Friday links (July 6, 2007)

A couple interesting topics I wanted to link to today:

  • Rick Jelliffe makes my week – Rick has a great post called "Slashdotters: all together now… 'Doh!'" that pretty well sums up my experiences over the past several years. When we first announced the XML formats for Office, there was a focused collection of negative feedback on sites like slashdot, and there were demands that unless we did "foo" it wouldn't really be an open format. Well we've actually done all the things folks asked and then some! As you would expect though the they continue to move the target. We fully documented over 10,000 elements, attributes, simple types, enumerations, with over 6,000 pages of documentation and made that freely available; we removed any possible legal IP issues by putting the OpenXML formats under the OSP; we completely gave away the ownership of the formats to a standards body (ECMA, and now ISO) so that even if Microsoft wanted to, we couldn't unilaterally make any changes or block the availability of the documentation; and we've sponsored on open source project that provides translation between OpenXML and another international standard, ODF.
  • Sun builds ODF translator for MS Office – Speaking of translator projects, sun this week announced the availability of a plug-in for Microsoft Office that allows you to read and write ODF files. You can now see that there are people working on OpenXML support in OpenOffice and ODF support in MS Office. These different translation tools really allow the customer to decide which format they want to build their solutions around, and then use the translators if something in the other format comes along. Malte Timmermann has more information up on his blog:
    • One side note here is that it looks like we have a bug in Word 2007 where Sun's ODF converters are able to save but not open the ODF files. I looked into this a bit and it looks like Word will mistakenly assume that the ODF file is a .docx file (since they are both ZIP at the base level). Word sniffs the file to see if it knows what kind of file it is, and only if it doesn't think it can open it will it hand it off to one of the registered converters. Since we think it's a .docx, we actually try to open it, and then of course fail since it's an .odt and not a .docx. I commented on this up on Malte's blog, and I'll provide more information once we've come up with a fix. I'm not sure how long it will take to pull that together, but I'll keep everyone posted.
  • PHPExcel – There's a new update to the PHPExcel library that you can use for creating Open XML spreadsheets. You can see the project up on codeplex, or check out Maarten's blog.
  • Channel 9 interview – Part 2 of the channel 9 interview on Open XML formats is available here: