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. Aurélien Pétiaud's ILO Case (EPO Appeal) an Early Sign That ILO Protects Abusers and Power, Not Workers

    A famous EPO ‘disciplinary’ case is recalled; it’s another one of those EPO-leaning rulings from AT-ILO, which not only praises Battistelli amid very serious abuses but also lies on his behalf, leaving workers with no real access to justice but a mere illusion thereof



  2. LOT Network is a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

    Another reminder that the "LOT" is a whole lot more than it claims to be and in effect a reinforcer of the status quo



  3. 'Nokification' in Hong Kong and China (PRC)

    Chinese firms that are struggling resort to patent litigation, in effect repeating the same misguided trajectories which became so notorious in Western nations because they act as a form of taxation, discouraging actual innovation



  4. CIPU is Amplifying Misleading Propaganda From the Chamber of Commerce

    Another lobbying event is set up to alarm lawmakers and officials, telling them that the US dropped from first to twelfth using some dodgy yardstick which favours patent extremists



  5. Patent Law Firms That Profit From Software Patent Applications and Lawsuits Still 'Pull a Berkheimer' to Attract Business in Vain

    The Alice-inspired (Supreme Court) 35 U.S.C. § 101 remains unchanged, but the patent microcosm endlessly mentions a months-old decision from a lower court (than the Supreme Court) to 'sell' the impression that everything is changing and software patents have just found their 'teeth' again



  6. A Year After TC Heartland the Patent Microcosm is Trying to 'Dilute' This Supreme Court's Decision or Work Around It

    IAM, Patent Docs, Managing IP and Patently-O want more litigation (especially somewhere like the Eastern District of Texas), so in an effort to twist TC Heartland they latch onto ZTE and BigCommerce cases



  7. Microsoft Attacks the Vulnerable Using Software Patents in Order to Maintain Fear and Give the Perception of Microsoft 'Safety'

    The latest patent lawsuits from Microsoft and its patent trolls (which it financially backs); these are aimed at feeble and vulnerable rivals of Microsoft



  8. Links 19/5/2018: Mesa 18.0.4 and Vim 8.1

    Links for the day



  9. Système Battistelli (ENArque) at the EPO is Inspired by Système Lamy in Saint-Germain-en Laye

    Has the political culture of Battistelli's hometown in France contaminated the governance of the EPO?



  10. In Australia the Productivity Commission Decides/Guides Patent Law

    IP Australia, the patent office of Australia, considers abolishing "innovation patents" but has not done so yet (pending consultation)



  11. Fishy Things Noticed Ahead of the Passage of a Lot of EPO Budget (Applicants' Money) to Battistelli's Other (and Simultaneous) Employer

    Observations and odd facts regarding the affairs of the council in St Germain; it certainly looks like Battistelli as deputy mayor and the mayor (Arnaud Péricard) are attempting to hide something



  12. Links 18/5/2018: AsteroidOS 1.0 Released, More Snyk/Black Duck FUD

    Links for the day



  13. Today's EPO Financially Rewards Abuses and Violations of the Law

    Battistelli shredded the European Patent Convention (EPC) to pieces and he is being rewarded for it, perpetuating a pattern of abuses (and much worse) being rewarded by the European Patent Organisation



  14. So-Called 'System Battistelli' is Destroying the EPO, Warn Insiders

    Low-quality patent grants by the EPO are a road to nowhere but a litigious climate in Europe and an unattractive EPO



  15. Rise in Patent Trolls' Activity in Germany Noted Amid Declining Patent Quality at the EPO

    The UPC would turn Europe into some sort of litigation ‘super-state’ — one in which national patent laws are overridden by some central, immune-from-the-law bureaucracy like the EPO; but thankfully the UPC continues its slow collapse



  16. EPO's Battistelli Taking Days Off Work for Political 'Duties' (Parties) in His French Theatre Where He'll Bring Buckets of EPO Budget (EPO Stakeholders' Money)

    More tales from Saint-Germain-en-Laye...



