In response to my recent post entitled ODF vs. OOXML on Wikipedia one of my readers pointed out
Well, many of Weir's points are not about OOXML being a "second", and therefore unnecessary, standard. Many of them, I think, are about how crappy the standard actually is.
Since I don't regularly read Rob Weir's blog this was interesting to me. I wondered why someone who identifies himself as working for IBM on various ODF technical topics would be spending a lot of his time attacking a related standard as opposed to talking about the technology he worked. I assumed my reader was mistaken and decided to subscribe to his feed and see how many of his recent posts were about OOXML. Below is a screenshot of what his feed looks like when I subscribed to it in RSS Bandit a few minutes ago
Of his 24 most recent posts, 16 of them are explicitly about OOXML while 7 of them are about ODF.
Interesting. I wonder why a senior technical guy at IBM is spending more time attacking a technology whose proponents have claimed is not competitive with it instead of talking about the technology he works on? Reading the blogs of Microsoft folks like Raymond Chen, Jensen Harris or Brian Jones you don't see them dedicating two thirds of their blog postings to bash rival products or technologies.
From my perspective as an outsider in this debate it seems to me that OOXML is an overspecified description of an open XML document format that is backwards compatible with the billions of documents produced in Microsoft Office formats over the past decade. On the other hand, ODF is an open XML document format that aims to be a generic format for storing business documents that isn't tied to any one product which still needs some work to do in beefing up the specification in certain areas if interoperability is key.
In an ideal world both of these efforts would be trying to learn from each other. However it seems that for whatever reasons IBM has decided that it would rather that Microsoft failed at its attempt to open up the XML formats behind the most popular office productivity software in the world. How this is a good thing for Microsoft's customers or IBM's is lost on me.
Having a family member who is in politics, I've learned that whenever you see what seems like a religious fundamentalism there usually is a quest for money and/or power behind it. Reading articles such as Reader Beware as ODF News Coverage Increases it seems clear that IBM has a lot of money riding on being first to market with ODF-enabled products while simultaneously encouraging governments to only mandate ODF. The fly in the ointment is that the requirement of most governments is that the document format is open, not that it is ODF. Which explains IBM's unfortunate FUD campaign.
Usually, I wouldn't care about something like this since this is Big Business and Politics 101, but there was something that Rick Jellife wrote in his post An interesting offer: get paid to contribute to Wikipedia which is excerpted below
So I think there are distinguishing features for OOXML, and one of the more political issues is do we want to encourage and reward MS for taking the step of opening up their file formats, at last?
The last thing I'd personally hate is for this experience to have soured Microsoft from opening up its technologies so I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring at least this once.
PS: It's pretty impressive that a Google search for "ooxml" pulls up a bunch of negative blog posts and the wikipedia article as the first couple of hits. It seems the folks on the Microsoft Office team need to do some SEO to fix that pronto.