Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Microsoft's Open XML Project A Short-Term Fix 94

Posted by Zonk
from the patching-a-sinking-ship dept.
TechPro writes "In an interview with eWeek the managing director of the ODF Alliance (Marino Marcich) was pretty dismissive of Microsoft's Open XML Translator project. While the move was a recognition of the ODF Format's acceptance by government's around the world, the installable software plug-ins that would be created under the project were really 'only a bridge, a stopgap measure that will probably not be acceptable to government's around the world over the long term. Plug-ins simply don't give the benefits of open file formats and standards,' he said."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft's Open XML Project A Short-Term Fix

Comments Filter:
  • by aymanh (892834) on Friday July 07, 2006 @03:28PM (#15679039) Journal
    [...] a stopgap measure that will probably not be acceptable to government's around the world over the long term.
    According to this blog entry at ZDNet [zdnet.com], the author did an interview with MS representatives, and seems like MS doesn't plan to offer technical support for the plugin, and it will forward bug reports to the original authors. This plugin doesn't look different from a 3rd party plugin, so no, I seriously doubt any government will accept it as ODF support in MS Office.

    Quoting the blog entry:
    Microsoft is on the record as saying it will not be offering technical support to end-users for this translator. In fact, as far as I know, no one will officially be offering support (perhaps one of the three companies involved will, for a fee). As said earlier, Microsoft will accept bug reports and forward them on to the project's developers.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday July 07, 2006 @03:44PM (#15679165)
      From TFA:
      Converters and plug-ins are not solutions to the problem as governments across the globe want access to their vital records and data and are looking to separate the document from the application, which plug-in technologies do not do, and which would open the market up to greater innovation and more product and price competition, he said.
      I don't understand the problem. If it's a plug-in, and it reads and writes to the ODF standard, where is the problem?

      The only thing I can think of is if people worry about a Microsoft "upgrade" breaking this plug-in. And then having to wait for the patch to the plug-in.
      The translators would also not be perfect, Jean Paoli, general manager for interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft, told eWEEK, as "OpenXML and ODF are very different formats and some hard decisions are going to have to be made when translating from one format to another, like where we have OpenXML features that are not supported in ODF."
      Excuse me, but, fuck "translating". This isn't about "translating". This is about being able to read ODF files and save your work to the ODF format.

      "Translating" only comes into play when you're talking about:
      a. Converting all your previous work to a new format.

      b. When some people you are communicating with are restricted to the .docX format and you use the ODF format. But that's not a problem if the ODF format is the standard format.

      c. And Microsoft's "Open" XML format will only be available in their NEXT release so it won't affect anyone who is still using their current or a previous release.

      Am I missing something, somewhere?

      Microsoft's claims seem to center around an organization upgrading to the next release of MS Office and then migrating to the ODF format.

      While I see most situations as an organization migrating to the ODF format from an existing installation of MS Office 2000 or previous.
      • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Friday July 07, 2006 @03:55PM (#15679237) Homepage
        The response from the ODF spokesperson was hardly what I would hope to see from an organization that was genuinely seeking to promote an open standard as opposed to being a way to sabotage a competitor.

        If you have a genuine interest in ODF then the Microsoft news should be wellcomed. It will mean that there is a way for Office users to generate documents in a format that can be easily read by applications that comply with the ODF standard. I will probably get the plug in so that I can send editable documents to Linux users.

        The ODF standard is far too new to be considered as a government mandate. UNIX was around for a decade before POSIX was mooted and then there was another decade before there was a requirement to support POSIX.

        If there is a government mandate for a particular format then one would expect that Microsoft would provide a supported version of the plug in. At this point though there is no proven market for ODF and one can hardly expect Microsoft to commit to building the ODF market.

        A much better way to deal with the news would have been to have hailed the step as an endorsement of ODF and glossed over the limited nature of the support on offer. As it is the article does more to highlight the contentious nature of ODF, the belief that Microsoft continues to be hostile to it and the beleif that the whole point of ODF is simply to attack Microsoft.

        That might be an accurate description of the actual situation but that is hardly one that I would want to spend company time encouraging journalists to publicize.

        • If you have a genuine interest in ODF then the Microsoft news should be wellcomed.

          And it is. But like the original poster said, is a source-less, unsupported plugin something that the corporate world is going to use? Probably not.

        • "The ODF standard is far too new to be considered as a government mandate."

          Why? It is a standard. A real standard that is open for all to understand and use. No reason that government shouldn't mandate its use if they feel it is in the best intrest of the public.

          There is a mistrust of Microsoft but that is to be expected. Microsoft has already been convicted multiple times for its anti competitive behavior. It would be foolish to ignore this fact.

