit no positioning on the consultation of the contradictory. The ABNT presented, in the occasion, a budget for covering of the decurrent costs, mainly of the participation in the international meetings, that would have to be divided by the participants, with the condition of if more than counting on an only entidade/empresa sponsor
  • in 07 of March of 2007, meeting of the ABNT/CB-21/SC-34 occurred 2ª, in the office of the ABNT, in Rio De Janeiro, with the participation of the Abep, BR Office, Comptia, Fundap, IBM, Microsoft, Ministry of the Planning, ODF Alliance and Unesp, when he was determined, for consensus, that Brazil would have to participate actively in ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34
  • in 22 of March of 2007 meeting in the office of the ABNT occurred 3ª, in Rio De Janeiro, with the participation of the Abes, Assespro, Celepar, Fundap, IBM, IPT, Microsoft, ODF Alliance and Sucesu, in which the creation of a Commission of Estudo (CE-21:034.00) and respective plan of work was defined, that contemplates the adoption as Brazilian Norm of the ISO/IEC - Information 26300 Technology - Open Document Format will be Office Applications (OpenDocument) and the quarrel of the Brazilian position in ISO/IEC DIS - Information 29500 Technology - Office Open XML File Formats
  • in 2 of April of 2007, the document of the ECMA was approved as Project of International Norm ISO/IEC DIS 29500, with deadline of voting in 2 of September of 2007
  • in 19 of April of 2007, the installation of the CE-21:034.00 in the office of the ABNT occurred, in São Paulo, with the participation of the Abes, Assespro, Celepar, Fundap, IBM, Microsoft, ODF Alliance, Serpro, Sun and Unesp. In this meeting, the following Work groups and respective participants and Coordinators had been created, to assist the CE in its decisions:
    • GT1: ISO/IEC (26300 ODF) - Abes, Assespro Celepar, Fundap, IBM, ODF Alliance, Serpro, Sun, and Unesp - Coodenador: Jomar Silva (ODF Alliance)
    • GT2: ISO/IEC DIS (29500 OPENXML) - Abes, Assespro Celepar, Fundap, IBM, Microsoft, ODF Alliance, Serpro, Sun, and Unesp- Coodenador: Fernando Gebara (Microsoft)
    • GT3: ISO/IEC 13250 (SGML) - to be definite
    • GT4: ISO/IEC FCD 24754 (Renderização) - IBM, Microsoft, ODF Alliance, Serpro and Sun - Coodenador: Márcio Fields (Serpro)
  • in 10 of May of 2007, it occurred, in the office of the ABNT, in Rio De Janeiro, 1ª meeting of the CE-21:034.00, with the participation of the Abes, ABNT/ONS-27, BR Office, Comptia, Fundap, IBM, But Computer science, Microsoft, ODF Alliance, Serpro, Sun, Tivit, Unesp and Virtualpaper.

With base to previously displayed, the ABNT affirms that:

  • by consensus of the representative entidades/empresas of the sector, a Commission of Estudo (CE-21:034.00) for quarrel was created, among others documents, of ISO/IEC DIS 29500
  • activities of CE-21:034.00 are being kept with proper resources of the ABNT, since the condition of I divide of its costs a entidade/empresa was for more than not reached;
  • all the decisions of the CE-21:034.00 will be taken always by consensus, not existing the possibility of control for any entidade/empresa;
  • possibility of cancellation of standard ODF does not exist, foreseen in norm ISO/IEC 26300, that also it will have to be adopted as Brazilian Norm;
  • the choice of one determined standard belongs solely to its user, not being limited for the existence of a norm technique;
  • the decisions of any of its Commissions of Study will always take in account only aspects technician, without envolvement of questions politics, ideological or commercial.
___ Eugenio Guillermo Tolstoy De Simone ABNT [Brazil ISO NB] - Managing of Normalization

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How many Microsoft employees work for ISO?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 10:00 PM EDT

How great is the Microsoft infiltration into ISO? Any listing
of ISO employees and their corporate affiliations? Does
IBM or Sun have employees in ISO?



