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

On Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 12:04 AM, Charles-H.
Schulz<charles-h.schulz@arsaperta.com> wrote:

> Next time we should have it in the U.S. then, and I hope you will show us
> your plans about an ODF implementation  you like.
> But please: this rant about not having travel budget is credible, but we
> cannot satisfy everyone at once. It's important that such events take place,
> and I would appreciate if you could  be a tad more supportive of the amount
> of work that was put in organizing this.

I said earlier that I would have no objections to plugfests if there
were mechanisms in place to translate the knowledge gained back into
spec improvement and if the ODF TC actually had a work item on its
agenda to specify the conformity requirements that are essential to
achieve the interoperability.

But neither condition is true. Specifying the interoperability
conformity requirements has been postponed in every version of ODF as
though it were some sort of optional thing, a feature if you will,
that doesn't need to be dealt with rather than being the minimum legal
requirement for all IT standards that it is. But the ODF TC has been
all about whizzy new features and more options rather than interop,
about successive versions of the standard that don't specify what's
needed to implement rather than improving a single standard in regard
to interop.

If IBM were not pushing plugfests and the use of the OpenOffice.org
code base as a reference implementation as an excuse for not fixing
the spec, I would be far more kindly disposed to plugfests.

But the sad truth is that ODF is a standard in name only and its use
of the word "open" in its title makes a mockery of the term "open
standard." It should instead be titled, "Data Gap Standard." Do you
have any concept what it means that to achieve interoperability via
ODF, everyone I exchange documents with must use the same app and
version? That means "vendor lock-in" by any definition I've

Charles, the last time I used a word processor that had open
standard-based competing and interoperable implementations was in
1970. You'll find a picture of it here.
<http://www.gochipmunk.com/html/teletypeperforator2.html>.      That
was during the "embrace" phase of IBM and Compugraphic's first
commercially successful word processors that embraced the
Teletypsetter telegraphy code first introduced in 1928 and used
throughout the North American daily newspaper industry. But almost
immediately thereafter, we got "extended" TTS that translated the
500-year-old typgrapher's handwritten "markup language" into code by
adding a third code page to the TTS character set. Except that every
computer manufacturer used different codes in the third code page.

Thus began the Tower of Babel-like torrent of electronic markup
languages that has flowed since. And in all those decades, IBM has not
led us back to an open data format standard with competing and
interoperable implementations. IBM ALWAYS HAS AN EXCUSE FOR NOT FIXING

I'm sorry you fell for IBM's latest excuse, but I did not this time. I
fell once for the IBM disinformation that ODF was an open standard
that has competing and interoperable implementations. Unfortunately, I
put my name and reputation behind IBM's ODF Interop Myth without
checking what I had been told about ODF first. E.g.:

"The merits of ODF have already been established by its wide industry
adoption. As noted above, numerous PPA vendors have implemented
support for it in their products both on Windows and on other
operating systems. Such widespread adoption is only possible because
ODF is fully disclosed and created to allow for document
interoperability by making it easy for various applications to
exchange documents with full fidelity, i.e., without any loss of data
or formatting of the document."

European Committee for Interoperable Systems, "Open Document Formats
As An Enabler of Interoperability: Comparison of the Oasis
Opendocument Format and Microsoft Office Open XML" (undated but file
stamped July 2, 2007), pg. 2, formerly available at
<http://www.ecis.eu/inter/documents/ECIS_ODF_OOXML_comparison.pdf> and
at http://osacademy.hosting.amaze.nl:8060/repository/resources/white-papers/ecis_paper_on_odf_ooxml_final.pdf/view.
(ECIS members include IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Oracle.

"... Interoperability is the goal to deliver better goods, services
and intelligent data. This gives businesses choice rather than one
proprietary solution. ...

"Small and medium sized businesses will benefit tremendously from open
standards such as the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Web-based
applications. Information will be more easily shared among computing
systems, such as desktop, laptop, portable devices, or the data
center, without single choice propriety operating systems and
application roadblocks."

Bob Sutor, Open for Business, Express Computer (24 December 2007),
(last visited July 16, 2008).

"So a document called, say, 'standard.odt' can be produced with
OpenOffice, I put in my comments using Lotus Symphony, my colleagues
from partner companies use StarOffice or Google Docs or whatever for
inserting their comments.

"In other words: the document formats are .odt, .odp, and .ods. So a
document called, say, 'standard.odt' can be produced with OpenOffice,
I put in my comments using Lotus Symphony, my colleagues from partner
companies use StarOffice or Google Docs or whatever for inserting
their comments. Nobody is forced to buy one single, specific software.
Everyone can use what they like best, what they prefer in terms of
look and feel."

Jochen Friedrich, Standards bodies should use standards, Jochen
Friedrich's Open Blog,
(9 December 2008). (Note in sidebar: "I work with IBM and am part of
IBM's corporate standards team.")

"The major benefit of open standards is interoperability. Open
standards facilitate and ensure interoperability. Interoperability is
essential for future ICT ecosystems in a networked global environment
with an increasing need for machine-to-machine connectivity: my
software needs to talk to your software; my process needs to interact
with your process.


"... ODF has been successfully implemented by a number of vendors and
application developers. Implementations include OpenOffice; Star
Office; Google Docs & Spreadsheets; K-Office; Scribus; Abiword;
ajaxWrite; Zoho Writer; Ichitaro; IBM Lotus/Domino; IBM Workplace;
Mobile Office; Gnumeric; Neo Office; Hancom Office. In other words:
all of these applications use the same standard, ODF; all of them
produce files with the extension .odt for text documents, .ods for
spreadsheets and .odp for presentations; and these files can be
opened, read and edited by either application implementing the ODF
standard. This is interoperability at its best.

"Consequently, customers freely choose the applications based on look
and feel, functionality, cost, or other criteria, without worrying
about purchasing a specific, single-vendor software in order to work
with their documents. ..."

Trond Arne Undheim and Jochen Friedrich, "The Momentum of Open
Standards - a Pragmatic Approach to Software Interoperability," 5
European J. ePractice, pp. 7-8 (31 October 2008),
>http://www.epractice.eu/files/ePractice-Journal-Volume-5.pdf>. Note
that Undheim works for Oracle, Friedrich for IBM.

"It goes an awfully long way that there's a pragmatic, existing
standard, which provides a real incentive for everyone to work with
the standard. One of the biggest priorities we've had, for obvious
reasons, is *maintaining* interoperability. As a result, we intend to
partner with others *to build protocols to maintain high-level
interoperability,* and I'm confident that we can make that work."

Doug Heintzman, IBM and OpenOffice.org: An Interview with IBM's Doug
Heintzman (September 11, 2007),

"If you want true interoperability, you need to implement ODF.
Seriously. Any limitations to interoperability are entirely on
Microsoft's side of the aisle, and the whole world knows it."

Pamela Jones, "What is Wrong with RAND?," Groklaw (17 April 2008),

"It mentions interoperability but ODF does that too."

Pamela Jones, When Would You Use OOXML and When ODF? -- What is OOXML
For?, Groklaw (27 April 2009),

"ODF was created through a multi-year, open committee effort, and was
already implemented in multiple, competing, interoperable products
(both open and proprietary) before it was submitted to ISO/IEC JTC1."

Andy Updegrove, Standards to the People!, Standards Blog (8 April
2008), <http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/comment.php?mode=view&cid=19090>.

"With an open standard, like ODF, I own my document. I choose what
application I use to author that document. But when I send that
document to you, or post it on my web site, I do so knowing that you
have the same right to choose as I had, and you may choose to use a
different application and a different platform than I used. That is
the power of ODF."

Rob Weir, The Battle for ODF Interoperability, An Antic Disposition
(May 17, 2009),

And perhaps most tragically, well-meaning people fall for such tripe
as I did. E.g.,

"The agreement is part of UNESCO’s ongoing effort to improve digital
inclusion globally by partnering with the private sector. Under its
terms, Sun Microsystems and UNESCO will promote the use of open source
technologies, including OpenOffice.org and OpenDocument Format (ODF)
standard, as a low-cost way to improve education with *universal
access to information and knowledge."*

Anon., UNESCO and Sun Microsystems Announce Joint Education and
Community Development Effort Powered by Open Technologies, Sun
Microsystems news release (22 May 2009),

If one were to believe what emanates from IBM, Sun, and their echo
chambers, we need not worry about plugfests or repairing the standard.
We have already achieved ODF interoperability. In the words of ECIS,
"ODF is fully disclosed and created to allow for document
interoperability by making it easy for various applications to
exchange documents with full fidelity, i.e., without any loss of data
or formatting of the document."

No wonder ECIS pulled that document down when I began pointing out
what was wrong with its statement. But IBM and crew, undeterred,
continue to spread the ODF Interop Myth.

Except when it comes to ODF Plugfests and the ODF Plugfest TC.
Suddenly, we have ODF interop problems after all. But no problems with
the spec, we are told. Suddenly, it's all about mistakes developers
made implementing the spec. And anyone who has the temerity to report
a bug in the spec gets painted by IBM and its camp followers as
Microsoft shills and astroturfers.

You can do all the plugfests you want, Charles. But until that spec
meets minimum legal standards, I'm aimed at the spec rather than the

But it's amazing, really, how so many people understood that
under-specification was a major sin in OOXML but refuse to see the
same flaw in ODF. There are standards and double standards. ODF ain't
a standard before it's fully specified.

Best regards,


Universal Interoperability Council

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