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Tim Bray on Implications of OpenDocument Format 195

Jure Cuhalev writes "In todays keynote, at the conference, Tim Bray focused on what OpenDocument format means for office suits. He compared the impact that OpenDocument will have on regular documents to kick-off of the web with selection of HTML as file format. You can watch the video or listen to audio track. Also check out the media page for more conference coverage."
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Tim Bray on Implications of OpenDocument Format

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  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @04:56AM (#13682918) Journal
    However, it would probably make for a nice tie in Times Roman 14.
  • James Prendergast (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mustang Matt ( 133426 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @04:58AM (#13682930)
    I submitted a story yesterday commenting on James Prendergast's article:,2933,170724,00.html [] but it got rejected.

    This clown's organization lists Microsoft as a founding member and he makes so many false claims it's not even laughable.
    • How predictable of them. BS BS BS.
    • My email to fox news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:34AM (#13683148)
      Unlike some posters on this board, I never hated fox news, until now.

      FWIW: here is my email:

      Subject: Where is the full disclosure on this biased article?

      In regards to your article:

      Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument
      Wednesday, September 28, 2005
      By James Prendergast

      Should you not, at the very least, have mentioned that the ATL is a Microsoft funded organization? And that the ATL has been caught in pro-Microsoft "astro-turfing" before?

      Aside from that, the article was poorly reasoned, and full of outright lies.

      I refer you to the following link:' 34232923 []

      Thank you,

      Walter Byrd
      An ex-Fox News viewer.
      • While I agree with your sentiment, the article in question is clearly marked as an opinion piece, not news. It would have been better for them to say up front that the writer is a Microsoft shill, but you've got to expect biased articles in the opinion section. That's what it's for.

        There are better reasons to criticize Fox News, I think.

        • A truely fair and balanced news source would have wanted (neah demanded) an alternate POV. Instead, they push this as news worthy, and then do not allow others. However, If they are truely keeping with how they operate, they will allow some response to the article, but it will be weak, poorly formed, and written by a nobody (or somebody that has already been discredited in the OSS community).
          • Whether or not Fox News is actually a fair and balanced news source is another discussion entirely. (A very short one.)

            If Prendergast's article is what convinced someone that Fox News is not the epitome of journalistic integrity, I guess that's ok, but they're a little late to the party. The MSM (of which Fox News is an enthusiastic member) does far worse.

  • Suits? (Score:5, Funny)

    by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @04:59AM (#13682931) Homepage Journal
    what OpenDocument format means for office suits

    What has a document format got to do with the company dress code? Or was that a veiled insult to the management?
    • Sweets (Score:3, Funny)

      In the suite,
      Since you so 1337
      Just one way
      To Redmond defeat:
      Burma Shave
    • Or was that a veiled insult to the management?

      OpenDocument is actually founded by teenage Communists & Anarchists, just as Microsoft has said all along. Those damn Reds are trying to "revolutionise" the world's documents - one manager at a time.
    • What has a document format got to do with the company dress code? []

      Generally, "suit" is what geeks call people who have to wear one as part of their job. Most suits are not geeks. Most geeks are not suits. Therefore, geeks and suits rarely see eye-to-eye. Nevertheless, they frequently are forced by circumstances beyond their control to co-operate in order to achieve some otherwise-unobtainable goal, like keeping a company in business.

      Nevertheless, it's not

  • umm (Score:5, Funny)

    by eebra82 ( 907996 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:02AM (#13682935) Homepage
    What the hell? I cannot view this in Windows Media Player? WHAT'S HAPPENING? WHAT'S THIS OGG? IS IT A VIRUS?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:07AM (#13682944)
    I can't hear audio, and online video is never high enough quality to lip-read from. And I'm not going to waste half an hour trying to connect and download the video when I can be 99% sure they won't have bothered to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide subtitles.

