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Subject: Re: [opendocument-users] simple OO.org document goes awry in MS Office 2007 w/SP2 - what went wrong?

On Wed, Jun 17, 2009 at 6:18 AM, Jan Wildeboer<jwildebo@redhat.com> wrote:
> Marbux,
> Polemics aside - the Plugfest idea is not unique. Look up "NFS
> Connectathon".
> Interoperability is not a given thing. It needs work, communication and
> support.
> The standard will never answer all questions. And if it would, it wouldn't
> help innovation.
> It's a delicate balance. It is not black and white.

I would have no issues with having plugfests if any mechanisms had
been established for ensuring that the knowledge gained from the
plugfests made its way into spec improvements and the  ODF TC had work
items on its agenda for specifying the conformity requirements that
are essential to achieve interoperability in ODF 1.2, ODF 1.1.and IS
26300. But we have no such mechanisms and those work items don't

OASIS ODF 1.0 has 7,415 mandatory requirements, nearly all of them
interoperability requirements. IS 26300 has 207 and all mention of
interoperability was stripped from it. ODF 1.1 has 224 requirements,
and ODF 1.2 committee draft 1 has 272. (Stats I developed.)  If you
check the OIC TC Charter that Rob drafted, he's so desperate for
something to base conformance on that one deliverable is "A conformity
assessment methodology specification, detailing how each provision
*and recommendation* in the ODF standard may be tested for
conformance." <http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/oic/charter.php>.
But recommendations have nothing whatsoever to do with conformance.

Against the 272 mandatory requirements in ODF 1.2 CD 1, we have ~
3,915 options and recommendations, each masking a hard-coded "shall"
or "shall not" programming decision in the full featured
implementations. One might as well say that we have ~ 3.915 interop

In short, we have what is a standard in name only. I recommend reading
Dave Pawson's just-published article on his experience in reviewing
the ODF 1.1 spec for testability.
<http://www.dpawson.co.uk/nodesets/entries/090612.html>. It's a very
grim report.

Best regards,

Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux).

Here's a suggestion I made on the office-comment list, quoted from Rob's reply:

"A parliamentary procedure suggestion:

"If a formal proposal is made to produce one core conformance class or
profile in ODF 1.2 that fully complies with the JTC 1 Directives
requirement of specifying "clearly and unambiguously the conformity
requirements essential to achieve the interoperability" and there is
an up or down vote on whether to do it, the naysayers will be fairly
shrieking for pressure from customers and government competition

<http://tinyurl.com/l8fp5w>. Rob's reply was:

"As a practical matter, if I phrased a question in that way, most
members would likely abstain.  Since JTC1 Directives are far from
unambiguous in this and other areas, and the topic clearly has policy
and legal implications that is out of depth for the average technical
contributor to the TC, including myself, a large percentage of
abstentions and a lack of decision would be the natural outcome.  We
need to break it down and swallow the elephant 'one bite at a time'."

And of course Rob thereby refused even to put it to a vote on a TC
goal of complying with one of the three Common Strategic
Chracteristics all JTC 1 IT standards *must* exhibit absent the
express consent of the Secretaries-General of ISO and IEC. See Annex
I, <http://isotc.iso.org/livelink/livelink/fetch/2000/2489/186491/186605/AnnexI.html>
(requirement) and section 1
(mandatory absent the consent of the Secretaries-General of ISO and

There is no relevant agenda item; there is no relevant work plan,
there is no relevant effort. The ODF TC is indifferent to
interoperability and it's been that way from the beginning. And that
ain't polemic; it's fact.

It really took the cake when Rob began pushing to use OpenOffice.org
as the reference implementation to substitute for fixing the spec. One
might get a glimmer of what's wrong with that if one imagines that
Microsoft had said that MS Office should be the reference
implementation for OOXML rather than honoring all those pesky demands
for a full specification.

As a software user, I don't see vendor lock-in as being any less evil
because it's IBM and Sun applying the lock rather than Microsoft.
Lock-in used to be done using moving interop target and trade secret
binary formats. In the plain text XML era, the substitute lock-in tool
is grossly under-specified standards.

I see it as highly problematic that IBM wants to keep the ODF
specification dark and mysterious. Let's have ODF Plugfests instead of
fixing the spec! That's the new IBM excuse for keeping the
specification dark and mysterious.

Universal Interoperability Council

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