Lodahl's blog: Behind or ahead

06 May 2008

Behind or ahead

Clarifying versions:

OpenOffice.org 2.0 - 2.3.1ODF 1.0Approved by ISO
OpenOffice.org 2.4ODF 1.1Has not submitted to ISO for approval
OpenOffice.org 3.0 (upcomming) - ?ODF 1.2Under development

The problem with Alex Browns validation test (http://www.griffinbrown.co.uk/blog/PermaLink.aspx?guid=f0384bed-808b-49a8-8887-ea7cde5caace) is, that he is using a document from OpenOffice.org 2.4 and validates it against the ISO-approved standard. Jesper Lund Stocholm claims (http://idippedut.dk/post/2008/04/Conformance-of-ODF-documents.aspx) that he has created some documents with various versions of OpenOffice.org that doens't validates correctly. From my knowledge, Jesper hasn't put any documentation to support witch validation method he used nor put forward the bespoken documents. He has not even told us the seriousness (number of errors) of the 'variations'.

ODF file format is maintained by a technical committee under OASIS (http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=office). Members of the committee are developers and managers from Sun Microsystems, IBM and many other companies (http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/membership.php?wg_abbrev=office) and it is in fact OpenOffice.org and StarOffice, that is 'pulling' the development, because OpenOffice.org happens to be the project ahead in development. OpenOffice.org comes with about four releases each year. A standard specification is not work from an office desk, but experience from real world development. Therefore the technical development will be a little bit ahead of the specification work and approval. Thats how standard specifications are developed.

When the specification is ready from OASIS, it can be submitted to ISO for approval. One important condition for ISO approval is "multiple implementations". It's a question about the hen and the egg. The specification can't be approved if it hasn't been implemented and now we are been criticized for implementing it before it's approved. That doesn't make sense.

Both the standard and the programs are simultaneously developed over time. The question is, if we should make a choice in the program, that makes it possible to 'Save as...' ODF 1.0. This is of cause possible but not that simple. But should we develop OpenOffice.org according to what the users need or what the politicians need ? Probably both. But an extra 'Save as' option could do more harm than good, because it would confuse users. Nevertheless, this problem will be taken care of in OpenOffice.org 3.0. Another problem is, that higher ODF versions contains much more information and is of better quality. There is no need to use any ODF versions lower than the latest, except of cause, the ISO stamp.

So what's the difference between Microsoft/OOXML and OpenOffice.org/ODF ?
The difference is, that Microsoft Office is behind OOXML. OpenOffice.org is ahead of ODF. According to the ISO rules, a specification can only be approved as an ISO-standard, unless it has been implemented.


Anonymous said...

Your explanation of "Behind or ahead" is very cool. I think you should include it as a comment in Alex,s blog.
The Swede.

Anonymous said...

The ISO stamp means interoperability. Do not dismiss it so easily, you're playing in the MS OOXML camp hands.

Anonymous said...

You wrote ...
According to the ISO rules, a specification can only be approved as an ISO-standard, unless it has been implemented.
I think your phrasing may be a little
bit off. Did you mean ...
can only be approved ... if implemented
or perhaps
cannot be approved ... unless implemented

vexorian said...

Brown's argument was pretty much non-sense anyway, oOO is not the only program that implements ODF.

Leif Lodahl said...

Anonymous said:
I think your phrasing may be a little bit off.

Thanks a lot for your comment. I'm sure you're right. Sorry about these small linguistic mistakes. I'm not native English.

Anonymous said...

> One important condition for ISO approval
> is "multiple implementations".

That statement it totally incorrect. The existence (or not) of implementations has no formal bearing on the process.

If OOo eschews ISO/IEC standards, it gets taken off the list of those who are procuring systems which need to support International standards. Which would be a pity.

- Alex Brown.