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A new oxymoron: backwards-compatible interoperability
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, July 18 2007 @ 10:53 PM EDT

How do you make backwards-compatibility interoperable when those old features were designed from the start to be anything but interoperable. All you can say is: "You can get an older version of Word and find out how it is done." No one wants to go back and try to work out how to do that in an interoperable way. It's too hard. I don't believe Microsoft knows how that old software works any more. The employees who created it must have been fired long ago.

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What do you want corrupted today?
Authored by: grouch on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 02:18 AM EDT
Everything touched by Microsoft becomes corrupted. Personal data gets corrupted due to both the incompetence of Microsoft and the deliberate choices for the design of the software. Standardized formats and protocols become corrupted by the old embrace, extend, extinguish strategy long used by Microsoft. Businesses, educational institutions, news outlets and governments become corrupted by the barrage of disinformation provided by Microsoft, accompanied by vague promises of riches. Each such conquest shortly begins taking on the persona of Microsoft -- becoming more secretive with information, more suspicious of personnel and clients, and more prone to blaming "users" for any and all problems encountered with data mangled by the deliberately non-standard formats and protocols adopted.

Reports of undermining standards setting processes are not a shock to anyone who has read even a fraction of the documents from the court cases against Microsoft. Dollars sent to that entity have long been repurposed to spread false information, create barriers to would-be competitors, sow confusion in markets, and manipulate polls, surveys and benchmarks in order to manipulate public opinion. Who feeds the monopoly funds the spreading, corrupting influence it exerts.

---
-- grouch

"People aren't as dumb as Microsoft needs them to be."
--PJ, May 2007

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news pick thread
Authored by: kh on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 03:25 AM EDT
Collect news pick candidates here

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Why?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 06:18 AM EDT
Why is a convicted monopolist who created the incompatibility problem in the
first place, allowed to sit in a chair on a group to develop an open standard,
to solve the incompatibility problem?

This entire "incompatibility issue" is due to Microsoft's abuse of
their monopoly on operating systems and office software.

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Why the buzz about backward compatibility?
Authored by: KhRyna72 on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 07:31 AM EDT
Microsoft states that the OOXML is required because the ODF doesn't help to be
backward compatible with older stored documents.

I don't understand why the backward compabitlity is so important: once a
document is converted to a new format, it can't be opened anymore with the
previous program. Try it with the various versions of Microsoft Word. Create a
document in Word 5 and open it in Word 2002. Does it show up exactly as in Word
5? Save it in the Word 2002 format and try to open it in Word 5....

Is the backward compatibility is about "reproducing the document exactly as
it was when it was created"?

If a document must be rendered in the future like it was when it was created
(same pages number, same line-break, same paragraphs or word spacing), then it
should be saved in a static format, maybe as a PDF. Save it today and it will
always appair in the same way. We can't modify it, but that's ok, because if we
could modify it, then the reproduction would be different (ex: different pages
number).

In a other way, if the re-edit is more important than the static storage, then
we should not be disturbed if the rendering isn't exactly as the previous
version after the conversion. We will edit it anyway, so the pages number will
changes.

So, I don't see why the OOXML is needed.
- If a static storage is required but actually use a previous format (whatever
it is), the conversion process should be "print to PDF" and keep the
PDF.
- if an editable copy is needed, convert it to the a new format, but we know the
formating will be a little bit different. Anyway, the devices will become more
capable, so the formating will become better in the future (more resolution on
the screen or on the printer, better algorithms to scale the fonts, better
algorithms to position the letters on the "pixel grid" and to keep the
spacing from word to word, etc).

