5 responses

  1. Fraxas
    October 13, 2005

    Even the COM interfaces only allow you to get at what the COM API developer wants you to — which might not be everything.

    And besides, COM is Hard, and XML is Easy, right? ;)

  2. stephen o'grady
    October 13, 2005

    Anthony: i should have added that qualifier i suppose, though my contention would be with Fraxas, i.e. that the transformations now made possible – on non-COM platforms, to boot – are far more extensive.

    on the XML front, couldn't agree more. i'll be very interested to see what kind of XML is generated in Office 12. my experience with past exports to XML or even HTML have been poor to quite poor.

    Fraxas: great point, Fraxas. not so sure about the XML is easy bit ;)

  3. Anthony
    October 13, 2005

    You’ve been able to do this for a while using COM.

    The XML Word generates is particularly nasty for parsing. We’ve used InfoPath from MS Office which is cleaner but more targeted at form generation.

  4. Gary Edwards
    October 13, 2005

    Poor to quite poor? MSXML breaks the most basic promise of XML. There is no transformation capability short of reverse engineering the software dependent binary key that can be found in the header of every MSXML file. MSXML might be wonderful for Microsoft software stacks, but it's useless to the rest of the world.

    The binary key makes MSXML interoperability adverse, and near useless in an SOA – ESB environment.

    One of the things that makes ODF such an important innovation is that it is entirely software independent. This also means that the "intelligence" or information about the file is also contained and carried with the file. With software dependencies, critical information about the file remains within application and platform bound software constructs.

    Yes, you can insert a binary blob anywhere you please in ODF. XML is after all meant to be extensible. But the moment you do that, you threaten the transformational qualities of the file format. To preserve the fidelity of your transformation qualities, information about these extensions should be placed in the metadata.xml container of the file. This enables applications, developers and information managers to figure out what to do with the extended aspects of your file.

    The expansion of the ODF metadata structure is now a key issue before the ODF TC. The realization being that everyone's life would be much easier, and the quality of transformation fidelity kept as clean as possible, if commonly used extensions and methods were standardized in ODF. By expanding the metadata capabilities in a structured and standardized way, proprietary file formats will have access to a new, easy to adapt, measure of interoperability with other file formats- and with ODF. This interoperability is gained by simply grafting on the ODF metadata layer.

    By slapping a hard coded, software dependency into every MSXML header, Microsoft breaks the most fundamental promise of XML, and does so with 100% of their implementations. With ODF, compromises to transformation fidelity are the exception. With MSXML, these zero tolerance compromises are the rule. What are the odds though that Microsoft's would at the least consider a common metadata model they could share with ODF, and important information stacks like those provided by Adobe, Lotus Notes, and WordPerfect?

    ODF was designed to serve three purposes. One is that of a structured XML file format for Office Productivity environments.

    The second is perhaps far more important. ODF was also designed to be used as a universal transformation layer. It's very useful as a means of shuttling information between legacy systems, desktops, and emerging Web 2.0 systems. In this respect, ODF is targeted to become the life blood of every SOA effort.

    The third is that ODF has a better than excellent shot at becoming the Open Internet successor to the HTML – XHTML legacy. Simply put, ODF is a wrapper for the Open XML technologies pouring out of the W3C. Unlike XHTML, which expands from the rather confined and limited browser space, ODF comes into the Open Internet net space carrying the load of desktop productivity environments and legacy information systems.

    What we are watching unfold at breath taking speed, is the emergence and recognition that ODF has what it takes to become the Open Internet's universal information layer. One able to handle to the complex demands of connecting and moving legacy information systems and productivity constructs into the compound content – presentation – metadata layers of next generation collaborative computing.

    Why ODF? Well, for one thing it's got exactly the right blood lines. The bridge to the past has been built. ODF as a universal transformation layer does work, and works as promised. ODF is self contained and entirely application independent, with an expanding intelligence and awareness metadata model geared to run the life of the Open Internet and beyond. ODF as a desktop productivity layer has five years of real world road testing and improvement, and is now making it's way into many different applications and platforms. ODF development and processing libraries are now starting to show up. (The upcoming KDE – KOffice leap to Windows will rock the world in terms of developer tools and processing libraries). ODF is managed by a multi vendor open standards group, and is now seeking recognition from multiple standards organizations. The ODF copyright is guaranteed to be open forever and without patent encumbrances, permissions or other restrictions.

    And the bridge from XML to RDF and the Semantic Web are also well underway.

    If anyone else out there has a candidate that can match these blood lines, speak now or forever hold your peace. If and when the premier AJAX engine providers such as Google, JotSpot, Zimbra, and Amazon embrace ODF at the engine level, this race is going to be over before it even gets started. Which is to say; don't look at the desktop. Look at the Open Internet. ODF has arrived. Knock knock Google.


  5. Jaime Cardoso
    October 13, 2005

    Stephen: It is because of what you talk right now that I said earlier that Oracle's support for ODF was important (Oracle being a big representative of Document Management solutions).
    Gary: I had that fear with Microsoft's XML format. Do you have any aditional info about Microsoft's format and that "Software Dependant Binary Key"?

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