EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

11.26.07

One Life, One App (Corrected)

Posted in Formats, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, Standard at 6:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just 150 years to go. Just do it.

OOXML is a sensitive subject, but if issues are not raised out in the open, we are destined to be locked down in another digital dark age. Although one man has attempted to implement rudimentary OOXML support in Gnumeric, it is estimated that it would take 150 man years to implement OOXML as it stands at moment (incomplete).

…we’re now looking at 150 man years to do the job for a competitive PPA.

”In fact, not even Microsoft Office 2007 implements something which complies with the existing specification.“There is no source code available for reuse (Microsoft Office is purely closed-source and proprietary) and there is no proper reuse of existing standards (e.g. for dates) inside OOXML. Also remember that Microsoft admitted that it is not committed to sticking to its own specification (OOXML), which makes it a moving target. In fact, not even Microsoft Office 2007 implements something which complies with the existing specification. It’s merely a derivative which ensures no compatibility through a ‘golden’ reference (a written document, spread across over 6,000 pages). There are serious patent issues to consider, but sadly enough, no-one seems to notice.

I fail to see why Gnumeric has very, very basic support for OOXML while ODF support (the ISO standard) does not have any support yet. That’s just what I was told yesterday. Are non-standards given precedence over international and open standards, which are suddenly/temporarily worth neglecting? [Correction: ODF support is coming shortly. See comments below.] The following assessment seems unrealistic.

Among the many other topics discussed at Ontario LinuxFest was a completely objective comparison of Microsoft’s OOXML document standard and OpenOffice.org’s ODF document standard by Gnumeric maintainer Jody Goldberg, who has had to wade through both in depth. His summary is that OOXML is not the spawn of Satan, and ODF is not the epitome of perfection. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and he sees no reason why we could not go forward with both standards in use.

See the aforementioned remarks about the complexity involved in implementing OOXML, which carries a patent burden and will probably be ignored by Microsoft, which will ‘extend’ things its own way in order to ensure obsolescence (forced upgrades) and poor compatibility with other applications (technical sabotage).

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

12 Comments

  1. Jody Goldberg said,

    November 26, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Gravatar

    You have been mis-informed.
    Gnumeric 1.8.0 (due in a week or so) has reasonable ODF and MOOX import. Not quite as good as our xls import, but reasonable. Export is rougher for both formats, although MOOX holds the edge.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 26, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Gravatar

    Thanks, Jody. I’ll correct the text. My understanding was based on this information.

  3. Jody said,

    November 27, 2007 at 8:15 am

    Gravatar

    I should have been clearer.

    Gnumeric 1.6.x (the previous stable release) has had ODF import for years. It was not superb, there have been significant improvements since then, but it was enough for content, styles, and basic charting. What it lacked was export. 1.8 improves ODF import, and adds basic export. It also adds MOOX import at a level similar to ODF, and export that is somewhat better than ODF.

    The ’150 year’ number is unrealistic. The XLS filters in Gnumeric or OO.o provide a huge chunk of the functionality required to map MS data structures onto native content. Our MOOX filters represent days-weeks of part time work. I’d be generous and call it a month of evenings. ODF filters have taken longer because we need to write the mapping from scratch, and have larger differences from our feature set, requiring more complex translation.

    For 2.0 I plan to have both filters at the level of our xls support. While it is not 100% (no more than OO.o is) it seems to be ‘good enough’ for most use cases. Having actually worked with (and on) both formats I’m going to trust my judgment here rather than some talking point.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Gravatar

    Jody,

    The figure about the complexity and time of implementation was actually estimated by more than just this one site (the one which is cited). Be aware that there are undocumented bits too (yes, I know that you claimed on Slashdot that there are no proprietary extensions, but I beg to differ).

  5. Hefe said,

    November 27, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Gravatar

    You beg to differ? What, may I ask, is your credibility to make such a claim? Jody Goldberg has at least read and understands both specs much better than pretty much anyone else out there in existence.