Does the OOXML is able to do that: always show the document as it was show with
the .DOC version, whatever the .DOC version is? If it is not able to do that,
then the backward compatibility isn't better than what ODF can do.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft shills vandalising ODF vs OOXML Wiki
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 07:37 AM EDT
That isn't all. On the ODF vs OOXML Wiki, two registered Microsoft shills have gotten into a frenzy of vandalism of other's comments. ODF vs OOXML Wiki This seems to coincide with Microsoft activity to try to fix ISO committees.

It is interesting which items that they seem particularly touchy about. This might give us some insight into Microsoft's thinking.

They are particularly keen to hide the fact that the DaVinci plugin demonstrator (ACME 376) shows that ODF can handle any content OOXML can with the same fidelity using ODF's foreign tag elements and MS Office's internal interpretation of proprietary MS formats and behaviours (which is exactly what OOXML does). I guess this shows there is no purpose for OOXML even for legacy apps as ODF is already capable for handling it. Da-Vinci Plug-in and ACME 376

They are also particularly keen to delete or reword the issues that relate to Microsoft's patent covenant a way that obscures the problems. These are:

1) The fact that future updates or revisions are excluded by the OOXML covenant not to sue over patent clause.

2) The fact that Microsoft patented technologies and trade secrets refered to but not documented in the OOXML spec are not covered by the covenant not to sue.

3) The fact that because OOXML contains Microsoft trade secrets which are referred to but not documented in OOXML, and because it contains references to numerous Microsoft proprietary formats and behaviours that are not covered in the catent covenant, it is only possible for Microsoft or Microsoft licensees to fully implement OOXML (hence of the need to get NDAs and patent licenses from Microsoft to implement OOXML).

4) The fact that because changes and future revisions are not covered by the patent pledge, future versions will not be implementable (even in a cut down version) by anybody other than Microsoft. The proprietary lock-in will be much tighter than Microsoft's binary formats because it is patented, and it will not even be possible to reverse engineer the format to try and achieve interoperability without breaking the law.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I would like to thank Rui Seabra
Authored by: tyche on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 08:29 AM EDT
These notes are a phenomenal and valuable insight into this meeting. A
veritable "fly-on-the-wall" look at the inner workings of a
"packed" panel of people. I also notice that the discussion left more
questions than it answered.

I will admit to having difficulties reading the notes, but would be quick to
acknowledge that the difficulties were mine and not Nr. Seabra's. One of those
"it ain't the way I'm used to" things that people often stumble over.
I say that the problem was mine, because Mr. Seabra maintained throughout a very
clear style that, with time, became easier for me to read and understand. In
fact, I complement him on his style, as it lead to a clearer understanding of
the tone of the meeting as well as the direction which it took.

As far as the meeting itself goes, I do question the Library of Congress and
British Library defense that Microsoft used in the discussion, and would like to
know:
1.) does that requirement actually exist, and
2.) how does it actually impact ODF and OOXML.

I feel that this was an attempt at mis-direction on the part of Microsoft.
Whether or not the Library of Congress and the British Library actually have a
requirement concerning font spacing and formatting would appear to me to be
beside the point, since (I recall from actual use) Office 95 and 97 couldn't
even maintain formatting between 2 different computers, even thought they were
set up identically. This was compounded when crossing between Office 95 and 97.
Since past experience shows that they couldn't maintain formatting themselves,
how am I to believe that any new "standard" that they proposed would
cure this problem?

Craig
Tyche

---
"The Truth shall Make Ye Fret"
"TRUTH", Terry Pratchett

[ Reply to This | # ]

Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 11:36 AM EDT
But this wasn't a conspiracy or anything. Nope. No sirree.

/snark

[ Reply to This | # ]

Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 01:18 PM EDT
No, not shocked -- disgusted.

krp

[ Reply to This | # ]

Backward compatibility?
Authored by: GLJason on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 03:47 PM EDT

Wow, this is the most ridiculous piece of manure I've ever heard.

PQ: What about autoSpaceLikeWord95, will MS Office 2007 use this in a new document?

SM: No. It will not.

PQ: Why isn't it in a separate part, then?

