Document Format Presentation

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Information about Document Format Presentation

Published on February 9, 2008

Author: pauljacobson



This is a presentation I gave in 2007 arguing against adoption of Office Open XML as a document standard.

Document Formats What is “open”? 1

Office Open XML • Developed by Microsoft • XML based • Published specifications • Vendor specific 2

Open Document Format • Developed by OASIS • XML based • Published specifications • Open source 3

What is the real issue? (It isn’t really a technical issue) 4

It is a policy issue 5

It is about open Photo titled “Open Access” by Shooting the breeze licensed under Creative Commons access Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike license on Flickr. 6

Open access to human knowledge and information is facilitated by truly open document formats. Information must be made available to the broadest possible cross- section of the population. 7

It is about software too • Document formats require applications to read and create them • Applications require an operating system to run them • What does the whole package cost? 8

Office Open XML • Works with Microsoft Office (Standard edition costs roughly R4 400 off the shelf) • Requires Microsoft Windows (Vista costs roughly R2 250 off the shelf) • Bulk licensing still has a price 9

Open Document Format • Works with a number of office suites including OpenOffice and NeoOffice (free) • Versions for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Linux (Ubuntu Linux, for one, is free and comes with OpenOffice) • As many copies as you want (free) 10

“Free” as in everyone Photo titled “Villager in a hut window” by Hot Foot licensed under Creative Commons has access Attribution NonCommercial No Derivatives license on Flickr. 11

Two standards? • Two standards means no standards • Users still forced to choose between competing and incompatible formats • A successful standard should have multiple implementations • No open access means the people are prejudiced 12

“The goal of the Technical Committee is to produce a formal standard for office productivity applications within the Ecma International standards process which is fully compatible with the Office Open XML Formats.” - Scope of the Open XML format of the ECMA programme of work (emphasis added) 13

Should a document format be certified as a standard based on the applications intended to support it? 14

Or should a standard be platform agnostic? 15

“Proprietaryfile formats are worse than proprietary software because they leave you with no ability to switch at a later time” - Jimmy Wales speaking at Wikimania 2005 16

Who controls the document format? Photo titled “Engine Controls” by Nick Blaire licensed under Creative Commons Attribution- No Derivatives license on Flickr. 17

Office Open XML • Development controlled by Microsoft and a vendor specific community • Linked to Microsoft Office • Version dependent? Probably 18

Open Document Format • Development by an open source community • Application neutral • Version dependent? Arguably not 19

What does this have to do with anything? 20

For one thing it means users have a real choice ... 21

... and let’s not forget the cost 22

Thank you! 23

Paul Jacobson The African Commons Project The Open Law Project Jacobson Attorneys 083 444 8260 24

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