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OpenDocument Foundation To Drop ODF 325

Posted by kdawson
from the microsoft-cheering-from-the-sidelines dept.
poet sends us to Computerworld for a story on the intention of the OpenDocument Foundation to drop support for Open Document Format, OASIS and ISO standards not withstanding, in favor of the Compound Documents Format being promoted by the W3C. The foundation's director of business affairs, Sam Hiser, dropped this bomb in a blog posting a couple of weeks ago. Hiser believes CDF has a better shot at compatibility with Microsoft's OOXML, and says that the foundation has been disappointed with the direction of ODF over the last year.
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OpenDocument Foundation To Drop ODF

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  • questions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @04:47PM (#21177025) Homepage Journal
    The first place I saw this was LinuxToday which linked to this cnet article on the matter [news.com] and I've done some digging since and I've got a few questions. Maybe someone here will know.

    Is there a difference between Compound Document Formats and the Compound Document Framework. Are the formats implementations of the framework and if so are they supporting a chosen format or the entire framework?

    Do any existing office suites support this framework/format?
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @04:55PM (#21177133) Homepage Journal
    is it April 1st?
    Is this posted on theonion?
    is taco drunk in charge of a keyboard?
    has darl got a new job?

    How much has ballmer paid to give such a turnaround?
  • by eer (526805) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @04:56PM (#21177147)
    Looking forward to reading her reaction on Groklaw...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @05:00PM (#21177197)
    This is why having "boards" and "foundations" and "working groups" equals death for free software. They get bogged down, undermined and subverted by politics and beaurocracy.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @05:03PM (#21177229) Homepage Journal

    compatibility with Microsoft's OOXML
    what the f**k does that mean ? we are trying to make ODF THE format, we dont care about what ms is pushing or its compatibility. ms should try to make whatever they have compatible with it. they have forced enough stuff to the i.t. world already, its time they adapt their ways to what majority wants.
  • by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @05:15PM (#21177375) Homepage

    Among ODF's weaknesses is its provenance from a specific application and the unwillingness of its originators to release it into the Bazaar. Merchants of irony will note this is the identical problem that paralyzes the incumbent gorilla's format.


    Some will find this confusing until you see the Open Document Foundation's Slogan: Achieving Universal Interoperatability through Open Formats. I think it's dumb that they are trying to create a format that will magically work with all systems instead of pushing all of the systems to work with one format.
  • unacceptable (Score:4, Interesting)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @05:40PM (#21177601)
    ODF an ISO and ECMA standard, and a lot of people have fought hard for both the standard and its adoption. For anybody in the ODF camp to abandon it at this point is unacceptable; any political or technical problems with ODF should have been resolved before

    People complain about "the unwillingness of its originators to release it into the Bazaar". Excuse me, it's an ISO and ECMA standard. There should be "nothing to release", this standard should be cast in stone for at least half a decade. If extensions are needed, there should be an extension mechanism (which, I believe, XML namespaces provide).

    And what is supposed to replace it? A non-existent W3C standard? Heck, the W3C hasn't even been able to replace HTML with XHTML; the notion that they can replace ODF/OOXML with CDF any time soon is laughable.

    Of course, something like CDF is going to happen eventually; but the proper way of introducing it would have been to emphasize ODF as the near term solution and use it as a bargaining chip to get Microsoft to settle on CDF in the long term. What is going to happen now is that Microsoft is just going to declare OOXML the winner and point at ODF/CDF as another example of how open source and open standards are unstable and can't be trusted.

    The ODF is handing Microsoft's OOXML victory on a silver platter. How much did Microsoft buy you all off for?
  • by oldosadmin (759103) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @05:44PM (#21177645) Homepage
    As one of the founding members of the OpenDocument Fellowship http://opendocumentfellowship.com/ (although I no longer consider myself a member due to time constraints), I can say that in every effort made to get a real community going with ODF/OO.org there was always a pushback from Sun, and it's really sad to see. I don't think Sam is right that CDF is the answer, but I do think that his comments about Sun not caring about ODF are probably very true.