SM: It is an optional tag, only needed for backward compatibility. You can get an older version of Word and find out how it is done.

GH: States that there's nothing prohibiting new implementations from using those tags.

Basically this is a standard that says "magic happens here" and you have to make your document look like a 12 year old document format that there is no specification for. What kind of "standard" is that? MS proxies say that it won't be used in any new documents. There's nothing to verify the truth of that statement in the standard. Even if it was true, you could have 'standard-compliant' documents that were imported from Windows 95 that are displayed differently on different implementations because how they should look is NOT SPECIFIED in the standard.

I don't understand why there's any argument whatsoever on this point. If a value or term in the standard isn't defined (or at least pointed to in another standard), the document is not a complete standard.

"Backward compatibility"? The problem is that it is backward compatibility with a proprietary program for which no standard exists. I have nothing against standards being backward compatible (i.e. SNMP Versions 3, 2, and 1), but the things they are backward compatible with are standards themselves. Not only that, but if you say 'SNMP version 3', you can just look at the SNMP Version 3 document and see exactly how it should work. If this tag is specified, there is NO documentation outside Microsoft on how the document should be displayed. ZERO.

Exactly WHEN will this tag be used? Word 95 certainly can't save in OOXML, and it's been nearly ten years since you could buy a copy from Microsoft. If you open a Word 95 document in an OOXML compliant application, why not convert it to native OOXML format completely? If OOXML doesn't have the language to describe the spacing used in Word 95, maybe it is an incomplete standard and you need to add the semantics to do that.

Basically there are two things. First, there is a part of OOXML that is not defined in the standard, and not available outside Microsoft. You cannot use the standard to determine what it means, so it doesn't belong in the standard. Second, whatever it does mean should be able to be done with other parts of the standard anyway (or else it isn't a complete standard) and there is no reason for this superfluous definition.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Translation/compatibility..
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, July 19 2007 @ 06:32 PM EDT
A friend of mine spent a good part of her career writing document format
conversion programs for one of the competitors to Microsoft Word in the good old
days.

The upshot from her experience is that it is essentially impossible to write a
translator that preserves both layout and editable content when converting into
another format. If you try to preserve layout exactly, you will almost
certainly have to insert formatting elements that are difficult to edit. i.e.
you might need to put a hard "line break" on each line of content to
get it to break the same. That makes it difficult or impossible to edit the
paragraph, but does guarantee that formatting is identical.

The ultimate in preserved formatting would be a scan of a printed document.
But this would be EXTREMELY difficult to edit.

At the other extreme, you extract out the text and content, but mostly don't
worry about formatting that much. Things that translate into your native format
survive, but things that don't easily match up, will get lost. Some things,
like embedded macros, might be discarded outright.

Depending on what you need to do with the document, you may prefer a translator
that focuses on one or other aspect. But in general, you can't have both at the
same time.

And translating back and forth repeatedly, discarding formatting in each
direction, would be a nightmare if you cared about the final layout.

And even Microsoft can't manage to make Word documents appear identically given
the same version of Word on two different computers!

But Microsoft MUST have pretty decent backwards compatibility because once they
break the ability to read and save old versions reasonably reliably, and
interchange with old versions of Office, they break their monopoly based on the
network effect. (i.e. everyone uses Microsoft because everyone else does.)

So to Microsoft, the ONLY issue is backwards compatibility, and any new standard
that doesn't support the old versions of Office fully aren't acceptable to
them.

And a translator is NOT the solution for anyone involved, because translators
are, by necessity, imperfect.

[ Reply to This | # ]

My letter to the MA CIO re ETRM4.0
Authored by: darkonc on Friday, July 20 2007 @ 03:00 AM EDT
OK: Here's my letter.

Obviously, there's not much time to do so, but I'd love any comments, pointers, improvements, etc.

