a 'mooh' point

clearly an IBM drone

The happiness of solitude

Oh the lonelyness ... oh the solitude.

They say that parting is such sweet sorrow, but I beg to differ. Things have really, really cooled down in the otherwise warm and cozy OOXML/ODF-blogsphere. Rob and Arnoud seem to have gone back to their day-jobs and Brian has somehow completely dissapeared from the face of the Earth. Doug is mostly writing about what other people are writing about and Groklaw has gone back to their original angle - the SCO-Shenanigans. The only active blogger at the moment seems to be Rick, but even here, the normally so loyal Rick-bashers in the comment-threads seem to have gone AWOL.

Nothing seems to happen here in Denmark as well. The Danish NSB met about a week ago, and we decided to make the working documents public that formed the foundation of the arguments and decisions that took place in the last year. We formed a small technical sub-committee that did the technical work on first the responses to the Danish public hearing in Spring 2007 and later the responses from ISO to the Danish 168 comments to DIS 29500. The group consisted of CIBER Denmark, Ementor, IBM, Microsoft, ORACLE and the County of Aarhus. The technical group was an advisory group to the Danish SC34 mirror-committee. The working documents were made to allow us to keep up momentum and to document the progress we made. In short, for each meeting we made a list of the ISO editor responses that we could accept and those the we could not accept - and they were sent back to ISO editor for further processing. The documents are in Danish, but it still gives a good idea (regardless of native tongue) of what we did in the technical group and how we dealt with each issue. The documents are available at the Danish NSB website (last 7 documents at the bottom of the page in the section "Arbejdsgruppe-notater").

I have also more or less gotten back to my day-job as an Engineer with CIBER. I am currently investigating how to generate documents (ODF and OOXML) using .Net and is actually kind of fun. With that in mind I was interviewed for a video-cast by Microsoft for a small discussion about ODF and OOXML (they conveniently cut out the part where I said that I prefer the markup of ODF over the markup of OOXML but still prefer the tools for OOXML over the tools for ODF (for generating documents on e.g. a webserver or ERP-system), but what can you do?). One of the points I made in the interview was, that the tools were really important. If there are no good tools to create documents - it will slow down the adoption-rate of the particular file type. Regardless of SW-political view, the .Net-platform is rather large on a world-wide basis and the install-base of .Net-technology makes it a platform that should not be ignored (by size alone, if nothing more). And this puzzles me. If you look at the developer-hub of OOXML, you wil find libraries, scripts and tools for just about any operating system and programming language available. But if you want to generate an ODF-file using .Net technology - what do you do? Well, you will propably find that the only (OSS) library available is AODL, a project under the ODF Toolkit umbrella. Unfortunately, the project is not a priority of OpenOffice.org. I wrote an emails to the lead of the project (Dieter Loeschky from Sun) and he suggested that I joined the project as contributor. I have thought a bit about it, and I just might do so. I find it really important for the adoption of ODF that there are tools available for it, so if no one else will, I just might do it myself. I wonder if that will help everyone realize that I am a true ODF supporter.

And finally - the SC34 Ad Hoc Group 1 will convene in London in the end of July. We will meet and talk about what to do with both ODF and OOXML in the future. I am really looking forward to the meeting. The initial mail list reveales that there will be delegates from all over the world:

 
Country
 #
Austria  2
Canada  1
Chile  1
Czech Republic
 1
Germany  2
Denmark  3
Finland  3
India  4
Japan  3
Republic of Korea  2
Malaysia  2
Norway  3
New Zealand
 6
United Kingdom
 3
United States

 2


I hope we will have a couple of productive days in London. As Alex Brown wrote about after the Oslo plenary in April 2008, transparency of the process is a key point and any input from you, dear reader, to how this could be achieved would be appreciated.

And finally-finally, I seem to have been struck by a bad was of "YABS" - Yet Another Blog Syndrome. Within the next few weeks I will begin blogging on the best IT-website in Denmark, Version2.

Generation of ODF-files on the .Net-platform

Some time ago I wrote a couple of articles about how to generate ODF-files as well as OOXML-files using .Net technology (both articles are in Danish). For generation of OOXML-files I used the - at that time - new .Net 3.0 System.IO.Packaging assembly and for generation of ODF-files I used AODL - a part of ODF Toolkit.

I thought it was time to refresh my skills - and share them with you guys - since the OOXML/ODF-debate has cooled down to a more relaxing level.

A few weeks back Microsoft released the first production-code edition of their OpenXml SDK - version 1.0. I will dig into this a bit later.

I thought I'd kick this series off with a couple of articles about ODF-file generation on the .Net platform, but I was unpleasantly surprised to realize, that it might not be as easy as it sounded. First, I was told that AODL was a dead project. Surely, the latest addition of code was in April 2007 and it seems that nothing has happened since.  It looks as if the resources of ODF Toolkit is focused on ODFDOM - currently a Java-project. The problem is - AODL seems to be the only .Net-project available. I have stumpled across the ODF .Net project by IndependentSoft, but they sell an ODF library as Closed Source Software ... for (brace yourself) €999 a pop! Seriously - selling CSS-libraries is just sooo 2006 ...

