It’s just data

Pro Choice

Rick Jelliffe: I have long-standing bias towards plurality, I don’t think that standards should be about stifling rich computer environments but enabling them: some overlap between standards is good.


There are a number of potential objections to OOXML.  It is all too easy for those incented to do so to identify spurious ones in such a list, and thereby discredit the whole.

The anti-choice objections are amongst the weakest.

As wikipedia (currently) reflects: There is little really universal agreement about the usage of either of the terms “open” or "standard".  In my mind, the reason for this is simple: the definitions put forward deal with potentialities instead of measurable realities.

I prefer simpler definitions.  A standard is one that has multiple, inter-operable, independent implementations.  An open standard, at least in the software world, is one where at least one of those implementations is open source.

Even with this simpler definition, a spectrum exists.  Web developers tend to find ECMAScript more interoperable than the W3C DOM, at least with respect to ubiquitous extant implementations.  Samba is clearly open and yet interoperability (in particular, the potential for future interoperability) continues to be an issue.  I would also continue to assert that the classic PowerPoint binary formats fit into this spectrum.

At the present time, OOXML fails to achieve either criterion.  Could OOXML potentially foster multiple complete independent implementations?  Could OOXML potentially be completely implemented by an open source implementation?  Both of these questions are subjects of endless debate.  OOXML will continue to be controversial until these issues are addressed.

By contrast ODF undeniably meets both criteria.