You can email me as: darkonc on gmail.com


Stephen Samuel

(contact information)

Office of the CIO

Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Re: ETRM Version 4.0

One of the major changes in ETRM 4.0 is an apparent attempt to justify including ECMA-376 (aka Microsoft's OOXML) format in the list of accepted file formats. I see many problems with this idea that could ultimately destroy the purpose of the ETRM document, and cause very real difficulties and unnecessary expenses for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts -- both the government and it citizens.

First of all, although ETRM 4.0 claims to be an XML format, it includes large chunks of binary data which are not documented. Microsoft, apparently touts these binary chunks as the primary asset of OOXML in terms of its value to the organization. These binary chunks consist of data in 'legacy' formats from old Microsoft documents. Rather than converting this old data to properly formatted XML, Microsoft proposes keeping this old data in it's original and undocumented format and including it in what is supposed to be an XML document as a binary 'blob'.

I think that this can be likened to a Science fiction book in which the thoughts of a robot protagonist are presented as blocks of machine language. It seriously hinders the general readability of the document. Most people who are fluent in English will find it opaque, and ... even for those with the technical knowledge to understand it, it requires them to shift modes from English to reading machine code, and slows them down immensely.

Furthermore, If you read the ECMA-376 documentation, the "documentation" for these binary blobs often consists of simply suggesting that the reader reverse-engineer Microsoft's old Word programs -- an activity which is expressly forbidden by Microsoft's End User License Agreements (EULAa) for those products. Besides opening an implementer to lawsuits from Microsoft for violating their EULAs, Microsoft's patent covenant expressly does not cover the results of such reverse-engineered information, since it is not directly described in the ECMA document. It is also, as I understand, explicitly not covered for those binary blobs elements which are 'optional' parts of ECMA-376 -- whether it is properly documented or not.

-- and, I repeat -- these undocumented, binary blobs inside of Microsoft's OOXML are what Microsoft is are touting as the main advantage of using their format ... Something that third parties may not even be allowed to decode, and which (as a result of being optional elements), something which even Microsoft, itself, will not be bound to continue interpreting should the exigencies of their business model make it disadvantageous for them to do so.

On that note, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Microsoft's Office products are already known to fail when opening up documents from older versions of their programs. Expecting a company with a history like this to not do what they've done in the past is not unlike hiring a convicted forger to safeguard your treasury.

Having your critical documents stored in, or dependent upon, these binary blobs also does not gain from having multiple implementations, like the ODF format does. Only one other company (Novell) is claiming that they will attempt to fashion an OOXML reader, but there is no surety that they will succeed. Although they have signed an Non-Disclosure agreement (NDA) with Microsoft for the undocumented aspects of OOXML, if Microsoft's difficulties in their ongoing attempt at documenting it's server protocols for the EU's competition panel are any indication, it's possible that Microsoft may simply be incapable of describing their formats to a third party. Even if Microsoft does manage to adequately document the binary portions of OOXML, there is no promise that Novell will ultimately be able to fashion a fully functional reader. It should be noted that, in implementing the undocumented aspects of ECMA-376/OOXML, Novell will not have access to the Open Source Community for critical aspects of writing, fixing and improving such a reader, as a result of having to sign an NDA to get access to whatever documentation Microsoft is willing and able to provide.

As a result, if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts allows OOXML/ECMA-376 to be an allowed format, the Commonwealth may find itself saddled with a one-source, undocumented binary document format with questionable support in the future.

Possible Solutions
  1. The commonwealth could allow documents which include only fully documented XML aspects of OOXML-ECMA-376. This has the advantage that there is at least some hope that the Open Source community would be able to write a reader for this format, but it would also neurtalize the primary touted advantages of this format.
    There is also a very serious risk that OOXML/ECMA-376 will remain a single-source document format, with the costs and impacts implicit in not having a viable alternative source for programs which can read such documents.