    So, like, any chance of a transcript?
  • Alternative (Score:5, Funny)

    by AnonymousYellowBelly ( 913452 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:09AM (#13682950)
    You can watch the video or listen to audio track. Also check out the media page for more conference coverage or I could just NOT RTFA and spurt opinions. I prefer the true ./ way.
  • Propaganda (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:33AM (#13683004)
    Normal people doesn't know/doesn't care about OpenDocument, they only care about how they write documents and whether or not their documents can be read and/or edited by their colleagues. And the standard is word-documents for everything. Word doesn't read and/or edit OpenDocuments and that means that the new standard won't be widely accepted.
    • Re:Propaganda (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpooForBrains ( 771537 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:48AM (#13683043)
      Agreed, but don't you think we ought to try and break that trend? It wasn't always this way, it doesn't have to stay this way. This way is stupid. Word Documents are binary, about ten times larger than they need to be, proprietary, and they don't hold formatting information properly.

      So, instead of bitching about how OpenDocument isn't going to amount to anything, and doing your part to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, why not join the rest of us that are trying to make sure it does, and tell your colleagues, and the people you share documents with, about its benefits?
      • So, uh, what can this "OpenDocument" thing do that latex couldn't do 20 years ago? Why should I switch?
    • Normal people doesn't know/doesn't care about speelling or grammer too/either, but normal people cares about money and not giving it over to the Borg guys. So places that gots lots of intelligint people that school at Harvid and Emitee makes the government stick the Micosoft EULA right up the Borg's shitshoot just like with the english teabaggers.

    • Re:Propaganda (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I tried sending a word doc to a bunch of teachers in different schools. Horrible failure, apparently they all had different versions and mine was newer than any of theirs. PDF worked though!
    • The first company that can write a program that does a near-perfect conversion of Microsoft Office files to OpenDocument format will make a fortune, that's to be sure.
  • by johansalk ( 818687 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:35AM (#13683010)
    He said it would've cost $1000 for MS office per desktop, I couldn't hear how much he said it would've cost per openoffice.
    • by oneandoneis2 ( 777721 ) * on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:17AM (#13683107) Homepage
      Well, when Mass. did their working out, the total cost of upgrading to Office 12 was estimated at $50 million, while the total cost of switching to OO was $5 million - that includes all the training, software, and hardware considerations. . .
    • It was mentioned, but not directly- it was in a slide:

      "They estimate that to upgrade to Office 12, which MSFT is offering as the 'open format' would cost $50M (including software licenses, upgrading operating systems as needed, newer hardware in some cases, and training). Estimate of cost to install Open Office is $5M (comparable components). He noted that these are VERY CRUDE estimates"
      - Notes on remarks by Eric Kriss, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, September 2005

      So the Open Office roll out wou

  • by John Zero ( 3370 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:38AM (#13683017)
    This (friday) morning we just had an encounter with a Microsoft techie, in the Q&A session of the keynote conference about migration to OpenOffice.

    Of course, he just kept repeating the standard Microsoft ideas, saying the speaker (!!) seems Anti-American, anti-corporate, saying that the Microsoft DOC format (the new one) IS open for everyone, citing some EU decision on that. This Microsoft guy has also agressively offered to "help the speaker get the facts right" for his slides for next time.

    Then, in the corridor, talking with him lead of course nowhere, but what else did you expect? He only could repeat the standart MS panel replies to every question raised...
  • Perfect. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T-Ranger ( 10520 ) <`jeffw' `at' `'> on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:48AM (#13683041) Homepage
    Neither the audio or video have the complete presentation. Nice. Very nice.
  • by tree_frog ( 113005 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @05:54AM (#13683052)
    Personally, i find the MS response to the OpenDocument format quite interesting, and I think it is rather short sighted.

    MS currently seems to be going through a phase where it is lacking innovation and agility, and is trying to buy these concepts (see for example their aquisition of Groove).

    By adopting the OpenDocument format, MS would make it a lot easier for 3rd parties to create applications that interwork easily with MS Office documents, in all sorts of ways that they don't at the moment. For example, MS Equation Editor is a dog, so even though at work I have to use Offie, I do all my equation editing in OpenOffice, because the equation editor is much nicer.

    If there is a sea of 3rd party vendors offering applications which extend the functionality of MS Office (by working directly with OpenDocument files), then there is an awful lot of scope for MS to aquire the best of them - and MS has awfully deep pockets.

    So is MS missing a trick here?

    Best regards,
    • by Alien Being ( 18488 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:11AM (#13683091)
      MS is like the Titanic. They are unsinkable I tell you, unsinkable. They need not correct course or reduce speed to avoid obstacles. Their sheer weight will carry them through.

