The Contradictory Nature of OOXML (Part II)
February 10, 2007 Leave a comment
[Ongoing coverage of this story] Andy continues his excellent coverage of the OOXML ISO process. From his post:
In that first blog entry, I concluded that Microsoft had won the first point in the contest over whether its document format would become a global standard or not. With the deadline past, who would be found to have won the next?
Well the results are in, and an unprecedented nineteen* countries have responded during the contradictions phase – most or all lodging formal contradictions with Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC), the ISO/IEC body that is managing the Fast Track process under which OOXML (now Ecma 376) has been submitted. This may not only be the largest number of countries that have ever submitted contradictions in the ISO/IEC process, but nineteen responses is greater than the total number of national bodies that often bother to vote on a proposed standard at all.
[*Update: make that twenty]
When it is recalled that any national body responding would first have had to wade through the entire 6,039 pages of the specification itself, and then compose, debate and approve its response in only 30 days, this result is nothing less than astonishing. Truly, I think that this demonstrates the degree to which the world has come to appreciate the importance of ensuring the long-term accessibility of its historical record, as well as the inadvisability of entrusting that heritage to a single vendor or software program.
There is further coverage of what actually constitutes a “contradiction” here. I'd say this level of response, especially in such a short time frame, is quite telling. It remains to be seen how Microsoft will respond, but the writing is on the wall. World Governments have learned that being beholden to a single vendor is just bad practice. Additional information on the numbers and what they mean.
In related news:
But while this global drama has been playing out, I've learned that a third US state is considering requiring use of open document formats by government agencies (Massachusetts and Minnesota are the other two to date). That state is Texas, where a bill has been introduced to require that only “open document formats” should be permitted. The bill is designated SB 446, and was filed on February 5 (the full text is reproduced at the end of this blog entry).
How does the Texas bill define an open document format? As stated in the bill, such a format would need to be based upon Extensible Markup Language, would need to have been previously approved, and would be required to meet the following criteria:
(1) interoperable among diverse internal and external platforms and applications;
(2) published without restrictions or royalties;
(3) fully and independently implemented by multiple software providers on multiple platforms without any intellectual property reservations for necessary technology; and
(4) controlled by an open industry organization with a well-defined inclusive process for evolution of the standard.
While a couple of those requirements are a bit nebulous, number 3 is not and would currently be a death knell for OOXML. We'll have to follow this bill and see how it does as it makes its way through the process. It should also be interesting to see if any additional states follow the lead of these three.
OOXML, ODF, ISO