decoration decoration
Stories

GROKLAW
When you want to know more...
decoration
For layout only
Home
Archives
Site Map
Search
About Groklaw
Awards
Legal Research
Timelines
ApplevSamsung
ApplevSamsung p.2
ArchiveExplorer
Autozone
Bilski
Cases
Cast: Lawyers
Comes v. MS
Contracts/Documents
Courts
DRM
Gordon v MS
GPL
Grokdoc
HTML How To
IPI v RH
IV v. Google
Legal Docs
Lodsys
MS Litigations
MSvB&N
News Picks
Novell v. MS
Novell-MS Deal
ODF/OOXML
OOXML Appeals
OraclevGoogle
Patents
ProjectMonterey
Psystar
Quote Database
Red Hat v SCO
Salus Book
SCEA v Hotz
SCO Appeals
SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Financials
SCO Overview
SCO v IBM
SCO v Novell
SCO:Soup2Nuts
SCOsource
Sean Daly
Software Patents
Switch to Linux
Transcripts
Unix Books
Your contributions keep Groklaw going.
To donate to Groklaw 2.0:

Groklaw Gear

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.


Contact PJ

Click here to email PJ. You won't find me on Facebook Donate Paypal


User Functions

Username:

Password:

Don't have an account yet? Sign up as a New User

No Legal Advice

The information on Groklaw is not intended to constitute legal advice. While Mark is a lawyer and he has asked other lawyers and law students to contribute articles, all of these articles are offered to help educate, not to provide specific legal advice. They are not your lawyers.

Here's Groklaw's comments policy.


What's New

STORIES
No new stories

COMMENTS last 48 hrs
No new comments


Sponsors

Hosting:
hosted by ibiblio

On servers donated to ibiblio by AMD.

Webmaster
France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML - Updated
Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:21 PM EDT

If you read French, here is AFNOR's very intriguing suggestion, that OOXML and ODF merge. They say their technical experts say it absolutely can be done. In the short term, AFNOR suggests that all the comments must be addressed, but assuming they are, then it suggests that in the short term MSOOXML be designated a "Technical Specification" for 3 years (here's an explanation of the difference between that and a standard); meanwhile, the convergence work should begin, with the goal of establishing one single standard for documents that everyone can use. Sean Daly has translated the statement into English for us.

Update: Andy Updegrove now predicts that ISO on Tuesday will announce that OOXML approval has "failed to achieve enough yes votes to gain approval at this time".

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

Office formats: AFNOR proposes to the ISO an approach guaranteeing, thanks to the ISO process, convergence in the mid-term between ODF and OOXML and to stabilize OOXML in the short term.

Following the final deliberations during the meeting of its Normalization Commission which took place on August 28th and 29th, AFNOR is not closing the door on the recognition by the ISO of Office Open XML. It proposes to the ISO to organize the convergence between ODF and Office Open XML.

By numerous contributions, the different stakeholders demonstrated the need to have a quality OOXML format recognized by the ISO. In a context where multiple document formats exist, the French experts who invested a great deal in this work, showed that convergence is possible between OOXML and the ODF format -- which today is already a standard -- towards a single, changeable document format standard.

On the basis of this very widely shared observation, and even if a unanimous point of view could not be attained at the end of these days concerning the best short- and mid-term solutions, AFNOR makes the following proposition to the ISO:

  • restructure the ECMA standard in two parts as follows:
  • in one section having the essential core functionalities and simple to deploy (OOXML-Core),
  • in another section, all the auxiliary functionalities necessary for compatibility with the existing office files stored by numerous users, functionalities which would be regrouped in an ensemble called (OOXML-Extensions),
  • take into account a provided set of technical comments emitted on the proposed standard, in order to make OOXML into an ISO document of the very highest technical and writing quality possible,
  • confer an ISO/TS ("Technical Specification") status valid for three years for OOXML,
  • put in place a convergence process between ISO/CEI 26300 and the core of OOXML, and to that end, to plan starting now the simultaneous updating of ISO/CEI 26300 and ISO/TS OOXML (on condition that the latter be adopted after the previously mentioned restructuring), with a view to obtaining at the end of the convergence process, a single standard which would be the most universal possible, and whose later evolutions would be decided at the ISO level and no longer at the level of a grouping or category of participants.

To achieve the above objective and allow the emergence of a convergence process, AFNOR is required in the immediate to not accept in its current state the text proposed by ECMA. Technically, this brings AFNOR to a negative vote on the project as it is now presented. This negative vote is however accompanied by comments which AFNOR requests be considered in order for it to reconsider its position.

AFNOR commits itself to make known and promote this position internationally in light of the next step planned for February when different countries' comments will be examined.

