Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What's behind that door?

I'm glad to see that a petition for using Open Document Formant (ODF) in any National Archives has started. As a reader at the British Library I personally think we should be adopting open standards for document formats.

But wait, isn't OOXML (open office XML) an ISO standard!

ISO certainly approved OOXML, now renamed OXML (minus the "office" bit) to be a worldwide standard. However, it is questionable whether this simply means that ISO approval can be bought by stuffing its voting committees with sympathetic members and whether ISO's reputation is in tatters.

Some groups have even started to protest this standard which it is claimed forces "Microsoft customers to keep buying the American software giant's programs".

Can ISO recover its battered image? Well, OXML is now in the hands of ISO, which has set up a harmonization group to deal with it.

Who is in charge of this group? They've selected Dr Alex Brown who described OXML as a "baroque cliffside castle replete with toppling towers, secret passages and ghosts".

Let's hope those secret passages don't lead us to the sort of proprietary lock-in nightmare described by Mr. Edwards