  2. The commonwealth could allow Microsoft to provide the commonwealth with Office 2007, using OOXML formats. Although Microsoft has promised that older versions of their office suite will eventually be able to read OOXML, it is not clear when those readers will be available, or how good they will be. In the meantime, if such documents become common within the organization, it is possible that the entire commonwealth will be forced to convert to MS-Office 2007 simply to be able to read the small number of documents which were originally written in OOXML. By the time that quality readers are available for legacy formats, the issue may be moot, since the acquisition and training outlays will have already occured. It should be noted that this is precisely what happened when Microsoft came out with Word-97, almost exactly 10 years ago.

  3. The commonwealth could allow Office 2007, and mandate that it use one of the two plugins now available that allow it to write ODF files (one sponsored by Microsoft, the other by SUN Microsystems). This solution would effectively outlaw OOXML/ECMA-376. Old documents which are rewritten would need to be converted entirely to pure XML.
    The disadvantage of this approach is that there would be no hiding of legacy documents inside of an XML shell. The advantage is that the commonwealth would, eventually end up with a pure XML document flow that is fully documented for any future applications.
    A further advantage of this approach is that all of the major office suites (including Microsoft's Office 2007 suite) would be able to read the documents put out by any of the other suites. today, and in the future. There would be no hoping that someone would eventually manage to make an open-source OOXML reader that is able to legally read both the documented and the undocumented elements of ECMA-376. On the other hand, if the OOXML/ECMA-376 format does eventually prove to be well-supported by the suites from other vendors, there will be nothing to stop the Commonwealth from including OOXML once it has gained wide multi-vendor support.

Needless to say, I strongly suggest that the commonwealth go with solution 3. It will allow all of departments and entities and even all citizens full freedom to choose whichever office suite they want (and also whichever operating system they want) , and the ability to read the documents of any department, regardless of which suite that department chooses.

If the Commonwealth uses an all-vendor document format, this will mean that citizens, vendors, departments and other entities will be free to choose Office programs based on their own requirements of capability, cost, application size and training requirements, rather than what application other entities are using.

Nobody will be left out --- not the poor, and not the rich.


Sincerely,

Stephen Samuel


( contact information)


ETRM 4.0 Comments 4/4 Stephen Samuel, July19/2007

---
Powerful, committed communication. Touching the jewel within each person and bringing it to life..

[ Reply to This | # ]

False accusatory reasoning?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 20 2007 @ 06:46 AM EDT
PJ - this reasoning of yours continues to elude me. It's false as far as I can
see:

"If ODF was made backward compatible with legacy Microsoft proprietary
formats, then that would solve the interoperability issues once and for all. If
one says that is impossible to achieve 100%, then it goes without saying that it
is impossible for the translators too. That's just logic. And if it isn't 100%,
it isn't an open standard to me."

1) It's perfectly possible in theory to make ODF backward compatible with
"legacy MS proprietary formats". One can simply incorporate a tag
like: <any old filth>old MS stuff</any old filth> (which surely is
more or less what MS do in their proposed formats, or there wouldn't be any
hoohah about their formats requiring you to know what they mean without their
saying it).

One can do that in perfect detail too, not merely the huge approximation I
outlined, if one knows what the format is. It doesn't matter one bit if the
format can't be described exactly with a context-free grammar - neither can the
fibonacci sequence. One simply describes a superset of the grammar and
stipulates any semantic constraints as extra checks. Such as "a sequence of
integers separated by commas" (the context-free grammar) and "the sum
of every two consecutive integers in the sequence equals the next integer"
(the constraint). But in any case the grammar doesn't have to be perfect - there
are grammatically correct sentences which don't make semantic sense in any
language and that doesn't stop folks from defining the grammar. "typedef
int i; i i; i = (i)*&i;" looks legal syntactic C but goodness knows
what it means (I made that up on the spot, language lawyers - make up your own
examples if you don't like that one) or if it means anything allowed to be said.
"I fly the submarine" is grammatical English! There are unexpressed
semantic constraints in the C grammar too! Not referring to a variable before
you have declared it is the simplest example of a semantic, non-syntactic
constraint on the C language that occurs to me. It could be expressed in a
context-dependent grammar, but not in a context-free one.

