Ecma meetings in Toronto

Well we're in the middle of our last face to face meeting for Ecma TC45 before the ISO vote on September 2. Novell is hosting it up in Toronto, and it's actually given us a chance to meet some of the developers who are integrating Open XML into Open Office. They had initially worked with the XSLTs coming out of the ODF to Open XML translator project, but now it looks like they are building the support in at a more native level without the XSLTs. It was a really cool demo. They showed importing a formatted spreadsheet .xlsx file into Calc; a graphic heavy presentation .pptx file into Impress; and a rich wordprocessing .docx into Writer. There is still a ways to go, but there are really making impressive progress.

The main thing we're currently working through is the list of comments that Ecma will submit to ISO as part of the fast trac process. Novell has some they've come across with their latest development effort, and there are also a few that folks presented based on public statements they've seen. Not sure how big the list will be, but there are some pretty good improvements in there that will be dealt with along with all the other national body comments at the ballot resolution meeting (BRM).

It should be a pretty exciting week or two. September 2nd gives us a great checkpoint to see where we are in forming a consensus for approval of DIS 29500 (Open XML). Basically we see who is already in favor of the standard and what fixes they'd like to see before it's finalized, but we'll also see folks who are still hesitant, and what fixes will make them change their mind. I think we'll already be pretty close to the required number of yes votes, meaning that going into the ballot resolution meeting there will be a lot of momentum to get the issues fixed and move towards a final approval of the standard.

There were a couple interesting links from yesterday that I wanted to point out:

  • ODF / Open XML – Technical Specifications Mature Over Time - Jason Matusow takes a look at what it means for a standard to be mature, and how that should impact its approval. Clearly all standards continue to evolve and improve, so that should really be taken into account. This is why at Ecma there is now a lot of focus on the future maintenance of the spec.
  • Whitepaper on document format adoption - A report from IDC which drills into the current thinking in the industry around Open XML and ODF.
  • Last days for the Open XML ballot – Rick Jelliffe talks more about the closure of this stage of the fast track ballot. I'd be interested to hear what other people think of his suggestion to remove much of the informative text from the spec. I think it's useful for implementers, but Rick has more experience in standards than I do.

I hope everyone is having a great week.

-Brian Quote of the Day:

CEGID – France

"With Open XML formats, office documents easily integrate into enterprise solutions, and management data is found within the files themselves. This format lets us combine structured and nonstructured documents and use office applications to pull information straight from ERP. As long as the content remains open and accessible, the Office Open XML format makes integration and compatibility between Office documents and enterprise applications easier. It is part of our long-term vision, because of its robustness and accessibility"

- Christophe Raymond – CTO