      Full steam ahead!
      • This analogy is very apt.

        One of the reasons the Titanic was supposed to be unsinkable is that the hull was designed in partitions that extended the entire depth of the ship.

        However, in order to cut costs and finish construction on time, the design was changed so that the partition dividers were not built all the way to the top, but stopped just a few feet above the waterline.

        I think Windows Vistanic has had some design changes over the past couple years... But who is the iceberg?
    • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:34AM (#13683150) Homepage Journal
      You miss the point - if MS had been fighting fair all the time and had gotten to the market penetration they have by being the best, they would have no problem with OpenDocument. The reason they DO have a problem with OpenDocument is that they perfectly well know that a lot of their customers stick with them because they feel they need to, as they need to be able to handle documents from MS users.

      The moment they face a competing spec which allows users to pick applications based on features and price instead of MS compatibility they will face a steady erosion of customers that find alternatives that work for them.

      Look at any other monopoly that have been forced to open up to competition - many of them have remained strong players, but I can't name a single one that have been able to avoid a dramatic reduction in market share.

      • I don't think I have missed the point. The question is whether MS is willing to trade existing market share on Office for the opportunity to gain market share by buying into the next big thing, by helping create the conditions where the next big thing is helpful to them.

        Although I guess your question has made me get to the root of my thoughts :-)

        Best regards, treefrog
    • MS currently seems to be going through a phase where it is lacking innovation and agility, and is trying to buy these concepts (see for example their aquisition of Groove).

      I must have missed when Microsoft went through the phase where it was innovative and agile.

      Did I blink at the wrong moment?

  • Huh? Editors? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jayegirl ( 26328 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:02AM (#13683073) Homepage
    "He compared the impact that OpenDocument will have on regular documents to kick-off of the web with selection of HTML as file format."

    What the hell does this mean? It's not even a sentence. The "editors" of slashdot have *really* been dragging their heels lately -- the quality of language getting used here is becoming appalling.
    • Flamebait?? Damn insightful if you ask me!
    • Just insert a "the" before "kick-off", and "the default" before "file format".
      Replace "kick-off" with "beginning" if you're not a sports fan.

      Happy now? Ok, now change your sig to read "the quality of grammer and spelling used here is appalling". Although it could be said that the quality of Spanish used here is pretty bad!
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:04AM (#13683077)
    OpenOffice isn't in beta anymore, rc1 is out... [] so the beta "canard" that MS have been trying to fly is an ex-canard... days to do are getting few for the final full release.
  • The war begins (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ShaolinTiger ( 798138 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:11AM (#13683093) Homepage
    It's going to be an interesting battle between Microsofts 'Open' Document format and the real ODT, I'm sure MS's format uses Open in a very very very loose way...

    Open Office is getting stronger and stronger, the new interface looks great, let's hope this persuades more people to use a truly open format.
  • How "standard"? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mklencke ( 780322 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:15AM (#13683101) Homepage
    A little off-topic, but I was wondering about the standardization of OpenDocument. Several files have namespaces like "oooc:" in various sections (like formulas) and they are not imported correctly by KOffice. Any pointers to more information about this?
  • by Been on TV ( 886187 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:17AM (#13683106) Homepage
    All this oposition from Microsoft is only play for the gallery. Fact is that it would be dead easy for them to wite a filter or plug-in to MS Office that could read or write files in the OpenDocument formats.

    Such a move would of course also invalidate many of the claims and concerns about replacing software, including the ones voiced from a disabilites point of view.

    Of course there will be massive costs in converting documents from older Win-Word formats to OpenDocument, but Microsoft is planning on slapping this cost on businesses and states anyway since they will be changing the default fileformats in Office 12 to MS XML. ... Which of course all current software out there is equally incompatible with as the OpenDocument format.
    • Fact is that it would be dead easy for them to wite a filter or plug-in to MS Office that could read or write files in the OpenDocument formats

      I wonder... How extensive is your knowledge of these document formats (and their enormous complexity)? My off-the-cuff guess woukd have been that it would certainly be possible, but quite costly, for MS to support about 95-98% of opendocument. Getting full support (while maintaining current UI and feature set) would be very difficult if not impossible.

