Sunday, January 07, 2007

Office XML

Please excuse the geek post, but I was personally offended by Massachusetts two years ago. No it didn't have anything to do with gay marriage. It did have everything to do with a little document they issued calling for 'open standards' in the software they used, calling for Open Office's file format and PDFs in all documents, but attempting to exclude Office XML, which in fact is quite more open than the binary blob of a PDF.

Finally, I find someone who agrees with me.

In reading Joe's remarks, however, it's difficult to find a coherent position. At one point, he bases his notion of "open" on the acceptance of a standard by an independent standards body. At another point, he defines "open" based on the extent to which independent software vendors have supported the format with a certain degree of fidelity. Thus, OASIS's OpenDocument XML format is "open," but so is Adobe's PDF.

As a side note, back on September 1, Joe was scratching his head about Massachusetts' inclusion of PDF in their definition of "open." Apparently Joe forgot that he'd done exactly the same thing back in June. To be fair, Joe's reasoning was subtly different from that invoked by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but neither line of reasoning is all that coherent in the exclusion of Microsoft's use of XML in Office from the "open" rubric.

A fascinating little document that looks into the relationship between jargon, XML, and openness. Good stuff.

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