Back from Winnipeg

I was out for the past week at a family event in Winnipeg. I didn't have any access to e-mail or internet and was pretty surprised to see the number of comments from my post last week. I have to admit I don't think I'll be able to read through and reply to them all, but I'll give it my best.

Some people thought the example I gave was too simple. I'll have to work on pulling something more complex together soon. I just grabbed them from Stephen McGibbon's blog. I know that he has some more complex examples using a wordprocessing document, and I've played around with Gnumeric's support for a few weeks. I don't have a Mac so I can't test out iWorks support, but we're working on getting one set up so I can play with that.

I would point out that the level of support is pretty impressive given how new the spec is. It hasn't even been approved for ISO yet and there are already tens of millions of people on multiple platforms who can now interoperate using Open XML. We've had well over 10 million downloads of the free updates to previous versions of Microsoft Office for instance which gives those folks the ability to read and write the new formats. If you compare this to ODF and where they were 9 months after standardization it's no comparison. There have been very fundamental interoperability problems discussed for a year or so now in the few apps that claim full support for that standard. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing though as I think it's to be expected both standards are still so young. I know it's hard, but let's not hold Open XML up to a drastically different bar. :-)

Some interesting things happened earlier this week that I thought were worth calling out:

  • Ecma commits to deal with all comments – There has been some noise the past month or so on whether or not it would be ok for a country's national body to vote "yes" if they had issues they'd like to see dealt with. There is plenty of precedence for this as Jason Matusow points out, and Ecma has now publicly committed to dealing with all comments in the ballot resolution meeting. We've already been dealing with the comments that have been publicly available, and will continue to do so until we get everything addressed. This is just part of the overall process for a standard; it continues to improve over time.
  • Germany votes "yes" for Open XML approval – Germany just recently announced that they will vote to support the Open XML standard for ISO adoption. They went the "yes with comments" route as they have some issues they'd like to see addressed for the ballot resolution meeting (which will probably be some time next year). Jason talked about this yesterday, and has some good quotes available as well: Quote of the Day:

Xandros, Inc. – United States

"In today's world where application and document interoperability is key, we believe strongly that competing office productivity applications should make it easy for customers to exchange files with one another and allow them to use the operating system and office productivity applications of their choice.  Open standards enables this exchange and promotes industry competition. Open XML, the default file format for 2007 Microsoft Office, enables customers to realize this today. We support the work Microsoft and others industry groups are doing to contribute to an open standards computing environment.

Xandros believes that there are many standards bodies that can create "open standards", including both Ecma International and Oasis.  Because the specification for Open XML is freely available to anyone, they are using it in both their work on the translator project and in supporting Open XML in their products.

We believe the existence of interoperability between the two file formats is key, and that interoperability exists today (as evidenced by the translator) and open standards will continue to evolve in the future."

- Jeff Kuligowski – Senior VP Sales & Marketing