    Can you or anyone you’ve quoted who states “150 man-years” say the same? I doubt it.

    Perhaps the “expert” that quotes 150 man-years is a poor programmer with little-to-no experience actually implementing a spec?

    The funny thing about people who “beg to differ” with Jody is that when you compare credibility, it’s like night and day. You have Jody who is a very competent programmer who has 10ish+ years experience developing Office software and has read/contributed to both ODF/MOOX and you have Joe “Expert” who has 0 years experience implementing specs, 0 experience writing software (nevermind Office software), and hasn’t actually even bothered to read either spec, but instead relies on anonymous Slashdot comments for their “insight”.

    If it’s not clear who actually has a clue, it’s Jody.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Gravatar

    Hefe, from what I can gather, implementing something that corresponds to these 6,000+ pages is not sufficient for interoperability (and Microsoft too know it).

    The “Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook” option saves as an “xlsxm” extension. It is OOXML plus proprietary Microsoft extensions. These extensions, in the form of binary blob called vbaProject.bin, represent the source code of the macros. This part of the format is not described in the OOXML specification. It does not appear to be a compiled version of the macro. I could reload the document in Excel and restore the original text of my macro, including whitespace and comments. So source code appears to be stored, but in an opaque format that defied my attempts at deciphering it.

    (What’s so hard about storing a macro, guys? It’s frickin’ text. How could you you[sic] screw it up? )

    This has some interesting consequences. It is effectively a container for source code that not only requires Office to run it, but requires Office to even read it. So you could have your intellectual property in the form of extensive macros that you have written, and if Microsoft one day decides that your copy of Office is not “genuine” you could effectively be locked out of your own source code.

  7. 2234e534e4355t6546 said,

    November 27, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Gravatar

    That’s pure humbug. If you embed a Windows Media stream into you website HTML doesn’t become proprietary from that.

    About topic that you don’t understand you should try to remain silent. You’re just an embarrassment for everyone who love Linux.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from a known, pseudonymous, nymshifting, abusive Internet troll

  8. Jody said,

    November 27, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Gravatar

    1) The 150 years is nonsense. OOXML is much easier than the old binary formats which have taken no more than 10 years for several implementations

    2) Ahhh, at last a binary blob that makes sense. I keep hearing about them, but have yet to actually see any mentioned in the spec, or in the sample files. Rob Weir and by proxy you, are at least partially correct. The macro streams do actually exist. There are however several caveats.

    a) The macro enabled formats are explicitly different formats than than stock OOXML, Moreover they are not the default formats.

    b) The binary blobs are in exactly the same format as the old binary formats. Michael and I cracked it a few years back (see libgsf, or OO.o). We can read and write it.

    This was raised in the TC as part of the review process. The explanation given was that the VBA engine was in deep freeze, pending a move to something else. It would certainly be good to get this fixed. It is of less utility than the rest of the content to anyone accept virus checkers given that it requires an MS Office api implementation to actually interpret (the same way OO.o macros require OO.o uno interfaces) but it should still be addressed.

    The reality of it is much smaller than the ominous clouds of ‘proprietary extension’ suggest. It is more an indication of the weakness of the MS Office code base, than of evil intent.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    Gravatar

    1) The 150 years is nonsense. OOXML is much easier than the old binary formats which have taken no more than 10 years for several implementations

    This is news to me. Could you please show me one complete implementation of Microsoft Office formats? The latest OpenOffice.org, for example, is not compatible with Microsoft Office. For that reason, I never touch office suites (a shame really) and stick to something open — LaTeX.

    2) Ahhh, at last a binary blob that makes sense. I keep hearing about them, but have yet to actually see any mentioned in the spec, or in the sample files. Rob Weir and by proxy you, are at least partially correct. The macro streams do actually exist. There are however several caveats.

    a) The macro enabled formats are explicitly different formats than than stock OOXML, Moreover they are not the default formats.