          "A much better way to deal with the news would have been
      • You're wrong about the term translation, although it'd probably be more clear if everyone used conversion instead.

        The program, Word for example, has an internal representation of the document that maps (perhaps 1 to 1, but one certainly hopes perfectly) to the native format Microsoft calls Open XML. When you use the plugin to create an ODF document, you will be converting from that native format to ODF. Since the internal representation of the document in Word will not map perfectly to ODF, the docum

        • I can still save an Excel file to .csv with it just asking "you sure you wanna do this?" or something similar, rather than having to use a plugin to export it. Same with XML. Same with lots of other formats. Now MS is making ODF a LESSER format than even .csv, and that's what's wrong with this whole system. It should just be another format you can save to, as a valid file format, period.
      • If it's a plug-in, and it reads and writes to the ODF standard, where is the problem?

        The proprietary binary Microsoft format will still be the default for the application. In the future, when it's impossible to get a legal copy of any application that reads the proprietary format, the plug-in is useless. The government (and everyone, ideally) needs to store documents in a format this is always accessible indefinitely. Open standards like ODF allow for implementation by anyone in the future. Microsoft's
        • Fair point. But as long as you start emailing people .odt files instead of the latest .doc, your files are safe. When the recipients ask why the hell it's something other than .doc, explain that it's a future-resistant open standard format. When that fails, just tell them that the files are half the size so they're quicker to email.

          Though in Microsoft's defense, the backwards compatibility is pretty good. Forwards always screws people up, but that's almost to be expected. In fact, an open standard th

          • "Fair point. But as long as you start emailing people .odt files instead of the latest .doc, your files are safe."

            Untrue. If people are using the proposed MS plug-in, it would read the ODF file, translate it into MS' proprietary[*] XML format, allow changes, then translate back into ODF. This means that there are two signficant points of failure where translation errors - whether deliberate or accidental - can occur.

            That's ad hoc design, and not worthy of consideration as anything more than a stop-gap m

        • The way I understand it, is everyone will whine and complain until Microsoft completely dumps there format for something like ODF. It's actually ridiculous to even consider it, especially if it doesn't catch on as much as it's leading on.
        • Actually, the default file formats starting in Office 2007 will be the Open XML formats (docx, xlsx and pptx). They're simply zip files containing several XML files for the representation of the document. The old binary formats will officially be legacy with the upcoming release.
      • Actually, MS has stated that support for the OpenXML formats are going to be ported back all the way to Office 2K, so my guess is that the new format is really going to take off. What's even better is that OpenXML is indeed open, already published, and eventually will be an ISO standard; OO.o will, no doubt, have true native support for the dominant formats some day. Yes, it's patented. But also, yes, MS has published legal papers promissing not to sue or charge. No, GPL software is not blocked from imp
        • "Yes, it's patented. But also, yes, MS has published legal papers promissing not to sue or charge. No, GPL software is not blocked from implementing the standard"

          The fact that the "OpenXML" format has legal encumberments means that GPL software IS blocked from implementing it. There is a fundamental licensing incompatibility that prevents OpenXML from being implemented in GPL software. You need to understand the GPL before you speak so that you don't make such blatant factual errors.
          • The fact that the "OpenXML" format has legal encumberments means that GPL software IS blocked from implementing it.
            and a swing from the Laurencemartin.com Clue-By-Four !(R)
            GPL = water @ 2 quarts
            +
            patents = Sodium metal @ half ounce
            +
            Microsoft= Rust and Aluminum filings @ 7 pounds (3 to 1 mix)
            =
            ?????
            Kids DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME EXTREME FIRE HAZARD (note this would be a thermite reaction)
  • I'll accept that this is a half-arsed effort on MS's part, and that it in no way can be seen as a comittment to "open" or "free" software - but does this change the fact that now govts around the world can adopt open standards without any complaints from people who only use MS software or disabled people; which has to be a good thing
    • They are being obtuse by ignoring the spirit of the request to support open standards. Microsoft is attempting to win the battle by frustrating users. Proprietary formats have kept them in business for many years -- why change now? However, I remember when they supported dozens of file formats .
      • Proprietary formats have kept them in business for many years -- why change now?

        More money. Microsoft's driving force. Change gets folks to upgrade that Office Suite cash cow.

        People bought Office95 and ran it for 3 years on one machine, and then put it on the replacment for that computer for another 3 years. Same with Office '97 and Office 2000 lasting for six years ... and $149 for Small Office Edition works out to be less than fifty cents a week for Microsoft.

        Time to change document creation -- to a



      • Microsoft's penchant for proprietary systems have changed...partially. They received a patent for Microsoft Office Documents' XML format(s).

