Bob Sutor and Rob Weir (both of IBM) have been been whacking away at the standards lipstick being painted on the Microsoft Office Internal Data Structure XML Dump pig. Oops, officially, that’s “ECMA Office Open XML”. In A Leap Back Rob describes Excel’s well-known date-representation bug being encoded in an alleged International Standard. Then again in A bit about the bit with the bits, he talks about bitmasks and offal (really). But it’s Bob’s point, in Is Open XML a one way specification for most people?, that’s central: this is just a six-thousand-page data dump describing a particular XML serialization of a particular commercial application’s object model, completely oblivious to the universe of publishing-related standards that have been hammered out and put to work while MSOffice was being tended in Redmond. You can write “STANDARD” on it in letters as big as you want, but there will only ever be one full implementation, and if you standardize on this standard you’ve locked yourself in. Shame, shame on the other companies on the committee, helping Microsoft perpetuate this travesty. There’s just no excuse.


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From: Robert Sayre (Oct 16 2006, at 22:26)

IBM and Sun have both produced similar "standards". Why, it's "like those Hemp people who present their arguments in terms of their deep and abiding care for the textile industry, when their real motives are... something else entirely"

When Microsoft does it, it's effective. So that is a difference.


From: assaf (Oct 16 2006, at 23:23)

Would we have this problem is there was a standard for standards?

For example, that there need to be at least two interoperable implementations in existence. The a majority of vendors intend to comply with all the critical features. That there's a benchmark for compliance by which we can judge that.


From: Ian Bicking (Oct 17 2006, at 11:02)

What, they aren't writing reference implementation?

Anyway, it does mean that the format will be fully documented. This is hardly the same as what they are claiming, but it is something.


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