    OpenDocument is an already vetted ISO format. Why should we return to the back of the line now? We have our format, it's approved, and has support in many applications. No need to start bickering between ourselves when we're already fighting a lot of the corporate proprietary software makers.
  • by mmurphy000 (556983) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @05:48PM (#21177683)

    Blame Sun for this. With a few small additions, ODF could have supported Office formats as well, but Sun would not allow this. Their policy is that ODF will support what is needed for StarOffice, and nothing more. They control the ODF technical committee, and their patent license allows them to stop the ODF TC if the ODF TC goes in a direction Sun does not like.

    Citations, please. If you're going to lob grenades like this, you owe it to your readers to offer proof of these accusations. I'm not saying you're wrong — I can see some factions within Sun taking this approach — but it'd be nice if you offered some proof.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:28PM (#21178065) Journal
    Hiser acknowledged that ODF supporters are angry with the foundation because of its change of heart.

    Indeed, Andrew Updegrove, a partner at Boston-based law firm Gesmer Updegrove LLP and a vocal supporter of ODF, criticized the OpenDocument Foundation in an e-mail on Monday.

    "It's a shame," he wrote, "that a group that was expressly formed for the purpose of supporting ODF is now actively working against the standard -- especially given the fact that its tax exemption is based upon supporting that same standard."


    What I want to know is, why is this not fraudulent? Sounds like someone forming a non-profit-anti-smoking group, accepting donations and not paying taxes, then speaking on behalf of cigarette companies with the funds collected. Will this organization not at the least be forced to dissolve? What happens to their legal status?
  • by iabervon (1971) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:29PM (#21178077) Homepage Journal
    The key point is that, with ODF v1.2, which is in progress as a further ISO specification, ISO wants the format to be able to handle conversion of all of the world's existing legacy documents. Some of these documents only make sense based on errors in the legacy applications that were used to generate them, and getting actually correct calculation would destroy the comprehensibility of the documents. For example, if a spreadsheet has a calculation error, and this error leads to the final results being different, and the spreadsheet is part of a document justifying taking a particular action based on the result, understanding the document depends on being able to see the calculation that the author saw, and not the correct calculation, which would be incoherent. Current ODF is fine for making correct decisions going forward, but it is inadaquate to understanding past mistakes. And it means that, if you use a broken old program like Excel 2007 to prepare your taxes, and you convert it to ODF and send it in, the ODF document will contain no clues as to why you're trying to pay a different amount from the total given at the end, because the information that the math is broken in the source in a particular way is not representable in ODF.

    Furthermore, the OASIS committee responsible for developing ODF has broken down entirely, at least in Sam Hiser's view, over the issue of how this should be handled, with Sun ignoring the need entirely, while the OpenDocument Foundation, trying to go forward in ISO, insists on having something get done.

    As far as I can tell, CDF is actually totally irrelevant to this whole thing, except that it's from the W3C, which is simply not the OASIS ODF TC, and hasn't broken down. CDF is essentially the concept "do the obvious XML thing for putting compound documents together". It doesn't specify the format of any component office documents, except for SVG for figures (it specifies a bunch of other formats for particular purposes, but nothing interesting or different). The main benefit of CDF seems to be that the group doesn't have the level of bad blood that there is over at OASIS, so there's a chance of producing some specification for the next version.

    On the other hand, it's hard to corroborate any of this with any evidence outside of Sam Hiser.
  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hooya (518216) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @06:42PM (#21178197) Homepage
    > On the other hand, completely ignoring Microsoft formats isn't essentially suicide, it is suicide. Microsoft exists, and dominates the office application market, pretending it doesn't exist and that you can 'do your own thing' without taking it into account is utterly stupid.

    Quick, somebody tell Linus and RMS that MS dominates the OS market as well and they really shouldn't try to roll their own.

