No discussion topics were cut off by the OOXML Contradiction Period

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I’m hearing reports that people in national standards bodies are being told blatantly false information about what they can and cannot discuss during the current JTC1 Fast Track process for OOXML. They are being told things, to paraphrase, like “the contradiction period decided that such and such was ok” or “we can’t consider that problem with OOXML because it was already dealt with in the Contradiction Period.”

Both of these are completely FALSE.

If anything, the Fast Track period is to allow even more time to dive deeply into the many problems that have been identified with OOXML. Everything that was on the table during the Contradiction Period is also available for discussion now. If it was a problem then, it is a problem to be discussed now.

Also beware stalling and procedural tactics that are otherwise designed to limit discussion. If there is not enough time to fully flesh out all the issues with OOXML during the Fast Track process, then Fast Track is not appropriate. That should mean a NO vote to allow this spec to be either fixed or otherwise taken care of in the fullness of time.

If you fundamentally feel that that OOXML is redundant and should be converged with ODF, an existing ISO standard, I think this also means a NO vote. A YES vote will significantly limit the motivation of the OOXML supporter(s) to make any substantive changes other than what suits their product interests.

Also See: An “OOXML is a bad idea” blog entry compendium


  1. As Ecma said themselves:

    On missing Annexes:
    > As such, Ecma believes that a review of them is best left to the 5-month ballot.

    On paper sizes:
    > Any other aspects of the perceived contradictions
    > related to paper size are matters for the 5-month ballot.

    On CGM:
    > Issues related to perceived contradictions with the
    > Computer Graphics Metafile standard are appropriate
    > for discussion during the 5-month ballot.

    On Password hash “pseudo-code”:
    > If there is any disagreement on the technical approach
    > used in the password hash, however, that should be
    > addressed during the 5-month ballot.

    On HTML and SVG Colour names:
    > Both of these perceived contradictions are matters for the 5-month ballot.

    On Percentages:
    > These perceived contradictions are matters for the 5-month ballot.

    On MSOOXML legacy features:
    > … or if the elements should be removed from the standard,
    > that is a more appropriate matter for the 5-month ballot …

    On inconsistent terminologies:
    > Ecma will do what it can to resolve such inconsistencies
    > during the 5-month ballot.

    In conclusion:
    > Ecma wishes to thank the NBs for their efforts during this
    > 30-day review period, and looks forward to working
    > further with them in an effort to resolve any technical concerns
    > that may arise from the 5-month ballot of the Fast Track.

    I certainly was not contacted nor convinced by any Ecma representatives during this 5 months ballot process, so Im taking Ecma to task in repeating my concerns in my comment submission.

    I suggest every NB re-include all their comments raised in February, as Ecma has yet to deliver in addressing these concerns properly.


  2. For a long moment, I misread the title as

    OOXML contradiction period stopped. No discussion.

    Punctuation added to emphasize my mistake.

  3. It has all been a big farce. OOXML contradictions are not discussed for ‘political’ reasons. Nothing technical here. See:

    There is also the claim made by no-ooxml that the system was being abused by hired astroturfers at the level of feedback/comment.

  4. I changed the title to something that I hope is clearer. I seem to be title-challenged lately.

  5. Hmmm. It is hard to tell what is happening in the UK. I am on the technical committee, whose mandate is to look at purely technical issues (of which there are plenty).
    There are no less than 3 committees above the technical committee. They are supposed to be considering (1) legal issues (eg is the patent waiver adequate, what happens on patents if the standard is changed later during maintenance (at the moment the waiver would appear to give MS veto rights on maintenance changes), (2) maintenance issues (who exactly maintains the standard), (3) do we need/should we have a second office document standard, (4) should the UK be pursuing the apparent disregard by the JTC1 Secretariat of the contradiction it raised in the initial 30 day period.
    Quite where these 3 committees have got to is hard to tell.
    The basic problem is that BSI is not used to dealing with highly political standards such as this one. My own views are fairly plainly stated on my blog :)

  6. If you’ve been reading Brian Jones’ blog lately, it reads like a conservative political blog in that he’s writing a lot of spin on MS-OOXML’s march toward ISO. He’s going out of his way to dismiss objections and cover simple counterpoints with labyrinthine explanations and vague, empty talking-point rhetoric. Someone should make a copy before it gets deleted. Brian is a straight-up guy, but his arguments are specious at best.

    For those who are on these committees around the globe, I urge you to follow IBM’s lead during Ecma and make your objections public, with the added record of posting them on websites, forums, blogs, and other places online.

  7. John (and anyone else who is interested).

    At IBM Hursley, we have a permanent ‘IBM Innovation Center’ .

    The idea is, you ask your IBM rep, and he shows you round.

    We’re only an hour and a bit from central London; train to Winchester, then taxi.

    Come see what we’re up to. Have a go on the IBM eServer BlueGene. See what contracts IBM has with the Chinese government. Would you like IBM Lotus Notes to go on the Nintendo ‘Wii’ ? (OK, that’s not for real. I’m trying to get management approval. I believe there’s a market for it, though.)

    Come kick the tyres. If you kick a tyre and it deflates or punctures, we’ll know we have to make a better one.

    While Wimbledon is on, you can get strawberries there. Sam Palmisano pays the bill.

    Where do you think the Wimbledon serve-speed meter comes from ? How fast was your IBM Service today ?

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