Sat May 19 20:32:07 CEST 2007

OOXML workshop with Microsoft and Czech standardisation institute

Can you imagine better way to spend 4 hours of your Friday afternoon time than discussing OOXML problems with non-techies from Microsoft?

I can't. Thus I decided to spend this Friday afternoon at Czech standardisation institute, attending the workshop with Microsoft about OOXML specification and its fast-track process.

The workshop was very interesting. Several good jokes there. Dave Welsh from Microsoft presented Microsoft view of interoperability by showing us simple (two short lines of text, one of them being bold) document created in some dumb demo application and opening it again in Word. "This is how interoperability works in practice!" Everyone there but Microsoft employees (and there were many! ;-) enjoyed that joke. Very good one ;-)

Paper tower of OOXML Other interesting point in otherwise completely useless discussion was the typical answer from Microsoft representative... If we were talking about positive things about OOXML, Microsoft was the author of the specification. If we were talking about negative things (e.g. the most "innovative" date format representation I have ever seen or "formatlikeword95" issues etc) the specification was done by TC45/ECMA. Not Microsoft. Microsoft had only one voice there and they could not affect the resulting specification... That was the only answer when we were talking about negatives in the specification.

One very interesting news was presented there. Microsoft employee Dave Welsh told us, that the binary Office file formats are now completely public and we can receive the specification. Even before he was able to start with the next sentence, I gave him my business card and asked him to send the complete specification to me. I'm curious when I'll have it and if I can publish it. No, I'm not that naive...

BTW - with the help of Dan, Jirka and Filip, we were able to "print" the complete OOXML specification, bind it in six volumes (1000 sheets per volume) and we brought it with us to the workshop. It was a bit heavy, but I was lucky enough to find parking place in very short distance to ČNI offices (without the knowledge of where the offices exactly are, in the centre of Prague, I still can't believe it ;-) - have you ever seen 75 cm tall "tower" from paper? We have many photos from the workshop and will publish them as soon as possible, so you'll be able to see it soon.

I'd like to thank people from ČNI and more specifically to Ing. Petr Wallenfels who invited us to present our opinions. They created the web application where everyone from our country can say his opinions about the specification. They will collect all notes, evaluate them and will use them when writing the final statement.

I have read approx. 200 pages of the specification and I decided to stop, because it is dangerous. The ideas presented in various parts of the specification (like two ways to represent the date - one of them representing dates between 1900 and 20000 and another one to represent dates between 1904 and 20000 where the second one is a complete subset of the first one!) are dangerous to the mental health of the reader. The innovative method of storing the language code (e.g. the decimal integer 58380 into two digit hexadecimal number) is also worth a world-wide patent...

I simply can't believe that developers and or TC45 members from Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, The British Library, Essilor, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, Toshiba, and the United States Library of Congress actually read the final document. I can't believe it. If I ever write such document, I surely won't sign it by my name. Why?

It is very simple and I wrote it several times. I do not like to look like idiot. After reading few pages of the specification, I think TC45 members simply like it OR they never read the specification OR something else ($$$$$)...

Update: Filip uploaded all photos.

Posted by Pavel | Permanent link | File under: