Lodahl's blog: Just a piece of paper ...

28 April 2007

Just a piece of paper ...

Tonight I had a quick look at http://www.robweir.com/blog and I would like to quote:
When an amendment to a Florida State Senate bill was offered that called for a “business case analysis” for the use of open standard document formats (no particular format was called out) Microsoft's lobbyists, the three Men in Black, Will McKinley of Dutko Poole McKinley, Jim Daughton, Jr. and Geoffrey Becker both of Metz, Hauser, Husband & Daughton, swarmed down and zapped it. As one legislative aide put it, “By the time those lobbyists were done talking, it sounded like ODF (Open Document Format, the free and open format used by OpenOffice.org and other free software) was proprietary and the Microsoft format was the open and free one”. Perhaps a document, left by the lobbyists, filled with lies about ODF, had something to do with it? We should be fortunate that Microsoft sent only three lobbyists to handle this, rather than all nine lobbyists who are registered in Florida alone to support Microsoft's legislative activities.
Let's take a loser look at that piece of paper for a few seconds
  • It's not dated
  • It's not signed (not even indicating the origin)
Unfortunately this piece of paper is taken seriously in the debate. Lets have another look at the content.
Many more languages can be saved i Open XML than in ODF;
Says who ?
The truth is, that only the languages supported by Microsoft can be saved. ODF is an open standard. Developed by people that believes in the principles behind open source. Any language (any language at all) can use it. Why ? Because it's open.
Open XML supports technologies that help computer users with disabilities;
Says who ?
Technologies that help disabled people has absolutely nothing to do with document standards. There might be some differences in how the applications work. But thats another story.
Open XML includes financial formulas for spreadsheets that ODF lacks;
Says who ?
It's true that Microsoft Excel has more formulas that OpenOffice.org Calc. Some of these formulas is caused by old faults and mistakes in Excel and because of so called legacy reasons they are submitted as a part of the standard.

Btw: ODF is working on an update to ODF. In this new version you will find several new formulas. These formulas was developed in an open and free community.
Open XML works with data customized for specific purposes - e.g., healthcare records - a function not supported by ODF.
Says Who ?
OK, that's not the right reaction this time. -Sorry.

And so what ?
If you chance the standard it's no longer a standard, is it ? What happens next time we make an upgrade ? (can you recall these questions from meetings with other vendors of proprietary software ?). Btw: Just because the document standard doesn't support customization doesn't mean that the application don't. That's where customization belongs - not in the data.
Open XML provides better backward compatibility with older documents that ODF.
Says who ?
According to http://www.robweir.com/blog there are several problems with backward compatibility is you use OOXML. Besides the compatibility problem really shows the problem in a nutshell: We are all court in the Microsoft dominance and that is exactly what we want to get away from. We want freedom.

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