    Could I prevent my colleagues from sending these? This is OOXML we’re talking about here. Is Microsoft hiding a parallel OOXML universe somewhere (like… say… ‘OOS (OOXML on Steroids)’)? If so, I do not want this thing approved by the ISO and the GNOME Foundation’s involvement has already done a lot of damage (see recent press coverage).

    b) The binary blobs are in exactly the same format as the old binary formats. Michael and I cracked it a few years back (see libgsf, or OO.o). We can read and write it.

    In other words, Microsoft wishes to standardrise legacy from its “old binary formats”. Wonderful.

    This was raised in the TC as part of the review process. The explanation given was that the VBA engine was in deep freeze, pending a move to something else. It would certainly be good to get this fixed. It is of less utility than the rest of the content to anyone accept virus checkers given that it requires an MS Office api implementation to actually interpret (the same way OO.o macros require OO.o uno interfaces) but it should still be addressed.

    I am absolutely stunned and unable to understand how you are willing to accept some of this and acknowledge that you hacked something which interprets binaries. With standardisation, you basically pass on the burden for other groups (say… Google Apps) to backward engineer binaries and reconstruct/mimic Microsoft APIs (never mind the patent implications of this)

    The reality of it is much smaller than the ominous clouds of ‘proprietary extension’ suggest. It is more an indication of the weakness of the MS Office code base, than of evil intent.

    So please reject it. Explain to people that OOXML has a binary ‘umbilical cord’. As it stands, your feedback in Slashdot denies this. This is what I call Microsoft-serving FUD. Sorry.

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Gravatar

    Addenda:

    ODF vs OOX : Asking the wrong questions

    Lot of answers there. To quote one

    What Brian claimed is “very rich support”. He was lying, and he didn’t try it either. What Rob meant was that usually you want to show the most complex case you support, not something simple.

    Another one: (sorry, I just can’t help it and it’s hard to leave some out)

    Wow. That’s FANTASTIC! What a great endorsing for ooxml! You must try provide this comments to Microsoft so they can used them in the BRM meeting for ISO approval.

    Sam Hiser:

    Jody-

    Your self-annihilating devotion to Microsoft is too evident. Filtering will be unnecessary when an authentic Universal Document Format exists.

    Sadly ‘Interoperability’ — the word — is being worn out while there are no self-respecting efforts to do anything except control the data of customers.

    Shame on the business!

    Lots more at:

    http://holloway.co.nz/

    See:

    Microsoft and Open Standards

    Can Other Vendors Implement Microsoft’s Office Open XML?

    15 August 2007

    http://holloway.co.nz/can-other-vendors-implement-ooxml.html

    I love this one by the way (it shows the type of people who must be patting on the Foundation’s shoulder):

    http://holloway.co.nz/sincerity-generator/

    This source not an antagonist. It’s someone who is truly trying to help us getting rid of OOXML/.doc because they are both proprietary. They can only be controlled ans mastered by a single abusive company that will carry on moving the goalposts for profit.

    http://holloway.co.nz/docvert/

    There is a lot of information in these pages: http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/odf_ooxml_technical_white_paper?page=0%2C0

    This page is also good: http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/odf_ooxml_technical_white_paper?page=0%2C8

  11. Jody Goldberg said,

    November 27, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Gravatar

    My apologies for being polite and instructive. You’ve clearly made your choices. Best wishes in your echo chamber.

  12. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 27, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Gravatar

    I rest my case then.

