Survival of the fit-for-purposest

Glyn versus Gloria

By Rick Jelliffe
June 25, 2009 | Comments: 1

He wrote She sang

It's hard to believe that there was such sound and fury when OOXML was being pushed through the ISO process.
First I was afraid
I was petrified

At the time, it seemed like the end of the world, since it looked like Microsoft had succeeded in obtaining a nominal parity with ODF, which had been approved earlier.
kept trying hard to mend
the pieces of my broken heart
I used to cry

My, what a difference a year makes.
Now I hold my head up high
and you see me
somebody new

One of the central reasons for standardising the file formats is to allow alternative implementations and interoperability between them. This gives users the ability to avoid vendor lock-in, and creates a competitive marketplace that drives down prices (assuming they are not already zero, as in the case of open source).
I'm not that chained up little person
still in love with you

While OOXML-compliant software seems conspicuous by its absence, ODF goes from strength to strength: there is literally no contest between the rival standards in this respect.
now I'm saving all my loving
for someone who's loving me

That's not to say that there aren't still teething problems with ODF, with incompatibilities of varying seriousness showing up between alternative implementations. For example, when you move your document from one program to another, internal details may change, upsetting the overall layout.
I just walked in to find you here
with that sad look upon your face

These problems are acknowledged, and are being worked on in the spirit of co-operation and mutual benefit.
I should have changed my stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key

But that may be cold comfort to companies that actually want to use ODF, and are worried about problems down the line. Indeed, such concerns may well be serious brake on ODF uptake.
If I had known for just one second
you'd be back to bother me

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1 Comment

For more signs of calmness and progress, see Sven Langkamp's blog ODF Interoperability: ideal versus practice which augers well that cooler heads are prevailing and the mania is dying down. KOffice 2.0.0 has just been released (May. 2009) The KOffice website has a call for volunteers to help on Kivio, their diagramming and flowchart application.

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