      What do you

      • What do you base your "dead easy" analysis on?

        I'd base it on the fact that numerous essentially charity-ware applications have already adapted OpenDocument. That, and the fairly simple fact that MS has already done a lot of the necessary work, in converting Office to a real XML format for Office 12.

        Let's look at it another way; what do YOU base your arugment that it wouldn't be "dead easy" for the world's biggest software company to support a standard?
      • Well, first of all, they have the source code both for MS Office, OpenOffice and the format spesification for the OpenDocument format, so there should not be any massive surprises there.

        Secondly, OpenOffice has to a large extent done the job for them. The convertion code is in the open source code for OpenOffice. Add to that the work that they also have done for XML support in Office 12.

        Finally, if there were technical obstacles, Microsoft is free to contribute to the OpenDocument format and other sourcecod
        • Microsoft is free to contribute to the OpenDocument format
          Why do you hate America?
          • haha, we love America here at the border of the old USSR ;-)

            I must admit that I have actually liked and used MS Office ever since the day I picked up Excel 1.0 for the Mac back in 1985. That software even changed my career.

            But I have increasingly found the proliferation of the closed formats of MS Office to become unaccpetable - particularly from the standpoint of a sovereign state or country. Up to the point where I decided to work actively for a change and started my blog about it.
      • I'd guess it is from the fact that ten independent products [] have already implemented Open Document without troubles. Would Office be programmed so badly that they couldn't do the same?
  • by EddyPearson ( 901263 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:50AM (#13683176) Homepage
    The Cycle of the Standards
    while (OSS != £) {
    they start out great -> developers stick to them -> designers stick to them -> the public are happy, things are working -> our big fluffy friend Microsoft comes along and decides that everybody else has got it wrong to date, and its up to them, the unappreciated e-heros of redmond to step in and relese some inferior software -> read through all the GPL code -> claim they're sticking to the standard right up until release -> do no such thing -> within two weeks release security updates for IE6/7 and XP/Vista making the original standard impossible to use -> people buy microsoft products -> microsoft corner the market share for that particular product -> service industry depression, too much money going toward software licensing -> gov depts lose money, again licensing -> voters begin to feel the sting of less publically invested money -> lose faith in gov -> bush goes to war -> OSS community send out the message "there is another way" -> decides to write up a standard so them compatability is assured
  • by mr_z_beeblebrox ( 591077 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @06:59AM (#13683194) Journal
    He compared the impact that OpenDocument will have on regular documents to kick-off of the web with selection of HTML as file format.

    Then he has to give up his clue card. Prior to HTML hundreds of people used "the web". Currently millions of people create office docs...this is just another page in the format wars.
  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @07:23AM (#13683234)
    OOo 1.1.5 can save OpenDocument format files (but not read). StarOffice 8 (based on OO 2.0) has been released (non beta). Apparantly KOffice has full support in non-beta etc, though I haven't checked.

    On the issue of patents, Sun also did a clear announcement today on the issue of patents that Sun might/does have that could related to the standard (since it's based on work by OOo via Sun, naturally they do have patents): See this blog entry [] by Simon Phipps (Sun's Open Source Ombudsman) for more info. It's a blanket promise, irrevocable, global, not time-limited, reciprocal...

  • What about macros? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by haeger ( 85819 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:27AM (#13683422)
    While a common and open document format is nice I'm a bit curious about macros. Many spreadsheet documents use macros to format and calculate things and I don't think there's a common macro language that works in all applications that support the OASIS format. Or is there? And if not, is someone doing something about it? The document aren't really interchangeable unless the macros are there too.


  • Both links do not stream for me. Just download, and then play. This on FC3.

  • by mikefocke ( 64233 ) <mike.focke@g m a i l . c om> on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:54AM (#13683568)
    The practicality of my world as a businessman is I exchange documents every day in Microsoft Office formats with other businesses, government agencies and internally within my company. I never ask what format we are going to exchange documents in (unlike the early days of PCs). It just works.

    The cost of Microsoft Office is trivial to me compared to the benefits it brings by its providing me de-facto standards that allow my productivity. If I waste 4 hours of my time fiddling with files that won't convert, I've more than paid for the Office license. My mantra: PCs and Software are cheap compared to the business value of the time of talented people

    When another format can provide the same ease of exchange, edit, return edit, return, etc then it will become the de-facto standard.

    This can happen several ways. A big gorilla called the US Government can mandate it (but look how long it is taking them to implement the already mandated IPv6). A collection of smaller entities can mandate it and ultimately achieve critical mass. Microsoft can adopt it. But in any of these cases, it will take 5 years at least before the same trivial exchange can be achieved.

    Until that time, any attempt by a single small entity to adopt a standard the rest of us can't use without change, training, hassle is a major problem.

    We have developed much of our product documentation in HTML format for its ease of use as well as its portability across platforms. One set of documents has thousands of links within and between documents rather than massive indexes. We find no negatives in using that format for exchange because everyone can use it (if the feature set is somewhat restricted). But even that format would be a problem if it had to be shared with a Microsoft Office user as the returned document would be a nightmare to compare due to the differences in HTML formatting. And HTML has been out there for years.

    My conclusion:

    This isn't going to happen overnight.

    It is going to take some serious players saying things like "I won't buy your next office product if it doesn't support xyz open standard."

    There better be some darn good converters.

    In the bast case, it will cost business billions to convert not in $ to M$ but in upgrades, training, lost productivity, etc.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @12:02PM (#13685538)

      If I waste 4 hours of my time fiddling with files that won't convert, I've more than paid for the Office license.

      You've had a lot better time with .doc than I have. I have dozens of old files that will not open in new versions of Word, and dozens more that open improperly in the current version of Word. I also work with a lot of people that don't have Word (engineers running Linux, or a BSD, or who just did not bother to pay to license a word processor since their are good, free ones available. You making the mistake of believing .doc is a format, when it is really a whole series of formats that are partially compatible with one another.

      When another format can provide the same ease of exchange, edit, return edit, return, etc then it will become the de-facto standard. This can happen several ways.

      You missed a couple of possibilities, like a widespread, destructive internet worm corrupts the vast majority of .doc files on the internet and people switch to avoid the same thing from happening in the future. Or, much more likely, the EU and China mandate the Open Doc format for all public organizations, businesses are forced to buy a word processor that will use that format (OpenOffice will do both .doc and OpenDoc and is free). At this point smart businesses migrate away from Word and MS will either be forced to provide the requested functionality or lose a lot of market share. Without being able to lock customers in using its file format MS will have to (gasp) compete based upon features and might actually fix some of the long-standing bugs in Word.

      In the bast case, it will cost business billions to convert not in $ to M$ but in upgrades, training, lost productivity, etc.

      Which will be more than paid for the next purchase cycle for PC's since a critical application will now be subject to competitive bids, with multiple free options available.

    • I'm willing to accept your claim that your time is wort $100/hr. But the same is not true for most of your customers and business partners. Your mantra makes sense for you, but by insisting on .doc, you're insisting that others accept the same time/money/value tradeoff. The ideal of an open format is that people can interact with data in whatever way they choose, rather than having to use a single program from a single vendor.

      Though there are efficiencies that occur when everyone uses the exact same soft
  • by HermanAB ( 661181 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @09:18AM (#13683705)
    Many moons ago, word processor software was sufficiently cheap, that most corporations had two or three different word processor packages on each desktop and people used whichever one supported the file format.

    If MS Word cost $50, then the same would happen again and people would have MS Word, OOo, WP, KOffice etc and nobody would bat an eye about compatibility issues, All this drivel about compatibility and retraining is just a stupid non-issue, caused by the inflated pricing of MS products.
  • Yes you know what it will cost money to migrate, however not migrating will eventually cost you more. It is really simple, pay once now or pay MS for eternity. In addition to paying loose the ability to do with your documents as you see fit.

    I don't care how you look at it, MS is dead wrong for not supporting their customers
    needs by offering ODF format as a default file format. It is MS's choice not to support ODF and it is MA's choice not to buy their office suite.

    Nobody can put forth a valid argument that
  • Regardless of what anyone says about the benefits of open document format, I won't start using it until Google Desktop for Windows and Spotlight for my Mac can index the contents. Until then I will (reluctantly) stick with Microsoft Office.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's