[odf-discuss] Response from a GNOME Foundation board director

Chris Puttick cputtick at gmail.com
Thu Nov 1 04:30:11 EDT 2007

On 01/11/2007, marbux <marbux at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 10/31/07, Ian Lynch <ian.lynch at zmsl.com> wrote:
> > Interesting question. An ISO standard should be free to implement, but
> > that doesn't mean it has to be interoperable with another standard.
> See my post in response to Pam's. If you check the same page of the
> Directives I cited and quoted, you'll find some language saying that the
> type of interoperability required is to be determined by market requirements
> and technical feasibility. There's a pretty strong argument that there's a
> market requirement for interoperability with ODF apps so governments can
> most efficiently implement the existing ISO 26300 standard. And there is the
> requirement of harmonization with existing standards. But JTC 1 also has a
> lot of discretion to determine such issues.
> My advice is to worry about the fox in the ODF henhouse before you worry
> about a single volunteer developer, and maybe worry about why Groklaw always
> gives Sun and IBM a pass on their misbehavior in regard to ODF. Do you think
> maybe, just maybe, there's a bit of editorial bias involved? Like maybe
> Groklaw plays favorites with big vendors?

Groklaw does what it does. AFAIK, it is only involved with ODF to the
extent that it has consistently run pro-ODF articles and anti-OOXML
articles. All publishers have a bias.

> Yes, I agree to an extent. But just about everyone has to make
> accommodations for the fact that Microsoft has a monopoly and abuses it. How
> many of us are dual-booters who also run Microsoft software?

Not me! Right up until we upgraded from Exchange 2003 to Zimbra I had
to occasionally run a Windows VM to use Outlook because the web client
was *so* bad. But never since.

I know I
> finally decided I had had it with OOo and reinstalled Windows so I can use
> WordPerfect again. And look what Gary and I got for trying to get the TC to
> fix some of the ODF interop warts?  <
> http://www.robweir.com/blog/2007/10/cracks-in-foundation.html>,
> also duly excerpted in Groklaw News Picks and linked from this list. Did the
> guy who responded to that link saying that he thought Gary was a dishonest
> person get moderated? Did the guy who linked that ad hominem attack get
> moderated?

> And where were all of you when we were trying to fix the interop warts in
> ODF so enterprises could implement ODF painlessly? Far too many of you were
> too busy posting on this list that what we had already done was impossible
> to get your own hands dirty doing scutwork on the ODF TC.

Interoperability does not mean interoperability with legacy systems.
That is a problem of and for the legacy systems, best solved by
patching (if open source) or middleware if closed source.

> Well, surprise, surprise, you've heard today from two of the people most
> responsible for ODF failing in Massachusetts, Rob Weir and Pam Jones, both
> of whom are dedicated to the idea that high fidelity interop with Microsoft
> Office would prolong the life of Office. To wit, their support for mandatory
> rip out and replace legislation in four states that went down in flames
> because the state IT folk lobbied the legislation down, knowing that it
> couldn't be done because ODF apps and MS Office can't be integrated in
> business processes because of the lossy interop and they are already locked
> into MS Office.

This is known in IT professional circles as "lacking the courage of
your convictions". And corroborated reports (documentary evidence in
my possession) strongly suggest it was Microsoft lobbyists who did for
the legislation, not the state IT folks.

> How in heck to  people expect Jody to achieve high quality interop with MS
> Excel? It's not like this community did a bloody thing to make it possible.
> Maybe if folks hadn't been spending so much time claiming what we had
> already done was impossible, they might have had time to hear that the ODF
> spec is a holy mess, that our problem wasn't Microsoft Office, it was the
> fact that OOo destroys metadata created by other apps, which the spec
> allows.

Do not confuse OOo with ODF - they are not one and the same.

> Those plug-ins were all but done. They could be out there right now
> disproving that Microsoft's claim that ODF can't express the full range of
> Microsoft features. But this community sat by while Sun and IBM did nothing
> to get the the five measly generic elements we needed into the ODF spec, not
> even putting it on the TC's agenda action  items. Five different proposals.
> And this community sat around again while Sun got another change through the
> TC allowing it to destroy the new RDF metadata coming in ODF 1.2, closing
> off that avenue for us to enable non-lossy round-trip interop between OOo
> and MS Office.