    That aside, I do understand where you're coming from. We do *lots* of document generation. I mean 100,000+ in a given week. We use XML/XSLT to target PDF, ODF, OOXML and what have you. OOXML is a *major* pain compared to ODF. While we did implement the necessary software to support OOXML due to market situation, I do hope that ODF displaces OOXML. If ODF attains more 'compatibility' with OOXML, what's the point? We have OOXML now. We don't need ODF to become OOXML. We need it to replace it. If ODF becomes the defacto standard by *becoming* OOXML, that'll be a sad day for us.
  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysav@gmail.cYEATSom minus poet> on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:18PM (#21178461) Journal
    My GF sent me an email the other day with an attached word document with the tag that it was "amazing".

    I tried to open it in OO on linux and got a blank screen.

      So I boot to Windows and open it in Word

    Seems that it is simply a Flash animation embedded in a Word document, which gives rise to two questions;

    1) Why the hell would somebody embed a flash animation in a fricking word document?

    2) Why in the name of all that is holy is Word even capable of rendering Flash?

    It is no fricking wonder that the MS Windows+Office platform is such a successful malware attractant when all their apps are capable of doing completely inapproriate things with inappropiate data.

    It beggars belief.
  • Re:questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrsmiggs (1013037) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:28PM (#21178503)
    The software companies that support ODF might have set out to dethrone Microsoft, however the goal of a standard and the awarding body is not to dethrone Microsft but to have the format widely used. This would force Microsoft to have include compatibility in their programs.

    What the OpenDocument Foundation should be promoting is compatibility of programs like Open Office with OOXML and also Microsoft Office with ODF. They need to prompt the ironing out of issues with OOXML so it can become a well defined standard, introducing a 3rd standard into the mix doesn't sound very constructive to me. It'll just cause far more work for the developers of applications, who at the end of the day provide the ability to convert between doc, docx, odf, pdf, wpf or whatever else you've got stashed away.

  • by oldosadmin (759103) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @07:39PM (#21178559) Homepage
    501c3 Foundations under US law cannot lobby the government. The Fellowship was created with the idea of promoting ODF to everyone -- including governments, so we chose to not go the foundation route, and some other people made up the foundation.
  • by Torodung (31985) on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @09:41PM (#21179343) Journal
    This is a textbook violation of trademark. If they don't sue at this point, they will lose control of the name "Open Document Format" itself. "Office Open XML" was pushing it, this is just plain pure trademark violation so some smart-ass Microsoft executive can claim that "the Open Document Foundation has abandoned the Open Document format."

    It's also probably defamation, and if there is a money trail between the Foundation and Microsoft, there are damages to be had.

    It's time to serve some papers. If anyone works with the organization, forward their legal department a copy of the article with a brief reminder that trademark violations must be defended, or you lose your trademark.

    --
    Toro
  • by WebMink (258041) <slashdot@[ ]mink.net ['web' in gap]> on Tuesday October 30, 2007 @10:47PM (#21179697) Homepage

    Blame Sun for this.

    Sounds like a populist position, or maybe troll flamebait. I'll be generous and assume the former, despite the fact your post seems like a digest from an anti-ODF briefing paper. Disclosure: My job [sun.com] includes the task of receiving complaints about Sun and trying to get Sun to fix whatever causes the problem. If you have proof of any of your accusations, let me know. I may have some of my facts wrong below as I'm working from memory; I'd welcome correction.

    With a few small additions, ODF could have supported Office formats as well, but Sun would not allow this.

    That is indeed the constant assertion that the three guys who comprise the Foundation make. However, I have personally asked members of the ODF working group at OASIS and they tell me its not so.

    • The Foundation guys wanted to add structures to ODF to preserve untranslateable tags in translated documents so they could be regenerated on the reverse translation. Sounds OK at first glance, but in practice it results in very brittle software solutions that work well in demos but not in real life.
    • The proposal was thus rejected by the whole working group (not just the Sun employees).
    • Rejected, that is, in conversation. A complete solution was never proposed for voting.
    • To say Sun would not allow it ignores the actual dynamic of the working group (see below).

