Sent by NUUGs leader Petter Reinholdtsen to Bjørnhild Sæterøy at standard.no 2007-01-30 10:09.
NUUG wishes to raise concerns regarding conflicts between ISO/IEC 26300:206 (OpenDocument Format for Office Applications, ODF) and the proposed ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Office Open XML, OOXML).
The two specifications cover the same subject, namely office documents for text processing, spreadsheets and presentation. They both aim to be a general solution in these areas, and they both use XML as the underlying format, but they use different mark-up.
As the two specifications overlap in functionality, OOXML is in conflict with ODF, and OOXML thus duplicates a lot of the work done in ODF. Conflicts occur when two specifications have different ways of implementing almost the same functionality, i.e. they overlap. Duplication of work is counterproductive; it means duplicate work on producing and maintaining the standards and creates confusion in the marketplace where producers of documents have to produce two versions, one for each standard with possibly small differences, and when failing to do so (and they will) effectively forces consumers of documents to have software for both standards available. Where consumers do not have software for both standards available, miscommunication will occur. Having two very similar and overlapping standards will thus weaken the business case for both of them.
ISO and IEC should therefore avoid, to the greatest extent possible, to have two overlapping standards and instead produce one standard that by consensus can fulfill the needs of both and the needs of the marked. One standard will have the possibility of obtaining strong support from developers, document producers and document consumers alike, whereas two will inevitably force one link in the chain to declare support for one over the other which in turn can only hurt end-users.
We therefore advise that the OOXML ballot be stopped, and that the OOXML group get together with the ODF group to enhance the ODF standard to accommodate OOXML requirements.
OOXML is developed by ECMA and ODF by OASIS. It can therefore be difficult to find neutral, common, ground. ISO and IEC needs to maintain the ISO ODF standard and has well-established procedures for resolving conflicts and obtaining consensus. We therefore propose that the work proceeds within the JTC 1/SC 34 committee.