Destroy? The people who lead on the new metadata are enormously proud
of it. In what way was it destroyed?

> I don't think there's a soul on this list who has the moral right to attack
> Jody or Gnome for supporting OOXML and participating in Ecma. You're all too
> busy singing kumbaya to be bothered with making ODF live up to the
> disinformation you spread about it. As Thomas Zander said, OOo even eats
> KOffice metadata. And the reason Sun can do that is because the spec is
> broken and needs to be fixed.

I have it on reasonable authority that the line you quote from Thomas
is a 50/50 criticism of OOo and KOffice. Not of ODF.

> Fix it. Then maybe you'll have something rational to talk to Jody and Jeff
> about.
> Here are the sad facts folks.
> <http://opendocument.foundation.googlepages.com/GOSCON_Chart.pdf
> >. Add about 500 million installed Office workgroups to that list. Then go
> tell all those big enterprises that they're going to have to rip out
> Microsoft Office and replace it with OOo and see how far it gets you. <
> http://www.linuxworld.com/news/2007/072307-opendocuments-grounded.html>.

Well, big enterprises and state organisations are doing just that.
Just not so much in the US. Japan, India, South Africa, Spain,
Belgium, France, Germany. Large enterprises and state bodies, all
adopting ODF solutions. Even in the UK (well us, Bristol Council and
SpecSavers that I'm aware of, but it's a start ;) )

> Louis Guteriez told IBM that if ODF failed in Massachusetts it would fail
> everywhere, and that he had the emails to prove it. IBM and Sun are
> responsible for that failure, as is Pamela Jones for not covering what Sun
> was doing on the TC. I know she knew about it because I sent her the emails
> myself.

Maybe Louis was wrong, or he meant the US. And ODF in Massachusetts
failed because of lobbyists, dishonest and/or misinformed politicians
and an interim CIO who talk the easy path rather than the right path.

> Guess what? Novell's coming out with OOXML-enabled OOo and Sun is coming out
> with OOXML-enabled StarOffice. They've opened their new offices on the
> Microsoft campus to work on improving their interop with Office and Windows
> and will happy pay patent royalties to Microsoft for the patent protection
> their customers get for StarOffice and Novell Office while Microsoft drives
> enterprises to StarOffice and Novell Office with its 45 patent arsenal.
> "Some customers actually entered into direct patent licenses with Microsoft
> at that point, Smith says, including some "major brand-name companies" in
> financial services, health care, insurance and information technology. (He
> says they don't want to be identified, presumably because they fear angering
> the FOSS community.) Others wanted Microsoft to work out the patent issues
> directly with the commercial distributors like Red Hat and Novell."
> <http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/28/100033867/index2.htm>.
> What? You didn't know that Novell and Sun pay royalties to Microsoft? Gee,
> maybe it's because that's even more information I sent Pam Jones that she
> chose not to cover? But it's already happening folks.

We know. It was fairly public. But both companies did a deal that
suited them and their shareholders and got far more money from
Microsoft that they will ever pay in royalties.
> Now IBM is left holding the OOo bag. They don't have a deal with Microsoft.
> And Sun is the only one with an unfettered right to do whatever it wants
> with OOo code base. Poor IBM. Finally, it's going to have to join the OOo
> community and gripe about governance enough to get the OOo license changed
> so they can keep their software closed source. Apache license, maybe? That's
> what they wanted from the Foundation, but with only the "benefactors"
> getting the source code and the Foundation left with no right to distribute
> the source code themselves.
> So now the  same folks that have led you all down the daisy path want to
> beat up on Jody Goldberg and Jeff Waugh and you dutifully pile on. As Gary
> Edwards once told me, "[a] giant grizzly bear is tearing apart the cozy ODF
> camp, and the once happy campers are worried about the distant sound of some
> twig breaking in the darkness."

A giant grizzly bear huh? Weird, I haven't seen or heard it :D.
> Wake up people. ODF can only succeed if it's the right format for the job.
> Fix it before you throw rocks at people who implement something else.

It is the right format. Or at very least the best option at the
moment. Sun, IBM and many other smaller companies are making use of it
within their software. Successfully, happily and productively.

> Or just enjoy your rock-throwing party. Your choice.
> No Garage Marbux

I don't have a garage either...

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