[odf-discuss] Response from a GNOME Foundation board director
jody at gnome.org
Fri Nov 2 05:39:24 EDT 2007
On Wed, Oct 31, 2007 at 03:55:48PM +0000, Chris Puttick wrote:
> It concerns me to hear there are no people in the Gnome Foundation
> interested in helping level the software playing field and perfecting
> ODF as a format. Because that contrasts rather peculiarly with Gnome
> Foundation associates (specifically Gnumeric developers, to be fair)
> being the single loudest source of ODF criticism in the open source
Our (Gnumeric developers) perspective is that we are a neutral third
party, and both specs have made our lives unpleasant. Each has it's
own irritations and benefits. Neither is going to be 'perfected'
into being the one true office format as far as I can tell. The
dominant organizations behind both of them have no interest in doing
so. These formats are the file formats of their native
applications. There is little appetite for extending the formats in
ways that are unlikely to be easy to support in those applications.
MS supports shared formulas, but only in a limited way that maps to
Excel internals. ODF doesn't support them at all. Both are chock
full of boolean flags for state that should be enumerations for
third party extensibility.
Unfortunately, the addition of the wonderful new Formula spec in ODF
1.2 actually drives the final nail into the interoperability coffin.
It is a beautiful piece of work but it is intentionally different
enough from XL that MS could never store content without loss unless
they shattered the utility of ODF and put things in their own
It would be valid ODF 1.1, and possibly even 1.2 depending on how
the lawyers parse things. Early versions of OO.o would not be able
to read it, and the newer variants that helpfully ignore the
internal name-space entirely would calculate different results.
I'm a strong supporter of free software.
I'm in favour of well documented specifications.
Pushing ODF as the one true standard format is a powerful political
ploy, but technically it is nonsense.
> > > Maybe Jody should go - he has strong opinions on the failings of ODF; it
> > > would be far more effective to go help fix them.
> > The GNOME Foundation doesn't seek to control what our volunteers do with
> > their time.
> No, and neither should they. But volunteers for all non-profit
> organisations need to be guided by the organisation they volunteer for
> - that's the nature of volunteering for that organisation. Could Jody
> be gently encouraged to consider it?
The sad truth is that while I'd be happy to return to the ODF TC, it
is a trade off. Given the choice between writing code and meeting
there is not much debate. To date my experience has been that
attending ECMA produced useful results. I asked questions, MS gave
answers, I saved more time than the meetings required. The ODF TC
was fraught with politics, and produced significantly fewer benefits.
This list has done little to dispel the notion that things have
The notion that free software contributors can be 'guided' flies in
the face of most of the developers I've ever met. Thank you for the
'gentle encouragement' but I'll take it under advisement.
Gnumeric 1.8 is coming out shortly, and waking up at 4am to follow
all these threads before work is unsustainable.
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