    Their policy is that ODF will support what is needed for StarOffice, and nothing more.

    Naturally every member of a standards group in the traditional standards process is looking out for the code base where they implement a standard, and will have serious questions of any feature that they regard as unimplementable. The features actually put to a vote by the guys from the Foundation would have resulted in very brittle implementations, highly dependent on the version of MS Office with which they were coupled. It may have been possible to come up with a solution that reduced this problem, but the discussion was not sustained. The assertion you make is not true in the general case.

    They control the ODF technical committee

    Untrue. The ODF TC [oasis-open.org] can have no more than three members from any one organisation and is not under the control of any organisation. The Foundation guys actually flaunted that rule at one point and sent many, many more representatives - OASIS had to step in to fix it. That intervention is one of the issues they have with OASIS, in fact. Sun happens to employ the people who act as Chair and Secretary to the TC but the voting remains democratic.

    and their patent license allows them to stop the ODF TC if the ODF TC goes in a direction Sun does not like.

    I've heard that interpretation of the patent non-assert covenant [oasis-open.org] that Sun has made regarding ODF, but it's untrue. Sun covenants not to enforce any patents against ODF implementations based on any spec it participates in. To the extent that versions of the spec after Sun's departure are based on version in which Sun was involved, that covenant remains in effect even in the unlikely event of Sun leaving the TC. Sun can't stop the TC from continuing its work.

    Are you relaying this all as hearsay, or do you actually have data to back up your accusations? If you have, I'd like to see it (genuinely).

  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @02:54AM (#21180745)
    Yeah, totally totally true. Office 2007 makes no sense at all as a strategic move. It is totally different from what people are already able to use, even if it is somehow better (just seems overly simplified to me).

    I wonder what the hell has been going on with Vista and Office 2007. Not that MS has ever been brilliant about these things, just the monopoly.


    Microsoft is in the process of pulling off a in your face, quiet revolution.

    A key element of both Vista and Office 2007 is the paradigm of moving the GUI away from sins of the past.

    The first and biggest problem with old UI concepts was Menus. They were a fast solution to a big problem. Menus are by nature not a 'graphic' UI element, even though they are synonymous with GUIs today.

    If you are using Menus, you are in effect having to memorize a list of commands, and their location. Memorizing lists of words is one of the things GUIs were supposed to remove, and failed.

    (Look at the Help Search in Leopard, it is specifically designed to search for Menu Items in applications because even Apple understands Menus are still not the ideal GUI solution.)

    Vista and Office 2007 (more noticeable on Office 2007) virtually removed all menus, with the exception of single list contextual menus, and they will be replaced at some point as well.

    Microsoft is 'slowly' using their UI research to bring new GUI concepts that are long overdue to the Graphic environment.

    What the non-Microsoft world seems to overlook is how far they will take this, and how MS could leapfrog both Apple and the current OSS world if people stop paying attention or discount what Microsoft is doing. This is how it is a 'quiet' revolution, as most people don't get the 'bigger picture' of what Microsoft is slowly moving towards.

    If you take Office 2007, Vista, and especially the framework constructs of WPF/Silverlight, notice where they are heading, as the WPF aspects are designed specifically for implementing new UI concepts in new ways. Microsoft plans on bringing the results of their GUI research this to their customers now that they have the frameworks/platform to do it.

    So the next time you read an article by a 'tech' person giving Office 2007 or Vista bad marks for something like 'removing' UI Menus, realize the 'tech' person doesn't get it and MS is pulling one over on them even.
  • Re:questions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @09:39AM (#21183689)

    They need to prompt the ironing out of issues with OOXML so it can become a well defined standard, introducing a 3rd standard into the mix doesn't sound very constructive to me.

    I hate to break it to you, but introducing a second [faux] standard into the mix, i.e., OOXML, makes no sense either!

    ODF already exists and is an ISO standard. Any other competing document formats, including OOXML, CDF, Apple's proprietary iWork formats, etc. have no reason to exist except for the selfish benefit of the companies that might promote them. Period.

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