The OpenDocument web site is not longer accepting new posts. Information on this page is preserved for legacy purposes only. For current information on ODF, please see the OASIS OpenDocument Technical Committee.



The case for a valid contradiction of Microsoft Office Open XML at ISO has not been rebutted


As a matter of law, a national body's contradiction to a draft standard being processed on the fast track at the International Organization for Standardization ("ISO"), such as Microsoft's proposal that its Office Open XML specification become an International Standard, validly includes an objection that the draft standard is ineligible for further preparation as a standard on grounds that it would create an unnecessary obstacle to international trade. The relevant standardization processes are based on consensus among member nations. Contradiction should be understood in context as a national body's veto of fast track procedures being applied to a standard, not as a narrowly-defined grounds for objection. A contradiction is in essence notice that a draft standard is a deal-breaker, that a national body is unwilling to agree to a draft standard being processed on the fast track. This paper addresses the controlling law and relevant policy statements, concluding that: [i] definitions of contradiction provided by a Microsoft staffer and another commentator are unquestionably wrong; and [ii] because their positions on the meaning of contradiction in context are in error, the published case for contradicting further preparation of the OOXML draft standard have not been rebutted. Recommendations are given for ISO to minimize the potential for such disagreements in the future.


This presentation is in no small part intended as an an apology for not having previously performed more thorough legal research on the meaning of the word contradiction in the context of the JTC-1 Directives, a personal failing I seek to remedy here. That is the burning issue of the moment as Microsoft's proposal that a partial specification of its new Office file formats be adopted as an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization ("ISO") wends its way through ISO processes.

Since my first article,  Rick Jelliffe has waded in, as has Microsoft's Brian Jones.  As will be apparent if their takes are compared with the discussion below, both got it wrong on the meaning of contradiction in the context of JTC 1 Directives. Way, way wrong. Also since my first article, Grokdoc, the companion of the Groklaw legal news web site, has published a detailed and fully referenced assembly of grounds for objecting to the fast track processing of Ecma 376.

Recommendation:  Before launching into the legal meaning of contradiction in context, it should be noticed that much disagreement could have been avoided had JTC-1 offered a bit more guidance in its Directives on the meaning of a contradiction. The Directives very appropriately do not define the term (its meaning cannot be defined by ISO as its meaning is determined by an international treaty), but offer no clue to where such meaning might be divined.

Read more


OLPC: One Laptop per Child project is ODF ready

All too often we fall into the trap of thinking that to effect big changes we must engage and move big markets, big corporations, and big governments.  As an OpenDocument afficionado, believing that ODF is the future, and the world better for it, i'm nevertheless as guilty of bigitis as it gets.  If ODF is the future, than it has to be the future for all of us.  Bigness or littleness not withstanding.

So when i got word that the OLPC project would be shipping ODF ready Laptops to barefoot children in third world countries where access to clean water is a bit more important a daily concern than access to the great infogrid, my sense of bigness was rocked.  That the barefoot billions would have access to world wide information flows and be able to interactively participate in the volumes of mankind's knowledge is an extraordinary event. 

So what does this really mean for the future of ODF?

The uphill battle that ODf faces is based on the hard reality that there are currently 485 million desktop - laptop computers running an MSOffice productivity environment.  This represents near 95% of all desktop - laptop computers.  Because of this, MSOffice applications define how most end users interface with information systems, transaction processing systems, business processes, workflows, and emerging information processing chains.  Document and data information flows which are trapped in the confines of a secret, proprietary binary file format.

The challenge to implementing ODF solutions is further complicated by the incredible volume of MSOffice bound business processes, line of business add-ons, and assistive technology add-ons that represent the day to day business reality for near 485 million end users.  This business reality is similarly trapped by the dual barriers of MS binary file formats and, the binding to MSOffice interfaces.

So here i am trapped by my thinking that i need to find ways for ODF to penetrate and overcome the dual barriers of MSOffice bound business processes.  The dual barriers of first getting MSOffice bound information into ODF, and then getting MSOffice bound  business processes and information system interfaces into ODF ready information processing chains.  All the while thinking that 485 million is "the" big number.  And in the midst of my angst, along comes the OLPC project with it's potentially billions of newly christened barefoot but eager digerati, ODF ready by default.  Problem solved before it even becomes a problem.

It's often been said that ODF enables end users to take ownership of both their information, and, the information processes they depend on.  How big it is that OLPC enables ODF remains to be seen.  For the moment though, that great herd of 485 million, the monopoly base if you will, doesn't look quite so big.  Or quite so impossibly daunting.

About the OLPC Project:

Read more


Thoughts on an OpenDocument Toolkit (Part 2)

Please see GullFOSS blog for part 2 of my thoughts on an OpenDocument toolkit.


Link to GullFOSS blog: Thoughts on an OpenDocument Toolkit

Please see GullFOSS blog for my thoughts on an OpenDocument toolkit.



Congratulations on getting opendocument up and running! I think this is going to be a great asset to the community and and yet another wonderful example of openness around standards creation and advancement.

Read more Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
OASIS sites: OASIS | Cover Pages | | AMQP | CGM Open | eGov | Emergency | IDtrust | LegalXML | Open CSA | OSLC | WS-I