I.e. Leaving semantic constraints in a language description is perfectly fine in
the sense that it's always been done and impossible to avoid in practice. It
doesn't matter if a language description is not doable in a perfectly context
free way. And one can always make a language description backward compatible
with something else that has gone before by leaving a tag for "old
stuff", described semantically.

2) So it's perfectly possible to achieve 100% backward compatibility - but even
supposing that it were not, then your conclusion that "then it goes without
saying that it is impossible for the translators too" is false. It's not
even true that pascal is "backward compatible" with C, but it is
perfectly possible to translate pascal to C. Russian is not backwardly
compatible with English, Esperanto is not backwardly compatible with Spanish,
etc., yet translation between them is perfectly possible. One just has to use
more words sometimes and use semantic information in the translators. English
has one word for "is" and Spanish has two - one for an is of
positioning and one for an is of state. Does that make it impossible to
translate "Mary is a girl" from English to Spanish? No. We just have
to chose the right "is" in Spanish, using our semantic understanding.
Translators that didn't use semantics would and do fare poorly! Translators from
pascal to C have to and do take account of the semantics of what they are
translating - they take into account the (syntactic) context, in other words.
Translators certainly do not have to be context free translators! That would
produce rubbish a remarkable percentage of the time.

In other words, translators can translate happily where grammars can not
backward compatible :-). Your logic is false. No, "that's just logic"
is not the case. And I really don't understand how you can think so, since the
lack of a mechanism for enable you to think so is illustrated well by the real
life examples of translation in circumstances where there is no such thing as
backward compatibility that I've listed above and which you must know of. How
does one translate "dim sun" anyway? :). It depends on context,
surely!

3) as to "if it's not 100%, then it's not an open standard to me",
well, I'm sorry, but context-free grammar descriptions can't be "100%"
on their own in any real languages that I'm aware of. The thing about requiring
variables to be declared before they are used is a killer for that idea in most
working computer languages. And even if you have some kind of extended grammar
description that allows some context-dependent elements (this is perfectly OK
with me, and I do it often, being the author of a slightly well-known
higher-order compiler-compiler which would spit at me in disgust if I didn't do
that with it) it's highly unlikely that you will be able to pin down the grammar
exactly to the semantically sensical statements alone that way. There's always
some slackness in the syntactic description given, simply because it wouldn't be
elegant (read "would be obscurantist otherwise") to do so. When can
one use __attribute__((volatile)) in GNU C? You don't know? Neither do I. Lately
gcc docus have started giving clues about where it is syntactically legal to
place __attribute__ bits and bobs, but it isn't "100%" information in
any sense that I can assign. Yet surely you wouldn't say that gcc is not open
source! Is gcc an "open source standard", however? Well, it's open to
inspection. Nobody (except me and one or two others, probably) have tried giving
modern grammar descriptions of GNU C, but you're welcome to look at my/their
description and use it as a standards starting point for GNU C if you like. Oh -
there IS a standard? ANSI C? Yeah, GNU C is mostly "backward
compatible" with it (I imagine there are some clashes with its own
hangovers from older versions of GNU C). But it isn't 100% compatible with its
own older versions, I don't think (feel free to correct me, or illustrate, since
I can't be bothered to stop writing and think harder), because of its
fashionable modernity in following ANSI.

As to having a 100% translator alone making the subject of the translator an
open standard, or not. Well, I reject that out of hand. Having a translator is
always possible, as I've shown above, since the translator can use semantics
beyond syntax. Not having one is simply a question of who'd pay me to do it!

---

OK, so that's my diss of the argument expressed by PJ as a logical entity. That
said, there are reasons for not accepting MS's documentation as sufficient.
Simply saying that the documentation is incomprehensible is enough, in my view.
But that's a view only. I base my judgment on the idea that if it's
incomprehensible, it's unusable. And if it's unusable, then it's not a proper
standard. OK - some standards are difficult to understand. That's not the same
as incomprehensible, which I understand MS's offered documentation to be.

