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W3C's Chris Lilley: CDF Not Suitable for Use as an Office Format & Can't Replace ODF
Friday, November 09 2007 @ 12:01 PM EST

I put the link to Andy Updegrove's article in News Picks earlier, but this is too important not to inform you about here as well. As you know the so-called OpenDocument Foundation has been telling the world that CDF is a better approach than ODF. Updegrove met with W3C's Chris Lilley, the "go-to guy guy at W3C to learn what W3C's CDF standard is all about." Lilley says CDF can't replace ODF. It's not suitable for use as an office format, and he's mystified by the pronouncements of the Foundation.

Here's what Updegrove reports:
To find out the facts, I interviewed Chris Lilley, the W3C lead for the CDF project, and his answer couldn't have been more clear: "The one thing I'd really want your readers to know is that CDF was not created to be, and isn't suitable for use as, an office format." In fact, it isn't even an format at all - although it has been matched for export purposes with another W3C specification, called WICD - but WICD is a non-editable format intended for viewing only. Moreover, no one from the Foundation has joined W3C, nor explained to W3C what the Foundation's founders have in mind.

It is highly unfortunate that the founders of a tax exempt organization that solicited donations, "To support the community of volunteers in promoting, improving and providing user assistance for ODF and software designed to operate on data in this format," should publicly announce that it believes that ODF will fail. By endorsing a standard that has no rational relationship to office formats at all, they can only serve to confuse the marketplace and undermine the efforts of the global community they claimed to serve.

So, there you have it, straight from the horse's mouth. CDF can't replace ODF, according to Lilley. It wasn't designed to be used as an office format. It's good for other things.

So, was all this media push really about ODF? Or about damaging it with FUD and giving support to Microsoft's assertion that the world craves more than one office format standard so we can all struggle with interoperability complexity for the rest of our born days? And is it a coincidence it all happened on the eve of the next vote in February on Microsoft's competing MSOOXML? Was Microsoft behind this? Or did they just get lucky? Microsoft representatives, like Jason Matusow, certainly gave support to what the 3-man crew was saying, so much so that ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley wrote that, "the ODF camp might unravel before Microsoft’s rival Office Open XML (OOXML) comes up for final international standardization vote early next year." Dream on. ODF is doing fine. It's the OpenDocument Foundation that is shutting down.

But here's my question: did the Microsoft reps not understand the tech, that CDF can't replace ODF? How trust-inspiring do you find that? Or did they think that *we'd* never figure it out? Whatever the story might be, unfortunately for Microsoft, people aren't as dumb as Microsoft needs them to be. FUD has a very limited shelf life in the Internet age. There is always somebody who knows better. And they'll tell the world.


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