OOXML & GNOME Foundation furoreOctober 30, 2007 12:29 pm General
A recent open letter to the GNOME Foundation called on us “to unite the community behind the standard, universal format for office suites [Note: ODF] and distance [ourselves] from Ecma TC45 and DIS 29500 [Note: OOXML standard group]”. (Google it – the guy doesn’t need more linkjuice from me).
Having been on the board when this issue came up, and agreeing wholeheartedly with the idea of joining the group, I’d like to explain why.
Actually, I’ll just let Jody Goldberg (our representative on the group) explain:
There are two truths that need to be accepted:
- ODF is an excellent start for OO.o’s file format, but it is not perfect and will never be ‘the one true office format’ for all office applications without destroying it’s utility by diluting it with so much random cruft that no implementation would be complete, and interoperability would suffer.
- OOX is a file format that is in use, and we will have to interact with it. The opportunity to improve the spec and have MS answer questions and clarify necessary details should not be wasted.
The Foundation board decided to join ECMA (as a non-voting member) to participate in ECMA376/TC45. We did this not to show support for the standard, but to improve it. Whether we like it or not, this is going to be the dominant standard for office documents for the coming years (Microsoft’s dominant monopoly of the market has taken care of that) and to satisfy our users and remain relevant, we’re going to have to be able to read & write office documents in that format.
It’s much easier to do that when we have a say in the standard, and can request extra information when we need it.
And decisions are made by those who turn up.