        As I've pointed [here] out before (many times):

        that permits everyone to use it, but permits Microsoft to panic and decide to enforce it - *poof*!

        That also means they could permit everyone to read it, but only those who are licensed to write that format. If a business is running multiple document formats, they'd be able to read MS Office, but not write it. This
  • Java Redux (Score:5, Interesting)

    Didn't MS do something similar with Java? Basically have their own "interpretation" of it which is almost, but not quite, compatible. How difficult would it be to make MS' version just off from everyone else's?
    • But MS java wasn't open source. If the output of the OpenDoc converter produces crap ODF, then you can just fix the converter to produce correct ODF.

      Right? That's supposed to be the whole point of open source - if the software is crap, you can always fix it.
    • The real problem for MS here is going to be OpenOffice. OpenOffice has already broken from the ODF spec to accomplish some things. If MS follows the ODF spec people will scream about it not working 100% with OpenOffice. If They break from the spec to support ODF, people will scream about "embrace and extend". Its pretty much lose-lose, but to you original point its OpenOffice that did the embrace and extend in this case and now MS has to decide how to deal with it.
    • Being this plugin is open source ... I don't really see this as being a problem. Code not doing what you want? Patch it. Microsoft not accepting your patch? Fork it. Ta-da.
    • Re:Java Redux (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tim C (15259)
      MS produced and distributed a JVM under licence from Sun. One of the conditions of the licence is that you are not permitted to add classes to the java.* package hierarchy; any classes you want to add must go in your own package hierarchy (eg com.microsoft). That stipulation is to prevent people from introducing new classes to the core API that no-one else implements, thus removing any chance of code being "write once, run anywhere".

      However, MS did exactly this, introducing Windows-specific classes into the
      • I thought Microsoft's stuff was added under com.microsoft? I'm definitely not sure though.

        And wasn't there a second lawsuit that forced MS to resume distributing their JVM?
    • One of the real problems I see for Microsoft is that certain government agencies are now requiring documents to be submitted in file formats that separate text formatting from information. For example, FDA is requiring pharmaceutical manufacturer's to submit labeling information in XML format, with a PDF backup.
  • Are we all really surprised? Im never one to explicitly advocate for microsoft - wishing secretly linux and apple would talk over the world in some beautiful social movement.

    But given our current systems, no one can really "stick it to the man" and force Microsoft to do anything. It's their software, their format.. and really whose to force them to do otherwise? So to speak, we are a slave to the machines we use.

    We can't expect a self serving corporate body to really care for us unless it of course, benefit
    • Im never one to explicitly advocate for microsoft - wishing secretly linux and apple would talk over the world in some beautiful social movement.

      That's exactly what Apple and Linux users do. They talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk talk

      • Now you're going to have to explain to me how Windows is cheaper than Linux.

        Or explain how Windows is better than Linux.

        Or you can go with the third option, which is "faster." You are free to use any interpretation of "faster." (Suggestions: operating speeds, release times, patch times.)

        Or you can admit that good rules of thumb rarely apply in Computerland.
        • Now you're going to have to explain to me how Windows is cheaper than Linux.

          Linux is only cheaper than Windows if your time is worth nothing.

          Or explain how Windows is better than Linux.

          Windows is better than Linux in a lot of ways, but especially in the way most people care about. People use applications, not operating systems. Applications under Windows are far more numerous and generally far better.

          Or you can go with the third option, which is "faster." You are free to use any interpretation

    • The U.S. government is Microsoft's largest customer. I bet if their largest customer applied enough pressure they'd comply.
  • ...Plug-ins simply don't give the benefits of open file formats and standards,' he said.

    Oh come on now. You didn't really think Microsoft was going to give ODF equal billing with their own preferred (and proprietary) Doc and Xml did you? And about this only being the start of creating an open source converter plug-in, you don't really accept that the reason we don't have a plug-in now is because Microsoft has done no work at all on integrating ODF into MSO right up until the minute of this announcement,

  • MODF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stocke2 (600251) * on Friday July 07, 2006 @03:51PM (#15679214)
    how long till they embrace and extend? Microsoft Open Document Format ODF with extensions, you can open ODF documents, but once you do microsoft starts "updating them" with MS only extensions, making MS documents all but unreadable in other word processors, and once an ODF file is opened in MS office it is modified so no longer conforms to ODF. They would surely claim, hey we support ODF see, everyone else is just not smart enough to offer you the extra stuff we put in, aren't we the greatest? 1. take someone elses great idea 2. break ...mmmmm extend it so it only works with MS windows 3. claim everyone else is broken 4. profit!
    • once you do microsoft starts "updating them" with MS only extensions, making MS documents all but unreadable in other word processors,

