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Open Source Software Government Patents Your Rights Online IT

French Government IT Directorate Supports ODF, Rejects OOXML 75

jrepin writes: The final draft version of the RGI (general interoperability framework), still awaiting final validation, maintains ODF as the recommended format for office documents within French administrations. This new version of the RGI provides substantiated criticism of the OOXML Microsoft format. April thanks the DISIC (French Inter-ministerial IT directorate) for not giving in to pressure and acting in the long-term interest of all French citizens and their administrations. As Wikpedia notes, OOXML (Office Open XML) is not to be confused with OpenOffice.org XML. (Also on the open-source office-document format front, OpenSource.com has taken a look at five open alternatives to Google Docs.)
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French Government IT Directorate Supports ODF, Rejects OOXML

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    A sudden outbreak of common sense. The question remains, what would it take for the US to follow suit? Is it even possible to break Microsoft's stranglehold all these years after the illegal monopoly ruling?

    • Re:Sacre bleu! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Merk42 ( 1906718 ) on Thursday July 09, 2015 @01:51PM (#50077223)

      Is it even possible to break Microsoft's stranglehold all these years after the illegal monopoly ruling?

      The Monopoly ruling was about Windows, not Office. It also more specifically had to do with bundling Internet Explorer and punishing OEMs who bundled Netscape.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Different interpretation: Microsoft pulled out all the stops in corrupting the ISO process and they won. Greasing palms was Microsoft's modus operandi years after the ruling, probably still is. It's tough fighting for non-proprietary standards when there's an 800 lb gorilla doling out cash like it's candy.

        To answer the AC's question, no, I don't think it's possible to break the stranglehold completely.

        • Re:Sacre bleu! (Score:5, Informative)

          by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Thursday July 09, 2015 @05:58PM (#50078621) Homepage Journal

          Having been to some ISO meetings recently, I can state without fear of being wrong, that ISO leaves itself wide open to corruption. There is a process, but it is nothing like a normal standards process with the usual mitigation to prevent domination by a single body and a convergent consensus process to get to an agreeable document in a reasonable time.

          Participants don't even get access to the documents they are working on. They have to buy themselves copies in uneditable PDFs. The result is that people keep adding crap into specs that already exists in other specs, but no one knows to reference it. So these things become inconsistent over time.

          You will find function specifications handled in one group and test & validation specifications for the same thing in a different group. So the function specification gets no consideration of testability requirements and the test & validation group don't get to specify that the thing be testable, only how it may be tested after it's been implemented to the spec that has no testability requirements in it.

          ISO is not a competent organisation to write specs. Certainly not technical computer software and hardware specifications. Maybe they're OK at bridge loading specs, or non-stick coatings. I don't know.

          • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

            they don't have to be experts, they have people inside the industry to agree on specifications then they draft them according to that agreement. That some (most?) of the ISO specifications are such abortions of common sense is not their fault, but the fault of corporate interests who can't agree for the sake of advancing operability for all rather than choking innovation for the sake of a quick profit.

            • In the stuff I work on (crypto specs) almost everyone involved works for a government. There are some. Myself, some consultants but they are a small minority. But the governments choose the national position, not the individuals.

    • Re:Sacre bleu! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Thursday July 09, 2015 @02:06PM (#50077295)

      The ironic thing is that moving to the ODF format would require very little in way of workflow changes. Word already supports .ODT, Excel supports .ODS, not sure about Access/Base, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did.

      Microsoft formats have more document tools available, but I'm sure they will appear for ODF if it starts gaining steam as a nationwide standard.

      • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

        I used to use MSO2k3, which did not support ODF out of the box - needed the ODF Translator Add-In. Still wouldn't support the OASIS database. Spreadsheet support was spotty. Word would read .ODT but couldn't save to it. It would try and default to .DOCX. I do know that for the past several years (at least since Office 2007) MSO has had native support for ISO/IEC 26300 v1.1 which is the full OASIS .ODF standard. I don't know if native support for .ODF 1.2 is fully implemented yet, even though it's only been

        • I used to use MSO2k3, which did not support ODF out of the box - needed the ODF Translator Add-In. Still wouldn't support the OASIS database. Spreadsheet support was spotty. Word would read .ODT but couldn't save to it. It would try and default to .DOCX. I do know that for the past several years (at least since Office 2007) MSO has had native support for ISO/IEC 26300 v1.1 which is the full OASIS .ODF standard. I don't know if native support for .ODF 1.2 is fully implemented yet, even though it's only been a fully ratified international standard for all of a month.

          Even what support they do have is buggy in interoperability. For instance with ODS they move the formulas (stored by others) into an MS Word namespace and then save the values in the cell space. So it'll read it, and write it, but it won't be interoperable with anything else.

          The claim was that ODS spec didn't have the Formula specification yet so it was valid to put it only in the MS Word namespace extension area where no one else would read it. At best, that's a brutally strict reading; it also ignored

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday July 09, 2015 @01:46PM (#50077189) Homepage

    Calling OOXML a "standard" was always a bad joke.

    Way too much crap of "must work like this proprietary project", and too many uses of other proprietary things.

    How the hell ISO allowed it to ever be identified as a standard still perplexes me.

    Which means it's good when people see OOXML for what it is -- a proprietary format, which is inadequately documented, and has things which limit other people from using it.

    Even Microsoft doesn't adhere to any standard interpretation of OOXML, because there isn't one.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday July 09, 2015 @01:51PM (#50077221) Journal

      It was identified as a "standard" because Redmond gamed the system through its "business partners".

      Has Microsoft even fully implemented it yet?

    • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Thursday July 09, 2015 @03:28PM (#50077729)

      How did it "become" an ISO standard?

      **History lesson: How MS got Office Open XML approved**
      MS paid the ISO membership fees for a bunch of new ISO members for that one critical ISO vote.
      The new members were so happy, they voted to approve Open XML.

      This way, the secretive and patent laden file format could be used in government bids where ISO file formats where required.

      Soon after this outrageous manoeuvre,
      ISO lost it's reputation and became known as I Sold Out.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Way too much crap of "must work like this proprietary project", and too many uses of other proprietary things.

      There's nothing wrong with taking one company's proprietary approach and making it, as-is, an ISO standard. That happens a lot (the SCSI standard, for example, for many years), and it's the only way to take something already successful and make it open. But if you can't implement the standard from reading the doc, that's epic fail on the part of the committee. If new vendors can't interoperate just by reading the standard, that's not a standard.

      The problem isn't "must work like this proprietary project" -

      • The problem is that MS did a crap job of documenting how to do that

        In all fairness to Microsoft, they couldn't do that because much of the document format is binary dumps of memory, often containing pointers to Windows functions, etc. So it's really only valid on Windows. This is why there are so many binary blob extensions to the OOXML format that cover a vast majority of the MS Office functionality.

        Not sure how they got the functionality to work for Mac, but then, MS Office for Mac (IIRC) is known for having incompatibilities with MS Office for Windows too, so it's no

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          MS has the staffing to do this right, even if it means wholesale re-writing of large chunks of Office - something they used to be capable of, once upon a time. The code base is pretty horrible, from what I hear, but that's a problem that you can fix with a few programmer-centuries of effort, and it's not like Office has had any actual new features for a while.

          • MS has the staffing to do this right, even if it means wholesale re-writing of large chunks of Office - something they used to be capable of, once upon a time. The code base is pretty horrible, from what I hear, but that's a problem that you can fix with a few programmer-centuries of effort, and it's not like Office has had any actual new features for a while.

            They may have the staffing, but do they have the will? Not likely as it's this very mechanism that keeps so many on MS Office or using Office 365. If they did it right, then many would stop using those products, and that would result in a major hit to one of their main sources of income.

            So they may have the ability, but the desire is not there, and won't be there until they believe they actually have to compete against another product in that segment, which won't happen until they believe their is a majo

  • Confusion (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    As Wikpedia notes, OOXML (Office Open XML) is not to be confused with OpenOffice.org XML.

    ...although that was probably Microsoft's intent.

  • One difficulty I run into constantly with OpenOffice and Libre Office is that you can't just drag an image or another file and have it embedded in a document. It is a huge shortcoming IMHO, as it is used all the time by people I work with that use MS Word. Is that just a shortcoming of the particular application I am using on the particular OS or is that shortcoming inherent in the XML format?
    • This works perfectly for me (dragging an image into a document) --- Linux Mint 17, LibreOffice 4.4.4.3

    • by spitzak ( 4019 )

      I think you meant ODF, not OOXML. But thanks for proving that the name Microsoft chose for their format is purposely confusing!

      • I think you meant ODF, not OOXML. But thanks for proving that the name Microsoft chose for their format is purposely confusing!

        ODF has superior support for it by being able to save content (like images) natively (e.g as a JPG/PNG/GIF/whatever) inside the zip file that is an ODF file; stores it in the XML manifest, and the other files can reference it in their XML data as well.

        OOXML might do that, or it might do what the old binary formats did and just dump a binary copy of it into the format for use as a binary blob that no one else knows that it is.

        No, if the GP is having an issue, it's likely a fault in the software itself,

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      uh... bollocks?

      Really, you're blathering schyte. OO/o has had the facility to drag/drop embedded content for YEARS.

    • One difficulty I run into constantly with OpenOffice and Libre Office is that you can't just drag an image or another file and have it embedded in a document

      I do that all the time. I have standardized our (small) company on LibreOffice and we use it for our manufacturing work instructions. We put pictures into these all the time and typically do it with drag and drop. Not sure what you are doing differently that would cause it to malfunction but the functionality is there and does work.

      It is a huge shortcoming IMHO, as it is used all the time by people I work with that use MS Word. Is that just a shortcoming of the particular application I am using on the particular OS or is that shortcoming inherent in the XML format?

      Hasn't got anything to do with the file format.

  • Nice to know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bluesmartini ( 3164665 ) on Thursday July 09, 2015 @02:48PM (#50077525)
    I'm working in a public research institute in France, and all ODF files that are mailed are blocked. Our mail provider is microsoft 365. The ports are blocked in order to force OWA protocols. A real nightmare for Linux users :-/
    • by makapuf ( 412290 )

      Wow, pretty shameful. Can you specify where you're working at ? I've only worked at private companies (big & small ones) in France where using linux for office work was, well less than practical but accepted if you can sort it out (and servers on MS needed to be thoroughly defended if you needed to). From the people I knew in public research it was linux except in office works.

  • Next they will be requiring us to write in French. When will it end?
  • And this time, they have nukes.

  • >"As Wikpedia notes, OOXML (Office Open XML) is not to be confused with OpenOffice.org XML."

    And don't think Microsoft didn't make that ridiculous name for the *exact* purpose of confusing consumers between the two.

  • It's nice that a government pushes for open standards, and if it gets widely used, maybe it will somehow help development.

    But in the meantime, there is still no decent writing tool for our current needs.

    When I need to write something, it usually doesn't need to be printed on A4 (or Letter) paper. It is to be viewed on some digital display. And it does't need to be pixel-precise. Just well structured to be understandable. So the natural format would be HTML with CSS, which has become a universal format that

  • by snadrus ( 930168 ) on Thursday July 09, 2015 @06:11PM (#50078693) Homepage Journal

    I knew the guy who worked on the Microsoft legal team who came up with the idea to use accessibility as a reason that ODF should not be a standard in Massachusetts. Of-course he's since-then been furloughed by Microsoft. So much for selling-out freedom for a little personal security.

    ODF doesn't preclude an accessibility-capable editor, and it's a real format (not 90% too big and full of ambiguity like OOXML), and not changing every release.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's france...no one gives a shit

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ISO/IEC publishes latest version of OpenDocument Format as International Standard 26300:2015
    http://www.opendocsociety.org/news/26300_2015-published/

    OpenDocument pages from OASIS and ISO/IEC:
    https://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=office
    http://www.iso.org/iso/home/store/catalogue_ics/catalogue_detail_ics.htm?csnumber=66363

    Documents available for free on the following webpages from OASIS and ISO/IEC:
    https://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=office#technical
    http://standard

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