Open XML news

Here are a few interesting links related to the Open XML formats

  • US technical committee reaches deadlock – Doug talks about how the discussions went in the US technical committee tasked with reviewing the Open XML formats. It sounds like they were just one vote short of getting approval, which means it's now off to the executive board to make the decision. Doug's been working really hard the past few months trying to spread the word on Open XML, and he's now taken a much needed break. I think he'll be back online next week.
  • SVG to VML translation – If you're working with VML at all and would like to move it into SVG, there's a project online under the GPL license that allows you to convert back and forth between VML, SVG, and even GIF. Pretty cool.
  • The New World of Word – The Word team blog has a great post that talks about how we internally leverage the Open XML formats in combination with the custom schema support to track our product specs.
  • What is an ISO 8601 Date – There has been a lot of discussion around the approach that spreadsheetML takes for storing dates. We basically went with the model that a date is just a way of formatting a numeric value. You can take any number and choose to format it as a date (and there are a whole host of ways to format the date). The underlying storage though for the date is still just that numeric value, which makes it much more efficient to run calculations on as well as read and write to disk. Rick Jelliffe explores some of the discussions around this approach. I know at times these discussions can be rather painful. It's kind of like trying to order pizza for a million people... you'll never make everyone happy. I think they are still important discussions to have, and I'm glad Rick took the time to drill into it.
  • Remembering George the Animal Steele! – Gotta love the title. I had always thought that the big pushback we would get around the move to Open XML formats was from people who didn't want to see any change in the way they do things. We focused so heavily on this aspect that I think we actually made the move to new default formats fairly painfree (relatively speaking). I never thought though until a year or so ago that we would have people from the open source community upset at what we were doing. I thought the move to Open XML formats was a huge win for them, given all the valid criticisms they'd had in the past about the reverse engineering they were trying to do with the old binary formats. It appears now there is a bit of a split, where many folks in the community are happy to see not just the documentation of the file formats, but also the ownership transition from Microsoft to Ecma, and now from Ecma to ISO. Rick's post talks a bit about this, and how the stewardship of Open XML by ISO is a good thing for the community. Open XML files are going to exist, and as time goes on their numbers will start to dramatically increase. The preservation of the documentation for those formats is important, as is the continued improvement of the documentation.