OOXML: Your flexible file format

I noted this post on Bob Sutor’s blog and thought it definately warranted promoting.

As he says this should be obvious to everyone (it certainly is to BECTA here in the UK) but, just perhaps, some people are being misled into thinking that OXML is OOXML is OOXML….

Saving your documents in OOXML format right now is probably about the riskiest thing you can do if you are concerned with long term interoperability.

Bob goes on to say:

First, the “official” ECMA OOXML that was submitted to ISO is not what Microsoft implements in Office 2007. So unless your application reverse-engineered Office 2007’s support, you’ve got interoperability problems right there.

Second, the ECMA spec is over 6000 pages long, there were thousands of comments, and thousands of pages of proposed resolutions to those comments. And that’s just from Microsoft. Others will go to the BRM with different proposals, and further ideas may come up there. Not everything may be addressed at the BRM.

Nobody has the vaguest idea what OOXML will look like in February or even whether it will be in any sort of stable condition by the end of March. Major features may be deprecated. Completely different solutions may be proposed. And at the end, the whole thing may be rejected, just as it was done in September.

So that OOXML format that you are saving files in right now is dead and will be replaced, unless Microsoft decides it won’t bother implementing what comes out of the ISO process. Indeed, if the ballot finally fails, I’m not sure what Microsoft will do with all the suggested comments.

Nice one Bob. I thought this was pretty obvious too but it can’t hurt to explain it to the public. Microsoft certainly won’t.

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