It’s just data

Open Office Wars, Part 5

Tim Bray: If those docs/spreadsheets/presos might be long-lived, or contain high-value data that you might want to re-use later, and you don’t use OpenDocument, well there’s a word for that but I’m not going to put it up on the front page at ongoing.

I will note in passing that OpenDocument is the default file format for OpenOffice 2.0, currently in beta.  It apparently is not compatible with the OpenOffice 1.x formats.

Earlier I wrote parts 1, 2, 3, 4.  Time for an update.

Complaints on OpenOffice at the time?  XML Schema, and extensibility.  Let’s see how they fared.


From the standard:

1.1 Introduction

This document defines an XML Schema for office applications and semantics.


1.4 Relax-NG Schema

The schema language used within this specification is Relax-NG

Given that the IETF AtomPub working group has taken the same approach, I guess I can’t complain too much.  ☺

Full points awarded here.


Again, from the standard:

1.5 Document Processing and Conformance

Documents that conform to the OpenDocument specification MAY contain elements and attributes not specified within the OpenDocument schema.  Such elements and attributes must not be part of a namespace that is defined within this specification and are called foreign elements and attributes.

Excellent!  Once again, full points awarded.


My “gripe” related to MS Office?  I cited the unwillingness to working with others to describe the semantics that PowerPoint 11 uses to capture a pie chart.

Some things never change.

As someone who has written code (not much but anyway) that deals with 1.x docs, it irks me that the OASIS spec seemingly gratuitously changes the namespace URIs. The fact that the name of the speccing organization is visible in namespaces is a problem. It encourages namespace changes in the standardization phase. Changing namespaces on formats that have running code is uncool. It’s like running Rot13 on the element names.

Gratuitous format changes like that do not inspire confidence in the long term stability of the format.

Also, it appears the format still treats text language as a stylistic property instead of using xml:lang and treating language as an intrinsic property of the content. Also, the way OOo/OpenDocument don’t have a single concept of language but three simultaneous languages divided according to writing system (Latin/Greek/Cyrillic, CJK, CTL) is annoying. If you know the language of your text and want to store it as OOo/OpenDocument, you need to know how OOo classifies the language.

I still think OOo/OpenDocument docs are more pleasant to deal with than Word docs. and javax.xml take you a long way with OOo/OpenDocument. Also, I think using a ZIP container for XML and bitmaps is highly clueful compared to storing images as Base64 inside XML or, worse, using a multipart/*-based container.

Posted by Henri Sivonen at

Anyone who puts their trust in an organization (and that includes you OpenOffice) that does not provide backwards compatibility is a sucker for punishment.

Posted by Chui Tey at

Some things never change.

Given that Microsoft Office hasn’t had another product release since you made that complaint I’m not sure that comment is fair.

All’s fair in love and Microsoft bashing, I guess.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

Dare: history has shown that if/when Microsoft decides to open up their specifications, I will link to it.  Apparently the earliest that one can hope for that to occur is the second half of 2006.

Posted by Sam Ruby at


From Tim Bray, we learn that Open Document 1.0 has been approved as an OASIS Standard. The new format will be the standard for the office suite. This paves the way for an unprecedented level of compatibility between applications and...

Excerpt from geek ramblings at

“Let’s see how they faired.”

It’s “fared”.  Feel free to delete this comment.


Posted by Jim at

Jim: Fixed.  Thanks!

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Sam Ruby: Open Office Wars, Part 5

Ruby (and commenters) on Open Office...

Excerpt from at

New default XML formats in the next version of Office (office 12) will be “open”.

Posted by Didier at

Next Version of Office Will Use XML as the Default File Format

... [more]

Trackback from Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life


Open Office Wars, Part 6

[via  Dare Obasanjo] Fresh on the heels of the  OpenOffice standard announcement comes this welcome news. Questions/comments:  Will schemas be provided?  When? Will these formats be extensible by third parties? If Office 2003 can be updated to support... [more]

Trackback from Sam Ruby


Links for 2005-05-31 []

Chapin Information Services Yahoo DRM cracked? it’s one thing for a per track service to be penetrated, but for the subscription services that’s a real problem <XSLT:Blog />: Phalanger : PHP and the .NET Platform? At speeds 2.5x’s faster than...

Excerpt from tecosystems at

All’s fair in love and Microsoft bashing, I guess.

you’re suggesting they don’t deserve it?  seriously?

Next Version of Office Will Use XML as the Default File Format

...and it will be patented!

let the “bashing” continue.

Posted by chachi at

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