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

marbux marbux at gmail.com
Wed Oct 31 19:41:32 EDT 2007

On 10/31/07, Pamela Jones <pj at groklaw.net> wrote:
> %(got_listinfo_url)s
> You are assuming that Alex Brown will be addressing interoperability
> issues.  Is it a requirement that he do so?

If it is in the comments, it's on the table.

Do you have any indication that this is on the table? He has after all
> said that only technical questions will be addressed in Feb. at the
> meeting he chairs.

Yes. At least India has raised the issue directly. (I haven't finished
reading all of the comments yet.) They criticized DIS 29500 for being out of
compliance with following requirement:

"Standards designed to facilitate interoperability need to specify clearly
and unambiguously the conformity requirements that are essential to achieve
the interoperability."

ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives, 5th ed., v. 3.0, pg. 145 (April 5, 2007), <

Interestingly, the same page includes a definition of "interoperability"
that is for all relevant purposes indistinguishable from that upheld and
interpreted by the Court of First Instance in the Microsoft case, rejecting
Microsoft's argument that interoperability meant 1-way interop only, holding
that it requires 2-way interop and that Microsoft had to make sufficient
disclosures to enable competitors to achieve the same quality of interop
that Microsoft achieves with its own software. Microsoft v. Commission, Case
No. T-201/04, Court of First Instance, Judgment of 17 September 2007,
e.g.,¶¶ 104, 108, 157, and 256. <

So, is interoperability considered a technical or a political, so to
> speak, issue?  Anyone know?

Technical. See the quote from the Directives above. But it's a very
political issue, as demonstrated on the ODF TC. My assessment is that the
technical battle over DIS 29500 could be won or lost on interop conformance
issue. If DIS 29500 includes exacting interop conformance requirements
allowing all OOXML conformant apps to interoperate, it doesn't matter
whether DIS 29500 passes; Microsoft will maybe implement it after the
company goes into receivership. Probably not before, because Microsoft is
not into enabling interop with competitor's products. It wants to keep folks
writing apps that run atop the Office APIs. But if Microsoft gets its way
with a 1-way interop standard, it may implement it so long as it is able to
do so without rewriting Office from the ground up. Otherwise, it doesn't
have the benefit of being able to market its product as international

Not that that's such a huge issue anymore. E.g., I'm not aware of any recent
featureful ODF implementation that can still write to the ISO 26300
standard. Everyone's moved on to ODF 1.1, 1.2, and extended ODF that is
quite different from the ISO 26300 standard. Although it might  be argued
that the later versions are still ISO 26300 conformant because the standard
allows eXtensions, European Community governments have been quite clear that
they intend to use the government procurement power to prohibit extensions.

There are other comments raised that implicitly raise the interop issue. E.g.,
the numerous comments from the UK that call for changes in DIS 29500 to
harmonize it with ODF. Harmonization is all about interop, although the UK
did not use the I word directly, IIRC. Lots of NBs raised harmonization with
ISO 26300 issues.

Best regards,

No Garage Marbux

  Director of Legal Affairs
  OpenDocument Foundation
Charter member, Two Guys without a Garage,
-- Universal Interop Now!
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