PTB

[ Reply to This | # ]

Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 20 2007 @ 06:48 AM EDT
This is as fishy/unfair as it can get.

As a Portuguese, i really don't see the point (besides unfair bullying) of
having MS business parters there. In this particular case, these people are
mostly sales/account managers who really don't have a clue about what they are
talking about. They just wanna have their way (M$ way) through. They are
representatives from corporations which their core business is 100% M$ for
decades now. Worst even, some these companies have strong political connections
thought corporate stock share owned (guess what) by politicians.

I strongly dislike Manuel Cerqueira presence there, who is nothing more than an
openly M$ lackey and a clueless wannabe politician. ASSOFT is the Portuguese BSA
version strongly focus on fighting software piracy of its two major associates
M$ and Autodesk.

ASSOFT is a private association but his tactics and propaganda are strongly
backed up the Portuguese government. Being a Software association it should had
help ANSOL developing more OSS in Portugal. Instead went through the "money
side":It's has done 0%(zero) for OSS and 100% for M$ and Autodesk in
Portugal. In fact has damage OSS oportunities here every chance it gets.

The general tactic is the following:

1-MS account managers bury Portuguese companies with expensive "do it all
and pay it later" M$ solutions well served with a high poisonous
marketing.This is the time and place they say "OSS sucks, go our way".
Naivelly, so they do.

2-Most companies here cannot cope with the expensive m$ licencing costs, but as
they are all tied up with the M$ solutions, they choose to pay much much later.

3- Meanwhile the extortionists who keep a list a such companies (assoft who
else) team up with the portuguese police (in fact on many ocasions they like to
pretend they ARE the police) and go to the m$ rescue.

4- The company is then burried in fines and lawsuits, and its managers could
face the usual up two 3 years piracy jail sentence, not because they were really
software pirates, but because they were defrauded by this kind of ppl, Manuel
Cerqueira and his goons.

5-There is a major exception to points 3-4. The Portuguese state and it's public
companies.Why? Assoft doesn't want to ruin the beautiful political relationship
it has. Ridiculous consequence:The government for instance can use loads of
piracy, but the major Portuguese companies don't :)

The same tactic is applied to Autodesk Solutions.

This is the kind of people that they *do really* want in such meetings.

Alex

[ Reply to This | # ]

It was predicted here how the MS-Novell deal would be levereged
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, July 20 2007 @ 07:45 AM EDT
SM: Refuses [denies], it's proposed by ECMA, with lots of companies, only IBM
voted against. Claims Novell is a competitor and is implementing OOXML.

MJM: Asks what the advantages are, from the user point of view?



Some time ago somebody here suggested that Microsoft would use the Novell-MS
deal, in particular that Novell will make a convertor, as `proof' that OOXML has
wide industry support.

Here it is, in the clear.


MS's propganda has reached Orwellian proportions. It is just sickening. For that
reason alone, the Redmond Wall needs to fall.



[ Reply to This | # ]

Notes from Portugal on the July 16th Meeting on Ecma-376
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, July 23 2007 @ 08:29 AM EDT
Illustrative cartoon:
http://b log.softwarelivre.sapo.pt/2007/07/20/diz-nao-ao-ooxml-9/
I assume this is happening in every voting country.
kosmonaut (sorry, not logged in)

[ Reply to This | # ]

The difference between a seat and a chair
Authored by: Rick_Jelliffe on Saturday, July 28 2007 @ 08:51 AM EDT
Translators: Probably in future it would be useful to know that in English we
talk about a "seat" on a committee but a physical "chair" at
a table. Being denied a seat is different from being denied a chair.

It is very common in meetings that there are slightly more chairs in the room
than seats on the committee. This means that latecomers and visitors don't have
to wait in hallways, and also means that members of the committee don't have to
sit on each others' laps, which many find detrimental to the committee process.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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