OpenDocument Format

OOXML: Brazil Says NO

After a very difficult and inconclusive meeting in ABNT (Brazilian Technical Standards Organization) office last tuesday, the standards process director had to analyze the audio recording of all the meeting, review some facts, review again all 63+2 comments produced by the technical group about the ECMA specification, and conclude that a NO for OOXML is the correct position for Brazil in ISO Fast Track process.

Brazil will fill the ISO form with a NO and will attach the 63+2 technical comments to it.

I was a member of the technical group that have studied OOXML specification extensively. I learned that it is unbelievable how ECMA (same guys that put together the JavaScript standard!) can think that a wannabe spec like OOXML is ready for submission. It is incomplete (does not provide mappings with legacy standards, since compatibility is OOXML goal), too long (6000+ pages), fully tied to a single product, uses deprecated substandards, promotes bad practices (embedded binary objects), has clear proprietary hooks (like “formatAsWord95″ XML tags), reinvents the wheel all around (date and color formats etc), and most of all does not have a standards-grade look and feel required for a universal and (virtually) eternal document format (doesn’t have to be perfect, but can’t be that imperfect).

Shame on you, ECMA. Your position as a trusted standards organization was severely damaged.

In my opinion, the YES-voting countries are not reading the OOXML specification, are making a pure political decision or simply don’t have a standardization process. This is not to mention that they completely ignored the fact that a similar standard — ODF — already exists. Neither is the case of Brazil and our ABNT.

Countries that will absent their vote probably had a tough time in the decision process with a lot of conflicts between political ramblings and technical facts. This was almost the case for Brazil and our ABNT, but we got the courage to do the right thing.

In parallel, ABNT is turning the OpenDocument Format into a national standard and will adopt and promote as it is: a truly open, universal and independent format for digital documents.

This is a happy day.

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59 comments to OOXML: Brazil Says NO

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