OOXML == Defective By Design

  • OOXML == Defective By Design

I don't read too many news stories that effect me in a way that this one has. I've known now for a while that Microsoft was trying to get their new Office Open XML document format ISO approved. I figured that Microsoft's OOXML format was good enough, and that it would be a good thing to have an "Open" format as an international standard... Boy was I wrong.

I suppose in principle, a ISO open format would be a wonderful thing, but OOXML is definitely not ready to become that format. In her article, St├ęphane Rodriguez lists 13 different scenarios where the Whitepaper results from Microsoft don't seem to actually be valid. She even goes as far as listing the exact steps necessary to reproduce the results. From a programmatic perspective, OOXML is amazingly bad. A programmer could probably spend a good couple years trying to write code that would be able to work with these remarkably unpredictable XML documents. Some of the elements in the VML part of the documents aren't even valid XML elements!

It is good to see that someone (among others) is standing up against bad standards. Microsoft is inciting a format war, that doesn't necessarily need to exist. They are afraid of being left behind as governments and other public bodies see the need for an open format, and are starting to move to ODF. Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of open source and standards, said "What the world needs today ... is a real open standard versus a vendor-dictated spec that documents proprietary products via XML. ODF is about the future, Open XML is about the past."

-Tom