Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


Some more on OpenXML

Migual de Icaza wrote a lengthy article on the Open Document Format vs. OpenXML discussion. One of his points is that the size of the OpenXML specification is not a problem, because ODF lacks essential parts in the specification of the spreadsheet document format, which makes it impossible to implement a spreadsheet solely based on the ODF specification (the specification on formulas is missing). OpenXML will probably by sufficient to implement an office application ‘from scratch’. I think this is a reasonable observation, and therefor I think the OpenXML specification isn’t that bad after all. Another point he makes is that first everybody was complaining about the fact that MS did not disclose the specification of its file formats, and now the company does, people are complaining it is ‘too much’. De Icaza: “If anything, if I was trying to interoperate with Microsoft products, I would request more, not less.”. I think he has more knowledge about these issues than I have, because he was one of the developers on the Gnumeric spreadsheet, which was one of the first non-Microsoft applications fully compatible with Microsoft Excel’s document format.
Another issue he mentions is that ODF is not perfect, and that a standardization of OpenXML is not a real problem for the success of open source software. He points out that open standards in general are a Good Thing and that has that point as clear advantage over Microsoft Office (which uses closed standards until the release of Office 2007). This made it a little bit easier to get governmental organizations using instead of MS Office. Now that this advantage is not there anymore, open source software should compete on technical grounds instead of political grounds.

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