Any doubts about the significant problems in Microsoft’s OOXML specification should be dispelled by the impressive list of objections in an article published today on Groklaw: Deadline Looms to Express Concerns about ECMA 376 Office Open XML. This follows on from an earlier Groklaw article that I mentioned on Monday.
Rob Weir comments in his blog about the team that put together the list of objections:
“…this last weekend at Groklaw… a team of [around 20] volunteers attempted to review the 6,000 page Ecma Office Open XML specification. Since the specification is already two weeks into a 30-day review in ISO/IEC JTC1, a parallel approach was the indicated solution. The alternative, for each individual to review the specification in its entirety, would have required them to read at the rate of 200-pages/day for a month…
“What they found is amazing… I have been reading the OOXML specification, on and off, for a few months now, noting in this blog the problems I’ve seen. I thought I had a good grasp of the problems. But I was wrong. I was just scratching the surface. The Microsoft guys think I have been complaining too much. But it now looks like I wasn’t complaining enough.”
Even if you’re a supporter of the proposition that two standards are a good thing, you should be opposed to “fast-tracking” a specification as long, complex, and full of flaws as this one. It should be subjected to ISO’s normal processes. ECMA should be embarrassed that they approved the spec without identifying and resolving the problems.