ODF Split: Good Riddance or Good Grief?
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with Sam Hiser, vice president of the OpenDocument
Foundation, a small group dedicated to advancing the industry standard OpenDocument
Format specification. At the time, Hiser's group had very publicly and emphatically
from the ODF working group
, complaining that the XML-based spec was hamstrung
by Sun Microsystems and other organizations unwilling to shape ODF into a true,
universal file format.
Hiser, foundation president Gary Edwards and technical expert Paul Marbux are
about all there ever was to the OpenDocument Foundation. This was a small but
vocal clutch of technologists, who seemed determined to give as good as they
got in the standards-making arena. But they might have got more than they bargained
for, when they left the ODF working group.
Today, the OpenDocument Foundation is done. Closed. Shuttered. There's nothing
left of it on the Web but blog echoes and 404 errors.
Talk to Simon Phipps, Sun's chief open source officer, and you'll hear him
call Hiser and Edwards' group "a shell that consists of just three people"
and that they "got out of their depth in OASIS," the standards-making
body for ODF. Phipps contends the group picked up and left when things didn't
go the way they wanted.
What they wanted, Hiser said, is for ODF to go further than to just be the
XML-based object model for the OpenOffice suite. Hiser said his group was urging
ODF to take on the tough interoperability issues posed by function-rich applications
like Microsoft Office, and to arm the ODF spec with tools for at least managing
and preserving the bits produced by them.
That may come in ODF version 1.2 or 1.3, said Phipps. But it's not going to
The upshot of all this is that nothing has really changed in the ODF process.
There doesn't seem to be a grand split or splintering of the spec. And the ODF
community will no doubt fight tooth and nail against a scheduled February vote
to approve Microsoft Office Open XML as an ISO standard.
What are your thoughts on the OpenDocument Foundation decision to publicly
split from the ODF community? Did they do a good thing by perhaps calling attention
to an important flank in the XML file format fight, or did they only succeed
in adding misplaced FUD to the ODF spec? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Michael Desmond on 11/14/2007 at 1:15 PM