On August 28th and 29th, the AFNOR FDR (Formats de Documents Révisables) normalization commission concluded five months of intense lobbying to AFNOR between all the concerned parties by the emergence of standard file formats: software suppliers, users, administrations, local governments.

AFNOR is the French representative of the ISO, the international standards organization. It is the central operator of the French standardization system which associates experts, standardization bureaus, and government administrations. It has received from government administrations, a mission in the general interest, formalized by the decree of January 26th, 1984.

For more information concerning standards: www.afnor.org


  


France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML - Updated | 190 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
We are Microsoft of Borg.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:24 PM EDT
We are Microsoft of Borg. You will be OOXiMiLated. Resistance is futile, or not.
HAR!!! HAR!!! HAR!!!

Ahem, sorry. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections Thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:30 PM EDT
Please place article corrections here.

Thanks.

---
Free minds, Free software

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT] Off Topic comments
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:33 PM EDT
Place comments here that do not directly relate to the story posted.

I'll start: What do you do for that 45 seconds you're waiting between making posts at Groklaw?

---
Free minds, Free software

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] News Picks discussion
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:35 PM EDT
Discuss Groklaw News Picks here.

Thanks.

---
Free minds, Free software

[ Reply to This | # ]

French Position?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:37 PM EDT
Hmm... smells like that beautiful smart card standard ISO 7816-1 where the
"French Position" got standardized together with the ISO Position.

"I fart in your general direction"

[ Reply to This | # ]

France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:41 PM EDT
Then for sure there'll never be an implementation of ISO OOXML.

It will be a wonderful specification. But no vendor will ever make a product
which conforms to it.

M$ will do as M$ pleases. Everyone else will stick to ISO26300.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Convergence : Not so strange idea if you consider what occupped AFNOR for the last 20 years.
Authored by: lukep on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:45 PM EDT
No wonder this idea popped in the AFNOR guy minds.

AFNOR has been one of the main actor of CEN (european standards) and
worked for more than 20 years on that very idea, with the other european
NBs, especially DIN.

And it worked very well in many areas, despite many pride fights.

However, even if it is possible, i really dont see how that would suit M$.

And I dont like the idea of making ECMA376 a TS, as it leaves too much
wriggle room and FUD possibilities to M$.

[ Reply to This | # ]

France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML
Authored by: JamesK on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 06:45 PM EDT
While it may be technically possible, I get the feeling that it may be worse
than something designed by a committee!


---
Just say NO to Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 07:11 PM EDT
As an idea, it is certainly interesting and a fresh approach. As a smart way of
forcing Microsoft to either comply and play nice or get out of the game, it is
even better. If this was indeed offered, how can MS say no and keep their
credibility in striving for "openness" and
"interoperability"?

"Come work with us towards a common goal instead of against us, it will be
wonderful!"
"Um, no thanks, we don't trust the rest of the world."

(Just a quick reflection, I haven't had the time to give this enough thought
yet.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 07:18 PM EDT
Harmonizing the format was also New Zealand's opinion, see standards.org.nz,

“Voting ‘no’ with comments provides an opportunity for any technical issues to
be resolved. It also facilitates consideration of merging the document with the
existing ISO/IEC Standard. If the comments are resolved we will have an
opportunity to change New Zealand’s vote to ‘yes’ at a ballot resolution meeting
in February 2008,” said Mr Thomas."

ps. I think it's a good idea to be careful with the "merging"
terminology because ODF uses a mixed-content model whereas OOXML doesn't and
Microsoft have consistently presented this as an argument for why they can't be
harmonized. Of course this isn't actually an issue at all.. "this is a data
modelling issue unrelated to any feature set and so it doesn't affect
harmonizing the formats as I understand it" see nzoss.org.nz

[ Reply to This | # ]

France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 07:29 PM EDT
They say their technical experts say it absolutely can be done.

Of course it can be done. Nobody except Microsoft has ever tried to dispute that. There are simply no technical reasons why this is not possible, just political reasons. One of these political issues concerns time to market. MS needs an ISO standard now, so they will probably not be happy with taking the back seat with a Technical Specification and waiting a couple of years to have a real ISO standard supported by their software. (They would actually like to have it the other way around: having their software supported by an ISO standard.)

I think we will most likely see continued bullying and bribing tactics to pass the vote in February with even more dirty tricks. For example, there are still many countries which can be "encouraged" to join as P-members of JTC1 before the ballot resolution meeting in February.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's Tuesday, no announcement from ISO
Authored by: prayforwind on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 07:48 PM EDT
Should have been by now unless there's more sculduggery going on no?

---
jabber me: burySCO@jabber.org

[ Reply to This | # ]

Update: Andy Updegrove now predicts...
Authored by: JamesK on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 07:49 PM EDT
This is now beginning to sound like an election.

I hope his prediction is right. ;-)

---
Just say NO to Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML - Updated
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 08:01 PM EDT
the French experts who invested a great deal in this work,
showed that convergence is possible between OOXML and the
ODF format -- which today is already a standard -- towards
a single, changeable document format standard.

Obviously there is a complete and total failure to
understand on the part of the French. In that the OOXLM
standard is not complete until Open Office fails to run.
Just like Excel was not complete until Lotus 123 failed to
run.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Best Idea...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 08:23 PM EDT
Trash can OOXML. It is broken, incomplete, proprietary, subject to
MS patents, and unnecessary. We already have a working open
standard.

Why allow MS to ruin a perfectly good standard? Aren't the French
just appeasing MS?

The world's governments and historians would really owe us.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • The Best Idea... - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 02:00 AM EDT
Will Massachusetts still accept OOXML?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 08:38 PM EDT

Or all the other U.S. agencies pressured to accept it?

Ecma should be thoroughly embarrassed -- and discredited.
NIST, too.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Might be a good way to kill it altogether
Authored by: Prototrm on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 09:58 PM EDT
Considering that the OOXML specification is nothing more than the internal C++
data structures used in Microsoft Office, there is no possible way that
Microsoft would agree to making any changes at all, which is why they will never
allow the meeting to go ahead as planned in February. They will first try to
bribe and/or threaten the conditional no votes into yes votes before hand. If
they fail in that, I predict they will withdraw the ISO spec completely, and
destroy the competition the old fashioned way: making sure ODF cannot be made to
work in Office 2007, Vista, or both.

Of course, they will wait until the US government officially announces that
Microsoft is no longer a monopolist and can do whatever they please first.

---
"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the
exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them."

[ Reply to This | # ]

I don't think this flies
Authored by: darkonc on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 11:23 PM EDT
If you peel out the 'auxiliary functionalities necessary for compatibility with the existing office files stored by numerous users,' you peel out all of those aspects of OOXML which which Microsoft has been touting as the essential functionality which makes OOXML worth having.

This seems rather like decapitating the baby to make it fit in the bathtub.

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Big, massive problem with OOXML standard?
Authored by: darkonc on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 11:39 PM EDT
stephesblog seems to imply that OOXML writers are an optional part of the standard.

If this is accurate, does this mean that only OOXML Readers are protected by Microsoft's patent pledge? Is that why Apple didn't implement an OOXML exporter -- they're legally barred from doing so?

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Suggestion also made by other NBs
Authored by: star-dot-h on Monday, September 03 2007 @ 11:40 PM EDT
It should be noted that this suggestion was also made by Standards New Zealand in their commentary so hopefully it will have some legs.

Details here.

---

Free software on every PC on every desk

[ Reply to This | # ]

There is a single, multi-party standard. It's OpenDocument
Authored by: mattflaschen on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 12:14 AM EDT
This suggestion could have been implemented starting 5 years ago, when the OASIS TC initiated development of OpenDocument. Why didn't Microsoft contribute features for standardization then? Microsoft has claimed, but never provided evidence, that they had no chance to participate. This seems rather unlikely, given that they were a member of OASIS at the time, and were officially invited into the TC. They chose to abstain because they didn't want a multi-party open standard. Later, as OpenDocument became more popular, they were forced to create Open XML.

So, it is foolish to have two standards. And it seems clear who's at fault for that.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML Fast-Track disapproved by ISO
Authored by: mjr on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 04:35 AM EDT

SFS, the Finnish standards organisation, has given the results to EFFI whose response I was involved in preparing.

Oksanen, our representative at the meeting, has blogged a bit about it in Finnish, and the actual ballot is available as a PDF.

So, it seems sanity has prevailed in this particular battle. Let's see how it goes from here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

France's AFNOR Has an Idea: Merge ODF and OOXML - Updated
Authored by: Ian Al on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 04:46 AM EDT
I thought that when one merged the main line and the fast track one got a train
wreck.

Because of the difference in date algorithms we probably won't be able to tell
whether it happened on a Wednesday or a Thursday.

---
Regards
Ian Al

Linux==Genuine Advantage

[ Reply to This | # ]

Give This Idea a Clear and Unequivocal NO!!!
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 05:34 AM EDT
It seems to me that the real purpose of this idea is to slow the adoption of
ODF, while sabotaging the ODF standard with unecessary complexity and a new,
long development cycle.

Something like what Microsoft did to OpenGL.

A project to merge ODF and OOXML would simply cause people to wait for the
merged standard before adopting ODF, thus giving Microsoft a chance to catch up
with their Office MS-XML lock-in scheme.