And then I come to you, dear reader ... what the hell do I do? Do you know of other .Net libraries that allow me to create and manipulate ODF-files?

Smile

 

Beer - revisited

The beer-drinking was a huge success. We were only four of us, but we had a great afternoon and start of the evening. It was a lot of fun to meet offline and have a decent conversation on ODF and OOXML ... much more fruit-full than blogging.

Clock-wise, from bottom left, it is Henrik Stig Jørgensen, Eskild Nielsen, Jesper Lund Stocholm and Christian Nobel.

I am looking forward to doing this again, guys!

Smile

Should the appeals stop all work on IS 29500?

Well, you tell me. All kinds or rumours are circulating amongst SC34-members of what the consequences of the appeals of approval of IS 29500 could be. The latest rumours are dwelving on the possibe outcome that all work on IS 29500 will be suspended until appeals are sorted out. These rumours are quite possibly fed by the email from the JTC1 chair to the members of SC34. Amongst other things it said

At its recent plenary meeting in Norway, JTC 1/SC 34 established 2 ad hoc groups concerned with the collection of comments on and maintenance of ISO/IEC 29500. Adjudicating these appeals will necessarily delay ISO/IEC 29500, at a minimum, and this delay could have a significant effect on the work of these ad hoc groups. SC 34 and its ad hoc groups should take this into account when planning their future work.

I am a participant in AHG1 (maintenance of IS 29500) and the purpose of the group is to plan and define the future work onIS 29500 in SC34 in, quite possibly, SC34 Working Group 4. We will meet in London in the end of July 2007 to start our work. From the roster/mail list of the group, I see quite a lot of "big cahunas" of SC34 and indeed in the debates of the last year or so. All these people have signed up to contribute to the onwards development and maintenance of IS 29500.

Now, let's pause for a second to look at the possible outcome of the appeals and their impact on the work in e.g. AHG1:

Approval is overturned

This will mean that IS 29500 no longer exists and that the work in the two AHGs have been a waste of time. We will spend two days in London and these days could then have been used more productively on other matters - like contributing to development of ODF 1.2 .

Appeals are dismissed 

If the appeals are dismissed - we will already have started the work on IS 29500. We will already have an idea of what to do and a preliminary view of what to do in the near future.

The outcome of the appeals is currently blowing in the wind, and I would not be the one to predict the outcome. However, I will say, that I would much rather start the important work on IS 29500 maintenance as soon as possible. This is in fact the core of the worst-case scenario: we just loose two days of work. I think most will agree that IS 29500 needs proper maintenance and I would prefer to get that work started - even though the work might be wasted. If all work in the AHGs are suspended and the appeals are dismissed, we will not be able to start this important work until Spring 2009.

For those of you being worried that allowing the AHGs to proceed with their work could be interpreted as some sort of bias towards dismissing the appeals, I think you are wrong. Allowing us to start the work on a provisionary basis does not in any way impact the decision of JTC1/ITTF regarding the appeals. It simply allows us to get a head start on maintenance of IS 29500 ... nothing more.

So please, let all the distinguished people in Ad Hoc Group 1 and 2 get at chance to start the important work they have volunteered to participate in. 

Get the ball rollin'

The latest couple of weeks have been almost as quiet as the couple of weeks after the BRM in Geneva. Most bloggers have cut down on their posts regarding ODF and OOXML (including your's truly) and have apparently gone back to their day-jobs to do a bit of Summer cleaning before the Summer vacations. There has, however, been some interesting development in some of the corners of the ODF/OOXML blogsphere.

First,

ODF TC has launched the preliminary work to form another ODF TC to focus on interoperability between ODF-enabled applications. I am one of the "lurkers" on the mail list, and I encourage everyone to either eavesdrop on the conversations taken place or actively participate in the debate. As noted before, conformance and interoperability is so much more than schema validation and the initiative is highly valuable. The topics being discussed are conformance, interoperability, IPR, AcidTests and much, much more.

Second,

Microsoft has joined ODF TC in OASIS. By Paul's message to the maillist of ODF OIIC  it seems that Microsoft has already been admitted into ODF TC. Microsoft is now listed as one of the "Sponsor Level"-members along with Adobe, Google Inc, IBM, Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Novell, and Sun Microsystems. (PS: Why is there an asterix after the names of Google and Novell?). This would mean that, as far as I get the legal mumbo-jumbo, that Microsoft will include ODF in its OSP. According to the content of the list as I write this, it has not yet been included. This also reminds me, that Microsoft said that they would modify the OSP for OOXML and specify that it also covers any future versions of OOXML that Microsoft participated in producing. We have still to see the modified text of the OSP, so Microsoft please "encourage" your legal team to finish up the wording.

and third,

(and by far, most importantly) 

Today is the day of the off-line beer drinking of the participants in the Danish debates around ODF/OOXML. We decided that it would be fun to have an off-line meeting between those of us that know each other by (blog)name only. It takes place at 17.00 this afternoon at BrewPub in Copenhagen. If you have a chance, feel free come by and share a beer with the rest of us.

Smile