      I'm sure there would be MSEODF (Microsoft Enhanced Open Document Format) files. They'd have to have them because there will be some FNOU (Feature No One Uses) that can't be saved in ODF. Then you'll have the option to save in either Standard ODF, or MSEODF if you want to preserve your usage of the FNOU. After that, the ODF spec will be on a constant treadmill to keep up

    • I don't know. As much as embrace and extend is probably exactly what Microsoft wants to do, take a step back and look at history. Yes, it is a wonderfully effective means if wresting control from someone else. Now look at what happened as a result of the browser wars. Sure, Netscape is virtually destroyed, but there are plenty of other browsers that rose to take its place. And this is the kicker. I've been to many schools (I've moved all over the country) and I've taken several computer classes, sever
    • by sconeu (64226)
      how long till they embrace and extend?

      In answer, I have but 7 characters for you:

      C++/CLI
  • by ishmalius (153450) on Friday July 07, 2006 @03:55PM (#15679235)
    I have been working for months on ODF output from Inkscape [inkscape.org]. Although I am a great fan of ODF, it has become apparent to me that there is a weakness in technical specifications and programmer's references. The ODF project seems to be heavily biased in its efforts toward advocacy, with little energy left over to clean up the Oasis specification, provide application information, and most importantly, provide a test bed.

    There really needs to be a reference renderer for ODF. Something independent from OpenOffice, with examples of all of the grammar and semantics in the spec.

    • This site http://netmoc.cpe.ucf.edu/Projects/OpenDocument/Te stSuite.html [ucf.edu] has Sample ODF documents intended as references. From the site:

      We are working towards developing a comprehensive set of sample documents for the OpenDocument specifications developed by the Oasis consortium.

      Every document has associated rendering samples created with:

      * OpenOffice v2.0.1 on Windows XP SP2

      * KOffice v1.5beta on Gentoo Linux

      The set of sample documents was developed at the Networking and Mobile

  • by dkh2 (29130) <dkh2NO@SPAMWhyDoMyTitsItch.com> on Friday July 07, 2006 @04:23PM (#15679467) Homepage
    The notion that any MS project of this nature is a short term fix cannot help but to be dead on target. As a point of discussion, look at the release timeline for the next releases of Internet Explorer, and even Windows itself.

    Microsoft takes considerable heat from many sources that it's development process is dragged out far beyond need or reason. Look at the long development cycle with consideration of anti-trust verdicts, agreements, etc. and you begin to see some logic.

    Microsoft is under some legal obligation to de-bundle or make removable certain components of their preferred distro. These obligations have an expiration date in the not very distant future. That expiration date is also not rediculously far beyond the historic release cycle for MS product upgrades.

    Given the choice of re-engineering my product so a specific component MS wants to become ubiquitous may be removed, or delaying release a few months and using the time to tie it in so tightly that the notion of removal becomes irrelevant, guess what Microsoft will choose to do.

    With delayed release they allow themselves to present that they are in compliance with all orders in effect at time of release, without having to de-couple anything. As a result, your filesystem browser is also your internet browser, is also your front end for all GUI desktop apps... Nevermind that this is in complete opposition to the expectation that the kernel is the interface between hardware and all other software, and that the command shell, filesystem browser, web browser, GUI windowing system, etc. all fall into the category of 'all other software.'
    • Perhaps you just like saying things without really understanding what it is you said, but...

      Windows has a kernel, and IE, GUI, command shell, filesystem browser, etc aren't part of it. Infact the Win32 API isn't even part of it. If you weren't aware, the windows kernel even has 2 other subsystems shipped for it (Posix, OS/2 1.1). Feel free to google to learn more.
  • Microsoft's Open XML is just a delay tactic -- their old strategy of vaporware vaporware vaporware ... that sometimes materializes at the last second, never as grand as promised, but having accomplished it's goal of causing everyone to say "Let's wait and see what Microsoft will do first!"

    And MOX is Latin for "soon". Coincidence?!

    yeah, prolly

    BUT: a cute synchronicity, nonetheless.
  • I'm confused... From what I understand this plugin ultimitly allows Office 2007 users to read/write ODF files... what's he bitching about?
  • "to government's around the world" - how rude...
  • So what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pdschmid (916837)
    Every supporter of ODF sounds as if ODF is the most used format world-wide and the de facto standard. Every supporter sounds as if there is no alternative to ODF and that it is the holy grail. But they all forget the realities that exist today. The de facto standard is not ODF, but the Microsoft Office 97-2003 binary formats. Billions and billions of documents are in those formats today and the number of documents currently in ODF pales compared to it. With Office 2007, Microsoft will offer a free method to
    • > Every supporter of ODF sounds as if ODF is the most used format world-wide and the de facto standard.

