Open XML versus ODF, Part II


Last Thursday, I posted a question about Open XML versus ODF, hoping someone could point me a a real, technical analysis of the strengths and weakness of the two formats. The one response I received, from Sam Hiser, pointed to an article entitled Interoperability: Will the Real Universal File Format please Stand Up? 

The article (and the other related articles in the same publication) was very interesting, well written, and raised some interesting points. Unfortunately, I do not agree that it constitutes a technical analysis of the two formats. There is a great deal of reference to features in OOXML which cannot be implemented by third parties without access to proprietary information from Microsoft, but there are few if any hard examples. The primary examples might be the inclusion of things like autoSpaceLikeWord95 and footnoteLayoutLikeWW8. I cannot see how Microsoft could avoid including items like this in order to support proper rendering of legacy documents. In fact, if Microsoft had not included backwards compatibility support in the specification, I could see them being equally criticized for it. As for implementing these features, this is only necessary if you want to render documents to look like old versions of Word.

Most of the commentary in these articles still comes down to “ODF is good because Microsoft is evil”.

In addition, there is a great deal of argument as to whether having more than one standard is a good thing or a bad thing. It is interesting to me that the open source community is extremely supportive of having alternatives, unless one of the alternatives comes from Microsoft.

So, I repeat my question (and clarify slightly): Does anyone know of an independent, unbiased analysis of these two document specifications?

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About

I have been working in the world of technology for 25-odd years. I am an entrepreneur and consultant, focused on software solutions, social networking, and innovation processes. Currently, I am a Principal Consultant with T4G Limited, specializing in Portal Technologies (including SharePoint), software/systems development, service oriented architectures, and many other things which I will probably not remember until I need to use them. Prior to that, I was VP of Technology at Whitehill Technologies, Inc., where I spent almost 9 years helping to grow the company from a start-up to one of the most successful private software companies in Canada. Prior to that I worked on internet conferencing using early VoIP, and on large military communications projects. Before even that, I worked in satellite control, and remote sensing. Going way back to university, my focus was on theoretical physics and astrophysics. Currently my interests revolve around most aspects of software development, from technologies to management, and in the area of defining sustainable, repeatable processes for innovation within technology organizations. I also have a particular interest in Tablet PC technologies – I have been using one for several years, and I love it. On the personal side, I still have a strong interest in all aspects of science, especially physical sciences, as well as philosophy and comparative religion. In addition, I am into music, playing guitar (badly, I am sorry to say), and reading almost anything I can lay my hands on. I am also a member of the IEEE/IEEE Computer Society, and of the Association for Computing Machinery.

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Please keep in mind that any opinions, points-of-view, comments, or other content which I post to this site are mine and mine alone. They in no way reflect the views of my employer, my country, my dog, my cat, or anyone else you can think of. To paraphrase Monty Python, "That is the theory that I have and which is mine, and what it is, too."

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