via a post from earlier today, Brian Jones, a program manager working on the XML functionality and file formats in MS Office, both reports, to then extend with additional commentary writes,
Wow, we finally have an updated draft of the Ecma Office Open XML formats standard! http://www.ecma-international.org/news/TC45_current_work/TC45-2006-50.htm I’ve been waiting for a long time to be able to share all the great work that’s been going on in Ecma TC45, and it’s so awesome that we have a new public draft. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks. If you go to that site, you’ll see three different downloads:
Draft 1.3 of the spec - The big download is the spec itself in PDF form. It’s about 25 megabytes and is around 4000 pages.
Draft 1.3 of the spec in the Open XML format - Alternatively, you can download the .docx version of the spec. Once Beta 2 comes out, you can open it that way (although opening 4000 pages of content with beta software may be slightly problematic
Schemas - The schema files are also available for download. They are available in a ZIP file, that also contains an index.htm file that describes each xsd
We’ve been working really hard over the past 5 months bringing this standard along. There is still a lot of work to do, but you’ll see pretty clearly that we’ve made a ton of progress over the initial submission from last year. We have weekly 2 hour phone conferences (they are actually at 6am my time which is not ideal
), as well as 3 day face to face meetings about every 2 months. The contributions from everyone has just been outstanding. It’s so awesome to work with such a diverse group of people. While the initial submission was made by Microsoft, it’s now completely in Ecma’s control and we’ve had a lot of help from Apple, Barclays Capital, BP, The British Library, Essilor, Intel, Microsoft, NextPage, Novell, Statoil, and Toshiba.
***Note*** Remember that this is just a draft. Some sections of the spec are much further along than others, so keep that in mind while you are looking through the spec. If you are in an area that looks like there isn’t much information, odds are we just haven’t gotten to that yet.
A lot of valuable information in both this post, and as I have recently come to discover over the past couple of weeks, in Brians overall blog entries in general. If you don’t already, I would HIGHLY recommend (as does Rick Jelliffe from several days before me in this post) adding either the Atom 1.0 or RSS 2.0 feed to your feed reading mechanism of choice.
The world is filled with all types of document formats, and opinions as to which one is better for one purpose or another, but in the end content is King. If we could design one document format that could persist from now until the end of time, if that format were to never contain any content, it simply would not matter.
Document formats need to allow accessibility, reliability, extensibility, as well as persistence for as long as they have the capability to do so to ensure that the authors original content AND intent are both preserved and accessible, no matter what tools they choose to use to create that content. I may prefer a different type of brush and oil colors in a different shade of blue, red, and green, than you would choose. Then again, you may prefer avoiding brushes and shades of oil colors all together, instead choosing a camera to record the painting of a picture from a completely different perspective, using filters, and angles, and light direction, and lens to allow for a completely different view than someone else who has their camera pointed in the same location at the same time, to produce a result unlike your photograph and my painting, and yet just as important to them as your is to you and mine to me.
In the end, when about our business of creation, it is our tools of choice that allow us the expression we desire and/or prefer. But the tools are not what gain the credit for its creation, nor do they gain possession of the legal copyright. The film persists an image, as does the canvas, but while maintaining responsibility for this persistence, the credit for the creation of this image is what matters to us both personally and legally, affording us the freedom to choose who we would like to share these creations with, and who we would not.
OpenXML and ODF are containers, nothing more, nothing less. But containers such as these hold the potential to control who can view, who can see, who can edit, and who can reproduce and redistribute our creations, beyond what our personal desires in this regard might be. The ability to gain access to and maintain control of the content we create is our right, expressed in the legal form of a copyright. With this in mind, OpenXML and ODF sit at the very foundation of freedom, and choice, and could very well be the most important document formats to ever again find rights of passage into the foundation of our technological future.
As members of the XML community, it is our obligation to make sure we both use our skills and knowledge as well as our overall understanding of how to best use XML to allow the greatest amounts of freedoms from the entire spectrum in which freedom can both exist and persist, while at the same time the smallest amounts of restrictions and frictions placed upon those in whom will be using these documents of expression for many years beyond the day that each and everyone of us no longer finds ourselves a part of this industry, this community, or even this world.
As such, please get involved with one, the other, or both of these important formats, and do so with the intent of building upon a foundation of freedom for everyone who will come in contact with these formats to use for persistence of both creation, expression, and the ability to decide for ones self what tools they/we/all of us prefer to use, or even which format they/we/all of us prefer to place their/our creations upon for long term persistence/storage/sharing.
In the end, the most important part of all of this is whats on the inside of these containers.
But we’re not at the end yet… and instead at the very beginning.
Gaining access to the contents of these containers at any time, by anybody in whom the original copyright holder desires to provide access to is the most important piece in all of this. We have the ability now to ensure this is possible from both the ODF and OpenXML side of this important moment in history. Whether one format or the other ultimately becomes the prefered choice from a long term perspective should be left to the long term to decide for itself.
In the short term we have work to do in making sure that no matter what the preference ends up to be, that preference provides free access based on the copyright holders desires as to the content on the inside no matter what the label says on the outside.
Its time to get to work. A carpool list is on the fridge in the lunch room, and for those interested, free bus passes are available from the receptionist in the lobby.
I plan to ride my bike myself, so whether you choose carpool, bus or something else all together, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck sitting next to me and my jibberjabber loud mouth.
Although, if you like to sing, then maybe my jibberjabber loudmouth is something you wouldnt mind so much… I can hold a tune better than I bet you think I can, and can even harmonize with the right folk.
But until such time as we start up our garage band, lets just get our a$$ off this chair and into whichever area of focus we decide to place it upon.
This is pretty important stuff, don’t you think? :)