Five (Bad) Reasons to Approve OOXML
- If you don’t approve OOXML, Microsoft will walk away, and you’ll never hear from them again. Forget the fact that OOXML is already an Ecma standard (Ecma-376), and cannot be taken away. Forget the fact that Microsoft has other formats lined up for ISO approval in the near future, like XPS or HD Photo. Microsoft wants you to think that if you don’t give them exactly what they want, now, they will walk away from ISO and you will be the worse from it. We need to encourage Microsoft for their abuse of the standardization process, in hopes that their participation will evolve in line with our hopes, and not our fears, that they will improve on the standardization side, while curbing the abuse side. Of course, the encouragement could be misinterpreted to mean the opposite, and we could get more abuse, and even lower quality standards. I guess that’s the risk we’ll just need to take. By similar abuses of logic small children hold their breath until their faces turn blue, thinking they can scare adults into giving them what they want. It doesn’t work there either.
- If you approve OOXML, you can have the privilege of spending the next 5 years in the glorious work of fixing thousands of defects in the text. You can get a seat at the table, fixing bugs that should have been fixed in Ecma before OOXML was even submitted to JTC1. Forget the fact that maintenance in JTC1 is a ponderous, time consuming activity, where individual defects are enumerated, changes proposed, discussed, voted on, etc. Forget the fact that the recent BRM showed that you can’t really get through more than 60 defects in a week-long meeting. Forget the fact that fixing defects in Ecma, not JTC1, would be far faster and easier due to the lighter-weight process Ecma imposes on their TC’s. Forget that Fast Track is intended for mature, adopted standards not for ones that will require a “Perpetual BRM”. Forget all that. You want a seat at the bug fixing table? You got it.
- Billions and Billions of legacy documents. Well, actually these legacy documents are not in OOXML format; they are in the legacy binary format. And no mapping has been provided from the legacy formats to OOXML. But there are billions and billions of these legacy documents. That must be important. So vote Yes for OOXML because there are billions and billions of documents in some other format that is nebulously related to it.
- More standards are better. More standards means more choice, means more decisions, means more consultants, means more money paid to XML experts. You’ll sooner find the American Dairy Council recommending less milk consumption than a standards professional calling for fewer standards. So ignore quality, maturity and need. More standards are a good thing. Like Blue-ray and HD DVD.
- ODF will be better if OOXML is approved. In OASIS we’re too stupid to look up legacy features or Excel spreadsheet formulas in Ecma-376. We would have never thought of that. We believe the only way to make ODF better is to make it more like OOXML. That is why we would like to encourage nice little JTC1 countries like Kazakhstan to vote YES for OOXML. As soon as OOXML is approved, then magically, it becomes useful to us. But the exactly same text, not approved by Kazakhstan and JTC1, is not useful to us at all. It is all or nothing. There is nothing in the middle. Rather than taking a useful, high quality text, and approving it on its merits, we are asked to approve a specification with thousands of defects, and by our approval we transform it into something useful to ODF.