What Else is New


  1. The Latest EPO Victim Card (Played by Željko Topić) Should be Treated as Seriously as Those Bogus Claims of Violence by a Judge (Updated)

    In its desperate pursuit of a narrative wherein the staff of the EPO is violent and aggressive the management of the EPO, renowned for institutional aggression, finds (or claims to have found) a little tampering with a bicycle



  2. Links 25/5/2016: Nginx 1.11, F1 2015 Coming to GNU/Linux Tomorrow

    Links for the day



  3. The Media Starts Informing the European Public About the Downsides of UPC While EPO Accelerates Its Lobbying for Ratification

    The EPO's shameless UPC promotion takes another step forward as the European press outlets (even television channels) begin to explore the secret deal that's negotiated by patent lawyers (with corporate clients) and patent offices, not the public or any public interest groups



  4. Some Details About How the EPO's President is Rumoured to be 'Buying' Votes and Why It's Grounds/Basis for “Immediate Dismissal”

    Some background information and a detailed explanation of the systemic financial dependency, created by Battistelli at the cost of €13 million or more, which prevents effective oversight of Battistelli



  5. How the Patent Lawyers' Microcosm Continues to Boost Software Patents Filth by Misdirecting Readers, Relying on Highly Selective Coverage

    Under the guise of reporting/analysis/advice the community of patent lawyers is effectively lobbying to make software patents popular and widely-accepted again, based on one single case which they wish to make 'the' precedent



  6. Documents Show Zagreb Police Department in Investigation of Vice-President of the European Patent Office

    Željko Topić's troubles in Croatia, where he faces many criminal charges, may soon become an extraordinary burden for the EPO, which distances itself from it all mostly by attacking staff that 'dares' to bring up the subject



  7. [ES] Interrumpiendo la Propagánda Distractante de Battistelli: los Empleados de la EPO Protestará de Nuevo en una Quincena

    La exágerada extravagancia (desperdicio de dinero) en la Ceremonia de Premiación al Inventor Europeo de la EPO tendrá que competir por atención de los medios con miles de empleados de la EPO (en todaslas sedes de la EPO) marchándo en las calles para protestar por los abusos de la EPO



  8. Windows and Microsoft's Other 'Burning Platforms'

    It's not just Windows for phones that's reaching minuscule market share levels but also Windows, but Microsoft is skilled at hiding this (cannibalising Windows using something people do not even want, then counting that cannibal, Vista 10)



  9. Links 24/5/2016: CRYENGINE Source Code is Out on GitHub, Jono Bacon Leaves GitHub

    Links for the day



  10. Links 23/5/2016: GNOME 3.22, Calculate Linux 15.17

    Links for the day



  11. 'Celebrity' Patent Trolls and the Elusive Battle Against Patent Trolls (or Eastern District of Texas Courts) Rather Than Software Patents

    Some of last week's more important reports, which serve to demonstrate how the system is attempting to tackle a side-effect of software patents rather than the patents themselves (their irrational scope)



  12. The Circus of Patent 'Reporting' (by Omission) on the Subject of Software Patents in the US and USPTO Bias

    look at some of the latest oddities in the US patent system and much of the reporting about software patenting (more or less monopolised by those who profit from it, not harmed by it)



  13. IP3 Demonstrates That Today's Patent Systems Devolve Into a Conglomerates' Game, Won't Protect the Mythical Small Inventor

    Multinational corporations bring together their shared interests and steer the increasingly-inseparable patent systems according to their needs and goals, but has anyone even noticed?



  14. Disrupting Battistelli's Distracting Propaganda: EPO Staff to Protest Again in About a Fortnight

    The overly extravagant (waste of money) EPO European Inventor Award will have to compete for media attention with thousands of EPO staff (in all EPO sites) marching in the streets to protest against the EPO's abuses



  15. Corrupting Democracy? Growing Frequency of Rumours That the EPO's President Battistelli is 'Buying' Votes of Small Member States

    Several sources suggest that rather than appease the Administrative Council by taking corrective action Battistelli and his notorious 'circle' now work hard to remove opposition from the Administrative Council, especially where this is easier a task to accomplish (politically or economically)



  16. [ES] Los Mitos de la EPO ‘Calidad’ de Patentes y de ‘Creación’ de Patentes: Basados en Ventas de Cafe y Trauma