  17. Links 16/5/2018: Cockpit 168, GCompris 0.91, DHCP Bug

    Links for the day



  18. The EPO's 'Inventor Award' Scam: Part III

    An addendum to the "inventor of the year" affair, namely the case of Remmal



  19. Apple and Microsoft Are Still Suing Companies -- Using Patents of Course -- Which 'Dare' Compete (by Leveraging GNU/Linux)

    The vanity of proprietary software giants — as the latest news serves to reveal — targeting companies with patent lawsuits, both directly and indirectly



  20. The Anti-PTAB (Patent Quality), Anti-§ 101 Lobby is Losing Its Mind and It Has Become Amusing to Observe

    The rants about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the courts and even the law itself have reached laughable levels; this reveals that the real agenda of patent maximalists is endless litigation and their methods boil down to those of an angry mob, not legal professionals



  21. EPO Has Become Overzealous About Software Patents, Probably More So Than Almost Anywhere Else

    The promotion of an extreme patent regime in Europe continues unabated; whether it succeeds or not depends on what EPO examiners and citizens of Europe can do



  22. Links 15/5/2018: Black Duck's Latest FUD and the EFF's EFFail FUD Debunked Further

    Links for the day



  23. Xiaomi, Samsung, TCL and Others Demonstrate That in a World With an Abundance of Stupid Patents Like Design Patents Nobody is Safe

    The "Cult of Patents" (typically a cabal of law firms looking to have everything on the planet patented) has created a battlefield in the mobile world; every company, once it gets big enough, faces a lot of patent lawsuits and dying companies resort to using whatever is in their "portfolio" to destroy everyone else inside the courtroom (or demand 'protection' money to avert lawsuits)



  24. A Google-Centric and Google-Led Patent Pool Won't Protect GNU/Linux But Merely 'Normalise' Software Patents

    Patent pools, which are basically the wrong solution to a very clear problem, continue to expand and promote themselves; the real solution, however, is elimination of abstract patents, notably software patents



  25. The Patent Microcosm is Still Looking for Ways to Bypass CAFC/PTAB Invalidation of Many US Patents

    In pursuit of patent maximalism (i.e. a status quo wherein US patents — no matter their age — are presumed valid and beyond scrutiny) pundits resort to new angles or attack vectors, ranging from the bottom (IPRs) to the top (Supreme Court)



  26. Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) Make the United States a Much Better Place for Innovation and Creation

    Jim Logan of Personal Audio LLC (a patent troll) suffers one final blow and other news of interest serves to show just how valuable IPRs have become in the US



  27. The EPO Has Become Extremely Corrupt and Dishonest

    Corruption at the EPO is becoming an easy-to-see epidemic/problem, even if much of the media turns a blind eye to it (partly because of the corruption that's aimed at controlling media coverage)



  28. Reader's Post: The Last Delusion of Benoît Battistelli Before His Departure on June 30th

    “The last delusion of Battistelli before his departure next June 30″ — an informal article contributed by a Techrights reader



  29. It Doesn't Take a Genius to See That Microsoft Still Attacks GNU/Linux With Patents to Make Billions of Dollars in 'Protection' Money

    Intellectual Ventures, Finjan, RPX, and other Microsoft-connected trolls cannot be countered by LOT Network and the likes of it (notably OIN); Microsoft continues to shrewdly distribute patents to trolls, offering 'protection' from them (for a fee) and pressuring OEMs to bundle Microsoft 'apps' or risk retaliatory patent lawsuitsIntellectual Ventures, Finjan, RPX, and other Microsoft-connected trolls cannot be countered by LOT Network and the likes of it (notably OIN); Microsoft continues to shrewdly distribute patents to trolls, offering 'protection' from them (for a fee) and pressuring OEMs to bundle Microsoft 'apps' or risk retaliatory patent lawsuits



  30. A Sham and a Scam: How Patent Extremists Continue to Promote a Mohawks and Allergan Ploy Against PTAB, Even After Oil States

    Watchtroll carries on promoting the 'case' of Allergan, which is grossly misusing tribal immunity to protect dodgy patents that it uses to deny access to medicine


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