Plus, adding open-ended, and improperly defined extensions to ODF would just
give Microsoft a way to decommoditize and pollute the standard.

There is only one proper way to "combine" the standards, and it does
not involve a project to merge them. If Microsoft wants to be able to store
every possible obscure feature of legacy Office documents into an ODF file, then
let Microsoft identify those features, define them clearly and completely, and
request that they be added to the ODF standard. Then, only add the ones that
make sense, and don't destroy the integrity of ODF with unnecessary complexity.

And don't _ever_ add support for Microsoft's broken date formats! That was only
laziness and incompetence (or a poison pill) on Microsoft's part. Make Microsoft
correct the dates on conversion to ODF.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The scores are in! 9 abstentions, 15 Disapprove, 17 Approve
Authored by: Bart van Deenen on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 05:43 AM EDT
The Finnish standard organization has posted the tally here (pdf).

[ Reply to This | # ]

This is absolutely NOT what Microsoft wants!
Authored by: billyskank on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 06:04 AM EDT
Although I would laugh my socks off if that is what eventually happened.

Microsoft would not support the resulting standard, of course (except in the
very last resort when they had no choice).

---
It's not the software that's free; it's you.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Plan B - Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 06:37 AM EDT
Microsoft would win
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 06:54 AM EDT
A merge would produce a 7000 page standard nobody could hope to follow, meaning
no standard at all effectively but rather probabilistic conversions of various
quality.

That's where we already are.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Merged ODF and OOXML standard
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, September 04 2007 @ 07:59 AM EDT
A merged ODF/OOXML standard can only take one form - ODF exists as an ISO
standard and it works, so to avoid duplication ODF should be the basis and OOXML
should add the only new thing it brings in, which is legacy Microsoft document
backward compatibility.

ODF will handle new content. All proprietary Microsoft behaviours and formats
to be incorporated into the combined standard must be fully and publically
documented, provided with a suitable patent covenant and can then be
incorporated into the combined ODF standard. Anything that doesn't conform to
these requirements should be excluded from the standard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Technical matters - ODF and ECMA 376
Authored by: Wesley_Parish on Wednesday, September 05 2007 @ 08:41 AM EDT

They're not the same sort of file specification, though. ODF is a structured file format; ECMA 376 is an unstructured file format that works on a different basis:

So the question isn't whether or not it's a conventional XML structure. Both ODF and Open XML are XML structures; one is flat and the other has a deeper hierarchy (or at least attempts to do that).
[...]
The vital thing to understand is formatting itself should not be viewed as structure. The "view" of the data is not PART of the data. The "view" is separate. The fact that you have Heading 2 after heading 1 does not imply a structural relationship between the 2 headings – merely that they LOOK different. In a world that espouses the separation of data and view, this is a great model. There is no attempt to try to invent some hierarchical representation based on the view of the data.
There are places where Word actually attempts at runtime to give the user an impression of hierarchy based simply on the formatting, but this is artificial. As I said, Word never actually creates this hierarchy. WordprocessingML is always a streaming format. The "outline" view is an artificial inference of the structure that can be provided by the application.

You begin to see the difficulties of combining the two? ODF is a structured file format, and by that I mean it the tags do imply structure; ECMA 376 is a flat streaming file format, which means that structure is arbitrary.

It might also be the explanation why there are so many text formatting markups:

Taking an example of such legacy clarifies what it takes to implement even a portion of the documentation. The example is text formatting. Any of the 3 applications, Word, Excel and Powerpoint uses its own text formatting markup. Worse, the shared libraries themselves (VML, DrawingML, MathML, ...) also use separate text formattings, each different. Even worse, if that's possible, Word has many own ways to do text formatting. Excel has many own ways to do text formatting. Powerpoint has many own ways to do text formatting.

A streaming file format imposes no overall structure on the overall office suite; each segment of the office suite development team is welcome to balkanize and fork common structures, because said office suite has been somewhat arbitrarily welded together from formerly independent and competing teams; and no one is politically strong enough in Microsoft to bang heads together and say, "We're doing it this way, because otherwise we're not doing it at all."

It's going to take a lot longer that three years to get a suitable candidate for merging with ODF out of ECMA 376, because Microsoft is going to need to make some serious internal political changes first - and I'm not talking about Senior Executives here.

---
finagement: The Vampire's veins and Pacific torturers stretching back through his own season. Well, cutting like a child on one of these states of view, I duck

[ Reply to This | # ]

Groklaw © Copyright 2003-2013 Pamela Jones.
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
Comments are owned by the individual posters.

PJ's articles are licensed under a Creative Commons License. ( Details )