      Oh dear Lord.
      Can you please find me all these supports of ODF that think that ODF is the most used format please?

      This post is a troll.
      • Read Brian Jones's blog as well as the comments to his OpenXML-ODF translator post [msdn.com] to find enough people who think that ODF is the world and nothing else exists.
        It's hillarious that posting something in support of Microsoft on slashdot gets labelled as troll.
        • I read that post and the comments. What are you talking about? I didn't see one person who thought odf was 'the world and nothing else exists.'

          You are a troll.
    • I need MS's "stop-gag measure" after reading your post. I have never read anyone say seriously that ODF is more prevalent or even significantly technically superor to OpenXML, but I have read plenty of voices which say that it's now an international standard which all office suites should support -- just the way they support ACSII -- natively, without a broken plugin. ODF is not the de facto standard: it's an ISO standard. Making a browser that doesn't support ISO-8859-1 is just stupid. Making an office sui
      • ISO standard doesn't mean that everyone has to use it. It mainly means that if you chose to use it, you know that it is internationally standardized. There is no obligation to use it, which means it cannot be the standard de jure. Hence ODF is advertised as the de facto standard.
        Microsoft will submit OpenXML to ISO, and I am pretty sure it will end up becoming an ISO standard as well. Then what? If I were to guess, then I would say that ~90% of all Office documents today are in the 97-2003 formats. Maybe i
        • give me a valid reason why chosing ODF over OpenXML is going to be a good business decision for anyone?
          I don't think that choosing one over the other is necessarily a good business decision, but not supporting the only current office file standard while governments are moving to it is a silly move for anyone but Microsoft, who wants to continue to control 90+% of the market. Oddly enough, I'm not a real big fan of OpenOffice.org, but I live in a country where Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly on office su
          • Microsoft started designing Office 2007 in 2003. At that time, the standardization process had just barely standard. OASIS approved it in 2005 and the submitted it to ISO. It became an ISO standard in May 2006 ( OpenDocument standardization [wikipedia.org], OpenDocument [wikipedia.org]. This means at the time that MS made the big feature decisions for Office 2007 (which happens very early on), ODF was far away from becoming the first Office document standard. It is therefore logical that MS chose not to implement it back then and rather fo
            • You seem to have misread me. I never once thought that ODF should be the default file format for any particular office suite (since MS retains the right to make their own products / file formats / etc.), merely that not supporting it at all seems kind of like refusing to include a philips-head screwdriver in the tool sets you produce simply because your company also produces (possibly technically superior) non-philips screws. Certainly implementing the standard as a native export filter (instead of an unsup
    • Every supporter of ODF sounds as if ODF is the most used format world-wide and the de facto standard. Every supporter sounds as if there is no alternative to ODF and that it is the holy grail. But they all forget the realities that exist today.

      Well, that's because everyone wants to forget that reality

      and demand people to move away from this depressing, and quite frankly, just wrong situation.

      With Office 2007, Microsoft will offer a free method to upgrade all those documents to the OpenXML format. It

      • I agree that the MS formats are highly complicated while ODF is simple, nice and clean. I had my fair share of messing around with OpenXML to the degree that I couldn't make sense of it without reading some documentation (mainly Brian Jones blog). From a technical point of view though, this difficulty makes sense. For example, I completely buy the argument that the extremely short tags used by OpenXML make an OpenXML document faster to parse than an ODF document with longer, more understandable tags.
        In my
        • For example, I completely buy the argument that the extremely short tags used by OpenXML make an OpenXML document faster to parse than an ODF document with longer, more understandable tags.

          I seriously doubt that. Processing a few more bytes on today's computers isn't exactly a problem - if it is, I seriously recommend purchasing a replacement for your MicroVAX.

          The reason OpenXML is "faster" is that it is a memory dump format, in a way. It's not meant to be human-friendly. If it were human-friendly, it

  • of what XML is by Microsoft.

    eXtensible Markup Language is meant for a base specification to ensure portability. Anyone can add to an xml based specfication for their product / needs. that is the idea.

    if Microsoft's openxml format for office 2007 is an xml format, then they will have a dtd and reference url for the dtd that will enable any xml based application to use the format. If this is not possible, then it is another case of Microsoft lying to their customers about Microsoft products.


    The above is the c

"If you don't want your dog to have bad breath, do what I do: Pour a little Lavoris in the toilet." -- Comedian Jay Leno

Working...