Vote “No”? But aren’t I supposed to be Microsoft’s biggest fanboy? Well, what I mean is a conditional approval, not a rejection. There are some things that can be fixed and should be fixed, and an ISO Ballot Resolution Meeting is the best forum to make sure it happens.
I’ve been quite active in the debate on adopting Office Open XML as a standard,* and this blog has frittered away many bits on explaining why (because it would be useful in my industry, which is industrial publishing and markup, and we have been demanding it for a long time) and why many of the specific reasons given against OOXML are flimsy (how many self-assured people have raised “autoSpaceLikeWord95″ who have no idea what a fullwidth character is, for example?) But not all was plain sailing: along the way I have pointed out several flaws that I thought needed to be corrected. A mild diversion has been to look at the various claims of bribery or faulty procedure bandied about.
On my travels, when I have been asked about how National Bodies should vote, I have always said that there is nothing wrong with a “No with Comments” vote, if the comments were doable. Indeed, this is exactly the vote that I have recommended to my national body, Standards Australia.
The actual list of comments I sent is here. Please note that these are just one person’s comments, not the official position. I have no idea how Standards Australia will vote, but I strongly urge them to vote “No with Comments”, specifically with my comments. I have tried in the comments to address many of the issue that people raised, and to limit the comments to issues that are relevant to Australia (which Standards Australia is quite keen on.)
Now when reading these comments, please realize that the intent is to state the technical and editorial position as clearly as possible. (When I say something is unacceptable, that is only in the context of the suggested fix to make i acceptable, not any claim that something cannot be fixed by the normal BRM process,) The whole point of these comments are that IMHO the big flaws in the standards are fixable (and fixable by the current processes) and that the edge-cases are not critical and can be left to maintenance.
In my comments I have attempted to expose the principles behind the comment, and to limit them to comments relevant to Australian industry. I definitely concentrate on getting the high-level issues right: the name of the standard, the organization of it, the conformance section, the over-abundance of non-normative text, the need to allow standard notations, and a future-proofing issue. My view is that getting these high-level issues right takes the sting out of the tail of many individual problems and edge-cases, and addresses many of the technical issues that people have raised piecemeal,.
* One unexpected bonus was that MS give me three weeks work (plus some preparation), traveling around teaching seminars on Open XML and talking to standards people. There were three newspaper interviews too. I quite like travel, providing it is leisurely. I had a chance to have three dinners with James Clark in Bangkok out of it, and to make a new friend at Adobe in San Francisco, which was cool. But the stench of the four-paned beast is hard to wash off: I was in New Zealand on completely unrelated business and I was invited to speak at an Open Source meeting, but
some of the attendees seemed to think I was there in MS’ employ.