12 Dec 2007
(updated 12 Dec 2007 at 23:25 UTC) »
Replying to the recent /.
OOXML debate, specifically to comments
by core KOffice developers:
Why do I refer to your statement as a red
herring? Because you are ignoring the fact that supporting
OOXML doesn't just allow users to have some interaction with
the propriatairy MS format it also validates it as being
relevant. And you are doing not only your users but the rest
of the world a disservice with that.
You assume that since its an MS standard, it will be
successful, and by supporting their work you are actually
helping to make that a reality.
Actually, the millions of users with documents in
format validate that it is relevant. The market demand for
inter-operability with the format validates it as relevant.
AbiWord or some other program supporting the format only
confirms that *other people* have deemed it relevant. That's
how markets work. These "other people" are your potential users.
If one grudgingly supports OOXML *the
interests of allowing users to inter-operate with
Microsoft-using colleagues, one need not approve of MS'
actions during the "standardization" process or their (you
say) lousy "standard". We don't approve of their actions. At
all. We do support Jody Goldberg's attempts to extract
better documentation from Microsoft. It makes life that much
more difficult for them, while making our implementation
that much easier.
Because we do this, doesn't mean that we don't
whole-heartedly support ODF. In your attempt to show a "red
herring", you set up a false dichotomy. (In fact, AbiWord is
shipping on the OLPC XO machines with ODF as the default
file format, and we're pleased as punch about that.)
Differing, redundant file formats drive market
and promote vendor lock-in, and should thus be considered
evil, especially when they are proprietary formats. However,
sticking our heads in the sand and pretending
that Microsoft's OOXML won't get significant user uptake is
(IMO) an absurd position. The pile of OOXML documents in my
wife's inbox are proof enough that it already has. In this
case, OOXML's success is measured by how much the community
at large uses the file format, not how much you, as a
potential implementer and free software enthusiast, like
their actions during the standardization process, or their
Disagree with the bad technical aspects of the OOXML
Disagree with how Microsoft conducted themselves during the
ISO standardization process. Shout it from the rooftops, all
the while wholly supporting and promoting existing, open
standards, such as ODF. I think that we're in total
agreement on these positions.
But not (grudgingly) supporting the OOXML format
potential users and your quest for openness more than it
hurts Microsoft, at least at this point in time. Supporting
OOXML allows your products to compete with Microsoft on ease
of use, or preferred platform, or etc. It allows your
would-be users to transition off of proprietary Microsoft
products, platforms and "standards" and onto free-er
products, platforms and
standards. Like KOffice, GNU/Linux and ODF.
In your role as core KOffice developer, if you truly
believed your own arguments, you'd remove the binary Excel,
Visio, and PowerPoint filters from KOffice. But I imagine
that would be both politically impracticable and
We support our users and openness. If that means being
able to inter-operate with proprietary formats, that's a
choice that I'm comfortable making. But in no way should it
be construed as our supporting
Microsoft so much as supporting our users. To that end, I
sincerely believe that being able
to (at minimum) read OOXML files promotes those goals and is
with software and personal freedom.