Day conference on OOXML and ODF 
2008-06-02, 16:13

XML UK are running a day conference entitled “XML in the Office” on Thursday 26 June at Reading Town Hall. My own presentation outline promises:

The last two years have seen what some have called a “document format war” as first the OpenDocument Format (ODF) and then Office Open XML (OOXML) progressed through various standards bodies. This presentation will cut through the thickets of misinformation and confusion to give a clear description of what really happened during this fraught period, and make some predictions about what it likely to happen next.

Anybody interested in the XML technology of OOXML and ODF should attend this event (and there will be no doubt be some talk about standardisation too, since XML UK fielded many of the technical experts that contributed to the UK's thorough National review of OOXML).

Registration form here. Hurry while there's space!

Call for Participation

Note there are still a couple of speaker slots and XML UK would welcome more participation. They'd be particularly interested in hearing from people who are willing and able to present on some ODF projects …

Arnaud Le Hors 
2008-06-02, 17:54
Hi Alex,

Your description seems to imply that somehow you, unlike others, can deliver the truth. In all fairness you should recognize that whatever you say is your own view and is subject to the same level of questioning as what anybody else says. You don't own the truth more than anybody else and what is considered information by one can be seen as misinformation by others.

For example, you've generated your own share of misinformation with your claims about ODF compliance that are disputed by Rob Weir.


Administrator (Alex Brown) 
2008-06-02, 18:27

Without getting too philosophical, it goes without saying that no human communication (especially on a complex topic like this) can lay claim to be the absolute truth. Rashomon and all that.

That said, I have reviewed and worked with both ODF and OOXML, I chaired the UK BSI panel examining the DIS 29500 text, I chaired the BRM and I am chairing the group deciding on 29500 maintenance. I saw and heard - at first hand - a lot of what there was to see and hear during the process. And I'm not a corporate spokesperson, or an interested party. So I naturally have high confidence in my own informedness, neutrality and fairness :-)

As to ODF I don't believe Rob Weir and I disagreed about "compliance" since he found that was producing invalid XML too (though by a different route to me). We did, however, disagree about whether a fault (which we agreed existed) in the ODF schema invalidated every claimed ODF instance. FYI - it does.

As it happened the problems I found opened a rather larger can of worms - there are more serious faults in the ODF schema that I spotted. The work on fixing these is going on behind the scenes and as a result ODF 1.2 will have a bug-free, properly functional schema. That's good isn't it?

- Alex.

Alan Bell 
2008-06-02, 20:28
this looks like one not to miss. I am filling out the form now and look forward to seeing you on the 26th.

Arnaud Le Hors 
2008-06-03, 03:44

I'm sorry but I have to tell you that your blog server sucks. I made apparently made a mistake when entering the anti-spam code and lost my whole entry. Not very user-friendly.

Maybe it's to force me to be concise as I don't quite care enough to retype everything. :-)

Let me then just say that claiming to be independent means little to others unfortunately as there is no way to check and in the end you are an interested party anyway. You work in this industry and how it evolves affects you. It's not like you are on the sideline simply watching the game and making mere observations.

Bye now.

Andrew Sayers 
2008-06-03, 09:57
With the greatest of respect, I have to say that your interest in this topic has fairly consistently been in seeing the ISO do well. While it's a very healthy interest for someone so involved with the ISO, it's an interest nonetheless.

As an example, you tend to view the ISO as the default venue for standardisation. So if OASIS has errors in its process, the solution is to move to ISO, but if ISO has errors in its process, the solution is to fix the errors.

Interests are rather like accents in that way - everyone else has one except you.

- Andrew

Administrator (Alex Brown) 
2008-06-03, 10:32

Sorry about the blogware - I really need to get around to changing to something else - but blog software is kind of sticky ...

Otherwise, you seem to be touching on questions of trust. I think the lectures of Onora O'Neill (at are very pertinent to much of what has been written about trust and transparency over the course of the 29500 project.


We should all be in favour of everybody "doing well"! I don't believe wanting to see International Standardisation work well counts as an "interest" in the sense of being an "interested party" in any meaningful way.

I don't believe I have written about "faults" in the OASIS process (are there any?). I tend to have written about faults in the JTC 1 processes. OASIS is A Good Thing and deserves support for the extremely good and valuable work it does. International standardisation is also a very important, but distinct, activity.

- Alex.

Andrew Sayers 
2008-06-03, 10:59
I should really have said "inadequacies" rather than "errors" in OASIS processes, but you might be right that I'm not understanding the functional difference between consortium and international standardisation. Could you give some examples of issues that wouldn't/shouldn't be tackled at OASIS, but would/should be tackled at ISO, and why it's that way?

- Andrew

p.s. about blogware, if/when you make a change, could you look for something where it's possible to link to individual comments? It's no fun saying "Alex made a really good point once. Go to this page, carry on for two hundred yards, turn right at the goat..."

p.p.s to Arnaud - blogs eat comments sometimes. I've had a number of them do it to me, and it's worth training yourself to select all/copy before posting :)

Arnaud Le Hors 
2008-06-03, 17:03
Ok, I lost my input for the second time and this time I'm sure I had the correct code entered on top of it. That's at least once too many.

It's not just a matter of trust. All this is clearly subject to interpretation as evidenced by the many and varying recounts of the BRM.

Alan Bell 
2008-06-26, 10:05
seems it has been cancelled due to lack of interest. My cheque has been returned.

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