    La carrera hacia el fondo, o la ridícula asumpción de Battistelli de que otorgar más y más patentenes más rápidamente (e.g. usando PACE) sería beneficióso a largo término, puede guíar al final colapse del valor de la EPO y la pérdida de su lárgamente ganada reputación a nivel mundial



  17. Links 22/5/2016: Systemd 230, Debian Installer Alpha 6

    Links for the day



  18. EPO Patent 'Quality' and 'Patent Creation' Myth: Capsule-Based Coffee Sales and Trauma

    The race to the bottom, or Battistelli's ludicrous assumption that granting more and more patents faster (e.g. using PACE) would be beneficial in the long run, may lead to the ultimate collapse of the EPO's value and demise of its long-earned reputation worldwide



  19. Guest Post: How Vista 10 Imposes Itself on Users of Windows

    A reader's experience being nagged by Microsoft, as documented and explained by this reader



  20. [ES] El Notorio Tirano de la EPO, Benoît Battistelli, Se Reune Con Otros Tiranos, Reportes de Que ‘Limpia’ el Consejo Administrativo

    El régimen de Battistelli, talvez la fuente de verguénza más grande, alegadamente está “cortejándo países pequeños/corruptos para asegurárse de que los delegados que votarón contra él serán remplazados”



  21. [ES] Comentadores Anónimos Debaten Si la EPO de Battistelli Puede Revocar las Pensiones de Empleados Que Se Atreveen — GASP — a Buscar Empleo Alternativo

    Una mirada a las causas de desesperación e imensa presión en la EPO, donde las pensiónes pueden ser cortadas como medio de represália y la gente puede ser negada empleo aún después de dejar la Oficina Europea de Patentes (EPO)



  22. [ES] Otra Casi Vacía Presentación de la EPO en La Hague

    El propagandístico “estudio social” de Battistelli (básicamente un montón de engañosas afirmacionesdisfrazadas como ‘investigación’) ayuda a demostrar que los empleados de la EPO no tiene absolutamente fe en la gerencia



  23. Links 21/5/2016: Manjaro Linux RC, Flock 2016 Schedule

    Links for the day



  24. USPTO Ignores a Lot of Cases Against Software Patents to Justify Resumption of More Software Patenting

    The US patent system (USPTO) is so obsessed with granting as many patents as possible -- even bogus patents in areas that are no longer patent-eligible -- that its guidelines are further perturbed and whose appeals board is massively overwhelmed/overworked/understaffed



  25. Notorious EPO Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, Meets Other Tyrants, Reportedly 'Cleanses' the Administrative Council

    The Battistelli regime, perhaps the biggest embarrassment of Europe right now, is allegedly "courting smaller countries to make sure the delegates who voted against him will be replaced"



  26. Links 20/5/2016: Purism Tablet, ChromeOS PCs Outsell 'Mac'-Branded PCs

    Links for the day



  27. CAFC Rules Against Software Patents But Witness With Horror the Silence From Patent Lawyers (Bias by Omission)

    In an effort to protect software patents in the United States, where these patents came from in the first place (and continue to spread from), patent lawyers pretend not to see cases where software patents get invalidated and instead focus on the rare exception



  28. It's All Just Artificial Distractions From EPO Management, 'Yellow' Union Comes Under Scrutiny Again

    What's happening inside the EPO these days and what meaningless rubbish the management of the EPO would rather have the media obsessed with



  29. Anonymous Commenters Debate Whether Battistelli's EPO Can Revoke Pensions of Dismissed Employees Who Dare -- GASP -- Find Alternative Employment

    A look at causes for desperation and immense pressure at the EPO, where pensions can be cut as means of reprisal and people can be denied employment even after they leave the European Patent Office (EPO)



  30. Australian Productivity Commission's Research Calls for Ban on Software Patents, Davies Collison Cave Calls for Complaints Against This Finding

    As the push against software patents grows in Australia, much to the chagrin of Australian software developers, Davies Collison Cave (patent law firm) publicly calls for opposition, calling its side "the truth" and pretending it represents "Australian innovators."


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts